These are all of the human services bills proposed in the 2020 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, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about 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.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange or highlighted in yellow. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments; yellow highlights mean conference committee amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Mega, Major, Medium, Minor+, Minor, and Technical. 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!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

House

Click on the House bill title to jump to its section:

MEGA

HB20-1233 Basic Life Functions In Public Spaces KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

MAJOR

HB20-1105 Colorado TRAILS System Requirements

MEDIUM

HB20-1122 Homeless Youth Services Act And Grant Program PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1147 Reasonable Independence For Children In Activities PASSED HOUSE AMENDED

MINOR+

HB20-1189 Tax Credit Donation Human Trafficking Victims KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1223 Rural Arts Grant Program PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1275 In-state Tuition At Community College For Military PASSED AMENDED
HB20-1277 Notification Of Rights Investigation Child Abuse
HB20-1317 Colorado Children's Trust Fund Board Updates PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1331 Transportation Services For Medicaid Waiver Recipients PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

HB20-1350 Child Support Commission Recommendations

MINOR

HB20-1012 Child Welfare Program Children Developmental Disabilities PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1051 Identification Of Veteran Remains For Proper Military Burial PASSED
HB20-1052 Privacy Protections For Human Services Workers PASSED AMENDED
HB20-1071 Driving Instruction For Foster Children PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
HB20-1101 Assisted Living Residence Referrals PASSED AMENDED
HB20-1104 Court Procedures Relinquishment Parental Rights PASSED AMENDED
HB20-1107 Victim Towing And Impound Fee Grant Program PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1197 2-1-1 Statewide Human Services Referral System PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1220 Veterans Community Living Center Services Assessment PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1237 Medicaid Managed Care Assignment For Child Welfare PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1297 Immunization Status And Child Abuse Neglect PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1302 CAPS Check Program Changes PASSED HOUSE AMENDED
HB20-1314 Behavioral Health Crisis Response Training PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1323 Special Olympics License Plate And Tax Check-off PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1324 Increased Support For Domestic Abuse Programs PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB20-1334 Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program
HB20-1347 Licensure Exemption For Family Child Care Homes

TECHNICAL

Senate

Click on the Senate bill title to jump to its section:

MEGA

SB029 Cost Of Living Adjustment For Colorado Works Program PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED

MAJOR

MEDIUM

SB20-162 Changes Related To Federal Family First Policy PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE AMENDED

MINOR+

SB20-106 Consent To Shelter And Services By Homeless Youth PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
SB20-122 Mobile Veteran Support Unit Grant Program PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE
SB20-129 Protection Of Individuals Subject To A Fiduciary PASSED SENATE VERY SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED (new bill)
SB20-144 Home Visiting Expansion Grant Program KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-173 Reimbursement Rates Alternative Care Facilities PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE
SB20-182 Supporting Wandering Persons Recovery Programs PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE

MINOR

SB20-018 Homeless Outreach Programs To Reduce Wildfire Risk PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE AMENDED
SB20-039 Update Accessibility Signage State-Owned Facility PASSED SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
SB20-041 National Guard Parks And Wildlife Benefits PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE
SB20-069 Disabled Veterans Free State Park Access PASSED
SB20-082 Department Of Military And Veterans Affairs Awards PASSED COMMITTEE
SB20-091 Minimum Pay For State Military Forces PASSED
SB20-126 Allow Home Child Care In Homeowners' Association Community PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE AMENDED
SB20-160 Require Movie Theaters To Provide Open Captioning KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
SB20-176 Protect Neutral Determinations In Health Insurance PASSED SENATE
SB20-195 Adoptive Parents Payments To Outside Providers
SB20-202 Foster Care Student Services Coordination

TECHNICAL

SB20-165 Honoring Carrie Ann Lucas PASSED SENATE

HB20-1012 Child Welfare Program Children Developmental Disabilities (Todd (D), Gardner (R)) [Young (D), Landgraf (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal: Expand existing program for kids in state care with severe intellectual or developmental disabilities that require licensed out-of-home care to include severe behavioral health disorders and families at risk of losing their kids to the state.

Description:

Extends existing program for children and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are in the care of the state to include those with co-occurring disorders, and those who are still in-home but in danger of child welfare involvement or entering division of youth services and may require a level of care typically provided in residential or other out-of-home intensive care settings. Program must also expand to including access to behavioral health services, planning and services for those who become 18 while still in the program, and prioritization and wait list processes. Program evaluation reporting also added.

Additional Information:

Those with private insurance remain ineligible for the program, but for those with private insurance and Medicaid who are rejected by private insurance, attempts must be made to qualify for other out-of-home licensed treatment services through Medicaid. State is to establish criteria, in consultation with key stakeholders, for program admission which may include the risk or acuity of the youth. State must also establish a process for the newly added still in-home children. State not expected to provide case management for these families. State will now directly reimburse licensed facility where a placement is made rather than go through the county. Report must include:

  • Non-identifying demographic information, including age, county, children applied, accepted, and denied, common reasons for denial, and average length of time in program
  • Average length of time on wait list
  • Most common reasons for discharge
  • Aggregated information about expected placement after discharge
  • Total number of referrals to program and most frequently referring entities


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The idea behind this program, to extend state help to those who need temporary or long-term care in an intensive setting, easily extends to severe behavioral health disorders which can require the same sort of intensive out-of-home care. We also need to make a greater effort to help intervene with children who are still with their families but desperately need this treatment and are right on the edge of going into state care. Any program like this should of course have detailed reporting so we know precisely how well it is working.

Arguments Against:

This is a step too far for expanding the program. It is designed for kids who are in state care and thus the responsibility of the state, not for parents who still have their children. Those two worlds are different enough that an entire paragraph is required in this bill to make clear that the state will not have to do individual case work for these new families but that all the old responsibilities remain for the kids in state care. The bill also expands the program without expanding capacity. There is already generally a waiting list, so all we are going to do is to create more competition for the few beds the state has access to.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1012

HB20-1051 Identification Of Veteran Remains For Proper Military Burial (Scott (R), Crowder (R)) [Rich (R), Duran (D)]

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow unclaimed cremated remains of eligible veterans to be buried in federal or state veterans’ cemeteries.

Description:

Requires any cremation facility with unclaimed cremated remains to allow entities recognized by the US veteran’s association and the national personnel records center to inventory any unclaimed cremated remains to identify if any belong to veterans or qualified family members (also eligible for a military burial). If the entity finds anyone qualified to be buried in a state or federal veterans’ cemetery, it must notify the person eligible to take possession of the remains or if that is not known, put a notice in the veteran’s home county newspaper. Individuals have 30 days to claim the remains. If they are not claimed, facilities have 15 days to transfer the remains to a veteran’s cemetery or a veteran’s remains recovery organization.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

We owe our veterans and their qualified family members the full owner of burial in a veterans’ cemetery. Obviously people are free to choose the burial of their choice, but for unclaimed cremated remains, there was no choice made. Far too many of our veterans suffer from their experiences and have difficulty transitioning back into civilian life, which can lead them to difficult lives of isolation. So we will likely find veterans’ remains in these facilities. The burden of the work and cost of burial is on 3rd parties, so this will not cost the state or these facilities anything.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1051

HB20-1052 Privacy Protections For Human Services Workers (Gardner (R), Lee (D)) [Carver (R), Singer (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Extend privacy protections for caseworkers working in sensitive cases.

Description:

Expands previous privacy protections for caseworkers working on child abuse and neglect cases to include state and county employees with contact with the public around their duties, which includes attorneys and contractors, engaged in investigation allegations of mistreatment of at-risk adults, establishing, modifying, or enforcing child support orders, and employees of juvenile detention facilities with contact with juveniles.

Additional Information:

Exact privacy protections are: class I misdemeanor to knowingly make the personal information of a state or county employee public on the Internet if the disclosure of the information poses a serious threat to the safety of the employee or their family and the individual disclosing it reasonably should know it would cause a serious threat. These employees can also request that other state or government officials remove personal information from the Internet if they feel their safety is threatened.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

It makes sense to extend these protections to employees working on these types of cases. First, we’ve got instances where there is the potential that someone being investigated is capable of violence. Second, instances where a child may be taken away or where child support is involved are highly emotionally charged and more likely to lead to retribution against the state employee.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1052

HB20-1071 Driving Instruction For Foster Children (Donovan (D), Hisey (R)) [Duran (D), Exum (D)]

From the Transportation Legislation Review Committee

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible amount each year

Goal: Reimburse counties for costs paid to driving schools that provide instruction to foster kids in the custody of the state who are between ages of 15-18.

Description:

Creates the Foster Children’s Driver Education Grant Program which can reimburse county departments for costs paid to private driving schools that provide instruction to foster kids in the custody of the state who are between ages of 15-18. Counties must report annually to the state on program expenditures. Requires state to reimburse counties for costs paid to private and public driving schools for instruction provided to foster kids in the custody of the state who are between ages of 15-21. Program does not create liability for counties for contracting with private driving schools for injuries that occur during instruction. Set for repeal with sunset review September 2030.

Additional Information:

State may use up to 3% of funds in the program to administer the program. Certified court order is sufficient to establish legal name, identity, date of birth, lawful presence in the US, and Colorado residency of a person between ages of 15 and 18 who is in custody of state and applying for a driver’s license. State to determine rules for when an individual does not have documentation required for a license. Program may accept gifts, grants, and donations.


Auto-Repeal: September 2030 with sunset review

Arguments For:

This bills removes one of the obstacles foster children face in getting a driver’s license, which is the ability to pay for private driving instruction, in particular those who are in state custody and may have a really hard time finding an adult to teach them. And removing the liability from counties should ensure that they use the program.

Arguments Against:

There is no requirement to take driving classes once you reach a certain age in order to obtain a permit. We don’t need to spend money to ensure that foster kids in state custody are able to get permits and licenses at the earliest possible date.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1071

HB20-1101 Assisted Living Residence Referrals (Hisey (R), Todd (D)) [Wilson (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Tweak required disclosure between assisted living referral agencies and prospective residents to include right to terminate contact and clarifies fees do not apply if contract was terminated. Also add facilities that serve those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Description: Makes a few changes to a bill passed last year that required disclosure between an assisted living residence referral agency and a prospective resident. It expands the definition of assisted living residence to include residences for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. It requires written documentation of the agreement between the referral agency and the prospective resident which must include right of the resident to terminate the agreement with the agency at any time and that the agency must communicate any cancelation to all residences. Residences are prohibited from paying a fee to the agency if the agreement has been terminated and from selling the resident or their representative’s contact information without written consent.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This just cleans up a few areas around the fee disclosure these referral agencies must make to prospective residents. Mainly that the resident can terminate the agreement and that should end any fees associated with the referral agency placing someone in a home. And of course we need to ensure private contact information is not being sold without consent. Finally residences for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities fit perfectly into this model and should not have been excluded in the first place.

Arguments Against:

If a resident learns about a facility from a referral agency and ends up using it, the referral agency has performed its duty, regardless of if the resident cancelled an agreement after they got the pertinent information. Agencies should still receive compensation in these types of situations where they have done the work to get the resident to that residence.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1101

HB20-1104 Court Procedures Relinquishment Parental Rights [Ransom (R), Buckner (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow parents who voluntary relinquish their parental rights the same ability to reinstate those rights as parents whose rights were terminated.

