Follow today's live blog with some of the color and action from the First Extraordinary Session of the 72nd General Assembly.

The session is set up to address seven priority areas:

Bills to be introduced in Monday's special session

More than two dozen bills ended up being introduced. Look here to keep up on their progress:



9:40 p.m.

That wasn’t so bad! The Senate has now adopted SB1 and we’re done for the night. We'll be back at 9 a.m. Tuesday!

9:31 p.m.

Yes, there are COWs. And unlike the voice votes to approve or reject the amendments, these are recorded votes. Could be a while. 

9:30 p.m. 

“We’re still hopeful the federal government will act, but we will do what we can” to help at the state level, said Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, the co-sponsor of SB1.

The bill passed on a second reading voice vote and moves to the Senate for a final vote in the morning. Now waiting to see if there are any COWs (these are amendments previously defeated that can come back for a second discussion and vote. A bit of moo-ing going on in the Senate ….

9:14 p.m.

House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, a Denver Democrat, was emphatic about the rules for safety that had been put in place after it was learned Monday that a House Republican staff member came to the Capitol knowing she had been confirmed to have the virus.

He said he looked forward to working with the staffer with the "pre-existing condition" again next session. Garnett then said he expected everyone, however, to do as much as they can to keep others around them safe.

"Every minute we spend in this building this week is precious and we should use every one of them to work for the people of Colorado," Garnett said.

— Joey Bunch

8:30 p.m. 

In the Senate, the final bill of the evening — Senate Bill 1, direct aid to small businesses — is being “tweaked” by just about everyone. Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, pleaded with lawmakers to add another $3 million to the bill for the National Western Stock Show, which he said has laid off 50 employees and is in danger of going under. 

“Just because this wasn’t part of the earlier conversations  [about the businesses getting help from SB1] doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something to help them as well. We’re screwed” if the state loses the stock show, he added. “Three million is a small price ... to keep the National Western and other farm shows in the state.”

— Marianne Goodland

8:22 p.m.

Colorado lawmakers seemed to be having two conversations all day and into the evening Monday, the first day of a special session on pandemic relief.

Democrats talked about getting $280 million "out the door," and Republicans talked about businesses crippled by restrictions — repeatedly.

The GOP did most of the debating against the majority Monday evening on a handful of bills.

"The cost of these restrictions, the cost of these functional shutdowns are killing business owners," Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, said Monday evening, after reading an email from one of them.

"More importantly, they're killing workers."

Democrats said they cared deeply about small businesses, but they're trying to make the best of a bad situation. by providing access to capital.

Added Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Akron: "I will tell you ladies and gentlemen I think government has meddled enough in the restaurant business, I think we've restricted enough," about legislation that would allow local governments to cap delivery fees. "When does it end?"

— Joey Bunch

7:12 p.m.

The Senate is back on the floor to take care of the 2 bills on the consent calendar and two others — SB1 and SB2 — that appears to need debate. SB2 had originally been added to the consent calendar but that has now been changed. SB3 and SB4 (energy and state disaster emergency funding) passed on second reading unanimously.

— Marianne Goodland

6:42 p.m.

Senate Approps has now wrapped up its work, passing all four bills on a 10-0 vote and only Senate Bill 1 is headed for debate. That’s because the amount in the bill — $3 million — doesn’t yet appear to be “the right number,” according to Sen. Chris Hansen, a Denver Democrat who sits on the Joint Budget Committee. Amendments later this evening are likely.

— Marianne Goodland

6:30 p.m.

Senate Appropriations have now passed SB2, SB3 and SB4 on unanimous 10-0 votes; all have been put on the consent calendar for later this evening. This might not be such a late night.

In the House, debate is moving a bit more slowly. Six bills are going through their second reading on the floor with a number of amendments being offered and discussed.

5 p.m.

Two more bills have come and gone, quickly.

Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Paul Lundeen, a Monument Republican, was killed on a party-line vote by the Senate Finance Committee. The bill would have provided $12 million in aid to families who have children in public or private schools, but was viewed by Democrats as a pseudo-voucher. 

The same committee quickly dispatched Senate Bill 10, sponsored by Sen. Don Coram, a Montrose Republican, at his request. The bill would have granted immunity from civil liability for small businesses, similar to SB9, which was earlier killed by the committee. 

