Review of 2021 Legislative Actions Affecting Business Interests

The following summary is provided for informational purposes only and not intended to provide comprehensive or technical analysis of the content, intent, cost or consequence of legislation.  Legislation included within this summary has been deemed to have direct applicability to the operation and function of private enterprise.

Additional Resources

The Steep Price Tag of the 2021 Legislative Session | Common Sense Institute

Transportation Funding and Spending Plan 2021 | Capitol Solutions

AGRICULTURE

SB21-087           Agricultural Workers’ Rights

Allows for agricultural workers to organize and join labor unions; removes minimum wage exemptions for ag workers; grants meal breaks and rest periods consistent with other workers; requires employers to provide access and transportation to key service providers; allows employees to have visitors at employer-provided housing; requires employers to provide overwork and health protections to employees; restricts the use of short-handled hoes; creates an agricultural work advisory committee to further analyze wages and work conditions; and, creates rights, remedies and enforcement actions. 

BUSINESS

HB21-1048       Retail Businesses Must Accept Cash

Requires all retail establishments that accept payment in person to also accept U.S. currency as payment, except where a credit card is required for the payment of a security deposit for unforeseen damages or expenses. Violations are subject to a $500 fine.

HB21-1065       Veterans’ Hiring Preference

Creates statutory authority for private employers to establish preferential hiring practices for National Guard and military veterans and the spouse of a disabled veteran or service member killed in the line of duty.

HB21-1124       Expand Ability to Conduct Business Electronically

Facilitates the ability of business to conduct activities electronically, including delivery of notices, while requiring the ability for remote participation in shareholders’ and directors’ meetings.

HB21-1268       Historically Underutilized Businesses Local Government Procurement

The bill establishes a pilot program for local governments and school districts under which the procurement of services can more effectively target businesses that are at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents; and, one or more of the following: members of a racial or ethnic minority group; non-Hispanic Caucasian women; persons with physical or mental disabilities; members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community; or veterans.

SB21-035           Restrictions on Third-Party Food Delivery Services

Requires third-party food delivery services to obtain consent from retail food establishments prior taking and arranging delivery orders on their behalf.

SB21-070           County Authority to Register Businesses

Authorizes a board of county commissioners to require registration of businesses located within unincorporated areas of the jurisdiction.

COVID RESPONSE

HB21-1027       Continue Alcohol Delivery & Take-out

Extends the ability of licensed premises to offer take-out or delivery of alcohol beverages through July 1, 2026, except manufacturers that have a sales room. Such businesses may only continue take or delivery sales through January 2, 2022.  Maximum volumes per order have been increased to 1.5L for wine, 1.125 gallons for beer, malt liquor and cider, and 1L for spirits. 

HB21-1265       Qualified Retailer Retain Sales Tax

Extends through August 2021 the ability of bars, restaurants, caterers and food trucks to retain retail sales taxes.

SB21-001           Modify COVID-19 Relief Programs for Small Biz

Moves relief programs for minority-owned businesses to the Office of Economic Development and expands the scope of the program to allow relief payments, grants, loans and technical assistance to small businesses disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

HB21-1223       Create Outdoor Recreation Industry Office

Establishes the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office within the Office of Economic Development.

HB21-1288       CO Startup Loan Program

Appropriates $30M from the general fund to the Office of Economic Development to establish a revolving loan fund to be administered by a third-party entity.  The program will issue loans to businesses seeking to start, restart or restructure businesses that otherwise lack access to traditional financing sources.

HB21-1302       COVID-19 Small Biz Grant Program

Appropriates $15M of federal CARES Act funds to the Office of Economic Development for subsequent distribution, in the form of grants, to support small businesses impacted by public health restrictions.

SB21-291           Economic Recovery & Relief Cash Fund

Appropriates $40M in federal CARES Act proceeds to the Office of Economic Development to provide grants to small businesses impacted by the pandemic and public health orders; undertake other curative response; and, allocates $10M to incentivize location of small businesses in rural areas.

SB21-241           Small Business Accelerated Growth Program

Appropriates $1.35M to the Office of Economic Development to establish a business development support program for companies with 19 or fewer employees.  

ENVIRONMENT

HB21-1266       Environmental Justice Disproportionate Impacted Communities

Includes greenhouse gas emissions as a “regulated pollutant” for the first time, HB 1266 largely codifies into law the 2020 state agency adopted state “greenhouse gas reduction roadmap” for electric, industrial, and manufacturing sectors and attaches fines and “teeth” to the aspirational HB 19-1261 carbon reduction goals.  Accelerates the target reductions for the industrial and manufacturing sectors substantially – including moving the baseline of 2005 emission rates to 2015 emission rates with the same reduction goal of 20% by 2030.   For the oil and gas sector, accelerates and substantially increases the reduction targets to 36% by 2025 and 60% by 2030. Establishes accounting standards for a trading program to allow regulated sources to meet their compliance obligations through the purchase, acquisition, or exchange of a GHG credits.  The AQCC must adopt rule directing the CDPHE to create the comprehensive accounting system before adopting a rule or program that provides for the use of a cap-and-trade program. The AQCC must include the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions in economic impact analyses for rules related to statewide GHG pollution abatement. Additional considerations and permitting requirements for sources in disproportionately impacted communities including the creation of an environmental justice ombudsperson and Environmental Justice Advisory Board in CDPHE; creation of an Environmental Mitigation Project Grant Program funded through receipts of certain fines and penalties collected.  HB 1266 changed the mission of the Colorado Energy Office to include support to Colorado’s transition to a more equitable, low-carbon, and clean energy economy, and to promote an equitable transition to transportation electrification, zero emission vehicles, transportation systems, and land use patterns that reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

