Colorado Capitol Report

Governor’s Top Lawyer Explains Public Health Orders, Asks for Feedback from the Business Community

Governor’s Top Lawyer Explains Public Health Orders, Asks for Feedback from the Business Community

Members of the Colorado Chamber had the chance to hear from Jacki Melmed, Chief Legal Counsel for the Polis Administration, and to ask questions surrounding the Governor’s Executive Orders and Public Health Orders as they pertain to business.

More than 100 business owners and business leaders registered for the call that took place Thursday, May 14, and asked questions related to business that ranged from where to access the most current and reliable information, to questions about ensuring compliance, to questions about collecting health data.

Melmed explained that the Administration understands that there can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to keeping businesses thriving while ensuring the safety of their employees, vendors and customers, and that businesses should consult guidelines that pertain to their specific industry. She also encouraged businesses to ask questions and share feedback that may help public health officials to better understand their unique circumstances.

View the full Zoom meeting recording.

Melmed also shared the following link where the business community can submit questions, concerns and feedback directly to the Polis Administration:

Colorado Chamber members may contact Lauren Schwartz for additional information.

Colorado General Assembly Delays Legislative Session

On March 16th, the Colorado General Assembly recessed the 2020 Legislative Session due to the growing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic and exposure to legislators, lobbyists and the general public who work or visit the Capitol. The Executive Committee of the Legislative Council originally chose May 18th as the date to reconvene, however, legislative leadership recently extended that date to May 26th.

Reasons cited for the delay include the need for more time for the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) members to develop the State Budget/Long Bill that they can present to the full General Assembly for a vote.  The state’s budget writers have been faced with the unprecedented challenge of balancing the State’s budget with a $3.3 billion shortfall for the 2020/21 fiscal year.  Other reasons include more time needed to develop safety protocols for legislators and the general public, including lobbyists, that plan to work at the Capitol when the Session starts up again.  Safety guidelines are being developed that include health screenings; reduced access points into the Capitol; masks or face coverings and seating arrangements for legislators on the House and Senate floor.

When the General Assembly reconvenes, it is not expected to stay in Session for the 53 days it has remaining.  Committees of reference will meet once and hear the bills assigned to those committees.  Many bills will be killed in those committees based on a fiscal impact to the State or a lack of consensus on controversial bills.  The same is expected for the 2nd and 3rd readings of bills on the House and Senate floor.

Please contact Loren Furman at [email protected] with any questions regarding this matter.

Federal Legislation Would Allow Businesses to Deduct Expenses

Last week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a regulation stating that businesses who received a loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) cannot deduct operational expenses needed to maintain their operations during the pandemic.  Colorado businesses and small businesses nationwide have raised concerns about the IRS regulation as they understood the loan to be a forgiven loan and allow for deductions for business expenses.

In an effort to fix this unintended consequence of the CARES Act legislation, a bi-partisan federal bill known as the “Small Business Expense Protection Act” has been introduced in the US Senate by Senators Cornyn (R-TX), Grassley (R-IA), Wyden (D-OR), Rubio (R-FL) and Carper (D-DE).  According to the sponsors, “the intent of the Paycheck Protection Program, which was created in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, was to maximize small businesses’ ability to maintain liquidity, retain their employees, and recover from the pandemic as soon as possible. Last Thursday, the IRS issued a notice that said small businesses cannot deduct these business expenses. This notice is contrary to congressional intent.”

The legislation if passed would amend the PPP program so small businesses can deduct their expenses that were paid through a forgiven PPP loan they received.

Please contact Loren Furman at [email protected] with any questions regarding this matter.