DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 17: Gov. Jared Polis delivers his state of the state address in front of the House of Representatives at the Colorado State Capitol Building on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. Gov. Polis thanked medical professionals, educators and firefighters for their respective efforts in keeping Colorado moving forward despite the covid pandemic that has affected much of American life. 

11:56 a.m.

Polis' 49-minute address wraps up.

"The state of our state, just like the people of Colorado, is strong, it is steadfast, and in spite of everything, we are boldly moving forward.

God bless you all, God bless our Colorado, and God bless the United States of America," he said in closing.

11:54 a.m.

Approaching the end of his address, Polis goes full pop culture, referencing Britney Spears, Taylor Swift and South Park's South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

He also takes a crack at singing Swift's "22."

11:51 a.m.

Polis moves on to environmental policy, another area where he's faced criticism from his left.

Here's an excerpt: 

"I’m grateful for the work my administration has done in partnership with Colorado’s legislative leaders to move our state toward a cleaner more renewable energy future. We’ve set Colorado on a path to reducing emissions statewide, while also creating two new state parks and expanding access to our state trust lands. Thanks to our legislative champions, we have invested in the people and technology we need to effectively respond to climate disasters. Tools like the agile FireHawk helicopter can give our firefighters the upper hand on the frontlines. And targeted mitigation efforts can prevent small fires from becoming catastrophes. I’m requesting additional support for the men and women on the ground, including personal protective equipment, training, and other equipment needs for local fire departments."

Meanwhile, a group protesting Polis' policies is demonstrating outside the state Capitol building.

11:49 a.m.

Polis lingers on public saftey, a topic that has drawn the loudest applause of the day.

11:46 a.m.

Polis lays out his vision for the session on fees, hospital capacity and public saftey. Here's an excerpt:

"Looking ahead, I am proposing that we waive licensing fees for nurses and mental health care workers, as well as for our nursing homes and assisted living facilities whose residents have been particularly vulnerable throughout the pandemic. Eliminating these fees puts money back into the pockets of our dedicated healthcare workers.

Putting this pandemic behind us means learning to live with the curveballs that COVID-19 may throw, but in order to do that, we need our hospitals to maintain capacity and ensure Coloradans get the care they need, no matter what. That’s why I will be proposing in the days ahead, a three year plan to make historic investments to stabilize our healthcare workforce and expand career paths for all Coloradans who heed the noble calling of caring for others. Moving forward, we can't let our society and our economy be impacted by hospital capacity, and I look forward to working with legislators and health care leaders to ensure that no matter where this pandemic takes us, we will be ready.

Just as an earthquake is followed by aftershocks, we know that the overarching crisis of the pandemic has led to many other crises, perhaps lesser seen, but no less important to address. Some Coloradans are most impacted by the health risks of COVID-19, others are most pained by the rising cost of everyday items, disruptions to our children’s education, or the increase of crime in the communities we call home.

I want to take a moment to recognize the law enforcement professionals here with us today. In addition to Sheriff Pelle, we’re joined by several District Attorneys, Police Chiefs, Sheriffs and our State Patrol Officers, who spend every day keeping us safe. You always stand up for us, so today, let US stand up for YOU. Thank you.

I’ve never been one to shy away from ambitious goals, which is why I want to spend the next five years making Colorado one of the top ten safest states in the country. Let’s “Make it so!” We’ve already taken critical steps in fighting crime and promoting public safety, and now we need to continue that work."

11:44 a.m.

11:43 a.m.

Polis praises health care workers and tips his cap to the General Assembly's Joint Budget Committee.

Here's an excerpt:

"We know this pandemic has been hard on workers across all industries, but perhaps none more than doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals.

I want to thank the Joint Budget Committee for their partnership on raising base wages to $15 an hour minimum for more than 30,000 Medicaid Home and Community Based Services workers who provide care to aging and disabled Coloradans, and now we are doing the same for similar positions in nursing facilities."

11:41 a.m.

From kindergarten, Polis turns to re-opening schools, a point he has faced criticism over from his left. 

