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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis visits a mass COVID-19 vaccination event. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Jared Polis is no longer the state's top COVID cop. The Colorado governor passes the baton Saturday to local officials to set public health orders.

Why it matters: Like most major decisions made by the nation's governors during the pandemic, the move is colored by politics.

On this accord, Polis — who faces reelection in 2022 — stands apart from many of his Democratic peers.

  • Polis is adamant about the need to get back to normal — and he continually touts that he reopened Colorado's economy before other states, a talking point more often heard from Republican governors.
  • He argues his decisions prioritize public health, but he cites the need for personal responsibility.

Between the lines: "The language he is using [about reopening] is more aggressive," said Josh Penry, a top Republican strategist in Colorado. "I think he probably feels that pressure."

  • "People generally want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but [that support is] soft and it's super fluid," he added. "No smart politician would be taking anything for granted in a political environment like this one right now."

Context: The approach shows Polis' libertarian leanings that often align him with conservatives.

Asked this week about his approach, he acknowledged that the risk of further outbreaks and deaths are probable. But he argued the benefits of reopening schools and restaurants are worth it.

  • "What's important is respecting human lives and human dignity. And part of our dignity is being able to support ourselves," he told John.

State of play: A Magellan Strategies poll from February found 56% of voters approved of how he's addressing COVID-19, which was higher than the Biden administration. "I do think this is smart politics for Governor Polis," said pollster Ryan Winger.

The bottom line: In assessing Polis, Democratic strategists believe he's achieved the right balance.

  • "I think Polis has been focused less on politics and more on the health and safety of Coloradans — ultimately that's how voters are going to judge his response," said Jason Bane, a prominent Democratic blogger.
  • "So, is there risk? Sure, but at this point it’s a low-threshold risk to me," added Democratic consultant Steve Welchert.
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Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.