Workforce training, sales tax relief, Water Plan funding among stimulus bills at state Capitol

By: - April 7, 2021 3:02 pm
Gov. Polis

Gov. Jared Polis speaks at a news conference announcing a state stimulus plan March 10, 2021. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)

Last month, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and state lawmakers from both parties announced a $700 million plan to stimulate Colorado’s economy and “build back better” from the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of the bills in the stimulus package — made possible by surplus income and sales tax revenue — are now under consideration at the state Capitol.

The following stimulus bills were among those introduced April 6:

House Bill 21-1264 would provide $25 million to the Colorado Workforce Development Council for grants to local workforce boards. This would go toward training for unemployed workers to help them find a job, as well as for employed people hoping to learn new skills that could help them earn better pay or move to a new industry.

The bill is sponsored by Reps. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, and Mary Young, D-Greeley.

House Bill 21-1265 would extend sales tax relief that passed during the Legislature’s December 2020 special session focused on COVID-19 response. Under that legislation, restaurants and bars could apply up to $2,030 in sales tax relief to as many as five locations a month, making the maximum monthly relief $10,150. That relief lasted through February.

HB-1265 would extend the relief through August. The bill — sponsored by Reps. Kyle Mullica, D-Northglenn, and Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch — doesn’t have a fiscal note yet, but it’s likely to cost the state between $40 and 50 million, according to the stimulus plan released in March.

House Bill 21-1260, sponsored by House Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, and Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, would provide $20 million to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to implement the state Water Plan.

House Bill 21-1263 would spend $10 million on encouraging conferences, festivals and weddings in Colorado. The fund created through HB-1263 would provide a 10% rebate on the hard costs of events that take place from July through December of this year. Reimbursable costs could include hotel rooms or catering.

Reps. Dylan Roberts, D-Vail, and Matt Soper, R-Delta, are sponsoring HB-1263.

House Bill 21-1262 would provide a total of $9 million to support agricultural events in Colorado. It includes $3.5 million for the Colorado State Fair planned for August and $3.5 million for the National Western Stock Show next year, as well as $2 million for a program within the Department of Agriculture that would provide COVID-19 relief payments to organizations that put on agricultural events.

HB-1262 is sponsored by Reps. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, and Mike Lynch, R-Wellington.

House Bill 21-1258 would provide $9 million for a temporary program that would pay for up to three free telehealth appointments for Colorado students 12 and older with identified mental health needs. The legislation is a response to concerns from educators about children needing more mental health support as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

HB-1258 is sponsored by Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, and Van Winkle.

Senate Bill 21-235 would invest $3 million into the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s existing ACRE3 Program, which provides grants to agricultural producers and processors to help them implement renewable energy resources and increase energy efficiency. The bill would also appropriate $2 million for voluntary soil health programs.

SB-235 is sponsored by Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, a Boulder County Democrat.

Senate Bill 21-234 would provide $3 million for the Department of Agriculture to spend on helping farmers and ranchers prepare for and respond to drought and climate change. These efforts might include establishing a hay bank for feeding livestock during times of drought, restoring grazing lands after wildfire, or providing technical assistance to help producers plan around future drought conditions.

The bill’s sponsors include Jaquez Lewis and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, a Sterling Republican.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Faith Miller
Faith Miller

Faith Miller was a reporter with Colorado Newsline covering the Colorado Legislature, immigration and other stories.