Public meetings have been scheduled between February 19 and March 5 for you to learn more about and weigh in on proposed RTD service changes.
Information, Dates, and Locations are available at https://www.rtd-denver.com/service-changes/may-2020.
You can also provide your input by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or faxing comments to 303-299-2227 no later than March 5, 2020. Continue reading “CCDC wants to insure that you have your chance to provide input on RTD Service Changes”
By Ed Sealover Reporter, Denver Business Journal,
DENVER — Josh Winkler became paralyzed below the waist at age 17, but that didn’t stop him from getting a mechanical engineering degree in college and working for a NASCAR team until the Great Recession hit. He then launched his own company, Cripple Concepts, which makes a variety of aides for the wheelchair-bound, including joystick knobs for movement that don’t fall off and USB chargers that allow electric-wheelchair users to charge their phones without losing use of their mobility device. Continue reading “Colorado bill would allow disabled company owners to keep working”
By JOHN AGUILAR | email@example.com | The Denver Post PUBLISHED: February 18, 2020 at 8:31 p.m. | UPDATED: February 18, 2020 at 8:42 p.m.
Legislation that would tighten state oversight of the troubled Regional Transportation District got its first hearing in front of lawmakers Tuesday, and the focus was squarely on how well the metro area’s disabled community is being served by transit. Continue reading “Senate committee hearing on RTD oversight bill shines a light on services for disabled riders”
Joey Bunch, Colorado Politics, Feb 19, 2020, as published in coloradopolitics.com
From the American Diabetes Association to the Young Invincibles, more than two dozen Colorado groups signed on to a letter urging state lawmakers to support a public option insurance program to increase competition and, ideally, lower premiums and other health care costs.
The letter dated Jan. 22, provided to Colorado Politics Tuesday, speaks of a “true crisis” in every corner of the state and urges the General Assembly to deliver affordability, transparency and access to care through the insurance marketplace.
BOTH PASSED AND SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR (6/30)
News From The Colorado State Capitol
From the Office of State Rep. Edie Hooton
The manufactured home bills we’ve all been waiting for – House Bills 20-1196 and 20-1201 – will be heard in the House Transportation and Local Government Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 19. The committee hearing begins at 1:30 in Legislative Services Building room “A,” and if you choose to go in person, this building is across 14th Street from the south side of the Capitol.
We’ve included a link to both bills in the titles below if you haven’t read them yet. But what’s really important is the improvements they can bring to peoples’ quality of life. The points below could be important concepts if you’re persuading a legislator on the committee to vote “yes” on the bills, or if you have colleagues who don’t yet understand why we’re working on manufactured home legislation.
These bills are the product of many peoples’ work, by no means just legislators. Part of our team has included actual homeowners, some belonging to homeowner advocacy groups, and we’ve used public meetings and other forms of information gathering to learn personal stories about peoples’ experiences.
Our work last year also contributed to quite a bit of interest from Colorado media, and here are some great sources to get perspective on what’s going on in the world of manufactured homes.
Vail Daily Series on Eagle River Village: Journalist David O. Williams did a comprehensive three-part series on problems with potable water at Eagle River Village. The Daily also followed up with a strongly-worded editorial calling for immediate action. Yet half-a-year later, residents still have problems, and the Daily just published two more follow-up stories on the same issue. All six pieces are worth the read, but here’s a quote from an Eagle River Village resident that sums up the unenviable problems in three sentences:
“The water is not drinkable; it’s dirty, not only in color but also in odor. I don’t use the water even to cook, and I spend a lot of money on the five-gallon bottles of water. It’s not only the money, but I’m also using a lot of plastic.”
Parked: Half the American Dream: The Colorado Sun worked with a number of news outlets on this gigantic collaborative effort that captured manufactured home park stories from across Colorado. There are many great stories here, but since HB 20-1201 is up on Wednesday, this story mentions how and why the Yampa Valley Housing Authority purchased the Fish Creek Mobile Home Park and saved 68 manufactured homes. This quote captures part of the essence of why we’re running HB 20-1201:
“…our community sort of freaked out — all of our mobile home parks are going to get wiped out by investors,” said Jason Peasley, executive director of Yampa Valley Housing Authority. “We thought, we will lose that form of affordable housing.”
What’s Next? Both HBs 20-1196 and 20-1201 passed in committee, and now they’ll go to the full House for a vote. If they succeed, they’ll go to the Senate for equal consideration. We’ll keep you posted on bill progress throughout the 2020 legislative session.
