DENVER (CBS4)– Gov. Jared Polis is reconvening the state Legislature early saying it’s “urgent and necessary” that they provide economic relief to Coloradans in need. He gave a coronavirus update for Colorado on Tuesday afternoon.
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions,” Polis said in announcing the special session.
The legislature is scheduled to begin a new session in January 2021, but Polis says, if Congress won’t act now, the Legislature should.
Speaker-designate Alec Garnett says the state has between $200-300 million from a better-than-expected economy due to the federal stimulus. The plan, he says, is to provide immediate relief to small businesses, childcare providers and Coloradans who can’t pay their rent or mortgage.
“There’s a lot uncertainty ahead, there’s a lot of doubt, there’s a lot of fear, a lot of economic pain that people are experiencing. And if you wait two more months, that pain can turn into foreclosure, that pain can turn into shuttered businesses, that pain can turn into more unemployed individuals.”
One idea lawmakers are considering is to allow businesses to keep the 2.9% state sales tax they collect to help pay their bills.
Incoming Minority Leader Hugh McKean says Republicans have been asking for a special session for weeks to help teachers and students.
“It doesn’t have to be money solution, certainly it can be a conversation about what happens to this year’s high school students and their GPAs. We have a lot of students who aren’t finding the same success they’ve had with in-person learning, online.”
Both parties agree that legislative action, not executive orders, are needed.
Senate President Leroy Garcia said the loss of life is just one piece of the devastation, “Countless Coloradans have lost their jobs, their life savings, their family businesses and not least of all, their hope.”
The special session will involve virtual participation for some lawmakers while others will return in-person to the state Capitol. While some Republicans refused to wear masks during the summer special session, McKean expects everyone will follow precautions this time.
The special session could start Nov. 30 and is only expected to last a few days.