Description:

There is a procedure for the reinstatement of parental rights that were terminated if certain conditions are met, including a successful trial period, and the child has not been adopted. Bill expands this to allow the same procedure for voluntary relinquishment of parental rights. Also requires juvenile courts to follow procedures to terminate parental rights if a parent with a pending dependency and neglect case decides to relinquish their parental rights. The relinquishment must be certified into the case and the caseworker must offer, upon request, referral to relinquishment counseling in the county where the parent lives that are reasonably accessible to the parent.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

In some cases when a child is not adopted after the termination or the relinquishment of parental rights the child might benefit from a reinstatement of the parent-child relationship if the parent has fixed the problems that led to the termination or relinquishment in the first place. Restoration only occurs if it is in the best interests of the child. What this bill does is add “relinquishment” into that argument. Taking it out (or omitting it as is the case now) does not make sense.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1104

HB20-1105 Colorado TRAILS System Requirements [Geitner (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $255 million a year

Goal: Require a judge to rule on the merits of a case before putting most people onto the state’s TRAILS database for founded accusations of child abuse or neglect.

Description:

Currently if an individual has a founded accusation of child abuse or neglect placed on them, they are put into the state’s TRAILS database, which is publicly accessible. Many jobs where working with children is involved require checks on the TRAILS database. Individuals are notified and have the right to appeal the decision. If someone is in the database, their record can be expunged if the state determines the allegations were unsubstantiated or false. This bill would change the way the notification to happen prior to anyone being entered into the database. Then there would be a hearing before an administrative law judge, held under state civil procedure laws, unless a judge has issued an order in a civil, criminal, administrative, or juvenile proceeding dealing with abuse and neglect. The individual has the right to counsel (and to public counsel if they are indigent). Standard is the preponderance of the evidence. If the judge agrees the person should be put into TRAILS the maximum amount of time allowed in the database is 10 years. Individuals have the right to appeal. Allows people in the TRAILS system to petition for hearing for expungement based good cause. Must wait two years between expungement attempts.

Additional Information:

Notification must be written and include: clear statement of allegations including name of alleged victim and date of report, consequences of being added to TRAILS system, complete copy of record that would be added to system, contact information for administrative judge, and maximum amount of time they could be in TRAILS system. Hearing request must be within 14 days of notification. Hearing itself must be within 60 days. Individual has right to present own evidence and cross-examine witnesses as well as make closing statement. Also must be given complete case file. Judge has 30 days after hearing to make decision.

Good cause for an expungement hearing includes: newly discovered evidence or evidence that the individual no longer poses a threat and no significant public purpose would be served by keeping them in TRAILS.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

It is far too easy to get a founded accusation of child abuse or neglect, which then puts someone into the TRAILS database. The ultimate decision is up to the caseworker and generally children are given the benefit of the doubt. It is possible for other adults to coach children to make false accusations, particularly in nasty custody battles. While the individual can appeal, this is after they have already gone into the system. This bill allows for us to take a good look at each case before potentially ruining someone’s life for bad reasons. People who belong on this list will still be put on it, and people who are an imminent risk to their child can still be put on the list without a hearing due to a court order. The bill does carry a hefty price tag, but sometimes true justice can be expensive. We owe that justice to anyone who might be publicly branded in this manner.

Arguments Against:

This is not only massively expensive, it is potentially dangerous. The key with abuse and neglect cases is that the child is in danger, that is pretty much the definition. So to say that in most cases we are not only going to have a full-blown hearing prior to adding someone to this database, but that also we are going to provide the individual in question all of the details they need to potentially retaliate against those who have blown the whistle on them, it could lead to trouble. The current system allows anyone who feels that they do not belong in TRAILS the opportunity to appeal and everyone is notified already. If someone truly does not belong they will get taken off the list and then they are gone. There is no residual record to follow them around. That system serves us well right now, when out of 9,745 founded incidents last year, 8% were appealed. We don’t need to build an entirely new and expensive system for the other 92%.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1105

HB20-1107 Victim Towing And Impound Fee Grant Program (Gardner (R)) [Sullivan (D)]

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: $200,000 spread evenly over next two years
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal: Create a grant program to help victims of crime avoid towing and impound fees.

Description:

Creates the Victim Towing and Impound Fee Grant program, which is to award grants to non-profits that serve victims of crimes who have to pay towing or impound fees as a result of someone else’s criminal activity. Appropriates $100,000 in each of next two years for the program. Grantees can use up to 10% of grant money awarded for administrative expenses related to making payments and reimbursements for towing or impound fees. Grantees must report to the state annually on how grant funds were utilized and state must report annually to the legislature. Program repeals in July 2023.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: July 2023

Arguments For:

There is no protection in state laws for someone who is a victim of a crime whose car is towed and/or impounded. Someone who is the victim of a car accident that requires a trip to the hospital, someone whose car is stolen, these vehicles end up in impound lots and victims have to pay to get them out in some situations (some cities have laws waiving fees). This bill helps set aside money to help those in this unfortunate situation. We cannot solve this entire problem on the fee side, as the towing is generally done by a private company and impound lots are expensive to maintain for local governments. But this should enable that citizens who are victims of a crime do not have to pay to get their vehicle back.

Arguments Against:

This is too round-about a way of solving this problem. The simple solution is that towing and impound fees are waived for crime victims, statewide. Find a way to make private companies whole and force local governments to waive impound fees. It will still cost the state money of course, but let’s not force people to jump through hoops and find non-profits that will help them.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1107

HB20-1122 Homeless Youth Services Act And Grant Program [Hooton (D), Larson (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Potentially $1.25 million just this year.

Goal: Include youth at risk of experiencing homelessness and an expanded age range in mission of state office targeting homeless youth and create a grant program to help these populations.

Description:

Expands the existing Colorado Office of Homeless Youth Services by changing the targeted age range of the population for the office to assist from 11-21 to 24 and under and including those at risk of becoming homeless. Also creates the Services for Youth Experiencing or at Risk of Experiencing Homelessness Grant Program, to provide up to five grants on or before January 2021 of no more than $250,000 each to existing service providers that demonstrate a commitment to providing direct services to youth experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Grants may be used for technical assistance, capacity building, and direct provision of services. Program must report status of youth experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness and the impact of the grant program by March 2023. Also gives more detailed definition of experiencing homelessness.

Additional Information:

Definition of experiencing homelessness is one of:

  • Unaccompanied by parent or legal guardian and shelter, appropriate care, or supervision is unavailable
  • Has parent or legal guardian who is unwilling or unable to provide shelter, care, or supervision
  • Has a parent or legal guardian who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (which does not include homeless shelters, transitional housing, temporary placement with peer or relative for less than 30 days, or public or private place not designed for regular sleeping for human beings)

Definition of at-risk of experiencing homelessness includes following risk factors:

  • Transitioning from out-of-home placement
  • Experiencing previous homelessness
  • Having parents, legal guardians, or primary caregivers who are currently or were previously experiencing homelessness
  • Exposure to abuse and neglect in the home
  • Experiencing conflict with the youth’s parent or legal guardian as a result of a substance or alcohol dependency, a mental health disorder, or other disability

Entities eligible for a grant include street and community outreach and drop-in centers, emergency shelter programs, and supportive and transitional living programs. Street and community outreach and drop-in centers services must locate, contact, and provide information, referrals, and services to youth experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Services may include:

  • Family reunification
  • Conflict resolution or mediation counseling
  • Assistance in obtaining temporary emergency shelter
  • Assistance with education, employment, and independent living skills
  • Assistance in obtaining food, clothing, medical care, or mental health counseling
  • Counseling regarding violence, sexual exploitation, and substance abuse
  • Referrals to other service providers
  • Aftercare services
  • Specialized services for highly vulnerable youth including teen parents, youth with behavioral issues, sexually exploited youth, LGBTQ youth, youth of color, or youth who are victims of or experiencing human trafficking
  • Homeless prevention services

Emergency shelters must provide safe, dignified shelter, including private shower facilities, beds, and at least one meal per day. Services may include:

  • Family reunification
  • Individual, family, and group counseling
  • Assistance obtaining clothing
  • Access to medical, dental, and mental health care services
  • Education and employment services
  • Recreational activities
  • Advocacy and referral services
  • Independent living skills training
  • Aftercare and follow-up services
  • Transportation
  • Homelessness prevention services

Supportive housing and transitional living programs may provide rental assistance and related supportive services, including:

  • Education assistance and referrals to educational programs
  • Career planning, employment, work, and independent living skills training
  • Job placement services
  • Budgeting and money management assistance
  • Assistance in securing permanent housing that is appropriate to youth’s needs and income
  • Counseling regarding violence, sexual exploitation, and substance abuse
  • Referrals for health care or alcohol or substance dependency services
  • Parenting skills education
  • Aftercare and follow-up services
  • Homeless prevention services

Report must include:

  • List of areas of the state, pre- and post-grant program, with the greatest need for services, including housing, and level and nature of the need
  • List of grant recipients, amount of each grant, and distribution of grants throughout the state based on population needs
  • Any available follow-up information, without providing identifying information, on any youth who received services through the grant program
  • Any other pertinent information


Auto-Repeal: July 2023 for grant program, September 2023, reporting requirement only.

Arguments For:

According the department of education, over 23,000 students in the state experienced homelessness at some point during the 2017-18 school year. Without intervention and support, the future of youth who are experiencing homelessness may include a life of compromised health, prostitution, drug addiction, criminal activity, welfare dependence, depression, chronic unemployment, and homelessness. Part of the fight to end youth homelessness involves disrupting the cycle of homelessness which means intervening while a youth is still housed, but at great risk of losing housing (and also of course not caring if the youth is 10 or 23). Having the state office focus just on those experiencing homelessness makes the entire task of preventing homelessness much more difficult, much like waiting for a cancer diagnosis makes treatment much harder. So just as we encourage preventative medical care, we must also focus our efforts on prevention of homelessness, not just on helping those already experiencing it. In the long run, this can save the state money: fewer people experiencing homelessness means fewer emergency room trips, fewer people becoming involved with the justice system, and especially for youth, stronger job security and economic output.

Arguments Against:

This program should not be expanded until we have enough resources to deal with those experiencing homelessness, not to mention those at-risk. Using a medical analogy, this is triage. You deal with the more acute problem, those actually experiencing homelessness, first. In addition, this program is designed for youth, not young adults, in part because we recognize that youth have little to no control over their circumstances. If anything the program should be narrowed to leave out those over 18. Broadening the scope like this risks again stretching resources too thin to deal with the original target population.


This is an expansion and mandated grant program all without any dedicated funding to help. The department of local affairs will be responsible for all of the additional work and for finding money for these grants. It may come from other existing, and worthy, programs.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1122

HB20-1147 Reasonable Independence For Children In Activities [Buckner (D), Ransom (R)]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED HOUSE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow children to do some activities by themselves without potential of neglect charges being brought against the parents.

Description:

Changes the definition of child neglect due to the child’s environment to require the child to be in a situation that a reasonable parent or guardian would not have allowed to occur given the child's maturity, condition, and abilities and that results in injury or a substantial risk of harm as the result of blatant disregard for the child’s safety. Bill lists several independent activities that are not proof of neglect if the child is of sufficient maturity, physical condition, and mental ability, including: going to and from school, to and from nearby commercial or recreation facilities, playing outside, remaining at home unattended, or remaining inside a car for less than 15 minutes if it will not become dangerously hot or cold.

