DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s Legislature reconvenes its 2021 session on Tuesday after a month-long break due to COVID safety concerns. The Democrat-led body has an ambitious agenda: Short and long-term economic recovery, restoring drastic cuts to K-12 and higher education, investing in transportation infrastructure jobs and curbing health care costs by possibly pursuing a state-run public option for insurance.

(credit: CBS)

Gov. Jared Polis presents his annual state of the state address on Wednesday. The Democrat has proposed a $1 billion-plus economic stimulus plan to create jobs; the state’s official unemployment rate was 8.4% in January, with the restaurant and hospitality sectors particularly hard hit.

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By contrast, Colorado unemployment was 3.6% in January 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic.

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Polis, a Democrat, wants immediate spending in transportation infrastructure, broadband, telehealth and job retraining programs to get residents displaced by the pandemic back to work.

Republicans want to loosen social distancing restrictions they argue are killing the restaurant industry and other sectors. They’ll call for debate on the governor’s disaster emergency powers, arguing the Legislature deserves a greater policy role during the pandemic. And they pledge a fight over the introduction of a so-called government “public option” in the health insurance marketplace long sought by Polis.

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