The 2017 Legislative Session ended May 10. This Legislative Update gives a quick explanation of bills we actively followed in the Colorado State Legislature this year. Look out for our full Legislative Recap later this month.
Employees Purchasing Alcohol
Senate Bill 58 by Sen Baumgardner (R-Steamboat Springs) allows an employee or an agent of a licensee (in addition to the Registered Manager associated with the liquor license) to purchase alcohol for the licensee. This is important to restaurants because it formally legalizes practices that are currently industry standard but haven’t consistently been allowed by liquor enforcement. This bill has been signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper.
Age of Tavern Employees
fix a mistake from legislation last year that removed language allowing employees of a Tavern that serves meals, to be between the ages of 18-20, if they are supervised by someone over 21. Senate bill 237 restores that provision. This bill has passed through both the House and the Senate. It will now go to the Governor for his signature.
House Bill 1092 by Rep Lebsock (D-Thornton) applies new requirements for the operation of music licensing companies in the State of Colorado. Those requirements include:
This bill has been signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper.
Retail Food Establishments
CRA IS NEUTRAL
Senate Bill 244 by Sen Priola (R-Thornton) would make two changes to House Bill 16-1401. First, it sets the fees for retail food establishments as a cap allowing counties to reduce the fee if they choose. Second, it removes language on supplanting of funds that prohibited a county from reducing their share of funding equal to the amount of a fee increase. This bill has passed out of the House of Representatives and the Senate. It will now go to the Governor for his signature.
Marijuana Open and Public Consumption
CRA IS NEUTRAL
Senate Bill 184 by Sen Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) would have created a statewide definition of “open and public” or “openly and publicly” when it comes to the consumption of marijuana. Under the proposed definition any business with unrestricted access to the public would be considered “open and public” and therefore marijuana couldn’t be consumed there. Additionally, it created an opt-in program for cities to allow marijuana consumption clubs. These clubs wouldn’t be able to sell or serve alcohol or have food that is prepared on-site, aside from light snacks. The House and Senate failed to agree on a single version of this legislation and the bill failed to pass before the end of session.
Manufacturer’s Sales Rooms
Senate Bill 253 by Sen Marble (R-Mead) and Sen Guzman (D-Denver) would have expand the number of sales rooms alcohol manufacturers could have where they sell directly to the public. These sales rooms would not have been licensed through the local licensing authority, they would have no food sales requirement, and they would not have to go through needs and desires hearing. Additionally, the bill would have given the ability for manufacturers to have a movable temporary sales room license that could not last more than 3 days in one location. This bill was laid over until after the legislative session effectively killing this legislation.
Family and Medical Leave Wage Replacement
House Bill 1307 by Rep Winter (D-Westminster) would have created a new program, funded by workers in the State of Colorado that would provide wage replacement benefits to employees who qualify for Family and Medical Leave and need to utilize it. The program would have been funded by a premium based on a percentage of the employee’s yearly wages, not to exceed .99%. Additionally, the Department of Labor would have the ability to issue a solvency surcharge by rules if needed to ensure the soundness of the fund. This bill has been postponed indefinitely by the Senate State Affairs Committee.
CRA IS NEUTRAL
House Bill 1242 by Speaker Duran (D-Denver) and President Grantham (R-Fountain) would put a question on the 2017 fall ballot asking the voters to approve a state sales tax increase that would last for 20 years to fund transportation needs. The tax increase would take Colorado’s state sales tax from 2.9% to 3.52%. If approved by the voters, the increase would begin in January of 2018. This bill was postponed indefinitely in the Senate Finance Committee.
Extend Hours of Alcohol Sales
CRA IS NEUTRAL
House Bill 1123 would have given local governments the ability to pass a city ordinance that would extend hours of alcohol sales past 2am. The bill does not allow a local government to restrict the current hours of alcohol sales. The CRA is neutral on this because there is no clear member consensus. One of our concerns is that this bill would create a patchwork of hours across the state. This bill was laid over until after the legislative session ends effectively killing this legislation.
Eliminate Sales Tax on Nonessential Food Items
House Bill 1009 by Rep Van Winkle (R-Highlands Ranch) would have reinstated Colorado sales and use taxes exemptions for nonessential articles sold to restaurants and bars intended for human consumption or to be given to customers. This would include paper goods, single use condiments, to go containers, and more. This is important to restaurants because it would have reduced your sales and use taxes. This bill was postponed indefinitely in the House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee.
Business Personal Property Tax
House Bill 1063 by Rep Leonard (R-Evergreen) would have changed the current exemption of business personal property tax from $7,300 per schedule to $50,000 or less per schedule and adjusted for inflation in the future. Additionally, businesses with more than $50,000 of business personal property would only pay tax on amounts over $50,000. This will reduce your personal property tax liability. This bill was postponed indefinitely in the House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee.
Hotels Selling Wine for Takeaway
House Bill 1084 by Rep Melton (D-Aurora) would have allowed a restaurant in a hotel with a Hotel and Restaurant liquor license to sell up to 4 bottles of wine, sealed, for off-premise consumption. A business could only apply for 4 of these new permits in the State of Colorado. A restaurant with a Hotel and Restaurant liquor license outside of a hotel would not be allowed to apply for this permit, which is why the CRA is opposed. This bill was postponed indefinitely in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee.
Regulatory Relief Act
Senate Bill 1 by Sen Neville (R-Golden) would have changed the law so that upon the first occurrence of a “minor violation” (record keeping, retention of data, or filing of reports) by any small business the business would get a warning. Once the warning is received by the business they would have 30 days to cure the violation or longer if the business can show good cause. A “minor violation” does not include any matter that places the safety of the public, employees or others at risk (i.e. Health Code violations) or any requirements of a state issued license (i.e. Liquor License violations) or federal requirements (i.e. I-9 document). This bill was postponed indefinitely in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee.
SB 197 Clean Up
Senate Bill 143 by Sen Williams (D-Denver) would have cleaned up changes that were made during the 2016 legislative session in Senate Bill 197 concerning retail liquor stores and liquor licensed drug stores. Even though Senate Bill 197 wasn’t supposed to change on premises liquor establishments, a mistake in drafting removed language allowing employees of a Tavern that serves meals, to be between the ages of 18-20, if they are supervised by someone over 21. Senate bill 143 restores that provision while making other technical changes. This bill failed to get enough votes of support on third reading in the Senate. The CRA is pursuing legislation that would fix the age of tavern employees issue that will be introduced at a later time.
PLEASE NOTE: You can access the full list of bills we tracked at The CRA Bill Tracker.