The CRA is the voice of Colorado's restaurant industry at the state, local, and federal level. Our leading Government Affairs team is fighting every day to make sure that your restaurants' interests are protected. In these times, more than ever, business operators can't afford to ignore state politics. To that end, please find a comprehensive list of the bills being considered in the 2021 State Legislative Session that relate to the restaurant industry and the impact they could have on your business. Your support directly impacts our advocacy for the success of restaurants in Colorado.
HB 1027 Continue Alcohol Beverage Takeout and Delivery, as amended, would continue the allowance to offer to-go alcohol from restaurants for five years. That allowance is currently set to sunset in July of this year. HB 1027 would also increase the limits of alcohol a restaurant can sell for takeout and delivery to two bottles of wine, two six packs of beer, and one liter of spirits per transaction. This bill will be heard in the House Appropriations Committee next, but has not been placed on the calendar yet. CRA Supports because the bill will allow for additional revenue streams for restaurants as they try to recover from the economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
HB 1120 License Private Security Guards would set new licensing and training standards for those working as armed and unarmed security guards. This bill was introduced in the House and will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee. It has not been placed on the calendar. CRA is seeking amendments to clarify that restaurant employees, such as ID checkers, would not be included in the licensing requirements of the bill.
HB 1162 Management of Plastic Products would restrict and/or regulate the use of single use plastics. If enacted into law, the bill would ban the use of all polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) and single use plastic bags by 2022. The legislation would impose a 10-cent fee on all paper bags by 2021. The bill would also eliminate the preemption in existing law that prohibits local governments from regulating plastics by 2023. This bill passed out of the House Energy and Environment Committee and will be heard in the House Finance Committee next. CRA Opposes due to the preemption repeal language that would allow local governments to regulate plastics, leading to confusion and difficulties with compliance. We have concerns about the plastic bag ban when restaurants are faced with a public health crisis and there is an increased emphasis on takeout and delivery operations. There is no practical way for a restaurant to ensure that its ready to eat food wouldn’t be contaminated in a customer’s reusable bag.
SB 035 Restrictions on Third-Party Food Delivery Services would prohibit non-partner agreement activities between restaurants and third party delivery companies such as GrubHub, UberEats, and DoorDash. Meaning, if the bill is enacted into law, third party delivery companies would be prohibited from conducting takeout/delivery services for a restaurant and/or using the restaurant menu and information without the restaurant’s expressed written consent. This bill will be heard in the Senate Business Labor and Technology Committee on March 22. CRA Supports because it would address a longstanding concern we have heard from restaurateurs that third-party delivery companies were posting their menus or even taking takeout orders without being in a written agreement with that restaurant. This often results in incorrect or outdated restaurant information being used and hurts the guest's experience with that restaurant.
SB 082 Alcohol Beverage Festival For Tastings and Sales would allow liquor licensees like restaurants, manufacturers, taverns, etc. to hold up to nine festivals annually. Under current law, this allowance is reserved only for wine manufactures and limited wineries. This bill passed out of the Senate Finance Committee and will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee next. CRA Supports as long as restaurant industry licenses are included in the bill.
SB 091 Credit Transaction Charge Limitations would allow retailers like restaurants to impose a surcharge against a person who pays with a credit card to cover the credit card processing fees associated with that transaction. This bill passed out of the Senate Business Labor and Technology Committee and will be heard in the Appropriations next. CRA Supports - this bill would not mandate any new business activities, so restaurants that do not wish to take advantage of this allowance will not be impacted. Colorado is one of less than ten states across the county that currently has this prohibition still in place. The savings associated with transferring credit card processing fees back on to the consumer could help with industry recovery from COVID-19.
SB 130 Local Authority for Business Personal Property Tax Exemption would allow counties, municipalities, and special districts to exempt up to 100% of business personal property from the levy and collection of property taxation for the 2021 property tax year. This bill passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee and will be heard for a second reading on the Senate floor on March 22. CRA Supports as it would save restaurants some much needed money as they try to recover from the pandemic.
SB 176 Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights Act would make substantial and burdensome changes to existing law regarding workplace discrimination. These changes include but are not limited to:
This bill was introduced in the Senate and will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. CRA Opposes because it could make substantial changes to labor and employment law and leave restaurants vulnerable to expensive and potentially baseless litigation. The bill allows for an employment discrimination claim in both County and Circuit Court based on an alleged claim of discrimination without exhausting administrative remedies through the CO Civil Rights Division. This change to current law is concerning because it shifts the process to allow employees to jump immediately into a lawsuit without having to collect the necessary information from both the employee and the employer. The ability to bypass the existing administrative remedies through the Civil Rights Division means that restaurants could see a significant increase in legal actions against them, even if the administrative processes would have proven that employment discrimination did not take place.
The bill would also expand the definition of “employee” to include independent contractors, those in domestic service “caregivers," and those who perform services without pay. The change in definition is crucial for the business community, as it could make it so that individuals who are not actually employed by your business, but conduct business activities with you, could file an employment discrimination claim against you.
Of the many other concerning changes, the bill also requires employers to establish a program to prevent harassment with documented success. This requirement is concerning because the cost associated with the program could be significant and employers are already required by law to facilitate a work environment that prevents harassment.
SB 180 Recycling and Composting Enterprise Grant Program seeks to create funding for Colorado recycling and composting infrastructure by imposing fees on the manufacturers of foodservice packaging, such as takeout and delivery containers. Those fees could be shifted on to the restaurant industry, resulting in increased cost of takeout and delivery containers. This bill was introduced in the Senate and will be heard in the Business Labor and Technology Committee. CRA Opposes because this would increase the cost of takeout and delivery packaging and containers in a time when there is a strong emphasis on takeout and delivery in restaurants.