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 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.
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.
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.
“This is so exhausting.” This quote is from Kelly Tobin, a CCDC member who uses a power chair and has multiple disabilities. This was her sentiment on a day when we should have been excited about participating in our government. She was feeling hurt as we all were at being excluded once again –this time from the Polis Inauguration.
CCDC had asked ahead of time and been assured of full accessibility. We were told a sign language interpreter would be there and we advertised that. We were told there would be seating for those with disabilities in need. We reached almost a month ago and offered help. We shared specific things to think about to make this inclusive of our community. Our offer to help with accessibility was rebuffed and we were promised accessibility was handled. I guess we were wrong to believe this representation from their staff.
I had been to other inaugurations, Hickenlooper, Ritter, and Owens. All of those ceremonies were accessible in that people could show up and listen. Wheelchair users could see and those with other mobility impairments got seating up close and could get around the area. Today there were tents, barriers, and cops keeping public members out. We were blocked as we entered the Capitol area from the Colfax side. We were told there was a public space down the hill on Lincoln Street –we asked about ADA seating and the guard said he knew nothing about it. One of our members who has a service dog, wanted to get her dog inside before the cannons went off. She is very limited in her ability to walk distances safely. The cops refused to let her in the door of the capitol that was close to us, nor could she walk around the short way but would have to walk all the way around the building. They said she had to go through security, she was wearing an ID badge and they could have walked her across the cafeteria and had her go through security…but no.
We went down to the “public” area. If there was an ADA section we could not see it. There were barriers on the street so we could not get off of the sidewalk if we wanted to. We looked at the big screen and saw neither a sign language interpreter nor captioning. If there was an interpreter it was hidden.
Over the West Steps of the Capitol were large banners that said Colorado for All….I guess that meant Colorado for All except for people with disabilities.
The disability community had sent Governor Elect Polis a letter on 12/13 and asked for a response and an introduction to the new Boards and Commission person before the inauguration. Is this a sign that asking nicely is not going to work with this Governor? Good thing we have a strong ADAPT chapter.
It is always disappointing to be excluded but it is especially gut wrenching when the exclusion is created by someone who screams from the rooftops that they are invested in a Colorado for All. Is this really for all of us…or just for some? If this is Colorado for all, then it is important that Governor Polis acknowledges our community.
One year ago today, the Department of Justice reached an agreement with the City and County of Denver (“City”) under Project Civic Access (“PCA”), the Department’s initiative to ensure that cities, towns, and counties throughout the country comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). That agreement covers accessibility to numerous programs, services, activities and facilities throughout Denver. The agreement specifically addresses Law Enforcement and Effective Communication, Polling Places, Emergency Management Procedures and Policies, Physical Changes to Emergency Shelters, Web-Based Services and Programs, New Construction, Alterations and Physical Changes to Facilities, Programs for Victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse. Many of the deadlines for compliance occurred today, one year after the effective date of the agreement. Click on these links to review the DOJ Press Release and for the DOJ Settlement Agreement. Also, attached is a PDF version of the Agreement with all of the one-year deadlines highlighted.
The Settlement Agreement contains one error in that it states that “On January 20, 2016, Denver and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center [“CREEC”] reached a separate agreement addressing accessible sidewalks and curb ramps in Denver.” It is correct that CREEC with the assistance of CCDC reached a class action settlement agreement with the City regarding curb ramps, but sidewalks were not addressed. Click on the link to review the Curb Ramp Settlement Agreement. Click on the link here to see CREEC’s Website. This Settlement Agreement provides for comprehensive curb ramp replacement throughout the City. CCDC is unaware of why the issue of sidewalks was excluded from the DOJ Settlement Agreement with the City because the case involving curb ramps was never intended to address sidewalks and was approved by the court as a class-action settlement on September 9, 2016 before the DOJ Settlement Agreement. Click the link here to review the Order Granting Final Approval of Settlement. The rules and regulations that apply to curb ramps are different from those that apply to sidewalks.
With respect to sidewalks, according to a recent article published in the Denverite, the City has launched a project to install sidewalks where they don’t exist and make additional sidewalk repairs. At this time, CCDC does not have additional information regarding the sidewalk project. Click on the link here to see the Denverite article regarding sidewalks.
According to the Denver Office of Disability Rights’ (“DODR”) website, “The Denver Office of Disability Rights coordinates the City and County of Denver’s efforts to ensure compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Our role is to ensure that all City services and programs are accessible to people with disabilities.” Information is provided on the DODR website regarding curb ramp renovations and installation and the City’s plan for sidewalks and transportation. The DODR is also listed as the agency to which all notifications or communications under the DOJ Settlement Agreement are to be made. Click here for the link for the Denver Office of Disability Rights. The address and other contact information for the DODR is:
Denver Office of Disability Rights
201 W Colfax, Dept 1102
Denver, CO 80202
Legal Program Director
CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program
On September 13th Mayor Michael Hancock presented his 2019 budget. As you may know our partners at Denver Streets Partnership and Walk Denver have been meeting city officials to elevate the need for safe and accessible side walks, street crossings and bike paths. These elements are essential for the independence of our people. Some of the glaring deficiencies in the budget included no funding for Federal Blvd., 3.8 million for sidewalks (we had requested 10) and very little money for simple upgrades and fixes such as bollards or paint for roads.
City council now has several weeks to review budget and to make recommendations.
CCDC strongly supports more funding for sidewalks, cross-walks and bike paths.
If you want your voice heard please use the Walk Denver Web site listed below for additional information and ways to reach out to your city councilperson.
CCDC Transit Advisor
Written by Lucinda Rowe July 26, 2018
ADA Day is significant to my family but most of all to my daughter. Estrella was born prematurely weighing one pound. She was diagnosed with severe Cerebral Palsy at a month old. Continue reading “HAPPY ADA DAY to all of you!”