Colorado legislators passed a $272 million COVID-19 relief package Dec. 2 that provides $102 million in aid to struggling small businesses, including child care providers.

Legislators approved $57 million in direct aid, grants and annual fee waivers for small businesses, plus another $45 million to help child care businesses keep their doors open.

Other measures will provide emergency housing and energy assistance for Coloradans in need because of the COVID-19 pandemic, support for organizations such as food banks and tax relief for restaurants and bars.

“The bipartisan efforts achieved this week will help folks get through the challenging months ahead,” Gov. Jared Polis stated in a news release. "I’m thrilled we are acting now as a state to improve internet access for students and educators, give a much needed boost to child care providers, provide a lifeline for small businesses and restaurants through tax relief and assistance, and bridge the gap on rent, utilities and food pantry programs for Coloradans who have been hit the hardest.

“But we know there is more work to be done and we continue to urge Washington to take action and give Coloradans the support we need to get through these tougher times and build back stronger,” Polis said.

“During this session, we worked in a bipartisan way to use our limited state resources to help those who have been hit hardest by this pandemic,” Speaker KC Becker (D-Boulder) said. “Colorado stepped up to bridge the gap until we have a vaccine or until Congress can pass relief. In the absence of Washington, we deployed every tool and all the state resources we have to boost our small businesses, preserve safe child care options for working parents, and help families make ends meet.”

Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) said he was “incredibly proud of what we accomplished during this Extraordinary Session. With limited resources, we were able to come together and work across the aisle to deliver results for our state — passing meaningful legislation to address child care shortages, housing instability and small business struggles.”

The legislation passed during the three-day special session includes:

SB20B-001 which will send $57 million in direct aid, grants and annual fee waivers to struggling small businesses, prioritizing those operating in counties experiencing severe capacity restrictions. It will also create grant programs and allocate funds specifically for arts and cultural organizations as well as minority-owned businesses. 

SB20B-002, which provides $60 million for emergency housing assistance to individuals and households who are in financial need due to COVID-19. Of that funding, $1 million will specifically support the Eviction Legal Assistance Fund, which will help Coloradans stay in their homes this winter. The bill also puts in place a provision that seeks to ensure tens of thousands of unemployed Coloradans can continue to have access to the federally funded State Extended Benefits Program through Dec. 26.

SB20B-003, which appropriates $5 million to the Energy Outreach Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund in order to provide financial relief to Coloradans who are struggling to pay their utility bills. 

SB20B-004, which allocates $100 million to ensure the state can continue to protect public health while waiting for further federal stimulus and reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

HB20B-1001, which will dedicate$20 million toward increasing the state’s broadband capacity, connecting more students to their teachers so that they can learn safely in the months ahead.

HB20B-1002, which will distribute $45 million to enable existing child care providers to keep their doors open and new providers to open and meet the needs of working parents, especially in child care deserts. It is estimated that these grant programs will support 2,600 child care facilities, preserving child care for more than 100,000 children and creating capacity for tens of thousands more. 

HB20B-1003, which will devote $5 million to replenishing essential community services such as food banks, food pantries and their partners that increase access to food for Colorado families facing food insecurity.

HB20B-1004, which will allow restaurants, bars and food trucks to retain state sales tax they collect from November 2020 through February 2021. This will provide bars and restaurants up to $2,000 per location, up to a limit five locations and $10,000 in tax relief each month to help them make ends meet. 

HB20B-1005 allows counties and municipalities to cap fees that third-party food delivery companies charge to restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic and requires them to disclose fees or commissions they charge restaurants.

HB20B-1006 modifies several provisions concerning payments of taxes on insurance premiums, allows a taxpayer to claim a small business recovery tax credit or an affordable housing tax credit against estimated premium tax payments and provides for the transfer of small business recovery tax credits among affiliates.