In this Capitol Report:
It’s a Wrap! Special Session Concludes in Three Days….
The Colorado General Assembly concluded the Special Session this week which was called by Governor Polis to address the dire need for economic relief due to restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislators were permitted to introduce one bill each during the Special Session and they could request late bills but those required approval by leadership in the House and Senate.
On Monday, 33 bills were introduced but by Wednesday, only ten had passed both the House and Senate and are on the way to the Governor for signature. Those that passed with bipartisan support provided temporary tax relief and temporary funding to small businesses, restaurants, gyms and the arts and cultural industries. Others included funding support for housing needs and child-care centers.
There were attempts by Republicans to amend some of the bills to lessen the stringent occupancy restrictions imposed on restaurants, bars and religious organizations. They also attempted amendments to direct funding for the agricultural community and specifically the Stock Show events. The amendments offered ultimately failed, however, Democrats in swing districts voted for some of those amendments on the House Floor indicating that their constituents have expressed strong concerns with the restrictions imposed on them.
Although the Legislature provided a small amount of financial relief, businesses will continue to struggle until federal aid is provided or until results of the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine reduce the number of cases in the state. A list of the 10 bills that passed both chambers and are awaiting the Governor’s signature include the following:
Senate Bill 001 (COVID-19 Relief Small And Minority Businesses Arts Organizations) – Provides $37 million in relief to small businesses, $7.5 million in relief to arts and cultural organizations, and $4 million to minority-owned businesses.
Senate Bill 002 (Housing And Direct COVID Emergency Assistance) – Grants $54 million from the General Fund to emergency housing assistance programs; $1million in legal eviction aid; and $5 million to those who are not eligible for other forms of aid.
Senate Bill 003 (Money For Energy Utility Bill Payment Assistance) – Provides $5 million to Energy Outreach Colorado for energy bill payment assistance to low-income households.
Senate Bill 004 (Transfer To Make Money Available For COVID-19 Emergencies) – Transfers $100 million money from the General Fund to the Controlled Maintenance Trust Fund for the Governor to use for the Disaster Emergency Fund.
House Bill 1001 (Creates grants To Improve Internet Access In P-12 Education) – Provides $20 million in funding to create a broadband grant program for school districts to allow them to expand access to the Internet.
House Bill 1002 (Emergency Relief Programs For Child Care Sector) – Authorizes $45 million in grants through two grant programs to help existing child-care operators and to help those that are expanding.
House Bill 1003 (Food Pantry Assistance Grant Program) – Provides $5million to food pantries through the Food Pantry Assistance Grant Program.
House Bill 1004 (Qualified Retailer Retain Sales Tax For Assistance Allows qualifying restaurants & bars to receive tax relief on the sales tax that they would normally remit to the State. Those businesses would be able to receive up to $2,000 in tax relief for four months.
House Bill 1005 (Local Authority To Impose Food Delivery Fee Restrictions) – Gives counties the authority to address the fees that third-party food delivery companies charge for delivering food to restaurant customers.
House Bill 1006 (Insurance Premium Tax Payments And Credits) – Allows for the transfer of tax credits and other adjustments to the insurance premium tax payments and credits.
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