PASSED! Colorado Comeback Bills to Support Workers, Students, Artists, Businesses, and Families

House advances five state stimulus proposals 

DENVER, CO– The House today passed four Colorado Comeback state stimulus bills on third reading and gave preliminary approval to a bill that would give restaurants a leg up, invest in jobs training, close the COVID learning gap, and boost affordable housing opportunities. The bills are part of the $800 million package of legislation that will invest roughly $800 million into helping Colorado recover faster and build back stronger.

The SNAP Employment First initiative has successfully helped Coloradans who receive SNAP benefits obtain new skills to thrive and reenter the workforce. HB21-1270, sponsored by Representatives Tony Exum and Yadira Caraveo, leverages $3 million in state funds to draw down an additional $3 million in federal funds to provide a total of $6 million for jobs and skills training services to SNAP recipients. The funds may also be used to support work based learning opportunities and expanding 3rd party partnerships to expand the SNAP employment and training program’s reach. The bill passed 42-21.

“By expanding critical job training programs, we can help more hardworking Coloradans land good jobs and recover faster from the pandemic,” said Rep. Tony Exum Sr., D-Colorado Springs. “The Colorado Comeback is going to be powered by workers, and we’re going to do everything we can to provide them the tools they need to get back to work.”

Local governments are on the forefront of building affordable housing, but often lack the tools and resources to increase the available housing stock. HB21-1271, sponsored by Representatives Julie McCluskie and Iman Jodeh, provides $13 million in incentives and technical assistance to local governments to provide for the rapid deployment of affordable housing projects and to also ensure local communities have the tools and resources they need to help them identify and meet their unique housing needs. The bill passed 41-22.

“The pandemic exasperated Colorado’s long standing affordable house crisis, and it’s clear the pace of our recovery is going to depend on how quickly we can help Coloradans find an affordable place to live,” said. Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora. “No one should have to choose between paying their rent or mortgage or purchasing necessary goods, and by creating more affordable housing options, we will make Colorado a better place to live.”

HB21-1234, sponsored by Rep. Kerry Tipper would create and fund the Colorado High Impact Tutoring Program. Data consistently demonstrates that high-impact tutoring, when administered during the school day to groups of four of fewer students by the same qualified tutor at least three times per week, is one of the most effective interventions to raise student achievement. This program would be administered under the Colorado Department of Education and would provide grants to local education providers for high impact tutoring programs designed to address COVID-related learning loss. The bill outlines the process and requirements for applying for funding, and establishes that rural education providers and schools serving low-income or underserved students must be among the criteria taken into consideration in awarding grants. The bill passed 55-8.

“Every Colorado student should have the opportunity to thrive, but this pandemic has clearly disrupted learning for a lot of students,” said Rep. Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood. “This bill drastically increases access to high-impact tutoring, which we know is one of the most effective ways to raise student achievement.”

Venues, artists, and so many other culturally vital organizations have struggled to make it through the last year. HB21-1285, which passed on second reading and is sponsored by Representatives Benavidez and Herod, provides $10M to support artists and cultural organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19 throughout the state. This includes funding for the performance based film incentive, cultural facilities and the CO Creative Industries grant program set up during the 2020 special session. The bill advanced on second reading. 

“Colorado’s artists, musicians, and cultural organizations need help to bounce back from this pandemic,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. “Colorado is known for its music, art, and culture, but our creative industry is suffering from job losses, closed venues, and the economic fallout of the pandemic. This important stimulus bill will help our communities bounce back stronger and continue to produce the art, music, and so much more that makes us proud.”

HB21-1265, sponsored by Reps Kyle Mullica and Kevin Van Winkle R-Highlands Ranch, continues a successful sales tax assistance effort passed during the 2020 special session. It allows restaurants, bars, caterers, and food service contractors (such as airline food service contractors and food concession contractors at sporting events) to deduct up to $70,000 in net taxable sales from their monthly state sales tax return for five different locations and retain the resulting sales tax revenue during the months of June, July, and August 2021. The bill passed 62-0.