2019 Legislative Session Wrap Up
This was a busy session as is typical whenever there is a new administration and many new legislators. Despite some unfortunate partisanship that caused delays, the reading out loud of 2000 page bills, hearings that occurred during a blizzard, and overnight sessions some great work did get done that will benefit the people of Colorado including people with disabilities.
Before talking about the bills, I want to call out the amazing CCDC team that worked at the Capitol this year.
- CCDC Board Co-Chair Josh Winkler showed his typical leadership working some bills very hard, following the budget, and mentoring some of our newer volunteer lobbyists. Other board members that participated in the process were Scott Markham and Dr. Kimberley Jackson.
- Our volunteer lobbying team consisted of Francesca Maes, Michael Neil, Jennifer Roberts, Haven Rohnert, and Linn Oliver with help from Jennifer Remington, Auralea Moore, and Tim Postlewaite.
- Valerie Schlecht did a fantastic job as our contract lobbyist for mental health issues and stepped up on several other issues as a volunteer. Dawn Howard our community organizer, AKA Cat Herder in Chief did a great job making sure everyone knew what was happening, where people were needed, etc.
CCDC wants to thank our many partners, in particular the Arc of Colorado, Arc of Aurora, Arc of Adams, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, 9-5 Colorado, ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Senior Lobby, Disability Law Colorado, Colorado Common Cause, PASCO, and Accent on Independence Homecare amongst others. We also want to thank Colorado Capitol Watch for a great product that made tracking the bills easier.
Because this was a year with many new legislators and many groups rushing to push through bills that had struggled in years past, many of which were bills we were going to support, CCDC made a deliberate decision to NOT run our own proactive bills this year but to focus on our coalition work, and building relationships with the many new Senators and Representatives. We laid groundwork for policies we want to promote over the next few years while focusing on the many coalition bills and responding to bills that affected our community. We followed 139 bills. This report shares the highlights-not every bill that we worked on during the session.
This is being dubbed the year of the renter. There were many bills that helped renters, along with some that will fund affordable housing.
- HB 19-1085 Increases the property tax/heat/rent rebate program both the amount of the grant and the income limits for people eligible for this grant through July 2021.
- HB 19-1106 Limits rental application fees to actual costs
- HB 19-1118: Requires landlords to expand the notice before eviction from three to 10 days, hopefully giving people a way to either find a new place to live or cure the problem that led to the eviction
- HB 19-1135 Clarifies that income tax credits for retrofitting a home for accessibility are available when one retrofits a home for a dependent.
- HB 19-1170 Improves warranty of habitability in housing to make it work for tenants.
- HB 19-1285 and HB 1332 Affordable housing funding
- HB 19-1309 Creates mobile home park dispute resolution and enforcement program, also increasing time to move if there is sale or eviction.
- HB 19-1328 Responsibilities of landlords & tenants to address bed bug infestations.
- SB 19-180 Creates an eviction defense fund to help low-income people
- HB 19-1044 Allows for an advanced directives for behavioral/mental health.
- HB 19-1120 Multiple approaches to address and prevent youth suicide
- HB 19-1151 Revisions to the Traumatic Brain Injury Program funded by the Brain Injury Trust Fund.
- HB 19-1176 Enables a study of various methods of health care reform including an option for universal health care.
- HB 19-1189 Reforms wage garnishment laws to take into account medical expenses and medical debt.
- HB 19-1211 Reforms what health insurance companies can and cannot do regarding prior authorization. This is to stop insurance companies using prior authorization to harass doctors and deny patients.
- HB 19-1216 Measures to reduce the cost of insulin.
- HB 19-1233 Health care payment reform to promote increasing utilization of primary care.
- HB 19-1269 Mental Health Parity-variety of measures to require both private insurance companies and Medicaid to pay for mental health care appropriately.
- HB 19-1287 Increases treatment funding for substance use disorders
- SB 19-001 Expands the Medication Assisted Treatment pilot program
- SB 19-005 Gives state permission to request permission from the federal government to import drugs from Canada to give Colorado residents price relief
- SB 19-010 Funds professional mental health services in schools
- SB 19-073 Creates statewide system to allow electronic uploading of advance directive documents so in the case of emergency any hospital can ascertain the wishes of the individual. This is voluntary.
- SB 19-079 Requires some doctors to submit prescriptions of controlled drugs electronically
- SB 19-195 Creates a system to better coordinate children’s mental health policy
- SB 19-222 Increases mental health services for people at risk of institutionalization
- SB 19-238 Requires the 8.1% increase for personal care and homemaker be passed directly to workers, and sets up stakeholder group to address issues with personal care workforce.
