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Every day, decisions are made at the State Capitol in Denver that can change the outlook for business owners throughout Colorado. You don’t have time to monitor every debate, discussion, and proposal that develops in the legislature – we do it for you.

Alcohol To Go

The CRA Government Affairs team and former CRA Chair Scott Engelman with Governor Jared Polis at the signing of the Alcohol to Go bill in 2021.

The CRA’s legislative priorities are determined by our members, the restaurateurs and vendor allies who form the CRA Board of Directors, the Boards for our eight statewide chapters, and the legislative committee that votes on the issues relevant to our advocacy efforts. These individuals represent all elements of the local hospitality industry, from single-unit independent restaurants on the Western Slope to multi-unit chain concepts on the eastern plains and everything in between.

Join us today and raise your voice for our industry.

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Remember, if you’re not at the table, your business is likely on the legislative menu.

Top 2022 Advocacy Wins

$40 Million in Restaurant Tax Relief

We lobbied for another round of tax relief for restaurants through HB22-1406, which will save Colorado businesses up to $2,000/month for July, August, and September 2022, for up to five restaurant locations.

$600 Million Backfilled to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund

We fought fiercely to secure a $600 million backfill to the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to stabilize employer premiums and save restaurants from the increased costs associated with bringing the fund back to solvency.

Eliminated the Registered Manager Requirement

We proposed and succeeded in passing a policy to remove the outdated and unnecessary registered manager requirement for certain liquor licenses, saving restaurants time and money.

Issues Affecting Colorado Restaurants in 2023

  • Inflation
  • Staffing shortages, workforce development
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Labor, wage & hour law
  • Housing & transportation
  • Health & wellness
  • Taxes & tax incentives
  • Liquor regulations
  • Small biz development
  • Tourism
  • ADA
  • Licensing
  • Sustainability
  • Immigration
  • Cannabis regulations
  • Food code

Bills We Tracked in 2022

The CRA Government Affairs team fights every day to protect your businesses’ interests at all levels of government. Below you can learn about the bills we worked during the 2022 State Legislative Session that relate to the restaurant industry and the impact the outcomes will have on your business.

Producer Responsibility Program for Recycling (HB22-1355)

What does it mean for restaurants?

House Bill 22-1355 establishes a Producer Responsibility Organization, housed in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which is responsible for developing and managing a statewide recycling program. This program would be paid for by fees assessed to the producers of recyclable packaging materials, which translates to the company who first sells the product in Colorado.

The CRA worked to amend this legislation to match what other states have done by exempting restaurants from the definition of “producer” and therefore exempting restaurants from the requirements in the bill. Once that amendment made it onto the bill, the CRA was neutral on this legislation.

Who were the sponsors?
Representative Lisa Cutter (D) and Senators Kevin Priola (R) and Julie Gonzales (D)

What was the outcome?
HB22-1355 passed both chambers.

Paid Family Medical Leave Premium Reduction (HB22-1305)

What does it mean for restaurants?

The voters of Colorado approved a paid family and medical leave program for all workers that is set to begin issuing benefits in 2024. Employers and employees will begin paying premiums into the program in 2023.

HB22-1305 would have temporarily reduced the premium paid by employers – starting January 1, 2023 through June 20, 2023 – from nine-tenths of 1% of wages per employee to eighty-one hundredths of 1% of wages per employee. The bill would have required a one-time transfer of $57.5 million to offset the temporary premium reduction.

Although the Governor indicated early in session that he wanted to see this proposal on his desk, the legislation hit significant roadblocks later in the year due to rapidly depleting access to state funding for the program.

Where did we stand?
The CRA supported the proposal; while it would not have been the silver bullet for struggling restaurants, any amount of financial support from the state is appreciated. Ultimately, the bill died in the final days of session due to a lack of funds.

Who were the sponsors?
Representatives Yadira Caraveo (D) and Matt Gray (D) and Senators Faith Winter (D) and James Coleman (D)

What was the outcome?
HB22-1305 was postponed indefinitely.

Affordable Housing Bills

What do the following bills mean for restaurants? 

In 2021, following an influx of federal ARPA dollars, the General Assembly appropriated $400 million to address the affordable housing crisis throughout the state and created an associated task force to recommend policy solutions. The following bills are the result of the task force recommendations and ARPA funding.

The CRA lobbied in support of all of the below, as we have heard from restaurateurs across the state that the affordable housing crisis has created significant workforce challenges.

Affordable Housing Solutions | Total Allocated: $399,800,000

  • HB22-1282The Innovative Housing Incentive Program will invest funds to encourage and support the construction of innovative forms of affordable housing in Colorado, including modular, prefabricated, and manufactured homes. HB22-1282 has been sent to the Governor.
  • SB22-146Middle Income Access Program Expansion will support the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority’s middle-income access program, which is designed to provide financing to developers seeking to build affordable rental housing to Coloradans with an 80% area median income and above, which fills a support gap within the marketplace. SB22-146 has been signed into law by the Governor.
  • SB22-159: Revolving Loan Fund Invest Affordable Housing will create a revolving loan program to help finance affordable housing projects as well as energy improvements. One of the aims is to improve non-traditional housing in areas where COVID-19 hindered housing affordability and availability. SB22-159 has been sent to the Governor. 
  • SB22-160: Loan Program Resident-owned Communities puts funds toward grants to local governments and nonprofits around the state to buy land and develop affordable housing. SB22-160 has been sent to the Governor.
  • HB22-1304: State Grants Investments Local Affordable Housing creates two grant programs: 1) the local investments in transformational affordable housing grant program, and 2) the infrastructure and strong communities grant program. HB22-1304 has been sent to the Governor.