Additional Information:

Exact language of the new standard is:

 

Because the child’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian has placed the child in or failed to remove the child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, or mental ability and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate and grave harm as a result of a blatant disregard of the responsibilities of the parent, legal guardian, or legal custodian.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

While we want to keep all children safe, we have veered in recent years towards allowing complaints of basic independent activities that cause no danger to the child to become founded accusations of neglect. One parent in Colorado who let her child walk to a park across the street was hit with such a charge. This does not allow our parents to do their prime job: prepare kids to live in this world on their own two feet. That of course means putting them in situations they can handle and that are safe, which this bill makes a key component of the new standard. This may disadvantage people who do not live in safe areas, but the job of the state must remain to keep kids as safe as possible. But this should help put an end to people who mean well, but are clogging up our system with reports of children just being children, even if a parent is not right there to supervise.

Arguments Against:

Walking to and from school is already protected by federal law. As for the rest, there is too much discretion being allowed to the caseworkers who will have to decide what is reasonable for a child that age. Is it OK to leave an 8-year-old home alone if both parents need to work to support the family? Or 9? Or 7? How safe does the area where the child is left alone have to be before we get concerned? Does it matter how many other children are there? There are just so many variables that it isn’t really possible to say what a “reasonable” parent would do. There are lots of ways to encourage independence and maturity in environments where we know a trusted adult is watching.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1147

HB20-1189 Tax Credit Donation Human Trafficking Victims (Priola (R)) [Bockenfeld (R)]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $400,000 annually in lost revenue and expense

Goal: Create a $100,000 annual non-refundable tax credit for donations to Colorado-based non-profits that work to end human trafficking or support victims of human trafficking.

Description:

Creates an income tax credit for donations to Colorado-based non-profits that work to end human trafficking or support victims of human trafficking. Maximum of $100,000 and the credit is not refundable, meaning you don’t excess money back if you exceed the total taxes owed to the state, but unused donations can be rolled forward into future tax years until the program expires in 2025.

Additional Information:

Non-profit must either have its headquarters located in Colorado or more than 50% of its employees and be working on ending human trafficking or provide at least 25% of its victim support services in Colorado to qualify. Non-profit must provide taxpayer with certificate certifying it qualifies under one of these two criteria, along with the amount the taxpayer donated.


Auto-Repeal: January 2025

Arguments For:

Every year millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide, including many here in Colorado. Non-profits play a critical role both in fighting to end trafficking and to provide support to its victims. These organizations deserve a boost in fighting to end this scourge and we have long recognized that providing tax credits for donations is a great way to boost donations to specific efforts, beyond the standard charitable donation deduction. This bill attempts to make a short sustained push of funds to these organizations, because no human should be bought and sold. Given that there are not many of these organizations in the state, the likelihood of a large fiscal impact on the state is small, even with the high credit on donations, as the fiscal note prepared by the non-partisan legislative staff indicates.

Arguments Against:

This is a noble cause but the bill goes too far. $100,000 is far too high a tax credit, even if it is non-refundable, and could cost the state millions of dollars in tax revenue. The fiscal note is based upon assumptions built on the current operating budgets of eligible non-profits, but any non-profit would be more than happy to take more money from donations, so the potential for millions of dollars in lost tax revenue is still there because of the high individual cap and no overall cap. The state uses taxpayer money, among other things, to fight human trafficking and any revenue shortage is more likely to come out of programs like that than out of education, corrections, or health care spending. We have the charitable deduction already, so these organizations already can receive tax deductible donations.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1189

HB20-1197 2-1-1 Statewide Human Services Referral System (Bridges (D)) [Snyder (D), Rich (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: $200,000 annually
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal: Fund the 2-1-1 health and human services program with $200,000 in annual grant funding.

Description:

Creates an annual $200,000 grant for 2-1-1 services to develop, implement, operate, and support the statewide referral service. Adds definitions for what 2-1-1 services should be, including availability to all state residents, 24-7 for self-service and during regular operating hours for live service. Must also have a website with a comprehensive database of non-emergency health and human services programs and services provided by government, non-profit, and faith-based organizations. Service must accessible by text, chat, and e-mail in addition to the 2-1-1 phone number. It must help Coloradans find vital services such as emergency shelter, food, and rental and utility assistance. It must be staffed with trained professionals to collect information, assess problems, navigate people to the correct service in a variety of situations, and offer appropriate referrals.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Much of this already exists and is just being codified into law. You can access 2-1-1 via text, chat, and e-mail and it has a website with its database available. It has trained individuals already and claims statewide coverage. But it is not funded adequately at the moment (it has a big donate button on the website). This bill not only codifies its functions into law, it also gives the service funds so it can keep providing services to Coloradans all over the state. It has a database of more than 8,000 services supported by more than 2,800 agencies. It is a treasure-trove of resources for the state and should be supported.

Arguments Against:

Sounds like it already is functioning without this money every year. We should just keep things as they are.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1197

HB20-1220 Veterans Community Living Center Services Assessment (Lee (D)) [Snyder (D), Carver (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: $300,000 next year to do study

Goal: Study the status of our veterans community living centers and see what changes need to be made to account for changing population demographics.

Description:

Requires the state to conduct a statewide needs assessment of the services provided by veterans community living centers, including any changes to service that are required due to the changing demographics of the veterans population and needs of younger veterans, best practices for providing services and treatment related to post-traumatic stress and other behavioral disorders, the advantages and disadvantages of providing services through the existing centers, and alternative models of care. State must pay particular attention to areas with concentrations of veterans, including El Paso County. Final report due by December this year. State may enter into an agreement with a third party to conduct the assessment. Third party must not have any financial interest in providing services to veterans and experience performing public policy analysis, long-term population forecasting and similar improvement studies. State or third party must consult with institutions of higher education who may have resources to contribute.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

We are going to larger influxes of veterans requiring care from the Iraq and Afghan wars and Colorado has a larger veterans population than many states, including large concentrations around Colorado Springs. We need to make sure we are prepared now, including potential for utilizing other models as we look to the future.

Arguments Against:

We should not be spending $300,000 to study this, if the state needs to do an assessment fine but no need for a third-party vendor, which drives up the cost.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1220

HB20-1223 Rural Arts Grant Program (Hisey (R)) [Esgar (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: $50,000 annually
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal: Create a grant program to provide funding to artists who live and work outside of the state’s existing scientific and cultural facilities district.

Description:

Creates the Rural Arts Grant Program to provide grants to artists who live and work outside of the state’s scientific and cultural facilities district (which is the Denver/Boulder metro-area counties). Grantees must work with a qualifying organization (either a government organization or registered C3 non-profit) that will serve as the artist’s sponsor and submit the grant application. Organizations may use 5% of grants for administrative costs and up to another 10%. Money can be used for projects that advance artistic and cultural goals of rural communities and their economies, their communities’ culture, and those that provide incentive for cross-community collaborations and have the potential to contribute to acceptance and consideration of different perspectives. Grant projects cannot discriminate on basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, family or parental status, military or veteran status, physical or mental disability, public assistance status, or political beliefs. Grantees must report to state and state must report to legislature. $50,000 appropriated annually for program.

Additional Information:

Goals of the grant program are:

  • Providing leadership for the state’s creative sector to benefit rural communities
  • Capitalizing on existing regional cultural assets
  • Building the state’s cultural and creative partnership infrastructure
  • Developing local talent and human capital with creative skills
  • Creating an environment that is friendly to investment and innovation

Grant applications must include:

  • Purpose money will be used for and how it will enhance rural prosperity through the arts anad creative sector
  • Impact the project will have on the region
  • Whether the project is a collaborative project between the artist(s) and the qualifying organization and if so, how much of the funds will be used by the organization (10% max)
  • General collaborative nature of the qualified organization with artists in its community
  • Anticipated administrative costs incurred by the qualifying organization

In awarding grants, state must consider:

  • Nature of the project and extent to which it will support the state’s rural creative sector and benefit its rural community
  • Extent to which the project will capitalize on existing regional cultural assets
  • Extent to which project will build state’s creative and cultural partnership infrastructure
  • Extent to which project will develop local talent and human capital with creative skills
  • Extent to which project will create an environment that is friendly to investment and innovation
  • Extent to which money will be used to foster positive changes in the community where the artist lives

Within 30 days of project completion the qualified organization must return any unused funds to the state. They go back into the grant program. Report must come to state within 90 days of completion or within one year of receiving funds (whichever is earlier). Must include: electronic portfolio of work accomplished using grant money and a complete accounting of how the money was used. State must report annually to legislature, including: amount of money granted in previous year and a list of qualified organizations that received those funds, summary of the purposes of the grants and of the goals accomplished and achieved by the program.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The Denver-Boulder metro area should not have a monopoly on the arts in the state. But the scientific and cultural district, which is funded by a 0.1% sales and use tax in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties means that the scientific and cultural district has a large amount of funds to draw cultural activities to these areas. This leaves much of the rest of the state out. Culture is an important part of any community’s well-being, as is allowing artists to flourish in their communities rather than have to work in the Denver-Boulder area in order to receive funding. This is a small amount of money, less than a cent per citizen, that can go a long way to improving the arts and creative sectors of these communities.

Arguments Against:

The rest of the state is free to fund their own scientific and cultural districts. That is a taxpayer decision from the residents of these counties, not state funds getting diverted. What this bill does is then take more taxpayer money from the residents of these counties and distribute out to the rest of the state that decided not to foot the bill directly. In essence, the rest of the state getting subsidized for cultural activity by the Denver-Boulder area which also has to fund its own cultural activities without any help from the rest of the state. And despite the word rural appearing in multiple places in the bill, the decidedly urban Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Grand Junction, Fort Collins, and Greeley areas would also qualify since they are outside the scientific and cultural facilities counties. As would the decidedly not starving for culture mountain communities of Aspen, Breckenridge, and Vail (among others).

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1223

HB20-1233 Basic Life Functions In Public Spaces [Melton (D), Benavidez (D)]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $700,000 to state governments, other increased costs to local governments

Goal: Prohibit camping bans unless the government can offer adequate alternative shelter and the individual refuses.

Description:

Prohibits any government in the state from restricting people experiencing homelessness from conducting basic life functions in a public space unless the government can offer adequate alternative shelter and the individual refuses. This includes sitting, standing, leaning, kneeling, sleeping, lying down, eating, and sheltering oneself in a non-obstructive manner. This must not render passageways impassable or hazardous. Campuses of institutes of higher education and residential areas are exempt. Adequate shelter is an indoor place where a person can conduct basic life functions that does not restrict the individual from using the shelter because of certain limitations. This includes restricted hours of operation, lack of storage for personal belongings, religious requirements, disabilities, family composition, or individual personal characteristics. Governments also cannot restrict anyone from occupying a motor vehicle if is legally parked. Anyone who feels the government has violated these laws can pursue civil action and the court can order injunctive and declaratory relief, restitution for loss of property, actual and compensatory damages, and reasonable attorney fees.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The courts have basically spoken on this issue, with a Colorado court striking down Denver’s camping ban and a federal appeals court striking down one in Idaho. In both cases courts found it was cruel and unusual punishment to have nowhere for someone to rest but also punish that person for resting in public. In essence, you cannot criminalize homelessness. Trying to do so doesn’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. Local governments can still enforce health and safety requirements and prevent people from blocking sidewalks or access to private property. This bill doesn’t set out a series of rights, it just says unless someone is violating a safety or health ordinance or blocking a passageway, you cannot make them move or arrest them if there is nowhere adequate for them to go.