Didn’t Make Wednesday’s Hearing? All formal legislative hearings, including committee and floor sessions, can be heard via live audio and recorded after the fact. For House Transportation and Local Government, those who can’t make the hearing in person can just tune in at this link to the “Committee Audio”: https://leg.colorado.gov/committees/transportation-local-government/2020-regular-session
There’s Still Time to Spread the Word: We certainly hope for strong support in Wednesday’s hearing, but your respectful input can still help any legislators who might still be “on the fence” vote in our favor. You can call, email, or write any state legislator at any time, and here’s a link to the Transportation and Local Government Committee, with member names and contact information.
One way or another, our next newsletter will include results from Wednesday’s hearing! Thanks again for your support, and I know we’re all looking for positive results!
The Distinctions between Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals and Pets
Written by Andrew Montoya
Most people like animals of all sorts. I mean, what’s not to like about their furry faces, precocious personalities, and constant companionship? People love their animals so much, in fact, that Colorado has become increasingly “pet-friendly,” with restaurants placing water bowls in patio areas and carrying menu items intended for pets, and other establishments like stores and office buildings permitting animals where they once were forbidden. Usually, those animals are dogs, but there has been a marked increase in recent years of other types of animals accompanying folks in public, including snakes and lizards, birds both large and small, and other mammals more often seen at the Stock Show or Denver Zoo. Although there are some safety and sanitary guidelines that prohibit pet-friendly policies, generally restaurants, stores, and other such spots are permitted to allow animals if they so desire. Nevertheless, for some folks, that’s just not good enough. Some of those people have discovered that claiming a disability and purchasing a cute little vest or tag with words like “service animal” or “assistance dog” can not only get their four-legged friends in the door but also can save on things like fees and deposits. Meanwhile, websites boast that, for a low, one-time fee, people can purchase vests, tags, and even letters from medical professionals substantiating the claimed disability. That is, of course, not to say there aren’t legitimate service animal and emotional support animal users who also might have such vests, tags and documentation (even though vests, tags and documentation aren’t required under the law), but the proliferation of online shops has caused many to begin to question service animal users, especially those with invisible disabilities, and has led to conflict between inadequately trained pets and highly trained service animals. That conflict, coupled with the rise of news reports of atypical emotional support animals (or ESAs), such as peacocks and squirrels, being taken on airplanes, has even led to proposals for new laws and new rules at both the state and federal levels.
Under the ADA, a service animal is a dog—and only a dog—that is specially trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. The ADA regulations also permit miniature horses as a reasonable modification, but dogs are the only specifically identified service animals. Under the ADA, service dogs are permitted to accompany individuals with disabilities in most situations with very limited exceptions, such as sterile operating rooms in hospitals, and are exempt from many fees often associated with pets, such as hotel fees and deposits. In addition, under the ADA, a public entity under Title II and an operator of the place of public accommodation under Title III are only permitted to ask two questions about an animal: (a) whether the animal is a service animal and (b) what tasks the animal performs for the person with a disability. If the answers to both of those questions are yes, then the service animal must be permitted. Moreover, those public entities and places of public accommodation are prohibited from asking for proof of the person’s disability or proof of the animal’s status or training. Although an individual with a disability may have to prove disability if the individual brings a claim or lawsuit later alleging discrimination because of the denial of a service animal, at the time the individual with a disability visits a place of public accommodation or public building operated by a public entity, the ADA only requires answers to these two questions.
Both the FHAA and ACAA, on the other hand, recognize the right of an individual with a disability to have ESAs, and both laws permit a much greater variety of animals than just dogs (or miniature horses). ESAs provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, and neither of these two laws requires the animal to have specialized training. Both laws also often exempt individuals with disabilities with ESAs from many fees associated with pets. To take a slightly deeper dive, much like how the ADA recognizes miniature horses as reasonable modifications, the FHAA also views service animals and emotional support animals as reasonable accommodations. That is, housing providers are required to modify their “no animals” policies to permit both service and emotional support animals for people with disabilities. Although such housing providers may request evidence of the claimed disability if it is not obvious, there are not many regulations or requirements related to animals under the FHAA.
The ACAA, by contrast, has some hoops for travelers to jump through, including requirements that the passenger provide very specific documentation related to the disability and the animal. The ACAA also specifically permits air carriers from prohibiting snakes, ferrets, rodents and spiders, and other animals that are too large to fit safely in the cabin.
Now get ready for the twists and turns, as we walk through a hypothetical scenario. A college student, let’s call him Michael, has an emotional support dog, Rex, that lives with him in his apartment. Michael travels to another city for a vacation. Michael is permitted to keep Rex in his apartment pursuant to the FHAA, but Michael has to put Rex in a crate in order to travel in a cab to Union Station in Denver because Rex isn’t a service animal and that cab is covered by Title III of the ADA. Michael can take Rex out of the crate once at Union Station, however, because Union Station is “pet-friendly.” Once the A Line train arrives to take Michael and Rex to DIA, Michael again has to put Rex back in the crate for the trip. DIA, however, is also “pet-friendly,” so once at the airport, Michael frees Rex again and stops at one of the airport’s new $100,000+ pet relief areas to give Rex a much-needed pit stop. After washing up, Michael decides to stop off at one of DIA’s many restaurants for a quick bite to eat. Unfortunately, though, that restaurant doesn’t permit non-service animals, so it’s back in the crate for poor Rex. After packing up a doggy bag, it’s off to the terminal for Michael and out of the crate once again for Rex.
