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► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) takes center stage in a Washington Post story detailing a significant anti-child poverty program included in the American Rescue Plan:
Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) tapped out the longest text messages he’d ever written one night in January, urging Susan Rice, a top Biden aide and a friend, to include a full-scale anti-child poverty measure in the coronavirus rescue plan to be unveiled within days…
…An unlikely coalition of Democrats across the ideological spectrum mounted an 11th-hour push in the final weekend before the American Rescue Plan for President Biden to go big on tackling child poverty. They prevailed over what one person involved in the process called the “cost police” in Biden’s inner circle, those anxiously warning about the ballooning cost of the stimulus package.
This under-the-radar success created what could be the most consequential piece of the $1.9 trillion package — one that, if made permanent, could approach the impact of the programs established under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty…
…The program’s impact probably will be profound. It expands the federal child-rearing subsidy by 50 percent — and parents of toddlers will get even more. A family with two young children and no income will now get $600 a month. The parents of 90 percent of the country’s children will benefit, and 27 million children will be lifted from poverty, according to analysts.
► Governor Jared Polis plans to lift the statewide mask mandate on April 4. From The Denver Post:
Colorado will further relax the COVID-19 restrictions managed through the state’s color-coded dial next week, with plans to ease the statewide mask order in two weeks, then turn over control of most public health orders to local governments in mid-April.
The proposed changes to the dial include reopening bars in most parts of the state for the first time since last summer and lifting all statewide limits on the size of personal gatherings.
While this is all good news regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, as The Washington Post reports, COVID-19 infections are trending in the wrong direction nationally:
New coronavirus infections are rising in several U.S. states, despite record vaccinations — an increase experts attribute to the growing reach of new variants and widespread pandemic fatigue after a year of public health restrictions. The seven-day average of newly reported cases climbed 2.6 percent on Sunday, even as overall hospitalizations and deaths remain down.
In Florida, a state where coronavirus measures are lax, authorities in Miami Beach declared a state of emergency and imposed a nighttime curfew this weekend as large crowds of rowdy spring break revelers turned violent and disruptive.
► Now, let’s catch up on more news from the Colorado legislature:
Alex Burness of The Denver Post reports on what lawmakers are considering for new law enforcement reforms. The legislature is also looking at changing sentencing guidelines in Colorado so that people who did not commit murder can’t end up serving life in prison for something they didn’t do.
Denver7 breaks down the proposals laid out for efforts to fix Colorado’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.
Colorado Newsline reports on an affordable housing measure that has been years in the making.
Colorado Public Radio elaborates on how and why Colorado’s budget looks better than expected.
Governor Jared Polis signed a bill into law that directs more resources toward state parks and wildlife preservation efforts. Polis also approved legislation directing $30 million in grants to help improve “main streets” in Colorado.
The Associated Press considers whether Colorado may be able to do more on waiting periods for gun purchases. Westword has more on the good and bad news about ongoing efforts to promote gun safety.
Marshall Zelinger of 9News looks at the behind-the-scenes work done at the State Capitol in a story that includes the lede of the week: “Conjunction junction is their function.”
► John Aguilar of The Denver Post looks at how local governments plan on using their share of billions of stimulus dollars on the way as a result of the American Rescue Plan:
Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul said the city will likely put the $22.6 million allocated to Lakewood toward a budget that lost $18 million last year.
“This is triage,” Paul said. “There is no pork in this for us. I see it as backfill to what we lost.”
Since the city eliminated the sales tax on groceries more than a decade ago, Paul said Lakewood didn’t have the revenue cushion others had when people flooded grocery stores to stock pantries. He said 70 positions remain vacant on Lakewood’s payroll, a result of pandemic-pinched spending by the city.
“We have to use (the Rescue Act money) for the right here, right now,” Paul said.
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel considers a similar story from a Western slope perspective.
More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…