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Our Issues

Every day decisions are made at the State Capitol in Denver that can change the outlook for small business owners throughout Colorado. As a business owner, you don't have time to monitor every debate, discussion, and proposal that develops in the legislature.

That's where the CRA government affairs team comes in! While you are busy building and running a profitable business, our team of experienced lobbyists is hard at work influencing the decisions that ultimately aid or inhibit your success.

Here is an overview of the 2022 bills we are monitoring on behalf of your business:

Paid Family Medical Leave Premium Reduction

What does it mean?
The voters of Colorado approved a paid family and medical leave program for all workers that is set to begin issuing benefits in 2024. Employers and employees will begin paying premiums into the program in 2023.

HB22-1305 would temporarily reduce the premium paid by employers starting January 1, 2023 through June 20, 2023 from nine-tenths of 1% of wages per employee, to eighty-one hundredths of 1% of wages per employee. The state will backfill that amount to the program using general funds. The Governor has signaled his initial support for this temporary period of employer premium reduction, and we anticipate that this bill will have a clear path through the legislature.

Where do we stand?
We have not had the chance to discuss this with our legislative committee yet, but we will recommend a support position on this bill. While this certainly won’t be a silver bullet for struggling businesses, any amount of relief for premiums will help restaurants as they continue to recover from the pandemic. 

Who are the sponsors?
Representatives Yadira Caraveo and Matt Gray
 

Affordable Housing Bills

The State reserved federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars in the 2021 state legislative session specifically to address the affordable housing crisis in the Colorado. During the summer of 2021, the Affordable Housing Task Force met to discuss policies that could be implemented with those ARPA dollars. 

We have been hearing about the challenges that the lack of affordable housing creates for your workforce for years. Although we have not had the chance to discuss these bills with our legislative committee, we will be recommending a support position on all four of them:

State Grant Investments Local Affordable Housing
What does it mean?

HB22-1304 creates 2 state grant programs:
  • The local investments in transformational affordable housing grant program
  • The infrastructure and strong communities grant program
The affordable housing grant program provides grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations to enable such entities to help them make investments in their communities or regions of the state for transformational affordable housing.

The strong communities grant program provides grants to eligible local governments to help them to invest in infill infrastructure projects that support affordable housing.

Who are the sponsors?
Representatives Dylan Roberts and Mary Bradfield and Senators James Coleman and Julie Gonzales

The Innovative Housing Incentive Program
What does it mean?

HB22-1282 creates the innovative housing incentive program. “Innovative housing businesses” such as those that manufacture modular housing, prefabricated panelized construction, kit homes, etc. may apply for funding. Funding may be awarded based on criteria such as affordability, location, or meeting energy efficiency standards. Or, funding may be awarded through loans for the purpose of funding a manufacturing factory.

Who are the sponsors?
Representatives Kyle Mullica and Mike Lynch and Senators Jeff Bridges and Rob Woodward

Loan Program Resident-Owned Communities
What does it mean?

SB22-160 establishes a revolving loan and grant program to provide assistance and financing to mobile-home owners seeking to organize and purchase their mobile-home parks.

Who are the sponsors?
Senators Julie Gonzales and Nick Hinrichsen and Representatives Andrew Boesenecker and Many Lindsay

Revolving Loan Fund Invest Affordable Housing
What does it mean?
SB22-159 creates a revolving loan program to help finance affordable housing projects as well as energy improvement. One of the aims is to improve non-traditional housing in areas where COVID-19 hindered housing affordability and availability.

Who are the sponsors?
Senators Jeff Bridges and Rachel Zenzinger and Representatives David Ortiz and Perry Will

Measures to Reduce Single-Use Meal Accessories

What does it mean?
HB22-1134 aims to reduce the use of single-use serviceware and condiments in takeout and delivery orders by making them available only upon customer request. “Single-use” is defined as an item that designed to be used once and then discarded, and includes, but is not limited to, items such as utensils, napkins, condiment cups, straws, stirrers, chopsticks, spill plugs, and condiment packets. If the bill were to pass into law, restaurant employees would still be able to offer these items to customers when taking takeout and delivery orders. Customers ordering through a third-party delivery platform will need to indicate whether they want single-useserviceware and/or condiments included with their order. There are some exceptions to the bill:
  • Restaurants can still provide customers with single-use serviceware for the prevention of spills in drive-thrus and delivery orders
  • This bill does not apply to single-use serviceware or condiments provided at self-service stations
  • Restaurants in airports are exempted from the bill
  • Meals provided to guests staying in a hotel, lodging house, or rooming house are exempt from the bill
Where do we stand?
We worked closely with Representative Titone to amend this bill based on feedback from our Board of Directors and are currently monitoring the bill as it makes its way through the process for any forthcoming changes or amendments.

Who are the sponsors?
Representative Brianna Titone (D) and Senator Kevin Priola (R)

What's the status? 
HB22-1134 was postponed indefinitely by the House Committee on Business Affairs and Labor.