"My administration worked tirelessly with school superintendents and local public health leaders to successfully bring Colorado children back to the classroom last year. We are providing free medical grade masks – with more than two million distributed to date – testing supplies for all students and staff, and are hosting on-site vaccine clinics to ensure that every eligible student and staff member gets the protection they deserve," he says.

11:39 a.m.

Polis turns to another of his accomplishments: free, full-day kindergarten.

"As we pursue the improved health and wellbeing of Coloradans, especially our children, we shouldn’t overlook the power of a strong education," he says."

11:35 a.m.

Polis says saving people money is his "top priority during this legislative session."

That transitions him into discussing health care.

Here's an excerpt:

"One of the biggest areas to save people money is healthcare.

Thanks to Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera, who leads our Office of Saving People Money on Health Care, and our legislative champions, we have delivered on our promises to cut costs, even in the midst of the pandemic, cutting premiums and capping out of pocket drug costs. And we’re not done yet.

Here in Colorado and across the nation, the pandemic has worsened what was already a horrifying trend of young children, teens, and adults suffering increased feelings of anxiety, isolation, depression, and other mental health issues. Colorado needs to take bold action now.

We want to partner with local governments and school districts to multiply the impact of historic funding to create a responsible, effective approach to addressing behavioral health needs from the mountains to the plains. Getting there means offering more integrated physical and mental health services, bolstering our often overworked behavioral health workforce, and most importantly, getting Colorado children the support they need to be happy – to just be kids."

11:33 a.m.

Polis touts last session big transportation bill, declaring, "We are finally going to fix the darn roads."

Republicans aren't buying it.

11:30 a.m.

Polis calls for fee reductions, a point Republicans have knocked him and the Democrat-led legislature over.

Here's and excerpt:

"To keep costs down for entrepreneurs like Tim and so many others, I’m proposing that we further reduce fees like the unemployment insurance premium and the Paid Family and Medical Leave premium, resulting in hundreds of millions in savings for the businesses and workers that power our economy.

And while we’re at it, to foster our entrepreneurial spirit, we should make it free for Coloradans to start their own business. I look forward to working with Secretary of State Jena Griswold, Representatives Cutter and Sullivan, and Senators Pettersen and Kolker on this effort."

11:27 a.m.

Polis moves on to tax policy, praising a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers (largely Democrats) who work on a slate of tax bills in the previous legislative session.

11:26 a.m.

11:23 a.m.

Polis turns to policy, first addressing Colorado's rising affordability crisis. He also tries his hand at rhyming in honor of songwriter Paul Simon.

Here's an excerpt:

"Because of this pandemic, the cost of living in our fair state continues to escalate, and Coloradans are desperate for relief. So let’s deliver.

We must double down on our promise to help every business and family succeed. That means taking less of your hard-earned money in fees and taxes, and putting more in your pockets and paychecks.

Inflation has accelerated during the pandemic. Supply chains have been disrupted. Spending habits have changed. The cost of housing has spiked. Farmers and ranchers face unprecedented losses, and many Coloradans have left the workforce. Too many people are struggling to make ends meet.

As your Governor, I want you to know: we hear you and we are here to do something about it. While all of these complex problems can’t be solved overnight, we promise to use every single tool at our disposal to save hardworking Coloradans the money you need to live the life you want."

11:20 a.m.

Polis praises Garcia and Garnett, the term-limited leaders of the state Senate and House respectively. He also tips his cap to term-limited House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Douglas County.

11:17 a.m.

Polis turns to bipartisanship, noting Stapleton in the crowd. He also tips his hat to Garnett for appointing Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, as vice chair of the House Ag Committee.

Here's an excerpt:

"It feels like every time we turn on the news, all we see is partisanship, polarization and division. Division across the country. Division in Congress. But not here; not in Colorado, where we set aside our differences, and come together to do what is right. It’s just who we are.