Measures to Reduce Single-Use Meal Accessories (HB22-1134)

What does it mean for restaurants?
HB22-1134 aimed to mirror a policy that passed in Denver in 2021 that makes all single-use implements, such as utensils, condiment packets, napkins, ramekins, etc. available only upon request for takeout and delivery orders.

Where did we stand?
We worked closely with the sponsor to amend the bill to make it more industry-friendly and mitigate hardship to the industry. Ultimately, we exempted many necessary options within restaurants to ensure that employees would have the ability to offer these items to customers, and were neutral on the policy leading into the committee hearing.

Despite there being no known opposition to the bill and a large outpouring of support, the bill died in committee due to a negative portrayal in the media and some inner-party dynamics.

Who were the sponsors?
Representative Brianna Titone (D) and Senator Kevin Priola (R)

What was the outcome?
HB22-1134 was postponed indefinitely.

Consumer Right to Use Energy (HB22-1020)

What does it mean for restaurants?

HB22-1020 would prohibit a state agency, local government, and common interest community from limiting or prohibiting the use of natural gas, propane, solar photovoltaics, micro wind turbines, or small hydroelectric power for electricity generation, cooking, hot water, or space heating in residences, units, or businesses.

Where did we stand?
We support this bill. The restaurant industry relies heavily on the use of gas stoves and several cooking techniques, such as flambe styles, that would be made impossible without the use of open flames from gas stoves. Without consistent access to natural gas, the industry could potentially see a disruption in entire cooking methods and restaurant concepts. This proposal ensures that restaurants would have access to natural gas in their businesses.

Who were the sponsors?
Representative Dan Woog (R) and Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer (R)

What was the outcome?
HB22-1020 was postponed indefinitely in the House Committee on Energy and Environment.

Expand Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Food (HB22-1062)

What does it mean?

HB22-1062 would have exempted ready-to-eat food, including the food that comes from a restaurant, from the required state sales tax. This bill was brought to the floor because the sponsor observed how people were eating during the pandemic (aka off-premise via takeout and delivery) and realized that restaurant food has become a staple for many households in Colorado.

Where did we stand?
The CRA supported this legislation and testified in favor.

Who were the sponsors?
Representative Hugh McKean (R) and Senator Dennis Hisey (R)

What was the outcome?
This bill was postponed indefinitely in the House Finance committee.

Use of Local Lodging Tax Revenue (HB22-1117)

What does it mean for restaurants?

HB22-1117 expands the allowable uses of local marketing districts and county lodging taxes to include affordable housing and childcare for the tourism industry.

Where did we stand?
We supported the amended version of this bill.

Who were the sponsors?
Representatives Dylan Roberts (D) and Marc Catlin (R) and Senators Don Coram (R) and Kerry Donovan (D)

What was the outcome?
This bill has been signed into law by the Governor.

Exemption to Employer Sick Leave Requirement (HB22-1130)

What does it mean for restaurants?

In 2020, the Legislature passed SB20-205, which established paid sick leave requirements for all employers in the state. SB20-205 had an exemption for employers with 16 or fewer employees, but the exemption was repealed on January 1, 2022. HB22-1130 would have allowed that exemption to continue to apply in perpetuity.

Where did we stand?
We supported this bill. We have heard consistently from restaurateurs that the paid sick leave requirements established under SB20-205 have been incredibly burdensome for businesses, and these requirements are even more challenging for small employers. Allowing a permanent exemption for the smallest restaurants would help to ease some of those concerns.

Who was the sponsor?
Representative Rod Bockenfeld (R)

What was the outcome?
HB22-1130 was postponed indefinitely by the House Committee on State, Civic, Military, and Veterans Affairs.

Sales and Use Simplification Task Force

There are three bills originating from the Sales and Use Simplification Task Force that were introduced with bi-partisan sponsorship from Reps. Kipp (D) and Van Winkle (R) and Sens. Bridges (D) and Woodward (R):

HB22-1027, Sales Tax Destination Sourcing Rules Exception, would extend the current sales tax exception from February 1, 2022 to October 1, 2022 for small retailers under $100,000 to source their sales to the business’ location rather than the buyer’s location.

SB22-032, Simplify Local Sales and Use Tax Administration, after July 1, 2022 would prohibit local jurisdictions from charging a fee for a local general business license to a retailer that has a state standard retail license and, by 2023, wouldn’t require additional applications to local jurisdictions in an effort to streamline local sales and use tax administration.

HB22-1039, Sales and Use Tax Exemption Form Simplification, requires the department of revenue to simplify the forms related to state sales and use tax exemptions.