— Marianne Goodland

4:15 p.m.

A bill to protect businesses from civil liability lawsuits was struck down by the Senate Finance Committee on Monday.

Senate Bill 9 would have protected small businesses from those lawsuits for exposing customers or clients to COVID-19, as well as protection from lawsuits tied to any loss, injury or death, as long as the business acts in good faith to comply with public health guidelines, orders and mandates, including those from the state Department of Public Health & Environment and local governments.

Sponsored by Sen. Jack Tate, a Centennial Republican, the bill died on a party line vote.

— Marianne Goodland 

3:58 p.m.

Republicans certainly tried to get in the way of the Democratic majority Monday, but the 6-3 partisan advantage gave Democrats all they needed to kill House Bill 1012  and other attempts to turn back the clock.

The legislation provided a one-year delay in enacting three bills that passed this year:

Senate Bill 205 guaranteed paid sick leave. 

Senate Bill 207 to extend unemployment insurance. 

Senate Bill 215 would refinance the state's reinsurance program and extend it for an additional four years.

"I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for a one-year delay in the implementation," said Rep. Colin Larson, D-Evergreen.

Legislative analysts said HB1012 would save the state budget $121,267 this year and $140,622 next year.

Republicans said it would cost businesses, cumulatively, more.

Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, said postponing three bills doesn't fit under the "single subject" rule that legislators follow. Committee chair Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, however, declined to make a determination citing the unprecedented times.

— Joey Bunch

3:47 p.m.

On a party-line vote, Senate Finance kills SB9, which would allow businesses in "red"-level counties to be exempt from capacity limitations. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Rob Woodward, a Loveland Republican, who has been vocal about the concerns of businesses in his district. 

Committee is now onto SB11, a waiver of civil liability for small businesses during the pandemic. Bill is sponsored by Sen. Jack Tate, a Centennial Republican.

— Marianne Goodland

3:45 p.m.

On a series of rapid, mostly party-line votes, the House Appropriations Committee has advanced five bills to the Committee of the Whole for second reading. Those included bills to grant money for internet access for schoolchildren; emergency grants for childcare providers; and food pantry assistance.

Two bills passed unanimously: allowing certain retailers to retain sales tax revenue and amending the Occupational Therapy Practice Act. All bills originated in other committees before landing in Appropriations.

— Michael Karlik

3:30 p.m.

On a party-line vote, the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee killed House Bill 1017 from Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Akron. The bill would have created a nonrefundable income tax credit for landlords who were owed rental payments from an eviction moratorium.

— Michael Karlik

3:25 p.m.

The House Finance Committee killed House Bill 1015 to create a small business paycheck program, modeled after the federal stimulus relief effort this year.

"It's better to do something than nothing," said Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs. 

The $10 million appropriation would have provided forgivable loans, if it's used for salaries and other qualified expenses.

"I didn't want to be greedy and ask for $50 million or something," Liston said.

The bill was supported by the National Federation of Independent Business.

The bill failed on a 6-3 vote.

Liston said the program could apply federal guidelines and be administered by the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Democrats on the committee pointed out the federal relief was slow to reach those who needed it, and a lot of businesses were left out of that program, including minority- and women-owned businesses.

Reps. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster, and Mike Weissman, D-Aurora, said duplicative programs cost administrative money that could go to those who need help.

"If we put any dollars behind a state effort, we can't duplicate the (distribution) problems of PPP," Weissman said of the federal program. 

— Joey Bunch

3:10 p.m. 

Senate finance is now on SB20B-009, a bill sponsored by Sen. Rob Woodward, R-Loveland, who has joined with small business owners in Larimer County to protest Red- Level capacity restrictions. His bill would exempt businesses from county restrictions if they follow safety precautions. 

— Marianne Goodland

3 p.m.

By a 6-3 party-line vote, the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee killed House Bill 1011 from Rep. Tim Geitner, R-Colorado Springs, which would have limited the governor’s power to declare a state of emergency to only 30 days, which the General Assembly would have to vote to extend.

“The governor has done as difficult and necessary a job as possible,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City.

“I have no issue standing up to the governor. I have no issue holding him accountable,” said Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Northglenn, who is an emergency room nurse. However, “I believe that this bill puts out communities in danger. I believe this bill makes it harder to respond to a pandemic when people are dying.”

