DENVER, CO – Lawmakers in the House today introduced two bills that will direct federal economic relief funds to reduce the cost of healthy foods and prevent wildfires by improving Colorado’s watersheds.
Reducing the Cost of Food and Boosting Access to Critical Services: HB22-1380, sponsored by Representatives Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Rod Pelton and Senators Jeff Bridges and Don Coram, would direct $14 million in federal pandemic relief funds to save people money on healthy food and increase critical services for low-income individuals.
“This targeted investment of federal funds will better connect low-income and underserved communities with healthy food and critical services, like SNAP,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver. “By directing economic relief funds to boost low-income Coloradans, we’ll more equitably grow our economy, support small businesses, and better connect Coloradans to the services they need to thrive.”
“Every Coloradan deserves access to nutritious meals, regardless of who they are or where they come from,” said Sen. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village. “That’s why we’re working to make it easier for low-income families to put food on the table. With these additional resources, we can help more Coloradans support themselves, their families, and their overall health, all while saving them money.”
HB22-1380 $8 million in federal pandemic economic relief funds to create the Community Food Access Program. The program will improve access to healthy foods in low-income and underserved areas of the state. The bill supports small food retailers and grocery stores with technical assistance, one-time grants of up to $25,000 to strengthen infrastructure, and direct payments for pallet, pallet break, distribution, delivery, and other fees. Grants to retailers could be used to purchase expensive equipment and update point of sale systems. An additional one million will be available to help retailers join together to get better prices on wholesale products.
The bill also directs $2 million in federal relief funds to efficiently identify SNAP recipients who are also eligible for utility bill assistance, $3 million for a universal high-quality work management system to reduce administrative costs and streamline the application process for various benefit program; and $1 million to support technology upgrades and integrate the Double Up Food Bucks Program in local food retails stores increasing the access to healthy foods for SNAP recipients
Preventing Wildfires and Conserving Colorado’s Watersheds: HB22-1379, sponsored by Representatives Karen McCormick and Marc Catlin and Senators Kerry Donovan and Cleave Simpson, would invest $20 million to protect Colorado’s watersheds and reduce the risk of wildfires.
“Colorado is seeing increasingly devastating wildfires that are impacting our access to clean drinking water and the water our agricultural producers need to survive,” said Rep. Karen McCormick, D-Longmont. “This investment in our watersheds will reduce the risk of wildfire and mitigate the impacts they have on our water supply. Water is everything to Colorado communities, and we have to do everything we can to protect this critical resource.”
“After wildfires, our rivers (and our drinking water that comes from them) have a complicated road to recovery,” said Senator Donovan, D-Vail. “This bill provides the resources needed to recover from wildfire and keep our drinking water safe.”
HB22-1379 directs $20 million in federal pandemic economic relief funds to prevent wildfires and conserve Colorado’s watersheds through mitigation, watershed restoration and flood mitigation grants. The bill includes:
$3 million for projects that will help communities address the urgent need to reduce wildfire risks by supporting the implementation of risk mitigation treatments that focus on promoting watershed resilience;
$2 million to continue the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program within the Department of Natural Resources which supports the Department’s wildfire workforce development partnerships;
$10 million to the Colorado water conservation board construction fund for post-fire restoration needs and advance a watershed and landscape scale approach to building wildfire ready watersheds; and
$5 million to help local governments and other entities apply for federal “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” money and other federally available money for water projects.