These are all of the Human Services bills proposed in the 2018 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, pros, and cons are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium and Minor. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!).

HB18-1021 Task Force For Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Establishes a task force to study youth homelessness and make recommendations on how to mitigate it.

Pros

More than 83,000 people between the ages of 14 and 24 are homeless in the United States. Unaccompanied children and youth who experience homelessness experience significant immediate and long-term trauma. This bill creates a task force to examine the issue and see if there isn’t more that the state can do.

Cons

Instead of wasting time on figuring out ways to make life on the streets better, the state should be figuring out how to get people more jobs and more affordable housing so they aren't on the streets in the first place.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1021

HB18-1044: Colorado Children's Trust Fund Act

PASSED HOUSE

Amends the current state Children’s Trust Fund Act (designed to lessen child abuse and neglect) by adding an emphasis on child maltreatment and increasing the size of the managing board as well as better defining its responsibilities. These responsibilities would include: making recommendations to the governor and state agencies to prevent maltreatment, developing strategies and monitoring efforts to combat maltreatment and other adverse childhood experiences, and monitor and implement and laws the legislature might pass in this area. Funding for the fund is widened to include grants for reducing maltreatment and other adverse childhood experiences.

Pros

34% of child maltreatment fatalities that occurred in Colorado between 2011 and 2015 had no history of a referral to county child welfare. 63% involved a child younger than six. This problem is real, and we need to do a better job of addressing it. The expansion of the board will include more members with expertise in this field.

Cons

While maltreatment is an obvious area we need to improve in, this change may shift the fund’s emphasis so far that it will neglect the extremely important child abuse and neglect in other forms that it is supposed to address.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1044

HB18-1064: Training Program Prevention Child Sexual Abuse

Directs the state’s children’s trust fund (designed to lessen child abuse and neglect) to develop and administer a training program to prevent child sexual abuse for early childhood providers and other who interact with young children.

Pros

Young children are at their most vulnerable to sexual predators when they are placed in the care of a supposedly trusted overseer. On the flip side, these individuals are also best placed to identify sexual abuse that is occurring in the home. This bill helps those who employ people charged with watching young children better train to prevent any sexual abuse with a research-based model. There currently are not courses on preventing child abuse readily available for early childhood providers.

Cons

The current situation is sufficient, this will add too much burden to both the trust fund and early childhood providers.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1064

HB18-1065: DHS Department of Human Services Employee Discipline Harm to Vulnerable Persons

Specifies that any facility the department of human services operates that provides direct care to vulnerable people (such as veterans, youth in rehabilitation facilities, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities) shall give predominant weight to the safety of vulnerable people over the interests of any other person when considering disciplinary action against employees. If the disciplinary action includes a written finding that the employee has mistreated or neglected a vulnerable person the employee is presumed to have reached the standard in current law required for real action against the employee, up to and including termination. This presumption can only be overturned by the employee in a hearing before the state’s personnel board with clear and convincing evidence.

Pros

The department of human services has been encountering difficulties in suspending, dismissing, or otherwise disciplining employees through the administrative process when the mistreatment of a vulnerable person was not a criminal offense. This bill fixes that problem and protects the most vulnerable members of our community.

Cons

We believe in presumed innocence in this country. This well-meaning bill flips that concept on its head and presumes guilt for anyone who is written up by their employer. The burden of proof is shifted to the defendant. That should not be the case in America.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1065

HB18-1067: Right to Rest Act

Creates the Colorado Right to Rest Act, which establishes basic rights for the homeless including right to use and move freely in public spaces, to rest in public spaces, to eat and accept food in public spaces where food is not prohibited, to occupy a legally parked vehicle, and to have a reasonable expectation of privacy for their property.

Pros

Pushing the homeless into courts and jails is costly, inhumane and ineffective. This is about an individual’s basic right to exist, and as such the state must take primacy to ensure those rights are not being trampled. Cities throughout Colorado are enacting laws that essentially criminalize homelessness itself, such as sleeping in parked car or using a tent or sleeping bag to protect themselves from the elements. These laws don’t prevent homelessness (you think people want to be homeless?), they just push people into the prison system and decrease any chance they have to escape their situation. These laws are also frequently selectively enforced, which leads to bias based on appearance. The bill specifically states that those who rest or sleep must not obstruct the use of or access to private property.

