Colorado Democrats unveil coronavirus relief legislation; focus on small business, rent, mortgages

Politics

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Democrats have unveiled a series of coronavirus relief bills in an effort to get Coloradans back on their feet.

The coronavirus relief legislation is made up of at least 14 pieces of legislation, with a focus on helping small businesses and those struggling to pay rent and mortgages. 

Legislators have been working on these bills as protests happen just feet away outside the State Capitol building. 

“We’ve all been very concerned about what we can do, that’s going to make the biggest impact on everyday Coloradans,” said state Rep. Lisa Cutter.

Cutter expects most to receive bipartisan support, as does Rep. Shannon Bird. 

“We’re getting a warm reception. A lot of these bills meet Colorado’s needs, whether you’re a Democrat, or a Republican or some other party, it doesn’t matter. All of these bills should be purple, because they help everybody,” she says.

House Democrats say a number of the bills will be paid for through federal CARES Act funding, allocated to individual states to provide coronavirus relief.  

Below is a list of the proposed legislation with links to each:

Housing Assistance: Bill would provide $20 million in rental and mortgage assistance to people experiencing a financial need. Includes $350,000 in legal aid for renters facing an eviction.

Utilities: Bill would provide $10 million to the state’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund, which helps low-income individuals facing potential shut-offs of utilities.

Price Gouging: Clarifies language in state consumer protections to prevent price gouging on items needed by essential workers during pandemics or natural disasters.

Unemployment: Expands the number of people who can qualify for benefits under state law. 

Small Business Grants: Bill would provide $20 million to provide assistance to small businesses in Colorado that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Preference would reportedly be given to businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans. 

Whistleblower Protection: Bill would provide protections for workers who raise health and safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it harder for companies to retaliate against them. Colorado Department of Labor and Employment would manage complaints. 

Mental Health: Bill would provide $15 million to mental health and substance abuse programs, aimed specifically at helping those dealing with unemployment due to COVID-19. 

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