THERE WERE A NUMBER OF BILLS RELATED TO THE COST OF PRIVATE INSURANCE AND HOSPITALS. PLEASE CHECK OUT THE COLORADO CONSUMER INITIATIVE OR THE COLORADO CENTER ON LAW AND POLICY FOR REPORTS ON THOSE BILLS.
- HB 1062 Allowing sale of property at the Grand Junction regional center
- HB 19-1063 Allows information sharing between adult and child protective services and allowed people who are subject to adult protective services to see their own records.
- HB 19-1084 Requires that staff of legislative council prepare demographic notes on certain bills. For a handful of bills each future session the citizens and elected officials of Colorado will be able to have research on how a bill affects specific (often underrepresented) populations.
- HB 19-1239 Creates a grant program to do outreach for the 2020 census.
- HB 19-1278 A variety of changes to election law making it easier for voters
- SB 19-135 Requires a study of state procurement disparities to see if state contracting is being fair and inclusive to businesses owned by people of color, women and people with disabilities.
- HB 19-1066 Requires schools to count special education students in graduation rates.
- HB 19-1134 Research for better methods to identify dyslexia in young children
- HB 19-1194 Limits schools ability to expel and suspend children in and below the 2nd grade
- HB 19-066 Creates grant program to help defray costs of high cost special education students
- HB 19-1025 Limits employers’ ability to ask about criminal backgrounds (with appropriate exemptions) before employee goes through the application process.
- HB 19-1107 Creates job retention and employment support as part of the Department of Labor and Employment
- SB 19-085 Increases enforcement for those facing pay-based discrimination
- SB 19-188 Creates a study of Family Medical Leave
- HB 19-1257 and HB 19-1258 Brings to the voters a request for state to keep and spend excess revenue for transportation and schools
- SB 19-239 Creates a stakeholder process to address the changes in transportation
- SB 19-036 Creates pilot program to remind people of court dates
- HB 19-1045 Provides funding for an office of Public Guardianship
- HB 19-1104 Creates a right to counsel for parents who are facing custody loss to be represented through the office of respondent parent counsel.
- HB 19-1777 “Red Flag” bill that sets out when a judge can temporarily take away someone’s gun if they are at imminent risk of harming themselves or someone else. CCDC was initially concerned that this might be based on diagnosis, but it was not. It is based only on behavior, has many protections and excellent due process.
- HB 19-1225: Prohibits money bail for some low-level offenses to avoid people being jailed for not having small amounts of money for non-violent crimes.
- SB 19-172 Makes it easier to prosecute people that abuse at risk adults and makes it clear that inappropriate confinement is abuse and illegal.
- SB 19-191 Creates defendants’ rights to pretrial bonds to reduce the number of people with low-level crimes sitting in jail just because they are poor.
- SB 19-223 Reforms regarding the competency process in the criminal court system
State Budget (aka the long bill SB 19-207)
- Increases personal care and homemaker rates for CDASS and IHSS by 8.1%
- Funds housing inspections for host homes in the I/DD system for basic life-safety issues
- Creates an Office of Employment First at JFK Partners
- State funded SLS and Family Support Services waiver slots
- Creates a Supported Employment pilot at HCPF for I/DD waivers
- Provides funding for HCPF customer service
- Provides funding for food and travel for HCPF Member Experience Advisory Council
- Provides state mental hospital funding for Disability Law Colorado settlement
- HB 19-1069 Allows Colorado to create our own certification system through the Colorado Commission on the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf/Blind CCDHHDB to adopt or develop a certification system for American Sign Language interpreters. This is address the shortage of interpreters, especially in the rural areas. THANKS TO THE INDEPENDENCE CENTER OF COLORADO SPRINGS FOR LEADING THIS BILL.
- HB 19-1151 Revisions to the Traumatic Brain Injury Program funded by the Brain Injury Trust Fund. THANKS TO THE BRAIN INJURY ALLIANCE OF COLORADO FOR LEADING THIS BILL.
- HB 19-1223 Provides application assistance to people on the Aid to Needy Disabled program to help them obtain approval for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). THANKS TO THE COLORADO CENTER ON LAW AND POLICY FOR LEADING THIS BILL
- HB 19-1332 Funds the talking book library
- SB 19-202 Creates a path for accessible ballots for people who are print disabled to allow such individuals to vote in private in our all mail ballot system. THANKS TO THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF COLORADO FOR LEADING THIS BILL.
Overall it was a good year. There were some disappointments, but there always are—now we have to make sure the bills we like get implemented and make sure people know about these new laws and programs.