DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers are resuming their 2021 session on Tuesday, with majority Democrats anxious to implement a proposed $1 billion-plus economic stimulus plan by Gov. Jared Polis to create jobs, keep small businesses afloat and support families afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
Polis, a Democrat, wants immediate spending in transportation infrastructure, broadband, telehealth and job retraining programs to get residents displaced by the pandemic back to work.
Minority Republicans welcome any lifeline for small firms but argue restaurants have borne the brunt of social-distancing restrictions. They want any transportation funding focused on roads and bridges both along the Front Range and in rural areas.
The session's biggest fight may be over the introduction of a so-called “public option” in the health insurance marketplace long sought by Polis. Democrats have been negotiating with hospitals, insurers and others over a possible plan. Republicans traditionally have opposed a state insurance option that would mandate pricing structures for hospitals and other health care providers. Some hospitals say a pandemic is not the time to bring forth such a proposal.
Lawmakers passed bills adjusting COVID-19 relief in January before adjourning in hopes it would be safer to convene in February.
Polis delivers his annual state of the state address on Wednesday.