Cons

Cities should have the right to decide for themselves what to do with those who have nowhere to live. If they decide that they don’t want beggars bothering people in the parks or taking up parking spaces then that is the right of the city. Businesses may be turned off by large visible homeless populations and hurt the economic well-being of the city’s inhabitants. If a city’s citizens feel differently, then they can change their representatives or laws.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1067

HB18-1079: Recommend Use of State's Long-Term Works Reserve

Requires the works allocation committee (this is a temporary assistance fund for needy families) to submit recommendations to all budgeting authorities for the use of the money in the state’s long-term works reserve for the upcoming fiscal year.

PASSED

Pros

This reserve fund has existed for several years without any process to guide how it’s spent. This bill creates a process.

Cons

Not everything needs a legislated process, the department of human services (where the fund is housed) can determine spending without the rigmarole.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1079

HB18-1104: Family Preservation for Parents with Disability

Mandates that a parent’s disability cannot serve as a basis for denial or restriction of parenting time or responsibilities, that treatment plans must try to include reasonable accommodations for a parent’s disability, that it cannot serve as basis of denial of participation in adoption or foster care or guardianship, and if the disability is proven to have a detrimental impact on the ability of the parent to care for the child, that the parent be given the opportunity to demonstrative how supportive services can alleviate the concerns.

Pros

Children belong with their parents and disability on its face is not a valid reason to break that bond. Unfortunately it’s happening and thus the need for this bill, which puts the burden on proving detrimental impact on those seeking to break the parent/child bond and gives the parent the chance to address any concerns.

Cons

The state’s primary concern here is the safety of the child, which trumps all. The shifting of the burden could mean more children put into dangerous situations where we can’t go back for a redo once the error has caused serious harm.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1104

HB18-1108: Commission Deaf Hard of Hearing Deafblind

Changes name of Colorado commission for the deaf and hard of hearing by adding the deafblind to the name and creates the deafblind citizens council to advise the commission on assisting the deafblind. Also expands the commission’s responsibilities to include community access programs for one-on-one system navigation.

Pros

The deafblind belong as part of this commission, which already deals with helping Coloradans who cannot hear, thus dovetailing with this community which also cannot hear. This is a common setup in many states, supported by deafblind community advocates, and while the deafblind do have different needs, they have a lot in common with the deaf community. The additional accommodations required by lack of eyesight are well within the commission’s ability to adapt, with the help of the citizen’s council, and having one group dealing with these issues makes it easier for all involved to get things done.

Cons

The needs of the deafblind are unique enough to warrant their own commission The deaf use a wide range of sighted elements to compensate for lack of hearing, just as the blind use a wide range of audio elements. The deafblind have an entire other world, where neither sense is available. This commission does not include the blind, for the very good reason that the blind and the deaf share having a sense-oriented disability but do not share lifestyles and mitigation techniques. The deafblind are their own community and deserve their own commission.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1108

HB18-1115: Department of Public Safety Human Trafficking-Related Training

Requires criminal justice division to provide human trafficking training to law enforcement agencies, schools, and entities that provide services to victims. Priority must be given to areas of the state that have limited access to training resources.

Pros

Much of the state has limited training resources and of course human trafficking occurs everywhere. In particular, we know that traffickers target schools and recruit children. This bill helps close the training gap.

Cons

With our need to squeeze every drop out of the budget, this is best left to the federal level as a crime that frequently occurs across state borders and involves federal agents.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1115

HB18-1192: Application Assistance Federal Disability Benefits

Creates a program to help people with disabilities participating in state aid programs to navigate the application process for federal disability benefits.

Pros

The disabled participating in state programs are getting less than $200 a month, not enough to really live on. The federal application process is onerous and complicated and calls out for a guide to help. 57% of the state’s chronically homeless population are people with disabilities, this bill will therefore not only help people who need it, but also save the state money in the long-run by keeping people off the streets and getting them more preventative medical care rather than costly emergency room care.

