Legislation will create jobs, help Colorado recover faster and build back stronger
DENVER, CO– The House today passed six Colorado Comeback state stimulus proposals to boost Colorado’s events industry, invest in workers, provide free mental health sessions for Colorado students, and make historic investments in the Colorado Water Plan. The bills are part of the state stimulus package that will invest roughly $800 million into helping Colorado recover faster and build back stronger.
HB21-1253, sponsored by Representatives Matt Gray and Meg Froelich, would invest $5 million in grants to local governments for job-creating projects in the renewable energy sector. The grants would be distributed by the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and are intended to be allocated by August 15, 2021. The bill passed by a vote of 40-23.
“Renewable energy projects create jobs, sustain communities, and position Colorado for a cleaner future,” said Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. “HB21-1253 will boost economies across our state by enabling renewable energy infrastructure projects where they’re needed most. We have a tremendous opportunity to build the clean energy infrastructure that will power Colorado into the future.”
The lack of qualified talent in Colorado has been one of the primary barriers to business growth. HB21-1264, sponsored by Representatives Sullivan and Young, would invest $25 million to provide Coloradans with reskilling, upskilling, and next-skilling opportunities that lead to industry-recognized credentials and employment opportunities in growing industries that are looking to hire. The money would go to the Colorado Workforce Development Council, which will work with local workforce boards to distribute funds across the state to local workforce centers and nonprofit entities. The funds will allow these entities to serve up 6,000 Coloradans through the completion of training programs. The bill passed by a vote of X-X.
“Building back stronger means making sure that Colorado workers are ready and prepared to fill jobs in the fastest growing industries so we can boost our economy and get people back to work,” said Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley. “This bill fuels the job and skills training infrastructure we need to be competitive, create jobs, and increase wages for hardworking people.”
HB21-1262, sponsored by Representatives Susan Lontine and Mike Lynch, supports Colorado’s agriculture industry by providing $3.5 million to the Colorado Stock Show–a staple to the state’s agricultural industry and Denver’s economy–as well as $3.5 million for the State Fair, and $2 million to agricultural events organizations across the state. The bill passed by a vote of 55-8.
“The National Western Stock Show brings nearly $100 million in economic activity to Denver while agriculture events and programs help create jobs all across Colorado,” said Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver. “These events strengthen our western culture and are a big part of who we are as Coloradans. I’m proud the legislature is standing up to support Colorado agriculture, the Stock Show, and local events that are vitally important to our communities.”
HB21-1263, sponsored by Representatives Dylan Roberts and Matt Soper, would create the Meeting & Events Incentive Program within the Office of Economic Development & International Trade’s (OEDIT) Colorado Tourism Office (CTO). The program would provide rebates to incentivize planners to host events in Colorado, bolstering the tourism economy and industry, and supporting thousands of small businesses across the State. The bill appropriates $10 million for the program. The bill passed by a vote of 48-15.
Eligible events must generate at least 25 overnight stays. The bill stipulates that the Tourism Office must support events equitably and proportionally across the state and prioritize events with potential to generate local business earnings and tax revenues. Eligible events would receive up to a 10% rebate of the hard costs of the event and a 25% rebate of the COVID-19 related costs. Finally, a small portion of the funds may be used to provide up-front support to attract large events that impact multiple counties and have potential to generate significant economic impact.
“Events fill rooms in hotels, tables in restaurants, and shoppers in stores, and that’s exactly what communities across Colorado need right now,” said Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon. “Big events, conferences, festivals and more had to cancel their bookings in our state during the last year and those in the business of events took a hard hit. This bill will provide a direct and impactful incentive for people and organizations to choose Colorado for their events and that investment will benefit businesses all across our state in a big way.”
HB21-1258, sponsored by Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Kevin Van Winkle, would create a temporary youth mental health services program in the Office of Behavioral Health within the Department of Human Services to facilitate access to mental health services for identified needs, including those that may have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program would provide any young person age 18 and under with an online mental health screening and would then reimburse providers for up to three mental health sessions. This support is intended to prepare children for the return to in-person learning and a review of stress management tools, and to make a plan for ongoing treatment when necessary. We estimate that this program can support up to 25,537 children. The bill passed by a vote of 48-15.
HB21-1260, sponsored by Speaker Alec Garnett and Representative Marc Catlin, would provide $20 million to the state water conservation board to implement the state water plan. The funds will be divided between the Water Plan Implementation Cash Fund, which may be used for water plan grants, and the Water Supply Reserve Fund, which provides grants and loans to address water supply issues. The bill passed by a vote of 63-0.