Arguments Against:

We haven’t reached final judicial consensus on this yet, so no need to change laws based on these judicial opinions (Denver is appealing). Cities should have the right to decide for themselves what to do with those who have nowhere to live. Denver itself quite literally just spoke on this issue and overwhelmingly rejected repeal of its camping ban. 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.


This doesn’t go far enough. Previous efforts to end the criminalization of homelessness have focused on the rights of those experiencing homelessness, so that if there was a conflict with local ordinances, there wouldn’t be ways for local governments to easily evade these requirements. By not delineating rights, this bill makes it much easier for local governments to find ways to ignore the spirit of the bill through ordinance violations that have nothing to do with homelessness on their face, but are in fact used to create de facto camping bans.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1233

HB20-1237 Medicaid Managed Care Assignment For Child Welfare (Moreno (D), Sonnenberg (R)) [Young (D), Saine (R)]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Minimal

Goal: Get children who qualify for Medicaid coverage through their involvement with the child welfare system into the Medicaid system at the county that is handling their case.

Description:

Requires all children who gain Medicaid coverage through placement out-of-home or if they have had either a delinquency and neglect or juvenile delinquency action initiated to be placed in the managed care entity of the county that initiated the action. The state Medicaid can only change this designation if the county or by the child’s legal guardian for those with delinquency actions. For those who are in out-of-home placements, this change can only occur if it is requested by the child’s legal guardian.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Children can be eligible for Medicaid for multiple reasons but they are automatically enrolled when they either adjudicated as delinquent or put into an out-of-home placement. The issue is that the state Medicaid system cannot identify if an eligible child is in the child welfare system at the moment so some kids are not getting the benefits they should. This bill sets up a procedure to get them automatically into the system at the most appropriate point: the county handling their case.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1237

HB20-1275 In-state Tuition At Community College For Military (Hisey (R)) [Buentello (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Cannot estimate

Goal: Allow an active or honorably discharged military member of the armed forces or their dependents to be eligible for in-state tuition at community colleges in Colorado.

Description:

Allows an active or honorably discharged military member of the armed forces or their dependents to be eligible for in-state tuition at community colleges in Colorado. Does not alter eligibility for the College Opportunity fund.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

One of the greatest things our country has done was the G.I. bill—a commitment to those who have served in our armed forces that we would help them get a post-secondary education. This bill honors that tradition by simply making anyone in the armed forces a resident of the state if they want to attend community college. This should help service members who want to take that next step in education but may struggle to afford it and it might help our community colleges attract more students who either might have attended a community college in a different state or might not have attended at all. It also helps service members stationed in Colorado but who have kept their residency in another state. The overall impact is unlikely to cause community colleges to have to raise tuition rates, that would have to be a perfect storm of significant numbers of out-of-state armed forces members and veterans who would have attended anyway taking advantage of the program.

Arguments Against:

We should not take this step without more information. The point of in-state tuition is to provide an easier route to post-secondary education for Colorado students. Every state does this for its own residents and then makes up the difference by charging out-of-state residents more. So the problem is that if we get too many people who are really out-of-state grabbing the in-state rate, it can throw the entire thing out of balance and require increases in tuition rates, hurting the real in-state residents. That might not occur, we might get enough new students to balance it out, but this is something that requires study first to ensure that it is likely not to happen.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1275

HB20-1277 Notification Of Rights Investigation Child Abuse [Geitner (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Create a standard written notice of the rights afforded to all parents involved in an investigation of child abuse or neglect which is to be provided to them at the start of any such investigation.

Description:

Requires the office of respondent parents’ counsel and the office of the child protection ombudsman to make recommendations to the department of human services regarding a standard written document containing notice of the rights afforded to all parents involved in an investigation of child abuse or neglect. This notice must be provided at the start of any such investigation. Notice must be ready by December.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is one of the most serious accusations that can leveled against any parent of course, and its repercussions can reverberate for years. Not only is a parent at risk of losing their child, even an accusation that is merely determined by the state to be founded puts the parent onto the state’s TRAILS database, which is publicly accessible. Many jobs where working with children is involved require checks on the TRAILS database. The ultimate decision is up to the caseworker and generally children are given the benefit of the doubt. It is possible for other adults to coach children to make false accusations, particularly in nasty custody battles. Parents have the right to appeal this decision, but many may not be aware of that right. Only 8% of all founded incidents were appealed last year. One of the bedrock principles of our judicial system is that people should know their rights. That is all this bill ensures.

Arguments Against:

While they might be rare, it is possible to have situations where notifying the parent at the very beginning of an investigation might either be dangerous for the child or potentially harm the investigation. No appeal can be made before any decision is reached in any case.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1277

HB20-1297 Immunization Status And Child Abuse Neglect (Lundeen (R)) [Baisley (R)]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Clarify a child’s immunization status cannot be the sole basis for abuse and neglect accusations and findings and create a punishment for those that do so anyway.

Description:

Clarifies that a child’s immunization status, including deciding to delay or omit immunizations, cannot be the sole basis for an accusation of or a finding of child abuse or neglect. Penalty for making a report of child abuse or neglect solely based on immunization status is the same as a false report, class 3 misdemeanor.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is the law of the state of Colorado: parents have the right to decide if they want to immunize their children. So it follows that it is impossible for failure to immunize a child being abuse or neglect. This bill ensures that no parent will face such a charge based on the exercise of their rights and that anyone who tries to do so anyone is subject to the proper punishment, the same punishment anyone gets for a knowingly false accusation.

Arguments Against:

Obviously some children cannot get vaccines, but for those who safely can, then really it is similar to withholding medical treatment. Many forms of medical treatment have risks, but there are forms with risks that we nevertheless expect parents to get for their child. Obviously since state law allows personal exemption from vaccination you cannot bring an abuse or neglect charged based on someone doing just that and nothing else. But we certainly don’t need to encourage it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1297

HB20-1302 CAPS Check Program Changes [Lontine (D)]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED HOUSE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Tighten the laws around when a check of the system containing substantiated claims of mistreatment against an at-risk adult is required and put into the law the cooperation required from employers for an investigation into allegations of mistreatment of at-risk adults.

Description:

Requires a new check of the system that contains substantiated claims of mistreatment against an at-risk adult (CAPS check) prior to hiring someone who received a CAPS check more than two weeks in the past and was not hired the hiring process was not inititated. Requires employers who are also employees or volunteers to perform CAPS check on themselves. Results must go to parent company if the employer is found have substantiated findings of mistreatment. Requires anyone hired as a guardian or guardian’s designee to undergo a CAPS check. Bans using CAPS checks on people who will not be an employee (but can do on volunteers who will provide direct care to an at-risk adult). Prohibits knowingly providing inaccurate information for a CAPS check. Requires employers to cooperate with county investigations into abuse or neglect of at-risk adults, including facilitating interviews and providing any relevant documents and evidence. Employers must give county officials access to their buildings. Violating all of these requirements and bans is a class 1 misdemeanor.

Additional Information:

Investigative staff must be given access to: patients who are the subject of or are relevant to the allegations, personnel and former personnel relevant to the allegations, clients or residents who are either the subject of or relevant to the investigation, individual records, staff schedules and time sheets, and photos and other technological evidence.

Changes reporting requirement for agencies receiving notification of potential mistreatment or neglect of an at-risk adult from 48 hours to 24 hours and requires the report to be in writing. Modifies when the report can be disclosed to public to include when there is a criminal investigation that is relevant to the allegation (used to be any criminal investigation) and when it is made for a CAPS check or to the state agency overseeing the employer when the information in necessary for safety reasons. In this case it must be the minimum amount necessary.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Most of this is just common sense. You can’t rely on an old check when revisiting a potential employee, employers who work as employees need to be checked too, guardians need to be checked, and we need to prevent people from abusing the system. We also obviously need full cooperation from employers when investigating claims of mistreatment.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1302

HB20-1314 Behavioral Health Crisis Response Training [Young (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Minimal for one year

Goal: Provide care coordination training to professionals working with people with intellectual or development disabilities who have a co-occurring behavioral health disorder, with emphasis on rural and underserved areas.

Description:

Requires the state to contract with a third-party vendor to provide extensive care coordination training to professionals who work with people with intellectual or development disabilities who have a co-occurring behavioral health disorder. To be eligible, vendors must have at least 10 years working in this area, including experience with rural issues, have demonstrated success in multiple states, utilize a comprehensive care coordination and treatment model that is evidence-based, maintain a national database of outcomes of training, and be able to use teleconferencing to provide training. Vender must be selected by this August March 2021.

Before September April 2021 community-centered boards, mental health centers, and other program-approved service agencies in the state must nominate one provider in their geographic service area to receive training. State may select up to 20 providers total with preference given to providers in underserved areas. The state must then select another 10 providers from underserved areas of the state to get training. All are to be reimbursed at their current pay rate for time in training. Training must be completed by end of year August 2021 and providers must begin crisis coordination in their communities.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

People with intellectual or developmental disabilities who also have behavioral health issues require heightened levels of care but experience limited access to appropriate treatment, including crisis intervention, stabilization, and prevention. This is particularly acute in rural areas of the state. This bill aims to fill some of these gaps by training providers in providing this coordination of care, which can be of critical importance in a crisis.

Arguments Against:

The biggest gaps we have in care, including in rural areas, are due to a lack of resources, not a lack of training. We don’t invest enough in behavioral health care in general in the state and this particular part of it is no different. So while this isn’t going to hurt anything (and won’t cost much money at all), it may not help as much as we would hope.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1314

HB20-1317 Colorado Children's Trust Fund Board Updates (Hisey (R), Story (D)) [Kraft-Tharp (D), Landgraf (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: $2,823
Fiscal Impact: Negligible each year

Goal: Expand and refocus the Colorado Children’s Trust Board into the Colorado Child Abuse Prevention Board by increasing board size and giving it more responsibilities around child abuse prevention and coordinating these efforts across the state.

Description:

Renames the Colorado Children’s Trust Fund Board the Colorado Child Abuse Prevention Board and expands its membership from 9 to 17 people. Expands the purview of the board to include:

  • Advising and making recommendations to the state and other relevant entities regarding child maltreatment prevention
  • Development of strategies and monitoring of efforts to increase caregiver well-being and decrease child maltreatment and death
  • Identification of opportunities and barriers to alignment of standards, rules, policies, and procedures across programs and agencies that support families
  • Promote academic research on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of child maltreatment prevention initiatives
  • Collaborate with other relevant boards, commissions, and councils in the executive branch to address services and supports for families

Bill also extends board and its cash fund (also renamed to Child Abuse Prevention) through 2026. Repeals cap on the trust fund of $5 million (it collects money from fees in civil actions).

Additional Information:

New board members are:

  • Executive director of department of health care policy and financing and of the department of local affairs
  • The child protection ombudsman
  • Two appointees that represent county leadership, as designated by statewide organizations representing human services directors and public health officials
  • A parent or representative of a parent organization
  • One member each appointed by speaker of house and president of senate

Board continues its previous missions of assisting public and private agencies in securing funding and improving access to services, coordinating information around primary and secondary prevention programs, obtaining federal funds where available, and distributing money from the cash fund in grants, including pilot programs. These can be for prevention, including sexual abuse, reducing prenatal substance exposure, reducing occurrence of other adverse childhood experiences, and operational expenses of board.


