Colorado lawmakers preparing to put finishing touches on special session

Politics

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado lawmakers are pushing to pass nearly $300 million worth of stimulus legislation to help families in need of housing and businesses struggling to stay open because of the pandemic.

State aid for schools, families and local businesses are slated to pass Wednesday.

The measures that did not make it this time around are being looked at for consideration during the next phase of relief in regular session.

Gov. Jared Polis asked the Legislature to focus on seven areas of need as the state deals with COVID — from schools, to families who need housing and food aid, to the small businesses still struggling. But some funding measures just will not make it right now. The bill to cut taxes on tips never even got debated, along with a dozen other measures.

“People who depend on tips and gratuity, waiters, waitress and bartenders — giving them the ability to not pay income tax or the much larger percentage of their tips because these are the people who are being hurt the hardest. These are the folks who are not on unemployment but they are scratching as hard as they can to survive,” said incoming House Minority Leader Hugh McKean.

Also on the cutting room floor are bills to put a check on Polis’ power.

McKean’s bill was among several looking to include lawmakers in the governor’s decision-making about what should close and when.

House Majority leadership says working with the governor would be better.

“Taking some of that power away and giving it to the legislators, we aren’t as nimble and we can’t move as fast to meet the needs of Coloradans across the state who are being impacted by this virus as he can. But if we want to continue to work in a collaborative way, let’s make sure Democrats and Republicans are sitting with the governor, helping to guide him,” said House Speaker-Elect Alec Garnett.

House Republicans said the best way to have more of a say with COVID restrictions is through the state’s Five Star Certification program. It’s been successful in Mesa County. The state is looking to get other counties on board to help businesses stay afloat.

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