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On the last day of legislation, a mask clad Rep. Tony Exum, Sr.(D-Colorado Springs) and other representatives bow their heads for the opening prayer on Monday, June 15, 2020. The names on the vote tally board are reflected in the plastic partitions between each desk. Because of a long recess attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the latest day in the year for a regular session. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

Update: A list of more than two dozen bills slated to be introduced in the special session was posted on the General Assembly's website later Sunday.

Sign-up information to testify on the bills can be found here

Monday's special session of the Colorado General Assembly will focus on seven policy areas. Legislative working groups — working outside of the state's open meetings and open records laws — have been pulling together the legislation for the session for more than a month, according to sources. 

House and Senate Democrats announced the following bills in a news release on Sunday morning. Bill numbers will be assigned on Monday. The total cost for all but one of the bills is estimated at $280 million and does not include the cost of the bill on the sales tax holiday.  

Small Business Aid 

Sponsors: Sens. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver.

Cost: $57 million

What it does: This is the first of two bills to assist small businesses, largely restaurants, bars, gyms and movie theaters. 

  • Direct relief payment to small businesses that comply with "severe" county capacity restrictions: $37 million. 
  • Direct relief payments to arts, culture, artists, crew members and organizations through the creative industries division of the Colorado office of economic development: $7.5 million
  • $6.8 million to the Department of Public Health and Environment to contract with county or other local boards of health to cover the costs of license fees for retail food establishments
  • $1.8 million to the Department of Revenue to offset liquor license fees
  • $4 million to the minority business office in the Colorado Office of Economic Development to provide direct relief, grants, loans and technical assistant to minority-owned businesses. 

Sales Tax Relief 

Sponsors: Reps. Alex Valdez, D-Denver, and Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch, and Sens. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, and Jack Tate, R-Centennial

Cost: unknown

What it does: Provides bars that offer food, restaurants and food trucks with sales tax holiday of between $2,000 to $10,000 per month. Establishments will still collect the state's 2.9% sales tax but will be allowed to keep the money to help pay rent and other business expenses.

Child Care Support 

Sponsors: Reps. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins, and Lois Landgraf, R-Colorado Springs, Sens. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, and Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling

What it costs: $45 million

What it does: Despite claims that the seven bills will use existing programs (a claim made by lawmakers in hopes of getting aid into people's hands as quickly as possible), this bill sets up two new programs in the Colorado Department of Human Services to assist child care providers. A news release from House and Senate Democrats said this bill will support 2,600 child care facilities.

The bill creates two emergency relief grant programs: the child care sustainability grant program and the emerging and expanding child care grant program. The first would provide between $500 to $35,000, based on capacity. Grant awards would be made no later than Feb. 28, 2021.

The second grant program ranges from $3,000 to $50,000 and may be used for costs associated with expanding an existing provider or opening a new one. The provider can use the money for staff training, background check fees, cleaning supplies, educational supplies, and capital or facility improvement costs. CDHS is required to start the grant award process on or before January 31, 2021.

Housing and Direct Rental Assistance 

Sponsors: Sens. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Chris Holbert, R-Parker; and Reps. Tony Exum Sr., D-Colorado Springs, and Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood.

What it costs: $50 million

What it does: $44.5 million would be put into the housing development grant fund within the Department of Local Affairs, to be spent by June 30, 2021.

According to the bill draft, an additional $500,000 will be added to the eviction legal defense fund to provide legal representation "to indigent tenants to resolve civil legal matters arising on and after March 1, 2020, concerning an eviction or impending eviction related to the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state court administrator must use the money by June 30, 2021.

The bill also sets up a new program, an emergency direct assistance grant program in the division of housing within DOLA, with $5 million in funding. It will provide grants to individuals who have experienced financial need due to the COVID-19 pandemic or second-order effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and are ineligible for certain other types of assistance. Grants must be distributed by June 30, 2021.

Increasing Broadband Access

Sponsors: Sens. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Reps. Mary Young, D-Greeley, and Matt Soper, R-Delta

What it costs: $20 million

What it does: Creates another new program, the "connecting Colorado students grant program" in the Department of Education, according to the bill draft. Money would go to local education providers, with a Feb. 1, 2021, deadline for distributing grants. The bill draft notes almost 66,000 Colorado K-12 students lack internet access and could lose seven months of instruction due to the pandemic. Students of color and low-income students are likely to lose even more learning time, the bill says. Grants would be used to increase access to broadband service for students, educators and other staff who lack stable, reliable internet access for online learning.

Food Pantry Assistance 

Sponsors: Reps. Lisa Cutter, D-Littleton, and Rod Bockenfeld, R-Watkins, and Sen. Tammy Story, D-Littleton

What it costs: $3 million

The money goes to the food pantry assistance program, which was set up with CARES Act money through House Bill 20-1422. This bill extends the expiration date from Dec. 30, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021, using the additional $3 million in state funds. Families can use the money to buy food through June 30, 2021, with grants starting at $2,500.

Utilities Assistance

Sponsors: Sens. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora and Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa; and Reps. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge and Landgraf.

What it costs: $5 million

Money goes to the nonprofit Energy Outreach Colorado Low-Income Assistance Fund, to meet a 25% increase in applications this year. Dollars must be spent by June 30, 2021.

Public Health Response

Sponsors: JBC members Sens. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, and Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon.

What it costs: $100 million.

What it does: Appropriates money to the state's disaster emergency fund to help pay for continuing state costs to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

The special session starts at 10 a.m. Monday.

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