Colorado lawmakers are heading home after a short week. Here’s what you need to know.

Lawmaking is once again paused at the state level, as Colorado’s General Assembly left the Capitol on Friday after convening for three days of the 2021 legislative session.

They plan to return Feb. 16, by which point many who work at the Capitol expect to be vaccinated. They left open the possibility of returning sooner or later than that date.

It was a quiet week at the legislature before the pause, as lawmakers passed just seven bills inside of a nearly empty building. Most bills primarily concerned pandemic-related accommodations to extend certain debt collection deadlines and allow for some remote document notarization, plus a few rule changes to allow lawmakers to do more business remotely.

Outside of the rule changes, some of which were protested by Republicans, the only remotely controversial bill was Senate Bill 1, a revision to legislation passed in December that sought in part to boost minority-owned businesses with $4 million in COVID-19 aid. But the state was sued by a white barbershop owned who alleged unfair preferential treatment, and the revision opened the funding up to white business owners as well.

One Black state lawmaker said he found the situation “appalling” — but he and other lawmakers supported the bill in the interest of getting money distributed quickly.

There is no limit on how much an individual business can receive, but $4 million isn’t much. Bill sponsor Sen. Faith Winter, a Democrat from Westminster, said she’s been assured by the state that it will try to spread the funds as carefully and evenly as possible.

“We know that they’re not going to be giving out extravagant grants to a couple of businesses,” she said. “The goal is to give out many grants to many small businesses.”

Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign the bill promptly, and the money will be available through the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade as soon as he does.

Legislative notes

  • The Colorado State Patrol was on high alert this week following the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and officers told The Denver Post they made no arrests at the state Capitol during the three days of session. One man was ejected from the building, however, after shouting from the gallery of the Senate on Thursday. Republican Sen. Cleave Simpson of Alamosa said he heard the man say, “F*** the vaccine, this is America.” The State Patrol ordered the man not to return to the building, officers said.
  • Before adjourning Friday, the legislature held its annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — a tradition that normally would’ve been marked next week. Most lawmakers were present at the Capitol, though some participated by video remotely.
  • One lawmaker, newly elected Republican Rep. Ron Hanks of Penrose, was absent except for a brief appearance Wednesday. Hanks was at the pro-Trump rally last week and also told a radio station he was in the crowd outside the U.S. Capitol. House GOP whip Rod Pelton told The Post that Hanks told him a “prior commitment” meant he couldn’t stay at the Colorado Capitol this week, but caucus leader Hugh McKean told The Post that Hanks texted to say he was “under the weather.”

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