(The Center Square) – Colorado Democrats introduced a second round of stimulus legislation on Monday as part of the state’s recovery plan.
The six-bill package is designed to build on previous efforts, lawmakers said. They address a number of key issues such as small businesses aid, wildfires, and homelessness.
“Building back stronger means ensuring that every Coloradan is given the support and assistance they need to fully recover,” Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, said in a statement.
“Too often in the rebuilding process, things fall through the cracks and communities are left behind. But as state leaders we are committed to serving the underserved and centering the marginalized,” he added.
Three of the six bills address housing affordability across the state and provide additional services for the homeless.
Senate Bill 21-242 would create a state-run grant program to provide local governments funds to rent, purchase, or renovate underutilized hotel spaces for housing. The Department of Housing would receive $15 million to start the program.
It is sponsored by a Democratic coalition from the Denver metro area, including Sens. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, and Reps. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver, and Steven Woodrow, D-Denver.
Two bills introduced in the House address job training for public benefit recipients and funding for affordable housing.
House Bill 21-1270 would provide a total $6 million investment for jobs and skills training services to people who draw Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, also known as food stamps.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and Reps. Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs, and Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton.
House Bill 21-1271 would allow the Department of Regulatory Agencies to provide $13 million in incentives and technical assistance to local governments to build affordable housing projects and develop innovative strategies to preserve future affordability.
The legislation is sponsored by Reps. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora, and Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon.
House Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, described the package as a means of getting Colorado “back on track to thrive.”
“From the day we announced our state stimulus, we've been clear about our goal to help Colorado recover faster and build back stronger,” Garnett said.
“The bills introduced this week meet this mark by addressing long-term challenges like creating more affordable places to live and giving workers the tools they need to reenter the workforce more prepared than ever,” he continued.
Senate Bill 21-240 would appropriate $15 million to the state water conservation board to increase wildfire mitigation efforts for the upcoming year. Last week, state wildfire experts said they expect 2021 to be another bad year.
The bill is sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of Sens. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, and Cleave Simpson, R-Alamosa, and Reps. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins, and Marc Catlin, R-Montrose.
Senate Bill 21-239 would help expand Colorado’s 2-1-1 emergency services to include necessary referrals for behavioral health services. The bill includes a $1 million appropriation for the Department of Human Services to complete the expansion.
It is sponsored by Sens. Chris Kolker, D-Centennial, and Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, and Reps. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, and Tonya Van Beber, R-Eaton.
Senate Bill 21-241 would create a statewide accelerator program for businesses with 19 or fewer employees. Businesses selected for the program could utilize the program for a full calendar year with access up to $1.35 million in grants from the Colorado startup loan fund.
The legislation is being carried by Sen Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, and Reps. Naquetta Ricks, D-Aurora, and Lindsey Daugherty, D-Arvada.