Sales Tax Assistance for Small Businesses

What does it mean?
SB22-006 would increase the state vendor fee from 4% to 5.3% starting on January 1, 2023. The increase is effective for one calendar year and applies only to retailers earning less than $100,000 in taxable sales per filing period. Retailers are allowed to keep this fee to cover the expenses associated with collecting and remitting sales and use tax. 

Where do we stand?
We support this bill. Any amount of sales and use tax relief is helpful to the restaurant industry following months of suppressed revenues due to the pandemic.

Who are the sponsors?
Senators Chris Kolker (D) and Robert Rodriguez (D) and Representatives Barbara McLachlan (D) and Marc Snyder (D)


Consumer Right to Use Energy

What does it mean?
HB22-1020 would prohibit a state agency, local government, and common interest community from limiting or prohibiting the use of natural gas, propane, solar photovoltaics, micro wind turbines, or small hydroelectric power for electricity generation, cooking, hot water, or space heating in residences, units, or businesses.

Where do we stand?
We support this bill. The restaurant industry relies heavily on the use of gas stoves and several cooking techniques, such as flambe styles, that would be made impossible without the use of open flames from gas stoves. Without consistent access to natural gas, the industry could potentially see a disruption in entire cooking methods and restaurant concepts. This proposal ensures that restaurants would have the access to natural gas in their businesses.

Who are the sponsors?
Representative Dan Woog (R) and Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer (R)

What's the status?
HB22-1020 was postponed indefinitely in the House Committee on Energy and Environment.


Expand Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Food

What does it mean?
HB22 - 1062 would expand the states sales and use tax exemption for food, which means that restaurants wouldn't have to collect sales tax for meals sold in their restaurants. 

Where do we stand?
We support this bill because we know that consumers make their dining and retail spending decisions based on disposable income. If consumers have more disposable income they will shop more and eat out more.

Who are the sponsors?
Representative Hugh McKean (R) and Senator Dennis Hisey (R)

 

Use of Local Lodging Tax Revenue

What does it mean?
HB22-1117 would expand the allowable uses of local marketing districts and county lodging taxes to include affordable house and childcare for the tourism industry.

Where do we stand?
We supported the amended version of this bill.

Who are the sponsors?
Representatives Dylan Roberts (D) and Marc Catlin (R) and Senators Don Coram (R) and Kerry Donovan (D)

What's the status?
HB22-1117 has passed both chambers including the favorable amendments that were added to the bill in the House. It will now go to the Governor, where we expect it to be signed. 
 

Exemption to Employer Sick Leave Requirement

What does it mean?
In 2020, the Legislature passed SB20-205 which established paid sick leave requirements for all employers in the state. SB20-205 had an exemption for employers with 16 or fewer employees, but the exemption was repealed on January 1, 2022. HB22-1130 would allow that exemption to continue to apply in perpetuity.

Where do we stand?
We support this bill. We have heard consistently from restaurateurs that the paid sick leave requirements established under SB20-205 have been incredibly burdensome for businesses, and these requirements are even more challenging for small employers. Allowing a permanent exemption for the smallest restaurants would help to ease some of those concerns.

Who are the sponsors?
Representative Rod Bockenfeld (R)

What's the status?
HB22-1130 was postponed indefinitely by the House Committee on State, Civic, Military, and Veterans Affairs.
 

Sales and Use Simplification Task Force

There are three bills originating from the Sales and Use Simplification Task Force that have been introduced with bi-partisan sponsorship – Reps. Kipp (D) and Van Winkle (R) and Sens. Bridges (D) and Woodward (R):

HB22-1027, Sales Tax Destination Sourcing Rules Exception, would extend the current sales tax exception from February 1, 2022 to October 1, 2022 for small retailers under $100,000 to source their sales to the business’s location rather than the buyer’s location. Due to the upcoming expiration, this is the first bill moving through the process, having passed its first committee hearing and second reading in the House.

SB22-032, Simplify Local Sales and Use Tax Administration, after July 1, 2022 would prohibit local jurisdictions from charging a fee for a local general business license to a retailer that has a state standard retail license and, by 2023, wouldn’t require additional applications to local jurisdictions in an effort to streamline local sales and use tax administration.

HB22-1039, Sales and Use Tax Exemption Form Simplification, requires the department of revenue to simplify the forms related to state sales and use tax exemptions.   

Where do we stand?
We support the simplification of sales and use taxes inthestateandtheoverarchinggoalsofthetaskforce.
 
What's the status?

HB22-1027 was passed through the legislature and is on its way to the Governor to be signed into law. 

HB22-1039 passed through both chambers and is on its way to the Governor’s Desk.

Restore Unemployment Insurance Fund Balance

What does it mean?
SB22-066 would backfill the state unemployment compensation fund to restore the balance to the fund’s pre-pandemic level and would require the Division of Unemployment to repay the federal government for the approximately $1 billion in advances it received in response to COVID-19.

