Nov 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

State legislatures seek relief bills with Congress stalled

People in line at a coronavirus testing site in San Fernando, California, on Nov. 23.

People in line at a coronavirus testing site in San Fernando, California, on Nov. 23. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

With a federal coronavirus stimulus bill stalled in Congress, some state legislatures are attempting to pass their own relief bills to help small, local business owners, the unemployed and renters as the pandemic rages on.

Why it matters: Lawmakers have been unable to agree on a second stimulus package to date, leaving states to defend their economies against another wave of COVID-19 that is expected to get worse.

New Mexico lawmakers on Tuesday passed a $330 million relief bill that includes a one-time $1,200 payment to unemployed workers and up to $50,000 for some businesses, according to AP.

  • It also gives immigrants across the state without legal status stimulus checks and added funds to use at food banks, for virus testing and contact tracing programs.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced in November he would call the state legislature back for a rare special session to consider multiple relief bills.

  • If passed, the bills would allow restaurants and bars to retain sales tax for a limited time, give relief to small businesses and provide housing and rental assistance, according to Colorado Public Radio.
  • Members of the state's budget committee have said they would be comfortable with a stimulus package of around $200 million.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) released a $541 million relief plan in November but Republicans, who control the legislature, have not said whether they will work to pass the plan, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) said on Wednesday the state is close to passing a bipartisan pandemic relief package after he and state House Republicans unveiled differing initiatives earlier this week, according to AP.

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