The Colorado General Assembly concluded its Special Session on December 2, 2020, by authorizing $300 million in COVID relief funding. Ireland Stapleton’s government affairs, regulatory law, and business law attorneys explain what the stimulus means for you, your business, and your community.
Governor Polis has confirmed that he will sign all 10 of the COVID-relief bills that the General Assembly passed with bipartisan support during the Special Session.
As the state moves to implement these new laws, individuals and businesses in Colorado should be immediately aware of the many new sources of funding that were appropriated during the Special Session:
- Financial Assistance for Impacted Small Businesses – Senate Bill 20B-1 makes $37 million available in grants to Colorado-headquartered restaurants, bars, breweries, movie theaters, caterers, and gyms that: (1) have less than $2.5 million in annual revenue; (2) are subject to (and in compliance with) public health orders that have limited their operations; and (3) have sustained revenue losses of at least 20 percent since March 2020. Depending on the size of the business and the demand on the program, an eligible small business may qualify for a one-time payment of between $3,500 and $7,000. The funds will be distributed by county and local governments by no later than February 12, 2021. Eligible businesses will need to follow up with these localities to apply for and receive these funds.
Senate Bill 20B-1 also allocates $7.5 million in direct payments to music and arts venues, artists and arts organizations. The eligibility criteria and the amounts of such payments will be determined by the Creative Industries Division within the Colorado Office of Economic Development with a special emphasis on providing relief to venues and organizations that are deemed to be at the highest risk of permanent closure.
Additionally, Senate Bill 20B-1 provides for $4 million in direct relief, grants, and loans to minority-owned businesses. The Minority Business Office within the Colorado Office of Economic Development is charged with distributing these funds.
- Targeted Relief for Restaurants and Bars – beyond the more general relief discussed above, Senate Bill 20B-1 provides $6.78 million to local health departments to be used in lieu of charging annual licensing fees to restaurants. The Bill also provides nearly $1.9 million to the Department of Revenue to be used to offset a waiver of some liquor licensing fees.
Separately, House Bill 20B-1004 provides special sales tax relief to restaurants, bars, and vintners. House Bill 20B-1005 provides local governments with lawful authority to cap the fees that can be charged by food delivery companies and requires those companies to disclose all of their fees to customers. Read more information about these new restaurant-specific laws.
- Financial Assistance for Individuals – Colorado businesses should also be aware that employees struggling with basic necessities may qualify for special housing assistance in the form of $44.5 million in direct payments to landlords in lieu of rent and $500,000 to the state’s eviction legal defense fund (Senate Bill 20B-2). Senate Bill 20B-3 adds $5 million to the state’s Low Income Energy Assistance Fund to help individuals pay their utility bills. House Bill 20B 1003 provides an additional $5 million to the state’s Food Pantry Assistance Program and lifts an existing cap on the amount of annual financial assistance that a pantry can receive from the state.
- Increased Funding for Broadband Access – House Bill 20B-1001 appropriates $20 million in new grant funding to expand internet access for school districts and students engaged in remote learning. Read more about this new program.
Ireland Stapleton attorneys Tom Downey, Jeffrey S. Hurd, Sean Jennings, Amy L. Jones, Benjamin J. Larson, and James R. Silvestro contributed to this article. Ireland Stapleton’s experienced attorneys continue to review this new legislation and all legal developments surrounding the COVID 19 pandemic. If you have questions about how any of these new laws might impact you or your business, please contact your Ireland Stapleton attorney directly.
What is written here is intended as general information and is not to be construed as legal advice. If legal advice is needed, you should consult an attorney.