Rex can stay out of the crate while on the plane because Rex is a documented ESA and is neither an unusual type of animal nor too large. However, once in the air, Rex begins to get a bit jumpy and starts barking at another passenger’s emotional support rabbit, so the flight crew asks Michael to crate Rex until he calms down, which, fortunately, doesn’t take long. A short while later, Michael and Rex land in their destination city and head off to rent a car to drive to their hotel. The rental car company, however, has a sign on the door that reads “service animals only,” so Michael puts Rex back in the crate while he goes inside. The desk agent, however, says that she is allergic to dogs and requires Michael to leave Rex outside entirely, commenting that there will be a significant cleaning fee when Michael returns the car if there is any dog hair left inside as well. Suffice it to say, Michael and Rex leave pretty quickly, without renting a car. Michael then pulls up a rideshare app and orders a vehicle. The driver shows up but, upon seeing Rex, says “no dogs” and drives away. A kind passerby who saw what happened informs Michael that there is a city bus that goes within a couple of blocks of his hotel, so Michael sticks Rex back in the crate and hops on board. Michael is able to uncrate Rex for the walk to the hotel but puts him back in the crate to check in. Unfortunately, Michael didn’t realize that the hotel charged an extra $50 per night as a pet deposit, which renders him broke for the remainder of his trip.
As that hypothetical illustrates, the patchwork of legal obligations from place to place varies a lot, making it pretty difficult to determine what animals are permitted where (and why). It’s easy to see, though, why some people try to pass off their pets as ESAs. Even though ESAs aren’t permitted everywhere, they are permitted in more places than pets (despite the current “pet-friendly” trend) and sometimes without a fee. Contrasting poor Michael’s and Rex’s experiences with those of a service dog user, who is permitted to keep the dog in all of these places Michael and Rex visited (and without being subject to any additional fees), it’s also easy to see why some people claim untrained animals and ESAs as actual service dogs. Although it is easy to understand why folks do this, it’s equally important to understand why doing so is harmful to real service animals and ESAs.
Service animals are critical supports for people with disabilities, allowing for greater independence with an awesome companion in tow. True service animals are generally very well-trained and very well-behaved, so much so that you might not even notice that the dog is there unless it is needed. A guide dog for an individual who is blind and a dog trained to assist an individual who uses a wheelchair to pick things up and assist with opening doors are examples of commonly used service animals. ESAs and pets, on the other hand, often do not receive the level of training that service animals do, and can exhibit less than appropriate behaviors. Things like excessive barking or jumping up (unless these are signals the dog uses to alert their handlers) and attempting to eat from a table can be enough to give the general public pause and put questions in their minds about other ESAs and service animals they may encounter in the future. Inadequately trained animals also can cause significant harm to service animals by interfering with, distracting, or even attacking trained animals. Although there is liability under Colorado state law for attacks on service animals, those sorts of attacks have caused some people with disabilities to have to retire their service animals early, costing them thousands of dollars and potentially months of independence until a different animal is located. And even then, the service animal user is left hoping that the same fate doesn’t befall the new dog. Because of all of the potential harms that can occur to true service animals, even by inadequately trained ESAs, the “pet-friendly” trend can be somewhat alarming. What’s more alarming, though, is the proliferation of websites offering certifications, credentials, letters from medical professionals (who have never personally interacted with the “patient”), and vests for a modest one-time fee. Despite efforts at both the state and federal levels to curb such abuses, these efforts have yet to produce results. It appears inevitable that more restrictions are coming for air carriers, as the Department of Transportation issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on February 5, 2020, related to animals on airplanes. The Colorado Legislature was also considering additional protections for people with disabilities and their service animals and ESAs, but it is unclear whether those efforts will gain traction. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon all of us pet owners, ESA companions and service animal users to keep all of our fuzzy friends safe and happy. As much as your own Rex might give you those infamous puppy dog eyes, unless Rex is an adequately trained pup, it might be best to just leave him home because failing to do so could result in thousands of dollars in liability, but more importantly, in a person with a disability losing their best friend and their independence.