— Michael Karlik

3 p.m.

The Senate Finance Committee, which is the ONLY committee of reference for all 13 Senate bills, has gotten through only three bills in the last three hours. Three bills. It’s going to be a VERY long day.

The Senate Appropriations Committee still has to meet on the bills that pass Senate Finance after this, and then they’ll be back on the floor. Can you say midnight?

— Marianne Goodland

3:07 p.m.

Rep. Larry Liston responds to critics regarding photos showing him wearing his mask on the top of his head: "It wasn’t meant as a hat. I put it on my head to get it out of the way as I was speaking to a colleague."

Read the story from Michael Karlik here.

2:47 p.m.

The House Finance Committee killed House Bill 2021 to repeal a provision of a bill that passed earlier this year to make it easier for Coloradans to claim the state's earned income tax credit.

The bill failed 6-3.

The failed bill would have allowed only people with a Social Security number to claim the tax break. Often those are families with mixed citizenship status, said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City. 

Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, said the $386,831 that the measure would have saved could be used to pay for grants to small businesses.

Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora, said the earned income tax credit is designated to help people on the margins, many of whom work for small businesses.

"I hope we talk about tax policy next year," he said, adding it would hurt low- and middle-income people "at best."

— Joey Bunch

2:34 p.m.

Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor, sought to create a grant program for businesses declared non-essential.

House Bill 1010 would have created a $102.6 million grant program. The money would have gone to counties to distribute, which carries administrative costs of $2.6 million.

The bill was killed on a 6-3 vote.

"My focus is to help small businesses, and they’re dying on the vine right now," Buck told the House Finance Committee.

Buck said the legislature was convened to hand out $280 million, so the money is available, if lawmakers make the grant program a priority.

Small businesses are defined as those up to 50 employees that have been ordered to shut down or had operating restrictions on trade, or otherwise "faced economic hardship related to the pandemic that has resulted in lost revenue, and which have not declared bankruptcy," the bill states.

"Tax credits are good but tax credits only work if you have excess money from sales," Buck said. "... This, to me, is the state of Colorado stepping up for small businesses."

Committee members questioned the cost, the broad qualifications and whether the grant program was duplicative of other legislative grant programs. 

"We don't have enough money for essential (businesses), let alone non-essential," said Rep. Shane Sandridge, R-Colorado Springs, who voted in favor of the bill after saying he was concerned about fraud and waste.

He added, "All of us want to safeguard the taxpayers' money, and this is a lot of money."

— Joey Bunch

2:05 p.m.

IMG_9403.JPG

The House's Public Health Care & Human Services Committee begins deliberation on bills on the first day of a special session to address pandemic-related legislation on Monday, Nov. 30, in Denver.

Democrats on the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee expressed skepticism as they killed House Bill 1008 from Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Roxborough Park, which would have provided a total of $1 million for school districts to hire physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saying that 5,000 Douglas County students are quarantined at any given time and that school nurses are not well equipped, Baisley explained that the legislature should “give them a Rep. Caraveo in every school district to give them that level of brilliance to respond in a smart way that works well for the school district.” His reference was to Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, who is a pediatrician.

Caraveo, in turn, asked if Baisley had talked to professional organizations for doctors to see whether there was even an availability of primary care physicians given the strain on the healthcare system.

“I did not take all those pains that I normally would,” Baisley conceded.

Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley, asked if he talked with school nurses.

“The direct answer is no,” Baisley said. The committee’s vice chair, Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, said she looked online and Douglas County’s school district does have health centers that employ doctors.

The bill failed on a party-line vote of 4-3.

“I’m intrigued by this concept,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, who is a pediatrician. “I will be a no, but sincerely want to continue working on this.”

Baisley had deemed the current health restrictions from Tri-County Health Department, which includes Douglas County, as a “sledgehammer” that school-based doctors could perhaps address with a more tailored approach.

— Michael Karlik

1:56 p.m.

House Bill 1007 to amend the Occupational Therapy Practice Act to clarify the regulatory authority over occupational therapists hit a speed bump before the House Finance Committee Monday afternoon.

Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, said the bill didn't fit under the governor's "call" for the session and could be addressed later in the regular session, which begins Jan. 6.

"I don't see this in there," she said of the instructions to the legislature.

But for the special session, the bill would have been heard in January.

