GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX/KFQX)- As Colorado lawmakers work to pass a fresh round of COVID-19 legislation during a special session this week, bars, restaurants, and food trucks in the state could see major relief.
HB 1004, a bill which would allow drinking and food establishments to retain sales tax from this month to February 2021, overwhelmingly passed the Colorado House 64-1 on Tuesday morning. The bill specifies no more than five locations under the same owner can participate in the program. Lawmakers say the bill would go into effect immediately if singed by the governor.
Representative Alex Valdez, a Democrat from Denver, and Representative Kevin Van Winkle, a Republican from Douglas County, are co-sponsors of the bill in the House. Van Winkle offered a final thought on the bill Tuesday morning before it almost unanimously passed the house.
“Our Colorado restaurants are truly at a breaking point,” Van Winkle said. “It allows them to hold on to the money they otherwise would be paying to the state of Colorado, allows them to buy those heaters, expand their outdoor seating for winter, and pay for many other things like new employees, keeping employees.”
Here in Grand Junction, the owner of Handlebar Tap House says the money he will save from retaining state sales tax will help him keep employees working through what he says could be a slow winter season.
“It’ll probably be I think about $3,000 a month,” said owner Adam Kinsey. “Our number one goal right now without additional federal stimulus is to retain employees.”
Kinsey says with the extra $3,000 or so per month he will not have to cut one full time and one part time employee through the winter. He says this comes after a busy summer season where he had to make staff changes.
“We probably employed three or four less people this summer than we normally would have,” he said “But luckily in Mesa County we were in good shape all summer.”
Handlebar is part of Mesa County’s 5 Star Protection Program which allows the business to operate at a slightly larger capacity than current COVID-19 restrictions, provided the right precautions are in place. Kinsey says, while this aid will make a difference for the business as a whole, he’d like to see more individual stimulus, such as expanded COVID-19 federal unemployment aid, should the economy take a massive hit like it did in March and April.
The special legislative session in Denver is expected to wrap up Wednesday.