Where did we stand?
We support the simplification of sales and use taxes in the state and the overarching goals of the task force.

What was the outcome?
All three bills were signed into law by the Governor.

Unemployment Compensation (SB22-234)

What does it mean for restaurants?

SB22-066 makes a one-time, $600-million appropriation using federal ARPA dollars to backfill the state unemployment insurance trust fund, which became completely insolvent due to pandemic-related lay-offs in the summer of 2020. This backfill was necessary to stabilize employer premiums and save small businesses, like restaurants, from the increase in costs associated with bringing the fund back to solvency.

The bill also:

  • continues the COVID-19 allowance for undocumented workers to receive unemployment benefits after being separated from employment;
  • repeals the requirement that an individual must wait at least one week before becoming eligible for unemployment compensation as long as the balance of the unemployment compensation fund is at least $1 billion;
  • requires the division to study how to implement a dependent allowance for individuals receiving unemployment compensation;
  • requires an employer to provide an employee with information about unemployment compensation at the time of separation from the employer;
  • extends the suspension of the solvency surcharge through the calendar year 2023;
  • and requires the division to consider certain factors in determining whether repayment of overpaid unemployment compensation benefits would be inequitable.

Where did we stand?
We have been lobbying this issue and seeking a backfill to the state fund since fall 2021, when we testified before the interim committee expressing the dire need for this policy. We are thrilled that it has come to fruition.

Who were the sponsors?
Senators Chris Hansen (D) and Bob Rankin (R) and Representatives David Ortiz (D) and Marc Snyder (D)

What was the outcome?
SB22-234 has been signed into law by the Governor.

Prohibit Employer Adverse Action Marijuana Use (HB22-1152)

What does it mean for restaurants?

As introduced, HB22-1152 would have prohibited an employer from taking adverse action against an employee for their use of marijuana off-premise during nonworking hours and would have prohibited employers from taking adverse action against employees for their use of medical marijuana on-premise during working hours.

Where did we stand?
The CRA, along with the rest of the business community, rose up in strong opposition to this bill due to safety concerns related to employees using marijuana while at work. After hearing from the business community, the prime sponsor amended the bill into a study in committee. The parameters of the study would have required the business community, along with marijuana industry stakeholders, medical marijuana patients, and public health officials, to devise a plan to allow medical marijuana patients to consume marijuana while at work. We still had grave concerns with this premise and were opposed to the bill. Ultimately, after hearing from the business community, the bill was killed in committee.

Who was the sponsor?
Representative Edie Hooton (D)

What was the outcome?
HB22-1152 was postponed indefinitely.

Alcohol Beverages Extended Service Hours Permit (HB22-1142)

What does it mean for restaurants?

Current law requires the sale of malt, vinous, or spirituous liquors to take place between the hours of 7 a.m. and 2 a.m., and requires the sale of fermented malt beverages to take place between the hours of 8 a.m. and midnight.

HB22-1142 would have created a permit that on-premises liquor licenses could apply for that would allow the licensee to extend their hours of sale by two hours, either from 5 a.m. – 7 a.m. OR from 2 a.m. – 4 a.m. The bill would not have allowed a licensee to do both and it wouldn’t have allowed a local government to restrict a businesses’ hours of service.

Where do we stand?
The CRA was neutral on this proposal.

Who was the sponsor?
Representative Marc Snyder (D)

What was the outcome?
HB22-1142 was postponed indefinitely by the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee.

Whistleblower Protection Health & Safety (SB22-097)

What does it mean for restaurants?

During the height of COVID-19, the legislature passed a bill that prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an employee who, in good faith, raises a reasonable concern about workplace safety violation or other significant workplace health and safety threats. SB22-097 continues those protections in perpetuity.

Where did we stand?
We monitored this bill closely to ensure that it would not be expanded to unduly burden employers.

Who were the sponsors?
Senators Brittany Pettersen (D) and Robert Rodriguez (D) and Representatives Leslie Herod (D) and Tom Sullivan (D)

What was the outcome?
This bill was signed into law by the Governor.

Clarifying Terms Related to Landowner Liability (SB22-115)

What does it mean for restaurants?

SB22-115 is complicated, so bear with us: Both the Colorado Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case called Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, Inc. v. Wagner in a way that holds business owners liable if a crime is committed by a third-party on their premises. If the business is in any way deemed controversial (Planned Parenthood, or say, a club or even a restaurant), then the owner could be sued by the victim of any crime that takes place inside their establishment because the owner should have known that a crime could take place there and should have protected the victim better. The owner could even be held liable as a factor in causing the harm created by the crime.

SB22-115 would essentially negate those rulings so that business owners would no longer fall under that standard of liability.

Where did we stand?
The CRA supported this legislation because it takes the precedent back to what it was meant to be prior to the Supreme Court case.

Who were the sponsors?
Senators Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D) and Bob Gardner (R) and Representatives Matt Soper (R) and Kerry Tipper (D)

What was the outcome?
This bill was signed into law by the Governor.

As the leading restaurant advocacy organization in Colorado, the CRA is your go-to source for industry information. If you are a member of the media or the legislature and want to learn more about how the above bills or issues impact restaurants, we are here to help!

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