By Associated Press - Friday, November 20, 2020

DENVER (AP) - Colorado lawmakers will convene Nov. 30 in a special session to craft a relief package for businesses, restaurants, bars, child care providers, landlords, tenants, public school students and others suffering under the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Jared Polis set the date in an executive order issued late Thursday. He also told The Washington Post on Thursday he is seeking relief totaling between $300 million and $400 million. On Tuesday, he had proposed a $220 million package for a special session.

Polis wants lawmakers to adopt sales tax relief for restaurants, bars, other businesses and cultural venues affected by capacity limits; allocate funds for child-care providers and rental assistance for tenants and landlords; and expand broadband and Wi-Fi internet access for students and teachers displaced from the classroom.

The Democratic governor is seeking more aid to help tenants struggling pay rent; assistance for paying utility bills; food banks and pantries; and public health expenses.

Polis has expressed frustration with Congress’ inability to deliver new federal pandemic aid.

Many Colorado counties adopted more restrictions on business and individual gatherings Friday. The virus has killed more than 2,300 residents and sickened more than 176,000.

Weld County’s Republican commissioners released a statement on Friday that they would not enforce the statewide mandate issued to counties experiencing growth in newly reported coronavirus cases. The “red phase” includes a stay-at-home order, closes indoor dining and restricts businesses to 10% capacity.

“Instead, county government continues to do what it has done since March, which is promote and encourage residents and business owners to take individual responsibility and make decisions to protect themselves, their families, their community and their businesses,” they wrote in a statement.

In response to Weld County’s decision, Polis said at a COVID-19 update on Friday that the statewide orders are a public health tool but he’s still leaving it up to counties to make their own decisions. Instead, Polis emphasized the importance of individual decision-making.

Polis added that the state wants to have “reasonable rules” that affect people’s personal lives, but also said that it’s not realistic for the state to police them.

“It should be enough that you’re putting your own life at risk, right? It should be enough that you’re putting the life of your grandma and family at risk,” Polis said. “But you’re also putting your job and our economy at risk. Because we only have levers on that business side, right? I mean, there’s no ability to say you know who’s in whose home and who’s doing what. That’s your business.”

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