"Could we wait until January? Maybe," said Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, who sponsored the bill with Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch.

"I think the call clearly states there's a public health emergency," Singer said, adding that individual practitioners are small businesses.

"If we can do it now, I think we should avail ourselves of the opportunity," he said.

The committee voted 6-2 to advance the bill to Appropriations.

— Joey Bunch

1:40 p.m.

The House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee unanimously approved House Bill 1003, which would appropriate $3 million from the general fund and allow for awards to take place by the end of February, with all food distributed by June 30.

The bill would also remove a cap on grant awards, allow food delivery as an eligible use of money, and clarify that food purchased be a Colorado agricultural product only to the extent practicable.

Polis food pantry

Gov. Jared Polis visits a food pantry in Yuma during a visit on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. 

“Food pantries access the state have seen two to six times the number of people coming in for food assistance,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Littleton. “One in three Coloradans are currently food insecure.”

The other sponsor, Rep. Rod Bockenfeld, R-Watkins, added, “When you hit a bump on the road in the economy, your government should be investing in these services to give people the hand up they need.”

In response to a question from Rep. Colin Larson, R-Littleton, faith-based food pantries would be eligible for awards. Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Akron, once again brought up the rural-urban divide, seeking assurances that less populous areas would also receive aid. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

A bill from the previous session provided $500,000, and the state was able to make grants awards in 62 of 64 counties. The money came from the federal CARES Act.

— Michael Karlik

1:28 p.m.

Local governments will be able to regulate the fees charged by third-party delivery services, if House Bill 1005 becomes law.

The legislation, led Monday by Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster, could allow municipalities and counties the ability to cap fees, if they choose to. The measure passed the House Finance Committee 6-2 and goes next to the House floor.

The bill itself, however, does not set any limits.

Rep. Shane Sandridge, R-Colorado Springs, was concerned that the bill represented price-fixing and could lose delivery services in incorporated areas. He suggested a cap on lawyer fees, "minimum wage, if possible," he joked.

The bill is supported by the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Nick Hoover, representing the association, told the House Finance Committee Monday afternoon the law would especially help small restaurants who say fees are too high for them to participate in the service that’s become more vital in the crisis. Fees can reach as high as 35% of the food cost, he said.

At 20% many of those give up their profit, Hoover added.

“This bill alone is not going to be the savior of this industry,” he said. “This industry needs a lot of support right now.”

The bill blocks services' ability to cut drivers' pay or tips to offset the cap.

— Joey Bunch

1 p.m.

A simple tax break for bars and restaurants sounded awfully complicated before the House Finance Committee Monday.

House Bill 1004 passed the committee unanimously and goes next to the House Appropriations Committee. 

Lawmakers struggled with the numbers and terms, such as the difference between a brewpub and a brewery that offers tastings.

"This seems like not the best language," said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, calling the language "imprecise."

"It just seems odd to me, this language in here," she added.

Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster, said only those who are protecting public health should be able to take advantage of the tax break. Dozens of Larimer County bars and restaurants have said they would violate some of the restrictions brought by the “red” level of coronavirus crisis.

Rep. Kevin Van Winkle disagreed, but said he would work with Benavidez to improve it before it's heard on the House floor.

"Liquor law is very confusing and it's complex, and there's also excise taxes that are paid on distributed product that we want to separate apart from this bill."

At stake is up to $52.8 million in tax revenue the state would otherwise receive by allowing those businesses to deduct the sales taxes they would collect on up to $70,000 in sales a month for up to five locations.

It's estimated that just 56% of the state's eateries will qualify for the full benefit.

"I do wish we could have gone above and beyond that," Van Winkle said."We were trying to get at least half our bars and restaurants some relief and this offers the relief we are able to afford."

The bill augments an executive order signed last week by Gov. Jared Polis.

The cap was based on limiting the amount big chains, such as Starbucks, could claim, sponsors said.

The goal of the qualifications is to make the money help as many small businesses as possible.

Access to capital and seating limits was said to be the biggest problems facing bars and restaurants, and some business owners said the limited capacity would make it hard to take advantage of the tax benefits.

— Joey Bunch 

12:55 p.m.

HB1002, involving $45 million in child care grants, passes out of the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee unanimously. Several witnesses spoke in favor over the phone and one person testified in person. The bill will now move to the Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Colin Larson, R-Littleton, indicated he would like to propose a floor amendment to loosen eligibility requirements for emerging childcare businesses, citing a tight Jan. 31 deadline for award determinations.

Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Akron, speaking briefly in Spanish, echoed that there may be cultural obstacles to applicants.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins, explains that $150,000 is included in the bill for “culturally competent outreach and 16 technical application assistance.”

— Michael Karlik

12:50 p.m.

The first bill in Senate Finance won a 7-0 vote and would provide assistance to Coloradans struggling to pay their utility bills during the pandemic.

Senate Bill 20B-003 is on to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will meet later today. Sponsored by Sens. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, the bill would put $5 million into the nonprofit Energy Outreach Colorado’s low-income energy assistance fund. Those dollars must be disbursed to Coloradans no later than June 30, 2021. 

— Marianne Goodland

12:21 p.m.

The first bill brought up by the House Finance Committee Monday aims to clean up House Bill 1006, which passed during the regular session in June. 

House Bill 1413 created a $250 million below-market loan program for small businesses.

State Treasurer Dave Young, a former House member, said the tax credits will go on sale Dec. 18 and the loans could be available by the end of the year.

The state plans to sell $50 million in tax credits for insurance companies against their premiums. An additional $200 million will come from private money.

"What we're doing is borrowing against the future to fund this program now," Young told the committee.

An oversight board has met 15 times since July to develop policies.

Young said he hoped to see a clean-up bill next January, but it benefits the state to do it before the credits go on sale.

There was no opposition Monday, and the bill was referred to the House floor unanimously. 

— Joey Bunch

12:10 p.m.

Mary Alice Cohen, director of the Office of Early Childhood at the Colorado Department of Human Services, testifies on HB1002 that “our childcare sector is struggling to stay afloat right now.”

She describes parents pulling children from childcare centers, with a 39% reduction in enrollment for children up to five years of age. In addition, Cohen mentioned increased expenses associated with cleaning supplies and smaller groups of kids.

She predicted that without financial assistance, “they won’t be able to make it through the summer,” with reduced hours and layoffs already occurring. The grant money could be used, for example, to add sinks or expand rooms in centers.

— Michael Karlik

12:10 p.m.

The Senate Finance Committee is looking at SB20B-003, on utilities payment assistance. This is one of the eight bills listed by House and Senate Democratic leadership for passage in the special session.

Also: A list of House and Senate bills shows that among  House bills, there are FOUR identically-titled bills on tax credits for families who are incurring expenses for remote learning for students who are in either public or private schools.

The four bills are sponsored by the most conservative members of the Colorado House, so the chances of any of them getting out of the House State Affairs (aka the “kill committee”) are slim and none. 

Also of note: a concurrent resolution offered by Sen. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, asked voters to authorize the General Assembly to terminate the governor’s authority to extend a disaster emergency order past the original 30 days. 

11:55 a.m.

The House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee is now considering HB1002, which would provide grants to new and existing childcare businesses.

“We are facing a problem of existing providers going out of business or about to go out of business because of lowered capacity rates. It’s an extraordinary difficulty, especially for women,” said the sponsor, Rep. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins. “People who don't have childcare find it difficult to return to work.”

A childcare sustainability grant program would provide between $500 and $35,000 to keep existing providers in business. An emerging and expanding grant program would award between $3,000 to $50,000. In total, the bill would cost $45 million.

Despite earlier admonitions for members to eat lunch prior to committee meetings, the three Republicans present — Larry Liston, Colin Larson and Richard Holtorf — have all removed their masks to eat in the hearing room.

— Michael Karlik

11:45 a.m. 

House Bill 1007, from Reps. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, and Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch, passes unanimously. It would reenact the Occupational Therapy Practice Act, which repealed on Sept. 1, and extend it until 2030.

Rep. Richard Holforf, R-Akron, spoke to how occupational therapists helped his 83-year-old mother recover despite her poor health prognosis. The bill will advance to the Finance Committee.

— Michael Karlik 

11:40 a.m.

The Public Health Care & Human Services Committee has begun in the basement of the Capitol. Rep. Stephen Humphrey, R-Severance, moves to kill his bill, HB1013, because it is similar to another proposal. The bill would have put limitations on certain emergency orders, like COVID-19 health directives.