Auto-Repeal: July 2026

Arguments For:

We currently focus too much of our efforts in child abuse where the abuse is already happening and not enough on earlier prevention. The trauma from abuse is lifelong and has been demonstrated to have effects on health, behavior, and life expectancy. We also end up spending large amounts of money on foster care, health care, low income assistance, and other public programs due to child abuse. Part of reorienting some efforts toward prevention includes giving this board more power and tweaking its mission to help get programs going across the state that address child abuse prevention. This of course also includes removing the cap on how much the program can hold and disperse.

Arguments Against:

There is a bit of a slippery intervention slope when it comes to prevention, because by definition we are trying to stop something before it happens. This of course is a laudable goal, but it also increases the heavy hand of government in parenting because of course to stop abuse you need to nip it in the bud before it starts. There is a parent on the board, but there is not enough deference given to parental rights in the board’s mission or its membership.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1317

HB20-1323 Special Olympics License Plate And Tax Check-off (Bridges (D)) [Cutter (D), Will (R)]

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Permanently extend the Special Olympics check-off box for voluntary contributions of income tax refunds on state income tax return forms and create a Special Olympics license plate available for people who donate to the organization and pay the required fees.

Description:

Permanently extends the Special Olympics check-off box for voluntary contributions of income tax refunds on state income tax return forms unless it fails to meet statutory thresholds of donations required to stay on form. Creates a Special Olympics license plate for people who make donations to a non-profit designated by the state. Every five years the state must review and pick a non-profit that has been in existence for at least 40 years, provides year-round-training and athletic competitions for people with intellectual disabilities, and is located in Colorado (yes, this is the Special Olympics). It also requires two one-time $25 fees, one for the cost of the plate and one to state highway fund. The state may stop issuing the plate if less than 3,000 are not requested by July 2025. People who already have the plate can keep using it if this happens.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The first in the nation but now widely copied program tax refund program is a great way for deserving Colorado non-profits to raise money. People frequently end up with small amounts of income tax refunds that they do not mind donating. The list of companies provides them with an easy outlet to do so. The Special Olympics are a great Colorado non-profit that are well-deserving of their spot on the form. These special plates are a nice way to raise some extra funds for the state highway fund and in many cases, like this one, promote giving to a good cause. And while this plate does contribute to the number of special plates we have in the state, if not enough people want it the state can stop issuing it.

Arguments Against:

The entire tax refund program is far too unregulated and needs to change. There is no state oversight or reporting required for how the money raised is spent and it has turned into a political popularity contest at the legislature, with the best connected groups able to get on the form since there is no formal application process (it just requires a bill like this one) and then sometimes stay on even when they fail to meet the minimum number of contributions (the legislature just rewrites the rules). We need something with stronger oversight and should not reauthorize organizations until we have it, and we certainly should not do so permanently. As for the license plate, although it is nice that at least this one lets the state stop issuing it if there isn’t demand, we already have too many of these plates, we don’t need to be adding more.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1323

HB20-1324 Increased Support For Domestic Abuse Programs (Zenzinger (D), Lundeen (R)) [Carver (R), Duran (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Permanently reauthorize the voluntary income tax return check-off option for contributions to the state domestic abuse fund and allow the fund to seek gifts, grants, and donations.

Description:

Permanently reauthorizes the voluntary income tax return check-off option for contributions to the state domestic abuse program fund. Also authorizes the state to seek gifts, grants, and donations for the fund.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This first in the nation but now widely copied program is a great way for deserving Colorado non-profits and programs to raise money. People frequently end up with small amounts of income tax refunds that they do not mind donating. This is an obvious worthy cause and the money goes to state efforts to provide help for people in domestic abuse situations and educational programs for the community and groups such as medical personnel and law enforcement officials. It also makes sense to allow the state to seek gifts, grants, and donations.

Arguments Against:

This entire program is far too unregulated and needs to change. There is no state oversight or reporting required for how the money raised is spent and it has turned into a political popularity contest at the legislature, with the best connected groups and programs able to get on the form since there is no formal application process (it just requires a bill like this one) and then sometimes stay on even when they fail to meet the minimum number of contributions (the legislature just rewrites the rules). We need something with stronger oversight and should not reauthorize organizations or funds until we have it. And we certainly should not make this program worse by permanently reauthorizing any of the options.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1324

HB20-1331 Transportation Services For Medicaid Waiver Recipients [Larson (R), Duran (D)]

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Minimal each year

Goal: Require an expedited enrollment and approval process for transportation services providers in Medicaid to provide services to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and study the problem of increasing transportation options for this community.

Description:

Requires the state to create and implement an expedited Medicaid enrollment and approval process and an expedited review of qualifications for transportation service providers for services for:

  • Elderly, blind, disabled
  • People with intellectual or developmental disabilities
  • Home and community base services for people with mental health disorders
  • Home and community based services for people with brain injuries
  • Home and community based services for children with autism
  • Assistance to families with disabled children in their homes
  • Complimentary or alternative medicine pilot program

Process must comply with any necessary background checks, drug tests, training, and vehicle inspections required by the state. State is allowed seek a federal waiver if necessary to implement. Must be done by July 2021.

Requires the state to develop a report that identifies barriers and potential solutions to accessing transportation services within the long-term support and services system in each of these areas. Goal is to incentivize and increase provider participation. Report must address methods of determining rates and payment structure for transportation services, provider qualifications, and the approval process for contracting for transportation services. State must solicit feedback from people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, individuals with disabilities, providers of transportation services to these communities, transportation network companies, and representatives of RTD’s Access-a-Ride program. Report due by January 15, 2021 to legislature.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is a long list of groups but the essential population we are targeting are people with intellectual or developmental disabilities that live in the community (however the disability manifests, which is why we need to cover all of these bases). Coloradans with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed and underemployed at higher rates that the general population and often live in relative isolation due to multiple barriers, in particular around transportation. Many adults with intellectual and developmental disability disorders are reliant on transportation available through several Medicaid waiver programs to gain access to the community, including for employment. But these programs are often inefficient and overburdened and we have a shortage of providers in the state. The current enrollment and approval process for contracting with new providers is also inefficient and adds further barriers into the system. Our current reimbursement model is also overly complicated and insufficient for building true capacity. We therefore need to do two things: jump start our current enrollment and approval process to get as many options out in our communities as possible under current rules and study the problem in order to determine what changes we can make to the current setup so as to better serve these communities’ transportation needs.

Arguments Against:

Like many of the problems we have with underserved communities, the core problem is resources. Unless we can commit more resources to paying more for these transportation services, it will remain difficult to have enough of them in the community, no matter how much we tinker around the edges. This is a known problem and it does not take a study to highlight it.


The way this bill is structured it is requiring expedited approvals and study beyond just the intellectual and developmental disability population. By inserting the requirement and the study into each section, rather than creating one law that applies in places where it needs to, we are in fact telling the state to expedite transportation approval for anyone serving a home or community based facility for mental health disorders, which is also important but a different population than those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. If we want to focus just on that, we should ensure we aren’t going down any other rabbit holes, which also includes children with disabilities, who of course need support but do not need transportation to work, or the blind.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1331

HB20-1334 Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program (Moreno (D)) [Gonzales-Gutierrez (D), Larson (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Update the legislative language of the Tony Grampsas Youth Services program to reflect current practices, including a focus on prevention, as well as let associated cash funds keep their unspent money at the end of the year.

Description:

Adds language around prevention to the Tony Grampsas Youth Services program. Creates definitions for youth and child that the program refers to. Child under nine while youth is 9-25. Both definitions include those challenged by adversity such as poverty, substance abuse in the household, family conflict, association with peers who commit crimes, single-parent household, delinquent behavior, or abuse. Allows the Youth Services Program cash fund, the Youth Mentoring Services cash fund, the Student Dropout Prevention and Intervention cash fund, and the Before and After School Project cash fund to keep any money it does not spend for future years rather than returning it to the general fund.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This program provides funding to community-based organizations that serve children, youth, and their families to prevent and intervene in youth crime, drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse and neglect, and dropping out of school. This bill mostly updates the program to reflect current practices, including a focus on prevention. Allowing the funds to keep their money encourages programs to spend it wisely rather than in “use it or lose it” mode.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB1334

HB20-1347 Licensure Exemption For Family Child Care Homes [Young (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Extend existing exemption for child care licensure requirements for family child care homes for six years and require these homes to notify the children’s parents that they are exempt from licensure and thus state oversight.

Description:

Extends the exemption for child care licensure requirements for family child care homes to September 2026. Requires these homes to notify parents that they are exempt from the license and that the state therefore has not verified the health and safety of the setting or performed background checks on the people in the residence. State must provide education and information on its website for exempt family care providers who are interested in becoming licensed. State must annually report number of complaints filed against exempt family care locations and cease-and-desist orders issued to providers who do not qualify for an exemption and do not have a license.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This exemption serves us well in filling in the niche of small family care situations (like literal family care or from a single family, with no more than 4 total children in any case) where licensure really is not necessary and in fact counterproductive as it drives people away from an industry where we desperately need more capacity. We do want to make sure that in those non-immediate family situations the parents are aware that the home is not licensed and that these homes do at least have the information on what to do to become licensed if they want to expand their activities. Finally, we should know how many complaints are filed against these exempt homes so we can be aware if there is a wider scale problem.

Arguments Against:

Caring for your own relatives is one thing, we should not be allowing anyone to care for non-related children without more oversight, no matter how many children are involved. No background check, no inspection of the home for safety, these things are extremely important and just asking people to notify a family that this is the case is not enough. Perhaps the requirements do not need to be as severe as a full-blown child care center but they should be more than nothing.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB1347

HB20-1350 Child Support Commission Recommendations (Crowder (R)) [Froelich (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Enact recommendations of the child support commission, including lowering interest rates, requiring all income be reported and withheld appropriately, and other changes to payment calculations and judicial oversight, as well as some technical changes.

Description:

Makes multiple changes recommended by the child support commission:

  • Reduces interest rate on late payments from 12% to 10% and adds statute of limitations of 63 days after the emancipation of the child who is the subject of the order. Court can extend statute for good cause
  • Removes limitation on amount of increase for orders filed by child support enforcement agency against someone for whom income information is not available (was 10% maximum increase)
  • Requires life insurance settlements to be reported to the child support enforcement agency
  • Clarifies notice requirements for income assignments and requires an employer to report and withhold from lump sum payments (previously was only payments where taxes were withheld)
  • Clarifies that both the dependency and neglect court and the paternity and child support court have concurrent jurisdiction to address issues or parentage
  • Numerous technical changes, including some to bring us in compliance with federal law

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

We made several larger changes to child support calculations last year based on recommendations from the child support commission, these are some smaller changes that come from the same committee of experts. First, we currently have the highest interest rates on child support in the nation (actually we are in a three way tie with Washington and Kentucky). The current rate is unnecessarily high and can lead to increased debt and debt spirals for parents who are already struggling with finances (one of the key takeaways from the commission has been that our previous structure was overly punitive toward low income households). It also makes sense to add a statute of limitations to interest, as we don’t want people coming in months or even years later requesting mountains of interest payments. The court can also extend the statute if necessary so we should not have to worry about one party stringing the other along just to stretch beyond 63 days. Most of the rest of these changes are common sense, including ensuring all potential income streams are known.

