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Roberts’ bill to free up lodging tax for housing, child care, tourism infrastructure passes House

February 27, 2022, 7:14 am

Colorado House Democrats recently issued the following press release on the passage of a bill co-sponsored by state Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, that — if passed by the Senate — will allow voters to approve the used of lodging tax funds for housing, child care or other infrastructure improvements:

Dylan Roberts

Representative Dylan Roberts advanced a key legislative priority, HB22-1117, through the Colorado House of Representatives on a bipartisan 46-18 vote. The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Dylan Roberts (D-Avon) and Rep. Marc Catlin (R-Montrose), would change state statute to give local counties and marketing districts the ability to use their lodging tax revenue, with voter permission, for important community needs related to tourism like housing, child care, and infrastructure improvements to enhance the visitor and the overall community-wide experience.

“This is a tool that mountain communities have long asked for — the ability to use the revenue brought in by tourists to support the workers and communities that serve those tourists — but have been prevented from doing so by state law”, said Rep. Dylan Roberts. “This year, we will update that law to allow local communities to decide for themselves how to utilize lodging tax dollars. In times like these, it just makes sense to let communities decide how to use the revenue brought in by tourists and to ensure we are supporting the workforce that serves their region’s visitors.”

As communities across the state grapple with the acute needs facing the tourism and local workforce, finding a dedicated and sustainable source of funding for housing, child care, and other crucial community essentials is vitally needed. Lodging taxes, capped by state law at 2%, are currently only allowed to be used for marketing and tourism promotion. Yet, as more visitors than ever before come to our state and to our mountain communities, the workforce needed to serve those visitors are struggling to find affordable housing. County commissioners and community leaders of both parties, and of many industries called on the legislature to make this change in state statute. When signed into law, HB22-1117 will give counties and local marketing districts the ability to ask voters to impose a lodging tax if they do not have one already or change an existing lodging tax, and direct the revenue to community needs like housing. Per the bill, at least 10% of the revenue will remain dedicated to tourism marketing and promotion. 

“The lack of housing for employees in Colorado’s rural, mountain, and resort communities has reached a crisis level and it is directly impacting the provision of basic services as well as the ability to adequately staff and operate businesses,” said Margaret Bowes, Executive Director of Colorado Association of Ski Towns (CAST). “CAST and its members strongly support HB22-1117 as it would allow local governments and their voters to determine how lodging tax dollars can best address local needs, whether that be workforce housing, child care, or other community and visitor needs.”

If signed into law, HB22-1117 would expand the usage of lodging tax revenue beyond destination marketing and promotion to include workforce needs and economic development. Mountain communities often generate robust revenue from tourism, but are currently limited in how they spend this money. This bill would allow revenue generated from tourism to be used towards workforce recruitment, retention, and reinvigoration to support local economic development. HB22-1117 is now headed to the Senate where it will be carried by Sen. Kerry Donvan (D-Vail) and Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose). 

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