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Politics and Government

Colorado’s special legislative session on coronavirus relief set to begin Nov. 30

The special session will come only about a month before state lawmakers were set to convene on Jan. 13 for their normal legislative term.

Lawmakers gather in the Colorado Senate on Friday, June 12, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
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Gov. Jared Polis announced late Thursday that Colorado’s special legislative session aimed at providing people with economic relief from the state’s worsening coronavirus crisis will begin on Nov. 30.

The session will start at 10 a.m. on that date and must run at least three days.

COVID-19 IN COLORADO

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“We are living in a moment of unprecedented urgency,” Polis said in a written statement announcing the date of the special lawmaking term.“We will act to support our small businesses who face challenging months ahead, provide relief to hardworking people, support child care and improve broadband access for students and educators.”

Polis, in an executive order calling for the session, laid out seven priorities for lawmakers:

  • Small business relief in the form of delayed tax payments
  • Child care support in the form of financial aid
  • Housing and direct rental assistance
  • Broadband access
  • Food insecurity
  • Utilities payment help
  • Funds to aid Colorado’s health care response to the pandemic

MORE: Colorado governor unveils new coronavirus restrictions aimed at preventing lockdowns

The special session will come only about a month before state lawmakers were set to convene on Jan. 13 for their normal legislative term. Democrats, who are in the majority at the Capitol, say delaying COVID-19 relief for even a month in the absence of congressional help would be too long.

“Frankly,” House Speaker-designate Alec Garnett, D-Denver said this week, “January will be too late.”

State health officials are urging lawmakers to avoid in-person gatherings at the Capitol as much as possible to prevent spread of COVID-19. On Wednesday night a Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Meg Froelich of Englewood, announced she has tested positive for the disease.

The state is also planning to provide KN-95 masks to lawmakers, staff and journalists at the Capitol.

MORE: Colorado health officials provide coronavirus guidance, promise protective gear for upcoming special legislative session

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has encouraged lawmakers to limit Capitol visitors as well, and begin a testing regimen before and during the session.

Colorado’s coronavirus hospitalizations reached 1,500 on Thursday, by far their highest level since the pandemic began. The state’s test-positivity rate has also been steadily climbing as the number of average daily cases has eclipsed 4,000.

Rising Sun