Arguments Against:

It might make sense to add a statute of limitations but 63 days is too short. These situations can be extremely fraught as even parents with the best of intentions try to navigate raising a child and we don’t want situations where one party’s attempt at good faith gets taken advantage of. It can be extremely difficult to parse these situations out sometimes and it should not just be left in the hands of a judge.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB1350

SB20-018 Homeless Outreach Programs To Reduce Wildfire Risk (Fenberg (D), Coram (R)) [McCluskie (D), Snyder (D)]

From the Wildfire Matters Review Committee

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: $100,000
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal: Support outreach programs to those experiencing homeless designed to help mitigate risk of wildfires.

Description:

Creates a working group to identify and make findings for best practices for conducting outreach to those experiencing homelessness for the purpose of reducing wildfire risk. Creates a grant program to award grants to governments and non-profits who are doing this outreach work in accordance with guidelines established by state and bill.

Additional Information:

In awarding grants, state must consider:

  • Demonstrated ability to use best practices identified by working group
  • Local experience, expertise, and capacity
  • Plans to collaborate with other local groups

Working group must include:

  • Stakeholders from state and local government and community organizations with relevant interests, experience, and expertise
  • Representatives from the department of natural resources and the department of public safety

Working group findings must be made available to the public.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Many wildfires are started by human activity, and a large number of these come from campfires. For those experiencing homelessness, camping on public lands is a popular alternative to city streets or trying to find a bed in a shelter. This creates several problems, including making it harder for these individuals to access resources more readily available in cities, and of course more campfires and the possibility of those turning into wildfires. Nederland has already started a program of outreach, where someone goes to the campsites and just touches base: lets the people there know what resources are available in terms of water and other organizational resources, and how to best dispose of trash and prevent campfires from turning into wildfires. We cannot of course solve our homeless problem with $100,000 but we can do a better job of mitigating the risk of wildfire and at the same time, providing a contact point for those experiencing homelessness and camping in public lands which could provide positive ancillary benefits.

Arguments Against:

If the core problem here is that people experiencing homelessness are camping on public lands is creating a fire hazard, then the solution should be to prevent them from camping there, not to spend additional state resources trying to get them to be responsible with their campfires.


While it is true that we cannot solve our homeless problem with $100,000, it is also true that every penny is critical and can be put to good use in our fight against it. Instead of spending this money on lecturing those experiencing homelessness on fire safety, we should spend it on attacking the problem of homelessness directly.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-018

SB029 Cost Of Living Adjustment For Colorado Works Program (Fields (D), Moreno (D)) [Coleman (D), Duran (D)]

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: $4.1 million
Fiscal Impact: $7.8 $3.9 million annually, about $45 $26 million in next 5 years

Goal: Increase the amount of cash assistance under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program to try to catch up with inflation and then tie future increases to cost of living adjustments.

Description:

Increases the amount of cash assistance under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program by 10% 5% immediately and then increases future amounts by 1.5% a year or the federal social security administration’s cost of living adjustment, whichever is greater. Requires the general assembly to appropriate any necessary funds to fully fund the program out of state works program reserves. In 2025 requires the joint budget committee to study the sustainability of the state’s long-term works reserve to fund these increases and find additional funds if necessary the reserve fund is less than $34 million. Cannot use county reserves. This study of the reserves must then be done every five years. TANF is funded mostly by federal money and excess funds go both in county reserves and the state reserve fund.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

In 2018 about 65,000 children in Colorado were experiencing extreme poverty, earning about $12,875 a year for a family of four on average. This is an extreme impact on the future of these children. One study found extreme poverty before the age of five led to on average two full years less of school and three times higher likelihood of being poor as an adult. A $3,000 annual difference in household income in those first five years is associated with a 17% in increase in that child’s future earnings. Poverty is also widely considered the biggest single predictor of child maltreatment, due to the enormous stress it causes on the family and the lack of resources. People can talk about bootstraps all they want, the proof is in the long-term data. And the notion that anyone would actively choose $560 a month in cash, which is $6,720 a year (average for single parent with two kids) over a well-paying job that lifted you out of poverty is silly. We therefore have rightly provided cash assistance aid to these families for decades through the federally supported TANF program (known as Colorado Works in the state). This program has work-related provisions for those who are deemed able to work and the goal is to package together cash assistance with help in finding better and more stable work. Participants must have a child or be expecting a child. There is a lifetime limit of 5 years for receiving assistance. So the program has safeguards and is very much designed as a hand up. But we have not kept pace with either inflation or the exploding cost of living here in Colorado. In every county in the state the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment exceeds the monthly assistance for a family of one adult and two children. And at the same time we are awash in reserve money as a state. The 10% 5% increase this bill creates immediately can be entirely funded just by the money the counties and state have sitting around. And this, by the way, still does not entirely catch us up to the inflation value of assistance since the program’s creation in 1996 (that would require a 16.75% increase). Obviously having mostly caught up with inflation we need to keep up with it in the future. Most federal aid funds like Medicaid are tied to inflation. The estimated cost of the 1.5% increases over five years is about $6 million total. The cost of the 10% increase is $7.8 $3.9 million annually. That seems like a lot, until you consider that counties have reserves of $57 million and the state itself has a reserve of over $91 million. This is money just sitting there, instead of actively helping our neediest families and children.

Arguments Against:

While it is true the program has work-related guidelines, it has struggled in implementing them. In 2016 the state was fined over $6 million by the federal government for failing to meet employment guidelines (40% employment for individuals and 80% for two-parent families, Colorado was closer to 20% in both categories). It is also true that many federal funds are tied to inflation but the money coming from the federal government is a flat amount. It does not increase annually and of course it then follows if we increase what we are spending, the burden of making up any difference will fall on the state. And we did just do a 10% increase in 2018, which by the way basically ate up the difference between what counties were spending and what they were receiving from the federal government. Almost all counties would go into the red on an annual basis with the provisions in this bill and we are not touching their reserve funds. That leaves the state reserve fund, which we would probably come close to halving in that five years. Those reserves are there for emergencies and extra TANF funds are sometimes used for other child welfare funds. The provisions of the bill are just not stable without another source of funding, and we are essentially kicking the can down the road on that decision until 2025 when it will probably be too late to slash provisions and we may be stuck pulling the funds from other programs.


Welfare programs are a bad idea to begin with, as they teach dependence on others instead of self-reliance. Of course we sympathize with the plight of children in these circumstances, but we already have mechanisms to deal with neglect and abuse if that is occurring. If it is not, every child in this country is given a free K-12 education and thus the opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty by their own willingness to work hard. Instead we hand out cash to their family and teach the lesson that there are a bunch of different federal programs out there for you if you stay poor enough to be eligible.


The change from 10% to 5% cuts too much money from families that desperately need it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-029

SB20-039 Update Accessibility Signage State-Owned Facility (Fields (D), Story (D)) [A. Valdez (D), Roberts (D)]

From the Capital Development Committee

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Replace traditional symbol of accessibility icon of a person in a wheelchair with a more dynamic icon showing a person leaning forward with a sense of movement.

Description:

Requires all newly built, acquired, or renovated facilities to use an accessibility icon with a more dynamic character leaning forward in a wheelchair with a sense of movement. Icon image can be found here: http://www.accessibleicon.org/. Only applies to buildings that contain 5,000 or more square feet. Requires state to secure approval from federal Department of Justice that the new icon provides equal or greater access to people with disabilities. This approval must be sought by end of year.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is part of a worldwide movement to show those who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities are active people who interact with the world, not passive folks who sit back and do not move. History shows that the shape and form of what people see and hear works on a person’s cognitive understanding of the world. Something as simple as a slight icon change can change the way people feel about those with disabilities. It is already been done by New York and many other places around the world. It’s an easy change with positive impacts.

Arguments Against:

Having different signs for accessibility in different places may be confusing. We should go all-in on one (the already existing one is much easier since it requires no replacements) or the other.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-039

SB20-041 National Guard Parks And Wildlife Benefits (Cooke (R)) [Beckman (R)]

PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: $28,799
Fiscal Impact: Negligible each year

Goal: Create a free pass for entrance into state parks for active duty members of the National Guard.

Description:

Creates the Eagle pass, a free annual pass for entrance into state parks for active duty members of the National Guard. There are approximately 3,500 individuals who meet this criteria in the state. The parks and wildlife commission may elect not to issue the pass if it does not receive funding from the general assembly to implement the pass.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The least we can do for those who have signed up to defend our nation in addition to living a civilian life is to provide them free access to our beautiful state parks. The bill also leaves the general fund the flexibility to fund this or not.

Arguments Against:

We currently provide free access to all state parks in August to all active-duty military members and veterans. This is not only sufficient, it also covers a lot more people.


We should not provide this great perk to just members of the National Guard, all military members should be eligible.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-041

SB20-069 Disabled Veterans Free State Park Access (Garcia (D))

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible (lost park revenue)

Goal: Allow any disabled veteran free state park access, not just those with the special disabled veteran license plate.

Description: Currently anyone with the disabled veteran special license plate is allowed free access to any state park or recreation area. This bill extends that free access to any disabled veteran by allowing them to obtain a free pass from the parks division by presenting appropriate documents.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The idea beyond granting disabled veterans free access to our parks is the right one, we must honor the service of our wounded warriors that we really never can fully repay. But we should not require someone to have the license plate in order to utilize this access.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-069

SB20-082 Department Of Military And Veterans Affairs Awards (Hisey (R), Todd (D)) [Landgraf (R), Lontine (D)]

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Create the Colorado Legion of Merit medal.

Description:

Creates the Colorado Legion of Merit medal, which can be awarded by the department of military and veterans affairs to any person in the department, including the Colorado National Guard, who has rendered service in a clearly exceptional, unprecedented, or superior manner in support of the department and who has served in a position of senior leadership or senior command, has demonstrated significant responsibility, served in a position of extremely difficult duty, or was a key individual in mission or duty success. Adjutant General may award the medal to a person who is not a member of the department who has rendered service in a clearly exceptional, unprecedented, or superior manner in support of the department. Bill also cleans up some medals that have duplicative of other department or federal awards.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Multiple other states have this honor, which mimics the national Legion of Merit medal. It is appropriate for the state to have a way to honor those who render extraordinary service to the Colorado.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-082

SB20-091 Minimum Pay For State Military Forces (Zenzinger (D), Sonnenberg (R)) [Exum (D), Holtorf (R)]

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal: Increase pay of state military forces called into active duty by the governor during natural disasters and civil emergencies.

Description:

Changes the pay of state military forces, including National Guard units, called into active duty by the governor during natural disasters and civil emergencies from pay given to similar rank and length of service in Army or Airforce with a $20 per day minimum to at least the pay and allowances provided to an E-4 with over six years of service. Current US army pay for an E-4 with over six years of service is $88.80.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is about basic fairness for these members being put into harm’s way during disasters and emergencies. $20 a day is a ridiculous amount of pay.

Arguments Against:

The $20 per day is just a minimum amount, people are getting paid just what they get paid by the Army or Airforce if they are on active duty at the similar rank. We don’t need to promote anyone to E-4 status.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-091

SB20-106 Consent To Shelter And Services By Homeless Youth (Woodward (R), Ginal (D))

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow shelters to provide services to youth experiencing homelessness who are at least 14 without parental consent.