Cons

At some point people need to be able to do things for themselves. How is someone going to be able to save all of this money by getting off the streets if they cannot fill out an application? It'll be money down the drain.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1192

HB18-1196: Applications for Aid to the Needy Disabled Program

Currently an individual must be examined by a physician, physician’s assistant, advanced practice nurse, or registered nurse in order to gain eligibility for the state’s needy disabled program. This bill expands the list of authorization to include licensed or certified psychologists, licensed social workers, licensed professional counselor, or any other qualified person the department of human services deems appropriate.

Pros

It’s too difficult for someone with mental health problems to get access to this program right now, adding these extra fields and giving the department the flexibility to administer the authorization program going forward will ensure the program reaches all of those it is intended to benefit.

Cons

This opens the barn door too wide. First, we might end up with people with very borderline mental health issues getting state funds they do not need or deserve. Second, giving the department a blank check with no legislative oversight is a formula for trouble in the future.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1196

HB18-1208: Expand Child Care Expenses Income Tax Credit

Currently there is a sliding scale for child care expense state tax credits based on gross income, starting at less than $60,000 and 10% of the federal tax credit received, down to $25,000 or less and 50%. This bill sets just one bracket: $150,000 or less and 80% of the federal credit.

Pros

Promoting early child care is the best investment the state can make. Multiple studies have shown how important quality care is to childhood development and how it can save the state money in the long run by setting kids on the right path from the start. Unfortunately this care can often be expensive. This tax credit will encourage help more working families get the care they need for their children.

Cons

This represents a larger outflow of funds from the state at a time when we need every penny for education and roads. It also sets the upper end of the credit too high: someone making over $100k a year can surely afford quality child care by making some choices in their spending habits.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1208

HB18-1219: Provider Access to Colorado Benefits Management System

Allows the all-inclusive care for the elderly plan (PACE) to access read-only information from the Colorado benefits management system, which determines eligibility for programs like PACE.

Pros

It makes sense for a program with eligibility requirements like PACE to be able to access the information about eligibility. Will make it run more smoothly.

Cons

There is more information in the benefits management system than just what PACE needs, we don’t need to be giving them access to all of this information.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1219

SB 18-050: Free-standing Emergency Facility as Safe Haven

Expands Colorado’s Safe Haven laws to include staff members of free-standing emergency facilities as people allowed to take temporary physical custody of infants 72 hours old or younger when he or she is voluntarily surrendered by its parent or parents.

PASSED SENATE

Pros

Safe Haven laws protect newborns from being abandoned by their parents. Instead there is a system which allows them to leave the newborn with a firefighter or hospital worker, no questions asked. This unfortunately necessary law would benefit from expanding to a free-standing emergency facility (one that is not part of a hospital) as its employees have the necessary training to deal with the situation and this is the type of facility a parent might seek out.

Cons

Stand-alone facilities are not the same as a fully functioning hospital and additional training may be required at these stand alone facilities to deal with abandoned newborns.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-050

SB18-074: Designate Prader-Willi Syndrome Developmental Disability

Adds Prader-Willi syndrome to the list of people who have mandatory eligibility for services and supports available to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Pros

There are up to 375 individuals living with this condition in Colorado. This is a genetic condition that currently has no cure and fits the spirit of the intellectual and developmental disability list. The most common symptoms of Prader-Willi syndrome are behavior problems, intellectual disability, and short stature. Hormonal symptoms include delayed puberty and constant hunger leading to obesity and even death from overeating.

Cons

375 people is too few to warrant this kind of state-wide mandate.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-074

SB18-099: Align Early Childhood Quality Improvement Programs

From the Early Childhood and School Readiness Commission. Amends the application and eligibility requirements for the school-readiness quality improvement program and the infant and toddler quality grant to align with the Colorado Shines Program, a statewide rating and review system run by the state.

Pros

It makes sense to utilize the same rating and review system the state already uses for schools for early childhood education grants.

Cons

Early childhood education is different enough from K-12 that the same rating and review system should not be used for both.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-099

SB18-112: Veterans Outdoor Terrain Restoration Grant Program

Creates a veterans outdoor terrain restoration and recreation mental health grant program to provide money to non-profit and for-profit organizations that provide services for veterans to engage in outdoor restoration or recreation activities. The fund is allowed to accept gifts and donations and may also be funded by the general assembly.