HB21-1286       Energy Performance for Buildings

Requires owners of buildings consisting of 50,000 square feet or greater to collect and report energy-use to establish benchmarking data for the purpose testing future compliance standards established under the bill.  On or before June 1, 2027, building owners will be required to demonstrate energy-performance compliance.  An annual administrative fee of $100 will be assessed for all covered buildings, while failure to achieve standards or reporting requirements will be subject penalties ranging from $500 to $5,000.

GOVERNMENT

SB21-262           Special District Transparency

Expands notification requirements for special districts elections; requires active metropolitan districts to: establish and maintain an official website that provides required information to property owners; adds statutory requirements for the filing and content of an annual report, including disclosure of contractual agreements; limits the use of eminent domain powers; and, requires disclosure of financial position of the district, debt obligations and estimate of property taxes to property buyers at the time of sale.

HEALTH CARE

HB21-1068       Insurance Coverage Mental Health Wellness Exam

Adds a requirement that health plans cover an annual mental health wellness exam, comparable to coverage for physical examinations.  Large employer plans must include the benefit effective January 1, 2022, with individual and small group coverage effective January 1, 2023.

HB21-1232       Standardized Health Benefit Plan (“Public Option”)

Health care providers and hospitals are required to lower premiums by 15% from current levels by December 31, 2022.  If that objective is not achieved, the Commissioner of Insurance will be required to establish a standardized public health benefit plan to be offered by health insurance carriers in the individual and small group markets.  The standardized plan must be offered through the Colorado health benefit exchange and individual market by January 1, 2023 and must be accepted by care providers and hospitals. Each carrier must offer a standardized plan with premiums 6% less than those offered in 2021 and 18% less by January 1, 2025.  Thereafter premiums may not increase by more than medical inflation in the previous year.

SB21-016           Protecting Preventative Health Care Coverage

Expands the definition of preventative health care services to include counseling, prevention and screening for sexually transmitted infection.  Adds contraception

as a mandatory benefit and allows preventative care to a minor without consent of a parent or legal guardian.

SB21-063           Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements Offer Insurance

Current law allows for multiple employers to associate for the purposes of obtaining health care benefits provided the association arrangement has been in existence since January 1, 1983.  The bill allows the Commissioner of Insurance to provide a waiver to that requirement for a period of two years, which can be re-issued for subsequent periods. 

SB21-090           Small Group Health Insurance Plan Renewal

Clarifies that if a small business has issued a health benefit plan under small group rules, the carrier must allow the business to renew the plan in subsequent periods if the employer subsequently exceeds the 100-employee limit. 

SB21-123           Expand Canadian Rx Import Program

Expands the ability of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to import prescription drugs from countries other than Canada under certain conditions.

HOUSING

HB21-1117       Local Government Authority to Promote Affordable Housing

Clarifies the authority of cities and counties to impose requirements for the construction of affordable housing units for new development and redevelopment of property within its jurisdiction does not violate rent control statute.  The bill does not extend the right of local jurisdictions to impose affordability requirements on existing residential housing.

HB21-1271       DOLA Innovative Affordable Housing Strategies

Appropriates $13M to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which will subsequently issue grants to local governments to support implementation of programs and strategies that facilitate the development of affordable housing.

LABOR

HB21-1050       Workers’ Compensation

Amends the Workers’ Compensation Act to: Add Guardian and conservator services to the list of medical aid required by an employer where the injured worker has been incapacitated; Requires the payment of mileage reimbursement within 120 days of when the expense was incurred; Prohibits the reduction of benefits based on apportionment of cause; Limits the apportionment of permanent impairment; Declares the employer or insurer bears the burden of proof regarding the apportionment of permanent

impairment or disability; limits the ability of employers to engage an independent medical examiner to challenge the opinion of the treating physician; and, constricts the ability to re-open permanent total disability awards among other technical clarifications and changes effective September 2022.

HB21-1108       Gender Identity Expression Anti-discrimination

Amends the definition of sexual orientation and adds gender expression and gender identity to statutes prohibiting discriminatory practices, effective September 2021.

HB21-1207       Overpayment of Workers’ Comp Benefits

Prohibits the Colorado Division of Workers’ compensation or an administrative law judge from re-opening an award of overpayment of benefits paid to a claimant as a result of fraud, error or duplication.

SB21-039           Elimination of Subminimum Wage Employment

Removes a provision within existing statute that allows wages for disabled workers to be 15% below the prevailing minimum, effective July 1, 2021.

SB21-251           General Fund Loan Family Medical Leave Program

Extends a $1.5M loan to the newly created family and medical leave insurance fund as startup dollars for the building of the program by 2023.

