Ag Committee Advances Rural Colorado Comeback Bills Unanimously

The Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee today advanced three State Stimulus proposals to support rural economies and small businesses, and invest in critical water projects. 

DENVER, CO– The House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee today approved two bipartisan bills that are a part of the Colorado Comeback state stimulus, a package of legislation that will invest roughly $800 million into helping Colorado recover faster and build back stronger. The bills are focused on bolstering rural economies and restoring some of the damage that wildfires have caused to our watersheds. Both passed unanimously.

“The Rural Jump Start program has a proven track record of success creating jobs and supporting small businesses in economically distressed areas and coal transition communities across rural Colorado,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, sponsor of SB21-229. “The funds we directed toward the Program today will make our rural economies and local communities stronger by boosting businesses that are starting up or need funds to grow.”

SB21-229, also sponsored by Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, invests $3 million in the Rural Jump Start Grant Program, which helps economically distressed communities – particularly communities that will be affected by the market transition away from coal to more renewable energy sources – attract new businesses and jobs. Of the grants available, new businesses can receive up to $20,000 for establishing operations in rural jump-start zones and up to $2,500 for each new job they create. While businesses establishing operations in coal transition communities (as identified in the Office of Just Transition Action Plan) can receive up to $40,000 as well as up to $5,000 for each new job they create. The bills passed by a vote of 11-0. 

“Last year’s fire season was among the most destructive in the history of Colorado, and it took an unspeakable toll not only on homes and communities, but also on our forests and watersheds,” said Rep. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins, sponsor of SB21-240. “Through a robust investment in the Watershed Restoration and Flood Mitigation Grant Program, this bill helps us mitigate some of the worst effects of droughts and wildfire seasons so we can be better prepared for what’s to come.”

SB21-240, also sponsored by Ag Committee Vice Chair Marc Catlin, transfers $20 million to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for the Watershed Restoration and Flood Mitigation Grant Program to help watersheds recover from the impacts of wildfire. The bill also sets aside funds to conduct a statewide watershed analysis that investigates the susceptibility of life, safety, infrastructure, and water supplies to wildfire impacts. The bills passed by a vote of 11-0.