May 10, 2022

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BILL TO SAVE PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES MONEY PASSES HOUSE

DENVER, CO – The House today passed legislation sponsored by Representatives David Ortiz and Marc Snyder to save people and businesses money and improve unemployment insurance in Colorado. The House also passed a bill to help small businesses save money when they collect sales taxes.

SB22-234, which passed the House by a vote of 48-17, would infuse the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund (UITF) with $600 million in pandemic relief funds while expanding eligibility and improving benefits to better support Colorado’s working families.

“This bipartisan legislation is supported by businesses and workers because it saves employees and employers money and improves how Colorado delivers critical unemployment assistance,” said Rep. David Ortiz, D-Littleton. “Under this bill, businesses will avoid cost increases since we will be able to pay back our federal loan to the unemployment insurance fund by the end of next month. We’re also extending a successful policy that encourages workers to accept part time work and reenter the workforce without being penalized.”

“I’m proud the House passed two of my bills that will save businesses money and help our economy continue to grow,” said Rep. Marc Snyder, D-Manitou Springs. “Replenishing the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund was one of businesses’ top priorities this session at the legislature, and I’m proud that we delivered this critical relief. Small businesses and workers are the backbone of our economy, and we are doing everything we can to save them money.”

SB22-234 invests $600 million to shore up the solvency of the UITF and protect against potential future economic downturns. This will save businesses money on premiums and surcharges and provide certainty to workers who depend on unemployment benefits to continue paying for essentials like food, rent, and transportation while they search for new work. By extending the suspension of the solvency surcharge, a fee placed on employers until the Unemployment Trust Fund reaches solvency, the bill saves businesses money while they continue recovering from the economic conditions created by the pandemic.

The bill makes further improvements to ensure the unemployment system works better for Colorado families. It raises the benefit amount part-time workers can receive from 25 percent to 50 percent of the weekly benefit amount, in order to make it easier for workers who are laid off to find part-time employment while seeking a full-time job. It also creates a Benefit Recovery Fund to ensure that workers in Colorado who lack work authorization receive the benefits they already contribute to and their employers pay premiums into.

The bill also eliminates the one-week waiting period to help workers access their benefits as quickly as possible once the Fund reaches a sustainable level, clarifies what constitutes an overpayment to ensure workers are not unnecessarily penalized for errors or miscalculations made by administrators or their employer, explores the feasibility of a dependency allowance to better support primary caregivers as they return to work, and requires employers to inform all workers of their unemployment benefit eligibility upon separation.

SB22-006, sponsored by Representatives Barbara McLachlan and Snyder, allows retailers with taxable sales under $100,000 to retain 5.3 percent of the sales tax they collect. Retailers are currently permitted to retain a 4 percent vendor fee to compensate them for the cost of collecting and remitting sales tax. This bill increases the amount small retailers can retain, saving retailers $5.9 million over the next two years. The bill passed 60-5.

“Many small businesses could use just a little extra help, and that’s what the bill we passed today will do by saving small retailers nearly $6 million,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. “Small retailers face costs when they have to collect and remit sales taxes. This bill allows them to keep even more of the money they collect to cover those costs and avoid price increases or cuts to wages or hours.”