Description:

Allows a youth experiencing homelessness who is 14 15 years of age or older to consent to receiving shelter or shelter services from a licensed homeless youth shelter. Shelters are not required to notify parent or legal guardian or seek additional parental consent. Changes amount of time shelters have to attempt reconciliation for runaways with parents or guardians from 24 hours (exluding weekends and holidays) to a flat 72 hours. Allows shelters to not notify parents or guardians if they believe it would put the minor at risk of harm. In this case they must notify appropriate county department immediately. Also lowers age where shelters are required to notify county departments from under 15 to under 14 years of age.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

When an unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness cannot access safe shelter and housing services they are extremely vulnerable to victimization. 70% of youth in this situation report experiencing violence, including 32% reporting sexual assault. Multiple surveys and plain common sense show that youth in these circumstances can be either unable to seek shelter because of parental consent requirements or unwilling due to the involvement of the child welfare system. Eliminating these barriers would allow homeless service providers the ability to intervene before homeless youth become victims of dangerous predators. We have to consider safety first, then work on more permanent solutions.

Arguments Against:

The law goes too far in the other direction. There is no mandate for the shelter to even attempt to contact parents/guardians like is required in Hawaii. No requirement the youth is in danger or might be in danger like in California. The law in Utah protects shelters against prosecution for harboring a runaway. This bill does not do that, and of course opens up shelters to potentially aiding runaways instead of those truly experiencing homelessness. Involving child welfare services also helps us find permanent solutions for these kids.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-106

SB20-122 Mobile Veteran Support Unit Grant Program (Donovan (D))

PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal: Provide help to non-profits in setting up mobile veteran support units to help health and well-being of veterans who either live in rural Colorado or are experiencing homelessness.

Description:

Creates the Mobile Veteran Support Unit Grant program to provide aid to non-profits in establishing mobile veteran support units to help the health and well-being of veterans who either live in more remote locations or are experiencing homelessness. Grants are one-time only, no renewals. Non-profits must have experience in providing assistance to veterans, including those experiencing homelessness, to be eligible. Must also demonstrate they are aware of challenges of providing health services in rural areas. Grantees must report to state and state must report to legislature. No money appropriated.

Additional Information:

Services the mobile units can provide include:

  • Mental health services
  • Dental services
  • Health care services delivered through telehealth
  • Military benefit assistance
  • Housing assistance

State can seek gifts, grants, or donations for this program. Discharge status does not matter for the veterans. Getting a grant from this program does not disqualify non-profits from receiving a grant from the Veterans Assistance Grant Program.


Auto-Repeal: July 2022

Arguments For:

We owe our veterans more than we can ever fully repay them and yet veterans are over-represented in our homeless population, with an estimated 9% of those experiencing homelessness coming from the armed forces. Estimates are that more than half of these veterans have a mental and/or physical disability. These are difficult populations to provide service to, with rural parts of the state having their own unique challenges in terms of accessing health care in general, much less for those struggling. Mobile units provide an opportunity to bring services to the veterans, a potentially more effective method in rural parts of the state and with those experiencing homelessness, rather than trying to bring the veterans to the services they need, which other grant programs address. This bill simply provides the framework to help get these units off the ground, thus the one-time grants, so that non-profits can make the capital investments required to make this work.

Arguments Against:

We already have a grant program to do these precise services, including the Veterans Assistance Grant Program. If we want to add a mobile component, it should be folded into that existing program rather than creating a new one. Having multiple programs creates the potential for confusion and for competition in terms of funding.


This program is unfunded, so it will left either to the mercies of the budgeting process or the mercy of the private sector to get any grants at all.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-122

SB20-126 Allow Home Child Care In Homeowners' Association Community (Story (D), Smallwood (R)) [Roberts (D), Van Winkle (R)]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Prohibit homeowners associations from banning the operation of a licensed family child care home in the community.

Description:

Prohibits homeowners associations from banning the operation of a licensed family child care home in the community. Association may require child care home to carry liability insurance, at reasonable levels determined by HOA board. Association must be named as additional insured.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Research has shown that early childhood education can be very beneficial for later life success. It also is a boon to working parents who need some form of safe childcare during working (and non-public school) hours. It is also critical for most childhood development problems to catch them early, the earlier the more likely they can mitigated. And yet we do not have nearly enough of it in this state, so much so that we have multiple financial incentive programs to try to boost the number of licensed facilities. So the last thing we need is a HOA banning them altogether. A licensed family care facility is small enough to not be a nuisance and this is an area of critical public interest. Thinking that someone is going to move just to operate one is not realistic. What instead happens is that people stay in their homes and give up and the entire local community (not just the HOA) has one fewer quality resource for child care.

Arguments Against:

The entire point of HOAs is that communities can decide what they do and do not want in their communities (without violating someone else’s rights of course). That should very much include child care facilities, no matter the size or licensure status. These facilities increase traffic, noise, and the potential for property damage for anyone who neighbors one. The fact that it is a small increase is beside the point. If someone wants to operate one of these facilities, they can live in a neighborhood that allows them.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-126

SB20-129 Protection Of Individuals Subject To A Fiduciary (Holbert (R), Ginal (D)) [Froelich (D), Ransom (R)]

AMENDED: Very Significant (new bill)

PASSED SENATE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Require a thorough pre-petition conference with all interested parties prior to appointing a guardian, conservator, or making a single transaction on the behalf of a minor or potentially incapacitated adult. Set up a process for a trained third-party to explore options prior to court appointing emergency guardian or special conservator.

Description:

Prior to filing a petition for the appointment of a guardian, an emergency guardian, to establish a conservatorship, or a single transaction on behalf of a minor or potentially incapacitated adult, the petitioner must conduct a prehearing conference to determine if any relative or interested person would assist the individual. The petitioner must make every effort to identify and notify relatives, friends, and other interested persons. Remote participation must be allowed. There must be a full and robust conversation and anyone must be allowed to ask questions or speak. When the petition is filed, the petitioner must include a report of the conference and send a copy of that report to everyone who attended. Bill also requires courts to rule on emergency requests within 14 days. For emergency guardian or special conservator appointments, the court must first appoint a trained person to visit the individual in question and explain, to the extent the individual can understand, the purpose of the upcoming hearing and the individual's rights. This must include contact information for the individual's court appointed lawyer and that all costs and fees, including attorney fees, will come out of the individual's estate unless the court directs otherwise. The trained person must also seek to identify any members of the individual's support community or family whose inclusion in the process would serve the individual's best interests. The trained individual must then interview any of these people to see what their level of involvement can be and if there are less restrictive ways of meeting the individual's needs. The trained individual must file a prompt report with the court, including contact information for people in the support community and recommendations for what should be done, including which members of the support community to involve, if emergency guardianship or special conservatory is necessary, and if so if any limitations should be put upon it. Court then has seven days to rule.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Guardians have immense power over the lives and finances of their charges. And unfortunately there are numerous examples of abuse, with entire organizations dedicated to stopping it. From stealing money to isolating people from family to pilfering assets, once someone is appointed it is difficult to control them. So we have to make sure we have thoroughly examined the guardianship issue with all relevant parties prior to a judge making a ruling on emergency situations. This bill will give the judge the confidence that the petitioner is the person best suited in the individual’s life to become their guardian or conservator (or to make a potentially significant individual transaction on their behalf). they are making the best decision possible for the individual in question.

Arguments Against:

This is quite a bit of work for the petitioner, to track down all of these people, arrange a conference, and summarize the results. It might scare some people off the job. It also might cause trouble in families where there are deep conflicts that have little to do with the individual in question. Judges are there to judge, they should be able to judge the petitioner without this information. A complete change in a bill like this just after being introduced may be a sign it is not ready. This should be put-off until it definitey is.


This bill no longer protects all those who may go into guardianship or conservatory, just in emergency situations. Potential abuse extends beyond emergencies.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-129

SB20-144 Home Visiting Expansion Grant Program (Fields (D), Lee (D)) [Larson (R), Michaelson Jenet (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: $666,666 each of next six years

Goal: Create a grant program run on two three-year cycles of up to $2 million in each cycle to expand number of children and families who can use nationally recognized, evidenced-based home visitation services to improve the school readiness of children.

Description:

Creates a grant program to expand number of children and families who can use nationally recognized, evidenced-based home visitation services to improve the school readiness of children. Programs provide a continuum of services from pregnancy to child’s entrance into kindergarten but no program is required to serve all age groups. Entities must implement specific home visitation models that have been proven to be effective through well-designed experimental trials with demonstrated, significant, sustained positive outcomes. Organizations must work with a state-based organization that has national designation to implement the specific model. Models must increase school readiness and address one or more of the following issues: building healthy family relationships, improving health outcomes, preventing and reducing child abuse and neglect, promoting positive parenting practices, enhancing children’s social-emotional health, and improving family economic self-sufficiency. Program must be voluntary, provide appropriate linguistic and cultural services, and use trauma-informed practices. Grants most total no more than $2 million paid out evenly over three years. There are two cycles of the program with the first one starting this fall and then it repeals in September 2028. Programs in the first cycle can reapply for the second.

Additional Information:

State may use up to 10% of grant appropriations to administer the program. State must prepare a report on the program for the legislature at the end of each grant cycle. It must include number of families served and demographic data on them, number of unique home visitation models funded, the stated goals and outcomes for each one, and data summarizing funding for proven (at least two random studies backing it up) and promising (at least one random study backing it up) models. These models cannot include: provision of case management services or a one-time visit or infrequent home visits, programs where the goal is to provide referrals to other community services, or services delivered through an individualized family plan for a child with special needs.

The state-wide intermediary organization must assist with:

  • Assessing community readiness and site selection
  • Providing training, coaching, and programmatic support
  • Monitoring the implementation of the model and continuous quality improvement
  • Evaluating site-specific and statewide outcomes

In addition to the services described in the bill description, grantees must also:

  • Follow a model that specifies the purpose, outcomes, duration, and frequency of its services
  • Support well-trained staff and provide continual professional supervision and development to the model being implemented
  • Be guided in implementation by an intermediary organization designated by the national model to ensure fidelity to model standards
  • Continually evaluate model outcomes to determine success

State is to create rules for the program. This must include serving immigrants, refugees, people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, and rural and frontier communities. For selecting applicants, state should consider probability of success to:

  • Recruit, train, and support home visiting providers
  • Successfully deliver the specified home visiting model
  • Collect and maintain data as required by the state and participate in annual evaluations
  • Align and coordinate with the intermediary organization
  • Cooperate with the state in its financial administration of the program

Bill does not alter the Colorado Nurse Home Visitor Program Act or any funding for it.

Auto-Repeal: September 2028

Arguments For:

This is no experimental lark. Any program chosen for this grant has to be following a specific national model that has been rigorously tested, has a national organization behind it, and work with a state-wide expert intermediary to ensure the model is correctly implemented. So the “what” is going to be based on really solid ground. The “why” is also based on solid ground. The most rapid period of brain development is during the ages where parents have the least structured support systems available, from 0-3. The foundations of healthy social, emotional, and cognitive development are constructed during these years. But as any parent can tell you, no child comes with an instruction manual. We do our best, but many parents do not have positive role-models to fall back on and do not have the financial resources to pay for expensive daycare programs. Family support programs like this bill will support have proven abilities to improve school readiness, promote parent-child relationships, improve child socio-emotional and physical health, identify developmental delays early, and prevent trauma and toxic stress. Studies have found that a benefit ranging from $1.50 to $6.10 for every dollar spent on these programs to the extent they already exist in Colorado. This is a great investment to make in our children and it is critical to remember that this is voluntary. No one is going to force any parent into one of these programs.

