Gov. Polis set to call special legislative session to address COVID-19 relief


    The Colorado Capitol in Denver is pictured on June 12, 2020. (Andy Bosselman for Colorado Newsline)

    Gov. Jared Polis and top officials in the Colorado General Assembly on Monday night issued a joint statement that appeared to confirm reports that Polis plans to convene a special session of the Legislature to address the coronavirus pandemic in the coming weeks.

    “Legislative leaders and the Governor’s office have been having productive conversations on how we can step up to help provide additional relief to Colorado businesses and hardworking families during these challenging times,” read the statement from Polis and Democratic leadership in the Colorado House and Senate. “Coloradans continue to wait for Congress to act, but we are committed to doing what we can as a state.”

    The statement followed a tweet posted earlier Monday evening by Rep. Patrick Neville, a Republican from Castle Rock and the outgoing House minority leader, about rumors of a special session. Polis’ plans were first confirmed by Colorado Politics, which reports that the special session will be announced press conference on Tuesday.

    The special session would be the first of Polis’ governorship. Under the Colorado Constitution, governors are authorized “on extraordinary occasions” to issue proclamations convening a special session of the Legislature, during which “no business shall be transacted other than that specially named in the proclamation.” The next regular session of the General Assembly is scheduled to convene on Jan. 13.

    Polis’ 2021-22 budget request, submitted to lawmakers earlier this month, contains a $1.3 billion stimulus package that includes relief for restaurants, grants for struggling businesses and rental assistance. Last month, Polis also announced a one-time $375 direct payment to Colorado workers who earn less than $52,000 annually and have received unemployment benefits at some point this year.

    Several other relief measures considered by the General Assembly in response to the pandemic — including a broad eviction moratorium and a proposal to eliminate certain business tax breaks to shore up school funding — were defeated or substantially curtailed before legislators adjourned on June 15.

    Other lawmakers, including Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Democrat from Denver, responded the news of a potential special session by signaling support for aggressive relief measures.