Rep. Richard Holftorf, R-Akron, spoke ominously about the legislature’s powers being undermined in the pandemic.

“As legislators, our power to represent the people can't be eroded. And I think it’s very important that if we're not careful, we will usurp ourselves and our own authority given by the constitution,” he said. “It is my belief that some of those things are being taken in light of this pandemic.”

The committee postponed the bill indefinitely on a vote of 5-3. Holtorf and Republican Reps. Larry Liston and Colin Larson also voted no.

— Michael Karlik 

11:06 a.m.

So much for canning the partisan time-wasting. Lawmakers are expected to get out of the statehouse as quickly as possible, because of the threat of the virus.

But there was time for a little politicking Monday morning.

Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, gave President-elect Joe Biden an attaboy, though it seemed to have nothing to do with pandemic relief.

"I don't know if any of you noticed, but on the date President-elect Biden was certified as the winner of the election, the Dow Jones (Industrial Average) actually climbed by 835 points.

"I wanted to highlight that economic news and to say we will miss you Senator-elect Liston."

The nod was a send-off to Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, who typically highlights positive economic news, when it benefits Republicans. He was elected to the Senate District 10 seat last month.

— Joey Bunch

10:52 a.m.

All bills have now been moved over to the regular place on the General Assembly’s website where you find bills. Senate is headed to Finance Committee, where all Senate bills will be heard, and back on the floor at 1:30 p.m. (allegedly).

— Marianne Goodland

10:50 a.m.

Three House committees — finance; state, veterans and military affairs; and public health care and human services — will all meet at 11:30. The Appropriations Committee will meet later in the day, depending on the outcome of the other committees. Multiple committee chairs have asked members to eat lunch beforehand, so that everyone may keep their masks on during the hearings. The House is now in recess.

— Michael Karlik

10:50 a.m.

Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, a Republican from Parker, made it clear where his caucus stands at the outset Monday morning.

"We Republicans are here to work together for the people of Colorado, and we're proud to do so," he said in his opening remarks. "We're proud to have the opportunity to represent them and stand up for balance in government."

The session was called by Democrats — Gov. Jared Polis, with the support of House and Senate majorities.

Holbert noted, "We wouldn't be here without the work of our Joint Budget Committee, so thank you."

The JBC is made up of three Republicans and three Democrats representing both chambers.

The drafted a budget this year that was based on a dire revenue forecast that didn't work out to be as bad as they thought. The $280 million at stake in the special session is money that came in above that forecast, thanks to federal stimulus money and stronger-than-expected economic recovery so far.

— Joey Bunch

10:40 a.m.

Sen. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, was part of the group notifying the Governor that the General Assembly is ready for business.

Now back on the Senate floor, he’s taking the opportunity to talk at length about what he couldn’t say to the governor, apparently, noting Republicans asked for a special session last July and being told it was a stunt.

Lundeen has two bills that fall outside the designated relief bills, one on legislative oversight of the governor’s emergency powers, and another creating a family stipend for remote education expenses, to be paid for with general fund dollars. Families whose kids are in both public and private schools would be eligible. Unlikely to get out of committee today.

— Marianne Goodland

10:40 a.m.

House Majority Alec Garnett, D-Denver, is speaking to a resolution that would allow virtual public testimony in committees. He adds that the directive would not prohibit someone from testifying in person if they wanted to. The resolution passes, but Speaker of the House K.C. Becker, D-Boulder, forgets to have a vote on an amendment. “I’m a little out of practice,” she acknowledges.

— Michael Karlik

10:35 a.m.

Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, and Rep. Serena Gonzales-Guitierrez, have returned from notifying Gov. Jared Polis that the House has convened.

“I wished him well and a speedy recovery,” said Williams. “I also thanked him for his steadfast commitment and consistency in following his own recommended health guidelines.”

Over the weekend, Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis tested positive for COVID-19.

Gov. Jared Polis and first gentleman test positive for COVID-19

10:30 a.m.

It's not just the governor and legislature working on pandemic relief.

Monday morning, it was Secretary of State Jena Griswold who delivered the official executive order to the House and Senate.

The order was then read in full in both chambers.

"Ultimately, this special session is not and cannot be about us," Senate President Leroy Garcia, a Democrat from Pueblo, told the upper chamber at the commencement.

