Colorado lawmakers examine priorities for special session

Politics

DENVER (KDVR)– Lawmakers will be back in Denver starting Nov. 30 for a special legislative session. Gov. Jared Polis is calling them in to get relief out to Coloradans hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are seven issues the governor wants to focus on in an effort to provide relief quickly. With new COVID-19 restrictions going into effect, many people are focusing on helping small businesses. Some leaders are hoping the state can provide significant relief for other areas too.

“We’ve already seen a bit of an increase for the holidays just prior to the any of the restrictions going into place as far as folks coming to us for holiday assistance, so we are gearing up on the food front to make sure we have resources available to help supplement food insecurity,” said Major Richard Pease of the Salvation Army.

Hunger is an issue for many in Colorado and across the nation. Hunger Free Colorado said one in three are struggling with hunger in the midst of the pandemic.

“Prior to COVID-19, that was between one in 10 and one in 11. So you can really see the impacts of having less income, of job loss and all of those pieces on folks’ food security,” said Ashley Wheeland, the director of public policy for Hunger Free Colorado.

Advocates are hoping for help during special session but the governor has a long list of areas that need money. That worries some lawmakers who work closely on the state budget.

“I worry about daycare and the aspect of what people do when they are looking to take care of their children and how do we help them as well as small businesses. I’m worried that there is not enough money there to keep these businesses open,” said Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

Other lawmakers say the solution they pass will be targeted to help as many people as possible.

“Well, it will definitely not just be in one area. We know that small businesses are hurting but we know that we need more housing assistance, food assistance, and child care and broadband. So, we will be looking and examining the need and ensuring that we have some sort of proportionate response to that need. What those numbers look like? We don’t know yet,” said Democratic state Rep. Leslie Herod.

While they are still getting those final details of the proposal together, both sides believe they will be able to reach a comprise and get funding to people in Colorado.

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