No one political party has a monopoly on good ideas or love of country. I am proud to be joined today by my friend and former Treasurer, Walker Stapleton, who I recently appointed to the Economic Development Commission. I appointed Walker because I know how much he loves this state, and Colorado will benefit from his talent and business savvy, just as the General Assembly will benefit from Speaker Garnett’s appointment of Representative Marc Catlin as vice chair of the House Agriculture Committee."

11:15 a.m.

GOP lawmakers are largely maskless, Chief Legislative Reporter Marianne Goodland notes.

11:11 a.m.

Polis praises Coloradans' resilience, ranging from the response to natural disasters to COVID-19.

"I know how easy it is to get lost in the pain and sadness of what we’ve all endured together. But no matter how tough this year has been, I know for a fact that Coloradans are fundamentally good, we care for one another and we are tougher than anything thrown our way. I’ve seen it myself."

11:09 a.m.

After introducing various dignitaries in the chamber, Polis pivots to "gratitude."

"I want to begin today with gratitude. Gratitude for the people of Colorado, who have shown-up, day after day, in the face of trauma and under the most difficult circumstances, to help one another, to help OUR Colorado. Gratitude for the individuals who set aside their own personal challenges to support the needs of our community. Gratitude for my colleagues in this chamber who have put Coloradans first, no matter what. And gratitude, of course, for my family. Marlon, I want to thank you for being here today and everyday for me and our family. Gratitude for my staff, who continue working in service to our great state through thick and thin."

11:06 a.m.

Polis' speech is underway. He starts by "acknowledge the people who couldn’t be here.

"Please join me in a moment of silence for Coloradans who have lost their lives: to COVID, to violence, and to natural disasters including the recent Boulder County fires," he says.

 11:05 a.m.

Polis enters the House chamber to applause, though little of it comes from Republican lawmaker.

11:04 a.m.

House Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, gavels the joint session in and turns things over to President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. 

10:35 a.m.

Walker Stapleton, Polis' gubernatorial rival in 2018 and the governor's recently announced appointment to the Economic Development Commission, chats with First Gentleman Marlon Reis ahead of the address.

10:34 a.m.

Members of Polis' cabinet commemorate the day with a picture in the House chamber.

10:21 a.m.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, a guest of Polis, arrives in the House chamber.

9:30 a.m.

Lawmakers exit the House chamber for a State Patrol security sweep ahead of Polis' arrival.

State Patrol sweep

State Patrol sweep the House chamber ahead of Gov. Jared Polis' 2022 State of the State address.

6 a.m.

Gov. Jared Polis is set to outline his agenda before the Colorado General Assembly at 11 a.m. today and attempt to set the tone for the legislature's work over the next several months.

The governor is making his fourth State of the State address at a time of palpable unease. Coloradans have endured two years of a global pandemic that took the lives of 10,000 of their loved ones. And while there are signs that the pandemic is peaking and that perhaps cases might subside by February, COVID-19 continues to significantly strain the health care system, not to mention hammering schools, several of which have had to shift to remote learning as staffers called in sick.

Indeed, he will deliver his address knowing some in his party are bristling at his refusal to re-impose the stringent strategies he implemented early on to combat the virus, and before politicians whose constituents face soaring energy bills this winter, the worst inflation rate hike in 40 years and a sense that crime is on the rise.

And he will speak just a few days after a grass fire tore through a thousand homes, forced the evacuation of 35,000 people and claimed at least one life in Boulder County.  

Polis, who is running for reelection this year, earlier outlined his priorities, notably saving people money by cutting fees and taxes, a goal that, in principle, Republicans share. 

His agenda also includes cuts to payroll taxes, holding off on the FAMLI payroll tax, waiving professional fees for nurses and other professions, and eliminating state fees required to start up a business.

“Anything we can do to help Coloradans keep more of their hard-earned money is a priority for us,” he told Colorado Politics.

Another priority is to confront the escalating crime rate, he said.

“The state cannot look the other way,” the governor said. “We need to fund more and better policing, effective youth interventions, reduce recidivism, and recruit and and retain great police officers.” 

But the governor maintains that the best solution is to prevent crime from occurring in the first place through better mental health services and other interventions.

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