Prepared by Ruscha Public Affairs JoyAnn@RuschaPublicAffairs.com (970-397-4911)
Endorsed by Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition • arc Thrift • ADAPT • Good Business Colorado
We need you to write to the members of the Senate Finance Committee about SB 20-033. This bill will allow people using the Medicaid Buy-In For Working Adults with Disabilities to keep working if they make it to age 65 and not be forced back into poverty.
Use this link is an easy way to reach all members of Senate Finance.
The text from our fact sheet is below. Please either tell your personal story OR tell them why as a voter, you think this is a good idea. You can also add your own Senator. After it gets out of committee, we will do a campaign for the whole Senate, but it does not hurt to reach out now.
Please note that there were some changes in the first committee that makes this a better bill. HCPF found a federal authority that will let us use the federal match for clients over age 65, so the bill tells HCPF to change their state plan and use this new authority.
The bill passed out of Senate Health and Human Services unanimously and now is going to Senate Finance. If you already responded to this campaign, please do so again as the message goes to different people.
Here is the message that you can use or modify:
You will soon be hearing SB 20-033 that will enable people with disabilities that have used the Medicaid Buy-In for Working Adults with Disabilities to be allowed to continue in the program if they live until age 65 and want or need to continue working. This bill passed out of Senate HHS unanimously.
SB 20-033 WILL ALLOW PEOPLE WITH SIGNIFICANT DISABILITIES WHO WORK USING THE MEDICAID BUY-IN TO CONTINUE WORKING AFTER AGE 65.
The Medicaid Buy-In for Working Adults with Disabilities (Buy-In) has been a path out of poverty for people with disabilities since 2014. By allowing people who have a disability and a job to buy into Medicaid and, if needed, long-term services and supports, individuals can earn up to 450% of the Federal Poverty Level while only counting 50% of their earned income. Best of all, there is no asset test. ALL OTHER paths into Medicaid for people with disabilities carry a $2000 asset limit and strict earnings limits. For those needing daily assistance to stay alive, independent, and productive, the Buy-In program is the only insurance program that meets their needs. There is no other federal program or private insurance option that provides long-term services and supports, which allow the freedom to earn a living.
Two federal authorities are allowing Medicaid Buy-In Programs for the disabled. The federal authority Colorado used that created this program limits it to people between the ages of 16-65. When we created our state program, there was no federal authority to allow people to stay in the program past age 65. Happily, that has changed. This bill will require the State Medicaid Agency (HCPF) to seek the alternative federal authority for employed people with disabilities over age 65.
If we do not pass this bill, we will continue the current situation, which is If a person with a disability lives past the age of 65, to keep the daily living services they need to function – like personal care or wheelchairs – they must qualify for standard Medicaid. This means meeting a strict asset test and earnings limits. To do this, they must impoverish themselves or lose these supports. Individuals have to get rid of any savings and assets accumulated during working years and either stop or dramatically reduce employment.
In addition to this being patently unfair, other problems include:
People using the Medicaid Buy-In Option are generally people that need Medicaid no matter what, but this allows people to be employed and pay into the system. All clients over 65 will have Medicare as primary insurance. Medicaid will just cover services that Medicare does not cover, such as personal care and wheelchairs. This bill creates an equitable, common-sense policy. Please vote yes on SB 20-033.
Once it comes out of finance or if there is other news, you will get another email.
PLEASE remember to identify which districts you live in when you fill out the form!
If you have to look it up, that is OK. (Use this link to find your district.)Just remember to check those boxes so we can easily analyze this. Also, please share the link for this campaign with anyone who will support us!
In solidarity and with gratitude!!
Julie and the team at CCDC
Written by Kenny Maestas
The Colorado Trust is pleased to share a landscape assessment of community organizing in Colorado. The assessment was conducted to better understand the priority issues of community organizing groups or organizations, their approaches to community organizing, and the unique challenges they face.
This report provides information on where organizing is taking place across the state, who is being organized and around what issues. Characteristics of groups and organizations engaged in community organizing are shared, as well as information on tactics and strategies used, and leadership and governance structures. It also highlights the perspectives and expressed needs of community organizers across Colorado, as well as their successes and challenges in doing this work.
The assessment was conducted by AMGB Consulting from September to November of 2019. Three hundred and thirty community organizing groups or organizations were identified, 181 completed a survey and 40 staff members or organizers participated in an interview or focus group. While the assessment was successful in identifying organizing efforts in urban and rural areas across Colorado, it should be noted that it does not include data from all community organizing groups that are active in the state.
Please contact Abby Bohannan or Mayra Gonzales of AMBG Consulting with any questions about the landscape assessment. For information on advocacy grantmaking at The Colorado Trust, including our new Building and Bridging Power strategy—which will support the work of organizing people and building policy infrastructure (letters of intent are being accepted through Feb. 7, 2020)—please contact Noelle Dorward, advocacy and policy partner at The Colorado Trust.