When Garcia finished, Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg of Boulder said, "I move that your remarks be spread upon the pages of the journal," which passed without objection.

— Joey Bunch

 Here are Garcia's remarks in full:

Senate President Leroy Garcia's opening remarks, 1st extraordinary session, General Assembly

— Michael Karlik

10:25 a.m.
Liston photo from Twitter.jpg

Rep. Cathy Kipp tweeted out a picture of Rep. Larry Liston as the House proceedings got underway.

 
Spotted: Rep. Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, sitting on the House floor wearing a mask — on top of his head, rather than over his face.

— Michael Karlik

 
10:10 a.m.
 
The House reconvenes with a statement from Rep. James Coleman, D-Denver. "We are here because hurt has called us. We hear the hurt of doctors and nurses that have helped many families say goodbye to loved ones during these times. We hear the hurt from children who are missing their peers across the state. We hear the hurt from small business owners, many of whom have shut their doors for good."
 
Many legislators are joining virtually. For those in the chamber, there is spacing between them and plexiglass barriers. Many, but not all, Republicans are wearing masks. The urge to behave normally is strong, with several legislators conversing, hugging and otherwise straying within six feet of each other.
 
— Michael Karlik
pledge of allegiance

State Rep. James Coleman leads the Pledge of Allegiance as the Colorado House begins its special session Monday, Nov. 30, 2020.

10:10 a.m.

And they're off ...

When the Colorado House gaveled in a little after 10 a.m., some were a bit rusty at legislating, since they adjourned in June. House Speaker K.C. Becker of Boulder stumbled verbally as she called the chamber to assemble. 

"God, it's been awhile," began Becker, as she presides over the House for one of her last times, as a term-limited lawmaker.

She called Rep. James Coleman of Denver, who is joining the Senate in January, to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, an honor that normally goes to a Colorado child each day of the 120-day regular session.

"I'm looking forward to my certificate," Coleman said to laughter, referencing the prize children usually get, along with a photo of the speaker.

Over in the Senate, Minority Leader Chris Holbert, a Republican from Parker, did the honors.

Now it's time to see who gets the last word on the $280 million pandemic relief package sought by Gov. Jared Polis, who, by the way, is recovering from COVID-19 with the first gentleman.

The special session is expected to last until at least through Wednesday.

— Joey Bunch

9:58 a.m.

Looking to watch the proceedings? Head to this link on the Colorado General Assembly's page. — Linda Shapley

9:30 a.m.

While all of the eight bills targeted for addressing the seven policy areas in the special session have garnered bipartisan sponsorship, there's a growing number of other bills addressing COVID-19 issues that aren't necessarily budget-related. One of note: a bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Rob Woodward of Loveland, who has been among the lawmakers fussing about capacity limitations for the restaurants in his district. Woodward is carrying a bill to allow businesses to be exempted from public health orders related to closure. It's cosponsored by 12 Republicans in the Senate, nine House members and one Senate Democrat — Sen. Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada. 

Read more about Woodward's concerns here:

Northern Colorado business, labor frets red level virus restrictions

Woodward also has a resolution to terminate Gov. Jared Polis' authority to issue a disaster emergency order. Good luck with that.

— Marianne Goodland

8:05 a.m.

If you're interested in signing up to testify on any of the bills that will be heard in committees today, click here. You have the option of sending in written testimony, participating via Webex or notifying the committee that you want to testify in person.

So far, more than two dozen bills have been pre-released. It's unheard of to do this, but there were a lot of complaints during the COVID session in May and June that bills would be introduced and into committee without anyone — including lawmakers in the minority party — getting a chance to even read them before the hearings. House and Senate Democratic leadership took that to heart (they do listen sometimes) and have made it possible for the bills to be seen in advance. 

A couple of notes: Don't pay attention to the bill numbers. That's what's been assigned by the legislature's attorneys and those bill numbers will change once they've been read across the desk, sometime after 10 a.m. this morning. Also: This is not a complete list. We've heard that there may be others, so keep your eyes peeled here and we'll do our best to keep up. 

If you show up, be prepared to be screened for COVID-19 and bring a mask. 

— Marianne Goodland

Here's previous coverage to get you up to speed:

ANALYSIS | Context drives the moment as lawmakers return early to Denver
Six things to watch for in this week's special session
Legislative leaders talk Sunday about Monday's special session

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