TAXATION

HB21-1311       Income Tax

Modifies State tax code for both individuals and businesses.  As it relates directly to business tax computation: foreign tax shelters are disallowed for purposes of calculating tax liability; adds back to income any enhanced federal deductions food and beverage expense for the 2022 tax year; limits capital gain subtractions from federal income calculations to real property sales of agricultural land, not tangible personal property; creates a temporary tax credit for businesses that convert to employee ownership; and, restricts tax avoidance by certain captive insurance companies.

HB21-1312       Insurance Premium Property Sales Tax Severance Tax

For purposes of claiming insurance premium deduction, the bill requires companies to employee at least 2.5% of its total domestic workforce within the state by 2024. Narrows tax exemption for annuities purchased in connection with retirement benefits and the scope of home office deductions to actual property tax.  The business personal property exemption is increased to $50,000.  The bill further codifies the definition of BPP to include digital goods, mainframe services and other items not explicitly permitted. Retention of sales tax vendor

fees is disallowed for retailers reporting more than $1M in taxable sales, while deductions and credits are phased out for oil, gas and coal producers.

HB21-1321       Voter Transparency in Tax Related Ballot Measures

Requires that ballot title language that increases or decreases tax revenue through tax policy change open with a clear statement to that effect.

HB21-1327       State & Local Tax Parity Act for Business

Commencing January 1, 2022, the bill permits pass-through business entities (S-corps and partnerships) to deduct state and local taxes expenses at the entity level to relieve disparate treatment in relation to C-corps.

SB21-020           Energy Equipment & Facility Property Tax Valuation

Harmonizes property taxation of clean energy resources and energy storage systems with renewable energy facilities.

SB21-282           Continue Small Business Destination Sourcing Exception

Allows small retailers to apply sales tax on purchases based on the location of the business regardless of where the purchaser receives tangible property or service until February 1, 2022.  Subsequent application of taxes must be assessed on the purchaser’s location utilizing a geographic information system developed by the Department of Revenue.

SB21-130           Local Authority for Business Personal Property Tax Exemption

Allows counties, municipalities and special districts to exempt 100% of business personal property from levy and collection for the 2021 property tax year.

TRANSPORTATION

SB21-110           Fund Safe Revitalization of Main Streets

Appropriates $30M to the Revitalizing Main Streets and Safer Main Streets programs administered by Colorado Department of Transportation.

SB21-238           Create Front Range Passenger Rail District

Creates a Front Range Passenger Rail District for the purpose of planning and implementing a fixed rail system stretching from Wyoming to New Mexico.  The Governor is instructed to appoint board members to the district by April 1, 2022.  Subject to voters residing within the district boundaries, the district board shall be empowered to levy a sales and use tax, exercise taxing authority common to special districts and issue bonds.  

SB21-260           Sustainability of the Transportation System

Increases fees and allocates federal stimulus funds for spending on statewide transportation infrastructure needs and electric vehicle adoption goals. SB 260 adds a new fee on gas and diesel and a new fee upon deliveries; creates three new state enterprises to spend delivery fees to support and accelerate adoption of electric vehicles; and increases spending on road and transit infrastructure. 

The measure adds additional environmental mitigation requirements and planning related road construction including enhanced reviews for regionally significant projects.   *(see in-depth analysis Here courtesy of Capitol Solutions)

SB21-265           Transfer from General Fund to State Highway Fund

Transfers $124M from the general fund to the state highway fund effective July 1, 2021.

WATER

HB21-1043       Study Underground Water Storage

Directs the Colorado Water Conservation Board to engage with An institution of higher learning to evaluate ways to maximize the beneficial use of water within the state utilizing underground storage and minimize the amount of water flowing to downstream states without violating applicable compacts, law and rulings.  Study results must be presented to the Board by August 1, 2022.

WORKFORCE

HB21-1007       State Apprenticeship Agency

Creates a state agency to oversee all apprenticeship programs, including registration of existing and new programs, establish standards for registration, quality assurance, promotion of apprenticeships, and provision of technical assistance.  Registration begins July 1, 2023.

HB21-1264       Funds Workforce Development Increase Worker Skills

Appropriates $25M to the Colorado Workforce Development Council to facilitate statewide and local workforce center’s ability to implement reskilling unemployed and underemployed workers, upskilling workers increase advancement opportunities, and next-skilling workers for future-ready employment. 

SB21-218           CDLE Employment & Training Technology Fund

Eliminates an automatic reallocation of the employment and training technology fund balance to the unemployment compensation fund when the latter fund balance falls below $100M; reduces the annual allocation of unemployment funds to the technology fund to $7M from $10M starting July 1, 2023; Adds a cap

of $31M on cumulative receipts to the technology fund until June 30, 2023; reallocates transfers made to the technology fund between July 1, 2020 and present back to the compensation fund; and, repeals the assessment for the technology fund on June 30, 2031.

HB21-233          CDLE Unemployment Insurance Division Enterprise

Requires the Department of Labor and Employment to study the feasibility of establishing an unemployment compensation benefit program for workers ineligible for the current program due to immigration status.

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