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Colo. Gov. Calls Special Session For COVID-19 Relief

By Daniel Tay · November 20, 2020, 5:34 PM EST

Colorado's governor called for a special session of the state's General Assembly to address the worsening coronavirus pandemic and asked lawmakers to consider tax relief for small businesses that are likely to suffer financially in the winter months.

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday signed an executive order for a special session scheduled to begin on Nov. 30. Polis asked lawmakers to consider seven areas where the legislature could take action: small-business relief, child care support, housing assistance, broadband access, food insecurity, utilities assistance and public health. Polis specified in his announcement that he hoped the legislature would provide direct support and tax relief for small businesses.

"We are living in a moment of unprecedented urgency," Polis said. "We will act to support our small businesses who face challenging months ahead, provide relief to hardworking people, support child care, and improve broadband access for students and educators."

Polis previously floated sales tax relief for small businesses in his budget for fiscal year 2022 released earlier in November. His proposal would allow food and beverage establishments and other small businesses to retain up to $2,000 a month in state sales tax from December to March.

Colorado's state sales tax rate is currently 2.9%. Polis said the sales tax relief would be available to around 8,000 establishments.

Polis' budget proposal would also provide businesses affected by coronavirus pandemic-induced capacity restrictions with direct grants for the winter months, as the governor said any recovery seen during the summer may be lost as colder weather arrives.

According to Polis' budget director, Lauren Larson, Colorado's economy had recovered more quickly than expected, which meant revenues would be higher than the projections that were available when Polis signed the budget for fiscal year 2021 into law. Polis said his proposal would use the one-time funds from the quicker recovery to stimulate the state's economic recovery and ease future budget pressures.

Colorado House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, said in the governor's Thursday statement that urgent action was needed to save Coloradans' homes and businesses.

"Colorado restaurants, families and communities can't wait any longer for additional federal aid," Becker said.

Becker told Law360 she was unaware of other tax proposals that might be considered, but noted that because bills are currently confidential, there might be ideas from other lawmakers.

Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, referred Law360 to the governor's executive order but otherwise declined to comment.

Polis' office did not respond to requests for additional comment.

--Editing by Vincent Sherry. 

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