Pros

We owe much to our veterans and one of the ways we know helps with returning and reacclimating to civilian society is doing outdoor activities, either restoration (win-win helps everyone) or recreation.

Cons

The state should not be subsidizing for profit companies in this way, no matter what the end goal is.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-112

SB18-114: Suicide Prevention Enhance Student Life Skills

Encourages schools to develop and adopt a suicide prevention policy. Each school is allowed to develop its own plan but are encouraged to incorporate tiered training for school personnel, life skills training for students, training for students to spot risk signs in other peers as well as encourage seeking out trusted adults, parent education, and the use of state developed curricula. The bill also creates a grant program allowed to give out up to 25 grants a year between $5,000 and $10,000.

Pros

Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people in Colorado. A 2015 study showed that more than 29% of state high schoolers indicated feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks and nearly 18% reported considering suicide with nearly 8% making one or more actual attempts. Research has also demonstrated that in addition to helping prevent suicide, social emotional learning programs in school are associated with greater academic performance.

Cons

This is unacceptable state overreach into the lives of kids and gets between kids and parents, who should be determining what life skills they want to teach, not state bureaucrats. It also takes time away from teaching the basics kids will need in life: math, science, reading, etc.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-114

SB18-145: Implement Employment First Recommendations

Implements the Employment First Advisory Partnership’s recommendations (created in 2016 to develop a strategic plan to expand employment opportunities to people with disabilities). Requires all providers of supported employment services for people with disabilities to complete training or earn a national certification relating to the job. Requires the state’s fees for rehabilitation services include the discovery process as an alternate assessment if appropriate for someone with a disability. Permits the state to enter into contracts with vendors to provide training to all (from person with disability through employer), contingent on receiving at least 75% of the contract amount from gifts, grants, or donations. Requires counties to collect and report employment data for people with disabilities served by the state.

Pros

85% of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are either unemployed or underemployed. The state set out to try to fix that two years ago and this begins to implement the recommendations of the special panel. Getting national certification or training is important in this field as it has specialized knowledge requirements. Training is an important area to address since there are jobs out there that can be done by people with disabilities but the employer and/or individual is not aware.

Cons

This is too much of a burden on counties and employers to collect all of this information.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-145

SB18-154: Juvenile Planning Committee Crossover Youth Plans

Requires the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system to work together when a child is involved in both of them. The two must devise a plan to keep information shared between both systems, to identify the best and least restrictive placement, and develop a single case management plan.

PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

We all know that a proper plan that addresses all of a child’s needs is the best way to ensure that they do not end up back in the juvenile justice system or the criminal justice system. This bill helps ensure that the two agencies tasked with working with these at-risk children work together to make the best plan possible. We also know that the less restrictions you can safely put on a juvenile, the better the potential outcome.

Cons

This adds too much bureaucracy. While we do want these two systems to work together, we don’t want them to have to take drastically longer amounts of time to work out every single case into a single plan. What if the agencies disagree, as is bound to happen?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-154

SB18-157: Colorado Women's Veterans Act

Creates the Women Veterans Office to ensure that all women veterans have equal access to federal and state veterans services and benefits. Also creates a steering committee in the governor’s office to study needs of female veterans in the state and leverage resources to help them.

Pros

Military women lack consistent access to a full range of gender-sensitive benefits and services, and the federal government has not ensured that staff members of federal agencies are exemplifying and promoting a culture that embraces its women veterans. Nearly 40,000 female veterans reside in Colorado and we need to do better for them.

Cons

This is all activity that should be covered by the state’s VA. There is no need to single out women for special treatment, if there are problems with outreach or treatment or services then fix it within the existing structure designed for veterans.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-157

SB18-162: Substitute Placement Agency Licensure

From the Early Childhood and School Readiness Legislative Commission. Creates a license for a substitute placement agency that arranges substitute child care providers in licensed child care facilities for less than 24 hour care.

PASSED SENATE

Pros

This helps fill a niche need for getting quality licensed substitutes for child care providers. These sort of agencies, which already exist, need their own licensure just like a licensed child care facilities.

Cons

These agencies are only as good as the substitutes they are providing to the licensed care facilities. We need to trust the facilities to know which agencies are good and which are not, we do not need to add more government regulation.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-162