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.
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.
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.
I Voted — It was Easy!
In past years, CCDC always had a policy that people with disabilities should show up at their polls and vote in person. That way, the general public could be made aware of our presence in the important electoral process. In those days we had all sorts of issues with accessibility of polling places. Just getting to the polling place was often difficult. There were issues around accessible parking. Certainly, there were issues regarding the accessibility of the polling machines themselves, making them inaccessible to a large number of people with disabilities. As we probably all recall, many lawsuits have been filed and are still filed related to these issues.
Of course, the times, they are a-changin’. Now, it is far more common to vote by mail or drop your ballot off at a ballot box. The mail makes me nervous, so I went to my local ballot box. Of course, I took someone with me, a camera, a tape measure and other devices because I was certain that the ballot box would not comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (“Standards”). Courts have ruled that compliance with the Standards equals compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I don’t understand why I would have been so skeptical.
I was amazed and surprised when I approached my ballot box. First, there was a designated accessible parking space within close proximity to the box. It is clear that they marked this space off specifically for this purpose. The ballot box itself met all of the specifications for reach ranges and other accessibility requirements under the Standards.
I am not sure exactly how this system works for those who are blind or those who have limited hand function (although it does not break any secrecy or confidentiality violations if someone else drops it in the box for you), and I need to investigate that matter further, but the box itself was fantastic. It is a pleasure to be able to vote with such ease.
I apologize to those of you who have seen the ridiculous pictures of me voting that have circulated throughout many media, but here are some more.
-Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director
Your Vote! Matters
CCDC Advocates will be registering people to vote at the downtown Denver Public Library (10 W 14th Ave. Parkway) on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 from 10:00 am-noon.
We want all people with disabilities to realize their vote matters and voting is one way to make sure essential benefits which enable community living are available.
Did you know?
Colorado law requires that all voters with disabilities have the right to cast their vote privately and without assistance…
…even individuals with a guardian.
All Colorado voters now receive mail ballots. This means that inaccessible polling places are no longer an issue. However, if you prefer to cast your ballot in person, rather than vote by mail, you still have the right to do so.
There are no restrictions on the right to vote under Colorado law related to disabilities.
Colorado statute specifies that individuals confined in a mental illness institution “shall not lose the right to vote because of the confinement.”
An individual in jail serving a misdemeanor sentence has the right to register to vote and vote in any election.
Pretrial detainees are eligible to vote.
You are eligible to vote if you are on bond as long as you are not convicted of a felony.
People on probation may register to vote and cast their vote in any election.
In Colorado, you have the right to vote after you have served your sentence, including parole.
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