House Passes Paid Sick Leave, Provides Relief Funds for Small Businesses

DENVER, CO — The House today passed bills to provide  paid sick leave to hardworking Coloradans and increase funding for COVID-19 recovery grants given businesses with less than 25 employees. Both bills passed the House on third reading. 

“While the federal small business grants in response to COVID-19 helped some small businesses persevere, it was clear to us that more needed to be done,” said Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley, sponsor of SB20-222. “Today we voted to provide $20 million in grants to small businesses, including those who may not have been able to access SBA or payroll protection loans thus far. As we work to recover Colorado’s economy, it’s more important than ever to give our state’s small businesses the tools and support they need to bounce back.”

SB20-222, sponsored by Representatives Mary Young and Perry Will, R-New Castle, would direct $20 million dollars to the Energize Colorado Fund that OEDIT has created to provide assistance to small businesses in Colorado who have suffered hardship as a result of COVID19. This fund will be providing grants to businesses with less than 25 employees, with a preference given to those that did not qualify for, or access, SBA PPP loans. Preference will also be given to businesses owned by veterans, women, minorities, or is located in rural areas. The bill passed on a bipartisan vote of 65-0.

“The need for a robust paid sick program was clear well before COVID-19,” said Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, sponsor of SB20-205. “But watching our health care system and our economy ravaged by a pandemic has made it clear that as we rebuild and recover, we’ll have to put in place systems to ensure we’re better prepared for public health emergencies to come. I’m proud that we voted to give Coloradans the ability to earn paid sick days and care for themselves or their loved ones without losing a paycheck.”

“I see the devastating public health effects of not having a paid sick leave program in my clinic every day,” said Rep. Caraveo, D-Thornton. “No Coloradan should be forced to choose between foregoing income or going into work sick. Today’s modest proposal will make a real difference in the lives of my patients and will go a long way towards improving the public health of our state.”

SB20-205, sponsored by Speaker KC Becker and Representative Yadira Caraveo, would allow workers to earn paid sick leave. Currently, 40 percent of Colorado’s workforce is not afforded the opportunity to earn paid sick days –– creating a “work while sick” culture that increases the transmission of deadly viruses such as COVID-19. The bill allows Colorado workers, including part-time workers, to earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work, up to 6 days per year. Sick leave is earned, job-protected time off that workers can use to care for their own health needs or those of a family member. The bill also provides leave during a public health emergency like COVID-19; employees that work 40 or more hours a week will receive at least 80 hours of additional paid sick leave. The bill passed 38-27.