COVID-19 Relief Advances in Special Session

Sales Tax Relief, Broadband Expansion for Students, Child Care Support, and Food Pantry Assistance Pass House Committees; Will See Floor Action in House TONIGHT

DENVER, CO — House committees this afternoon passed four bills that would provide sales tax relief to businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, expand broadband capacity for students, preserve and increase access to safe child care options, and support food pantries. The legislation is expected on the floor for Second Reading this evening. 

HB20B-1004, sponsored by Reps. Alex Valdez & Kevin Van Winkle, would allow restaurants, bars, and food trucks to retain state sales tax they collect from November 2020 through February 2021. This will provide bars and restaurants up to $2,000 per location and limited to five locations for up to $10,000in tax relief each month to help them make ends meet. The legislation passed the House Finance and Appropriations committees and will be debated on the floor this evening for Second Reading. 

Colorado restaurants, bars and small businesses are struggling and need assistance now so our recovery can stay on track,” said HB20B- 1004 sponsor Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver. “Only the federal government can deliver the kind relief our state needs most, but we are committed to using what limited state resources we have to boost our recovery and help as many hardworking families and small businesses as possible as we tackle the very challenging months ahead. This sales tax relief will provide immediate help to thousands of restaurants and bars that are facing capacity restrictions from COVID-19.”

HB20B-1002, sponsored by Reps. Cathy Kipp & Lois Landgraf would distribute $45 million to enable existing child care providers to keep their doors open and new providers to open and meet the needs of working parents, especially in child care deserts. Colorado’s economic recovery depends on its workforce having access to stable child care, but due to temporary closures and the increased costs of health and safety precautions for child care providers, many are on the brink of financial collapse. These grant programs are estimated to support 2,600 child care facilities, preserving child care for over 100,000 children and creating capacity for tens of thousands more. Moreover, research shows that for every dollar spent on early childhood programs, $2.25 is contributed to our state’s economy. The bill passed the House Public Health and Human Services and Appropriations committees and will be debated on the House floor this evening for Second Reading. 

Safe and affordable child care options are critical for working families who are juggling the stressful and difficult challenges of working while caring for young ones,” said HB20B-1002 sponsor Rep. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins. “These grants will keep thousands of child care providers open and provide critical funding to make facilities safer during the pandemic. Retaining this workforce is critical to ensuring Coloradans don’t have to choose between going to work and keeping their kids safe.” 

HB20B-1001, sponsored by Reps. Mary Young and Matt Soper would dedicate $20 million towards increasing our state’s broadband capacity – connecting more students to their teachers so that they can learn safely in the months ahead. Internet access is absolutely essential for students during this difficult time. But many families who are struggling with financial stability simply can’t afford to cover the cost, while numerous school districts lack the infrastructure to educate their students remotely. The bill passed the House State Veterans and Military Affairs and Appropriations committees and will be debated on the floor for Second Reading tonight. 

“At a time when Colorado families are learning, working, socializing, and generally living online from their homes, what could be more important than expanding broadband use in schools,” said HB20B-1001 sponsor Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley. “Every Colorado student should have access to a quality education, and in 2020 that means having a reliable internet connection. While we work to determine what the future of our childrens’ education will look like, expanding broadband access to every school in our state is a necessity.” 

HB20B-1003, sponsored by Reps. Lisa Cutter and Rod Bockenfeld would devote $3 million to replenishing essential community services that increase access to food for Colorado families facing food insecurity. 1 in 3 Coloradans are struggling with hunger as more and more families are being forced to choose between paying their bills and putting food on the table. Food banks, food pantries and their partners need additional assistance to meet the rising demands, especially as the December expiration for federal hunger relief looms. The legislation has passed the Public Health and Human Services and Appropriations Committee and will be debated on the floor for Second Reading tonight. “Across our state and our nation, hunger and food insecurity have only been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic,” said HB20B-1003 sponsor Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County. “This direct support to food pantries builds on the work we did earlier in the year to bring us closer to a hunger-free Colorado. While we know there is a great deal of work left to be done, I’m proud that we are taking bold action to help hardworking families keep food on the table.”

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