Colorado Gov. Polis calls special legislative session for COVID-19 relief measures

Special session to begin Monday, Nov. 30 at 10 a.m.
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Posted at 2:12 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 23:38:06-05

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis is calling a special legislative session to address relief measures for those impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as cases continue to grow across Colorado and some businesses face further restrictions in the coming weeks.

In an announcement Tuesday, Polis said he wants the session to focus on a relief package for small businesses, especially those most affected by COVID-19 restrictions, including restaurants and bars; housing and rental assistance to avoid evictions and foreclosures; support for child care providers; and expanded broadband access for students who are having to take remote classes.

The special legislative session will begin Monday, Nov. 30 at 10 a.m., his office said in a news release Thursday night.

Colorado has addressed each of these issues over the course of the pandemic, often through executive orders from Polis. But the governor on Tuesday said a special session would be needed for legislators to quickly address the ongoing financial needs of Coloradans impacted by the pandemic.

Polis said he expected 10-15 Colorado counties to move soon to a "red" phase of COVID-19 restrictions, including the closure of indoor dining and a limit on gym capacities.

RELATED: Polis: 10 to 15 Colorado counties, including Denver, will move to Level Red on COVID-19 dial by Friday

"A special session makes thee most sense to tackle these problems in a collaborative way with the executive branch," state Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver, the House Majority Leader, said in a news conference with Polis on Tuesday.

Officials on Tuesday said legislators were working to finalize details on when the special session would be held.

House Minority Leader Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Douglas County, tweeted Monday night about the possibility of a special session, questioning the governor's decision to bring lawmakers to the Capitol.

"Polis says you can't have thanksgiving but he can call 100 legislators from 100 different families together," Neville tweeted.

Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, said in the news conference Tuesday that lawmakers' safety "is the utmost priority" and that the legislature has taken steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 while working in the Capitol, including virtual testimony and wearing of masks.

Garnett said a special session is the "appropriate direction to go."

"The calls for someone to step up and help have grown and grown and grown," Garnett said. "Our state's recovery could hinge on the next few months. Targeting relief now will have the greatest multiplying effect."

Editor's note: This story has been amended to reflect the time and date when the special legislative session will begin.