Where do we stand?
We support this bill. Restaurants were forced to lay off thousands of employees due to COVID-19 capacity restrictions and shutdowns, through no fault of their own. This, combined with other layoffs in other industries, lead to a deficit in the state unemployment compensation fund. If the state does not backfill the fund, premiums will increase on the backs of employers. This backfill would avoid significant increases.

Who are the sponsors?
Senator Rob Woodward (R) and Representative Kevin Van Winkle (R)

What's the status?
SB22-066 has been introduced and was assigned to the Senate Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs.
 
Over 75 business owners, trade associations, and other entities across Colorado signed a letter urging lawmakers to put at least $600 million toward a trust fund benefiting unemployed workers. Governor Polis included a request for $600 million for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in his budget request released Nov. 1, 2021.
 
We have been advocating for a backfill for months to avoid premium increases on the backs of employers. Our President & CEO, Sonia Riggs, testified in support of a backfill before the Economic Recovery Task Force and we have been consistently lobbying state leadership and the Governor’s office for months. 

 
You can read some of our previous asks in our letters here and here

Prohibit Employer Adverse Action Marijuana Use

What does it mean?
HB22-1152 prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an employee for using medical marijuana on the job during working hours or using any marijuana (retail or medical) away from work during nonworking hours. In other words, workers could appear for their shifts in a restaurant under the influence of medical marijuana without penalty or recourse from you.

An employer could only restrict medical marijuana use by their employees if they have specific reasons why each individual employee shouldn’t work (or each position within your business shouldn’t be performed) while under the influence; the restriction cannot apply to the entire staff across the board. This could be problematic for employers and lead to litigation in which employers would need to prove why they determined that an individual or position qualified (or didn’t) for medical marijuana use at work.


Where do we stand?
We are currently monitoring the bill and will bring it to our legislative committee for a formal position, but we have significant concerns at this point. First, there is a Colorado Supreme Court decision -- Coats v. Dish Network -- that says that employers can maintain zero-tolerance policies because marijuana use is still federally prohibited. Second, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to manage a workplace that is in compliance with state and federal laws, essentially prohibiting the use of medical marijuana. And perhaps most importantly, it poses safety concerns for employees to be impaired in any way while working in kitchens and serving guests in restaurants.

Who are the sponsors?
Representative Edie Hooton (D)

What's the status?
HB22-1152 this bill was postponed indefinitely by the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee.

Alcohol Beverages Extended Service Hours Permit

What does it mean?
Current law requires the sale of malt, vinous, or spirituous liquors to take place between the hours of 7 a.m. and 2 a.m., and requires the sale of fermented malt beverages to take place between the hours of 8 a.m. and midnight.

HB22-1142 creates an extended service hours permit that allows licensees to sell alcohol beverages for two additional hours each day, but those two hours have to take place either before or after the current hours. In other words, if you get this permit, you can also sell beer, wine, and spirits between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. OR between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. You cannot begin selling at 6 a.m. and end at 3 a.m.

Where do we stand?
The CRA was neutral on this proposal.

Who are the sponsors?
Representative Marc Snyder (D)

What's the status?
HB22-1142 was postponed indefinitely by the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee.

Whistleblower Protection Health & Safety

What does it mean?
Current law provides whistleblower protections for workers who raise a reasonable concern about health or safety related to a public health emergency. SB22-097 expands the protection to all health and safety concerns, regardless of whether there is a declared public health emergency.

Where do we stand?
We discussed this bill with our legislative committee last week and will be closely monitoring it to ensure that there are no additional changes to the existing whistleblower protection laws under this new bill.

Who are the sponsors?
Senators Brittany Pettersen (D) and Robert Rodriguez (D) and Representatives Leslie Herod (D) and Tom Sullivan (D)


Clarifying Terms Related to Landowner Liability

What does it mean?
SB22-115 is complicated, so bear with us: Both the Colorado Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case called Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, Inc. v. Wagner in a way that holds business owners liable if a crime is committed by a third-party on their premises. If the business is in any way deemed controversial (Planned Parenthood, or say, a club or even a restaurant), then the owner could be sued by the victim of any crime that takes place inside their establishment because the owner should have known that a crime could take place there and should have protected the victim better. The owner could even be held liable as a factor in causing the harm created by the crime.
 
SB22-115 would essentially negate those rulings so that business owners would no longer fall under that standard of liability.  
 
Where do we stand?
We will be discussing this bill with our legislative committee. Our Board of Directors was following the case involved in this bill because of the impacts that decision could have on premises liability.

Who are the sponsors?
Senators Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D) and Bob Gardner (R) and Representatives Matt Soper (R) and Kerry Tipper (D)

What's the status?
SB22-115 has passed through both the House and the Senate. It has been sent to Governor Polis for his signature or veto. The CRA expects the Governor to sign this into law.

If you have any questions, please reach out to our Government Affairs Managers Mollie Steinemann and Nick Hoover at info@corestaurant.org.


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