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The four-page letter provided an update on the efforts Polis has made to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, and to thank lawmakers to stepping up in that effort, both in the regular session and in the November special session, even at risk to their own health, he wrote.

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House Bill 1003 allows per diem to be collected even for those lawmakers who are participating remotely, including from home. That raised objections from House Republicans Wednesday night, who claimed someone participating remotely from home isn’t incurring any expenses related to their legislative work.

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Facing a lawsuit by limiting the relief funds to race-based criteria, the wording stood to tie up money elsewhere in the package. As a fix, the legislature is adding "disadvantaged" and "disproportionally impacted" businesses to the language.

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Once gaveling in and taking care of necessary duties, lawmakers will quickly work through seven bills to fix some errors before adjourning until February, when the bulk of the legislation will be introduced. 

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“It’s important for everyone to remember where we were last year. We were facing one of the starkest, most devastating economic forecasts that the Joint Budget Committee has ever seen,” incoming Speaker of the House Alec Garnett, D-Denver, told the region’s business community during a virtual legislative preview event. “I just wanted to paint a picture of the amount of revenue pressure, revenue crisis, that Coloradans face.”

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Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Wednesday to officially start the new session, but they will delay most of their work until at least mid-February, when they hope COVID rates will be lower and more people will have been vaccinated.

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The 120-day session is expected to adjourn quickly and return once the COVID-19 crisis abates, leaving the wreckage of the state budget. But many of its economic problems remain the same, the outline from Colorado Rising State Action indicates, including tax policy, government overreach, health care, education, energy and transportation.

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Colorado’s gas tax of 22 cents per gallon has not increased since 1992. A 2018 report on the state’s transportation infrastructure showed funding from dedicated sources like the gas tax has risen slowly — and in some cases decreased — over the last decade. In recent years, the legislature has diverted millions of dollars from the general fund to the state highway fund.

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Joey Bunch: "Colorado Democrats have their own problems, including a splintering party. Last year, a handful of qualified women of color were in the primary for U.S. Senate. None got traction, and ultimately the party oversaw the race as it dwindled down to two white guys."

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State Rep. Alex Valdez of Denver, caucus co-chair, said the 2021 agenda  will focus on policy issues to address the effects of the pandemic, which have disproportionately affected communities of color, including Latinos.

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After the Colorado General Assembly gavels in on Jan. 13, there will be at least a couple of lawmakers who might breathe a little easier: Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo and Rep. Kyle Mullica of Thornton.

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Colorado clearly has the pedal to the metal on electric vehicles, as the state's Public Utilities Commission approved a plan to allow Xcel Energy to provide 20,000 charging stations and pass the cost on to its ratepayers. 

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Six months after widespread racial justice protests catalyzed the Colorado General Assembly to pass sweeping reforms to policing and law enforcement accountability, the Democratic majority is planning to push the envelope further.

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The General Assembly will gavel in on Jan. 13 as originally scheduled, deal with swearing-in of new members and other constitutional and statutory obligations, and then temporarily recess until Feb. 16. They've reserved the right to come back at any time before that if emergency matters require immediate legislative attention. 

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“Paid Leave will now be a reality for state employees, many of whom have worked day and night during this past year to ensure that we can save the lives of Coloradans and come out stronger from this public health crisis,” Polis said in a statement announcing the decision.

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When lawmakers return to the statehouse, they are expected to talk about vaccines and the price of health care, stimulus and stop-gap measures, animal welfare and managing wolves, broadband internet and turning regulations and federal dollars into green energy. Read more about what will be issues under the gold dome. You'll also find links to all the other coverage of the upcoming legislative session, including the news that after a quick gavel in, work will be delayed until February.

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U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the Windsor Republican who doubles as chairman of the state GOP, also said in a statement that despite his disappointment that President Donald Trump didn't win re-election, he respects "the constitutional process" and added that he also respects Trump's right to "exhaust all legal options."

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According to a statement from the VA Office of Research and Development, at least 50 unique clinical trials are taking place at VA medical centers around the country. In 2020, three clinical trials — two on a COVID-19 treatment and one on a vaccine — were conducted at the VA Medical Center. Two are still ongoing.

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It may surprise you that with all the millions spent on renovation in the state Capitol in the last decade or so, that this one crack never got fixed. It may be because the crack has a story all its own, a story that doesn't get told on Capitol tours.