Polis signs bills on sick leave, rent, business help amid COVID-19

Renters who rely on unemployment benefits now cannot be discriminated against in housing

Ellis Arnold
earnold@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/15/20

The Colorado legislature took numerous steps to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, and they've become law under Gov. Jared Polis' signature a day ahead of the July 15 deadline for the governor to …

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Polis signs bills on sick leave, rent, business help amid COVID-19

Renters who rely on unemployment benefits now cannot be discriminated against in housing

Posted

The Colorado legislature took numerous steps to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, and they've become law under Gov. Jared Polis' signature a day ahead of the July 15 deadline for the governor to sign or veto legislation.

The legislature's regular session — the period in which lawmakers pass bills — ended June 15 after being interrupted by the pandemic. It began Jan. 8.

Polis signed bills into law July 14 that guarantee paid sick leave for workers and protect renters relying on alternative sources of income, such as unemployment benefits, during the COVID-19 crisis.

Senate Bill 20-205 allows workers, including part-time workers, to earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work, up to six days per year, according to a news release by state House Democrats. The bill also provides leave during a public health emergency such as COVID-19 — employees who work 40 or more hours per week will receive at least 80 hours of additional paid sick leave.

House Bill 20-1332 deems housing discrimination based on a person's source of income an unfair housing practice, according to the release. As long as a person's income source is lawful and verifiable — including income from any government assistance program — a landlord cannot refuse to show, rent or lease housing.

Polis signed two bills June 23 to provide relief to small businesses. One, House Bill 20-1413, establishes a small-business loan program under which $250 million of private and public funding will be allocated to small businesses over the next two years, according to a news release by House Democrats.

Loans of between $30,000 to $500,000, maturing in up to five years, will be awarded to businesses with between five and 100 employees. Loans must carry a lower interest rate than what would normally be available on the commercial market.

The second measure, Senate Bill 20-222, creates a grant program funded by $20 million from the federal CARES Act for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis, according to the release. $5 million will be set aside for recovery of the state's tourism sector.

To qualify, businesses must have fewer than 25 employees. Businesses that did not qualify for the federal Paycheck Protection Program will be given preference. Women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses will also be given priority, as well as businesses in rural areas.

Polis on June 22 signed bills including House Bill 20-1410, which provides $20 million in direct rental and mortgage assistance to Coloradans experiencing financial need, including $350,000 for legal aid for renters at risk of eviction.

He also signed House Bill 20-1412, which allocates $4.8 million to the Energy Outreach Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund, a program that helps Coloradans at risk of a service shut-off catch up on utility payments.

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