CO Senate Democrats: Quartet of Colorado Comeback Legislation Passes the Senate with Strong Bipartisan Support
Stimulus bills providing financial support for rural economic development, watershed protection, small business recovery, and the agricultural industry receive final approval from the full Senate
DENVER, CO – Today, the State Senate passed four stimulus bills with broad bipartisan support that are a part of Colorado’s recovery package, advancing them to the House for final consideration.
SB21-229, a bill sponsored by Senators Danielson & Story, directs $3 million to the Rural Jump Start Grant Program, which helps economically distressed communities – particularly communities that will be affected by the energy market’s transition away from coal to more renewable energy sources – attract new businesses and jobs. Of the grants available, new businesses can receive up to $20,000 for establishing operations in rural jump-start zones and up to $2,500 for each new job they create. While businesses establishing operations in coal transition communities (as identified in the Office of Just Transition Action Plan) can receive up to $40,000 as well as up to $5,000 for each new job they create.
“As we work to help Colorado recover, we must prioritize directing targeted relief to parts of our state that are too often left behind: small communities, places with particularly low unemployment or income levels, and fossil fuel areas in transition,” said Senator Story (D-Jefferson County). “This bill will help ignite local economies from the Western Slope to the Eastern Plains, and will ensure that Colorado’s economic recovery is both equitable and sustainable.”
SB21-240, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Danielson & Simpson, transfers $15 million to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to help watersheds recover from the impacts of wildfire. In addition to direct funding for watershed restoration, the bill sets aside funds to conduct a statewide watershed analysis that investigates the susceptibility of life, safety, infrastructure, and water supplies to wildfire impacts.
“In 2020, Colorado endured the worst wildfire season in state history – devastating countless homes and thousands of acres of forest land. This has severely impacted our watersheds in the state and only increased the adverse effects of Colorado drought conditions” said Senator Danielson (D-Wheatridge). “As a part of our economic recovery, we are working to restore and strengthen our natural environment so that it can better withstand wildfire impacts and save our state painful costs in the future.”
SB21-241, sponsored by Senators Fields and Bridges, creates the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program to provide small businesses with tools and resources that foster the growth of existing companies that have moved from the start-up stage into the second stage or are on the verge of rapid growth. This program will ensure that these businesses, post-pandemic, will be able to build back stronger.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on small businesses, particularly those owned by women and racial minorities,” said Senator Fields (D-Aurora). “We need to reinvest in these critical community pillars by making resources available that will foster their growth and set them up for success. Because the essence of economic ingenuity and creativity resides in the entrepreneurial minds of our small business owners, who dare to think out of the box and pave their own path.”
“Innovative, growth-oriented small businesses are critical to our Colorado comeback,” said Senator Bridges (D-Greenwood Village).“Through their perseverance and innovation, small businesses are the economic engine of our economy. This bill makes sure they have the expertise and support they need to thrive here in Colorado, creating jobs and opportunities throughout our state.”
SB21-248, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senate President Pro Temp Donovan and Senator Simpson, allocates $30 million to create and implement the Colorado Agricultural Future Loan Program. This program will provide low-interest loans to beginning farmers and ranchers as well as farm-to-market infrastructure loans for businesses – putting Colorado on a pathway toward a sustainable and prosperous future for the agriculture industry. Although Colorado’s vibrant agricultural sector has served as the backbone of the state’s economy for decades, the industry must navigate a tumultuous future in which an estimated 64% of Colorado producers will exit farming, and over 20 million acres of Colorado’s agricultural land will need a new farmer. This bill will negotiate these challenges, invest in the future of Colorado agriculture, and provide incentives to build capacity for beginning farmers and ranchers.
“The most pressing challenges that lie ahead for Colorado – COVID-19, water and drought, wildfires, and labor shortages – all have a major impact on the agriculture industry,” said Senator Kerry Donovan (D-Vail). “By transferring this $30 million into the Colorado Agricultural Future Loan Program we invest not only in the present recovery of the industry but in the long-term success of agriculture in our state. The program will empower and support a new generation of farmers and ranchers in Colorado who will shepherd the industry forward.”
All three bills now head to the House for further consideration. To read the bills and find updates regarding their status, visit leg.colorado.gov.