Aerial view of the Colorado capitol building dome with clouds at sunset.

Governor Polis calls for special session on COVID-19 relief

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Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday called for the General Assembly to meet in a special legislative session focused on COVID-19 pandemic relief.

“I’m calling the legislature into a special session to provide immediate relief for the economic and financial hardships that many Coloradans and small businesses are facing,” the governor said during a news briefing Tuesday. “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions.”

The special session will focus on small business relief, housing and rental assistance, child care provider support, and expanding broadband access for education, Polis said.

“We need to urgently bring relief to the people of our state, so we have decided to roll up our sleeves, pulling every lever, finding every dime, and using every tool within our toolbox to make this happen,” Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, said. 

The governor previously announced $375 one-time stimulus payments going to an estimated 435,000 eligible Coloradans.

Colorado’s legislature is set to start its regular 2021 session on Jan. 13.

Lawmakers took a temporary adjournment during the 2020 session because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The session was scheduled to end May 6 but did not end until mid-June. 

Polis additionally announced a new COVID-19 dial framework for counties on Tuesday, saying 10 to 15 counties will be entering the red or “severe risk” level soon.

The red or “severe risk” level closes bars and indoor dining at restaurants, while still allowing outdoor dining and to-go service. It also requires gyms to operate at 10% capacity.

The purple, or “extreme risk” level, is the highest of the six levels on the updated dial. No counties are currently at “extreme risk” level, Polis said.

Polis did not specify which counties would be entering the “severe risk” level, but Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said “we expect to be there.”