Arguments Against:

This is perhaps the literal definition of the “nanny state”, spending taxpayer dollars on programs designed to help people parent their infants and toddlers. The program is supposed to be culturally and linguistically appropriate, but what about religion, discipline, and values? There is the potential for some conflict here if the home visitor doesn’t approve of an approach that does not harm the child but is different from what the “model” says to do. And this when we know we have severe shortages of child care at this age, perhaps the most important thing we can provide any working family. More than an expert coming to their home and helping them be a better parent, working parents need a safe place for their child to spend the day while they earn money to support the family. A place they can afford.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-144

SB20-160 Require Movie Theaters To Provide Open Captioning (Todd (D), Ginal (D))

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Require most movie theaters to offer at least two open captioning screenings per week of most movies.

Description:

Requires any company that operates movie theaters in two or more locations in the state to provide open captioning during at least two screenings per week of each movie that offers the option. Open captioning is when the dialog and sounds are part of the film itself, so they are visible on the screen to anyone watching it without the use of any other devices.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Open captioning services are far superior to closed captioning at movie theaters. For closed captioning, you are given a device that attaches to your seat and then must be maneuvered to a position close enough to the screen so you can see it and see the screen at the same time. This obviously is difficult to get adjusted correctly and easy to bump out of alignment. Open captioning works just like closed captioning does on all of our televisions at home: the words are automatically there on the screen. So really if we want to provide those with hearing impairments the true ability to experience a film in theaters, open captioning is the way we must go. Two screenings a week is a paltry amount and will not overly affect theaters. Note that the bill leaves the theaters free to use whichever screenings it wants to.

Arguments Against:

This in essence requires a movie theater to make two showings of nearly every movie they offer only attractive to the hearing impaired. Movie theaters are already required to provide closed captioning services and while that may not be the best way for someone who is hearing impaired, it does work. This is similar to providing an accommodation for those who cannot walk at a building: you have to provide a way into the building but it does not have to be the best possible way and you don’t have to provide an accommodation at every entrance.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-160

SB20-162 Changes Related To Federal Family First Policy (Rankin (R), Moreno (D)) [Gonzales-Gutierrez (D), Ransom (R)]

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $1.7 million annually

Goal: Make numerous changes to foster care prevention services and supports to align state with federal Family First Prevention Services Act, including lower reimbursement rates for providers that are not in compliance, increasing licensure requirements, tightening procedures around placement in residential facilities, and other changes.

Description:

Makes numerous changes to foster care prevention services and supports to align state with federal Family First Prevention Services Act.

  • Requires state to establish new rates for counties out-of-home placements that do not meet the criteria of the family first act. This must be lower than the rate for counties that do meet the requirements, but not less than 50%. Existing child welfare task force is to make recommendation on creating rates for out-of-home placements that do not meet criteria of the family first act. but is up to state Task force must consider: impact of the institute for mental disease designation on qualified residential treatment programs for residential child care facilities, capacity of existing child welfare services, mental and behavioral services, and prevention services through family first act. Task force must report by September
  • Requires all residential care facilities to be licensed annually with requirement that the state conduct assessments for licensure
  • Allows counties to provide both child welfare prevention services and foster care prevention services to families, kin, caregivers, children, juveniles, and youth. Requires state to develop notice form of rights and remedies and a plan to disseminate the form to affected parties. Clarifies that all information exchanged between state and counties for prevention or referral services is confidential and not available to the public
  • Requires court to give great weight to assessments for deciding if a child or youth should be placed in a qualified residential treatment program. Requires the assessment to specify if the placement is the most effective and least restrictive option as well as short- and long-term goals for the child and family. If the court deviates from the assessment, it must make findings of fact regarding these elements as they relate to whether the proper protocols were followed, specific needs of the child and family, expected length of stay, and preference of the child and family
  • Changes review of foster care placements in residential treatment programs from administrative review division to juvenile court when there is no objection to the placement (placements with objections already went to family or juvenile court). Changes requirement from 60 days after placement to 30 days only for treatment programs that do not support the qualified program level of care requirements. Clarifies that these reviews apply to juveniles and youth as well as children. Clarifies that evidence submitted to these reviews must be submitted at each review to all relevant parties. Requires anyone admitted to one of these facilities to be between 5 and 18 or less than 21 but placed by court prior to turning 18 or accompanied by a parent if less than 5. Specialized group facility lower age requirement is 7 instead of 5
  • Requires courts to ensure that any commitment to the department of human services is not a result of lack of space in qualified residential treatment programs
  • Creates a new cash account for reimbursing counties called the Capacity Building Account. All federal money received due to the Family First Transition Act (different federal law from Family Services) must be put into this account. Money must be used for capacity mapping of existing services, including placement availability, that meet Family First standards and supporting transition providers who are currently ineligible for higher reimbursement rates to become eligible
  • Changes some definitions of kin and qualified individuals to match federal standards

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is one of those things we have to do in order to stay in compliance with federal law and thus get federal money. Most of these provisions are about ensuring greater protection for the child or youth in residential treatment facilities but the bottom line remains that if we want federal money (and we do!) for these programs we have to get into compliance with Family First which includes some tough news for facilities and counties that do not meet the requirements of that law. There is federal money coming to help try to transition them into compliance. But we do not have to jump in front of the task force and create the new reimbursement rates now. We can let the task force do its work.

Arguments Against:

We could provide more state help to the facilities and counties that need to come into compliance or face financial ruin. The bill does not appropriate any money to either the capacity fund or any sort of grant program to achieve this. We desperately need every treatment facility we can get in the state and should do more to ensure we don’t lose a bunch of them.


We know what the answer is going to be on the reimbursement rates and we know we have to get them done to get the federal funding we need. The original bill allowed the task force to do its work but contained a legislative backstop in case it didn't.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-162

SB20-165 Honoring Carrie Ann Lucas (Danielson (D)) TECHNICAL BILL

PASSED SENATE

Description:

Renames the law that deals with family preservation safeguards for families that include a parent with disabilities the “Carrie Ann Lucas Parental Rights for People with Disabilities Act”.

SB20-173 Reimbursement Rates Alternative Care Facilities (Sonnenberg (R)) [Pelton (R)]

PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: About $730,000 a year at full implementation

Goal: Allow secure alternative care facilities that have higher staffing ratio requirements due to providing services to patients with dementia or other similar conditions to be reimbursed by Medicaid at higher rates than similar facilities that do not serve this population.

Description:

Requires state to adopt rules creating enhanced or tiered Medicaid reimbursement rates for secure alternative care facilities that have higher staffing ratio requirements due to providing services to patients with dementia or other similar conditions. These new rates must be able to increase when regular rates increase or if staffing requirements change. State must engage interested stakeholders prior to writing rules and may review what other states have done in this area. If there is any federal authorization required, state must seek it.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Right now these facilities get the same rates as other alternative care facilities. The problem is that the facilities who do not serve patients with memory care requirements have lower staffing ratio requirements. This not only leads to unfairness in compensation for the facilities, but also for some to decide not to accept these patients at all, which can lead either to nursing home placement (which costs the state even more money) or long-term care settings that are not appropriate for the patient.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-173

SB20-176 Protect Neutral Determinations In Health Insurance (Danielson (D))

PASSED SENATE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Ensure that a 2008 state law prohibiting discretionary clauses for determining eligibility in insurance plans is enforced as widely as possible.

Description:

Clarify that a 2008 state law prohibiting discretionary clauses for determining eligibility in insurance plans and policies should be considered by courts as broadly as possible and should trump any contractual or statutory choice-of-law provision that contradicts the prohibition. Grants the commissioner of insurance power to create rules to enforce the 2008 law. Nullifies any contract that violates this law. Clarifies that individuals have a right to a trial by jury without having the claim reviewed by a court first. Clarifies the law applies to any policy issued to a Colorado resident, regardless of employer location.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This law prohibits insurers from giving themselves contractual discretion to interpret the terms of the policy or determine eligibility for benefits. In other words, what is spelled out in the policy is the policy, the insurer cannot come back later with an opinion that it outside of what was written down and agreed to. The problem is that insurers have found some ways to wriggle out this by citing other laws and finding loopholes based on location or having a contract that existed prior to the 2008 law taking effect, in multiple states with this sort of ban. This bill closes down all of these loopholes so that the law can work as it was intended. Many states have a version of this ban, which prevents insurers from deciding who is and isn’t eligible for the policy on a case-by-case basis (because you’ll never guess, but frequently insurers try to find ways to make people ineligible) and then if the individual objects, the judge reviewing the case can only decide if the insurer abused its discretion, not on the fundamental issue of whether or not the individual actually qualifies (this frequently was abused in disability cases). Under the 2008 law, insurers cannot use their own discretion as to who is or is not eligible and any dispute in court centers on the facts of the case, not if the insurer abused its discretion.

Arguments Against:

Federal law grants the insurers the power to have these clauses (although it also gave states the room to ban them themselves) so it worth reviewing why they exist. The Supreme Court itself noted they promote efficiency, predictability, and uniformity. That is they allow insurers to understand the terms of their policy as the insurer sets it, so it can know more precisely what it will and will not be forced to cover. The court is not set as an expert in disability, but merely as a referee to ensure that the insurer does not abuse their discretionary right. We should therefore remove this law instead of strengthening it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-176

SB20-182 Supporting Wandering Persons Recovery Programs (Danielson (D))

PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Minimal each year

Goal: Expand and tweak an existing grant program to help located and recover people who may wander off and get lost.

Description:

Expands an existing grant program and renames it Wanderer Recovery Program (was lifesaver program) by making cities and organizations designated by cities or counties (counties already eligible) eligible for grants. It removes both the single grant limit ($10,000) and the overall limit on the program ($380,000). Changes the uses for grants from just implementation to both implementation and maintenance. Tweaks the definition of what the grantees should be doing, from a search and rescue program to find a wanderer to giving a device to a potential wanderer that allows them to be located electronically. Requires the state to construct a website by the end of the year that lists all wanderer programs from eligible entities in the state, how to contact them, resources for taking care of people with conditions that cause wandering, procedures to follow when a wanderer program participant is missing, how the wanderer technology works, and any other information the state deems necessary.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This program was designed just for county sheriffs basically and was tightly capped in terms of resources. That is just too limiting for attacking this problem that certainly is not likely to recede. If anything, it will become more of an issue as our population ages and people live longer in the state. The search and rescue concept also isn’t quite what we are aiming for here, we want to help people get the technology that allows us to easily find someone with Alzheimer’s, Down syndrome, or other mental impairments that cause the individual to wander off and get lost without specifying the exact technology required (program currently requires something worn on the wrist that interacts with county sheriff’s radio system). The website is a companion resource to the technology so that people are aware of what options they have and what to do if a loved one does wander off.

Arguments Against:

This greatly increases the scope of this program without providing any funding. Maintenance of course is a potentially large expense, particularly when dealing with technology, and removing caps on individual grants makes it more likely we will need more funds. That can be accomplished with removing the overall cap, but unless the money is directly put into the program, it won’t be there regardless of what the cap is. Creating the website also adds a financial burden that is funds we are not spending on directly implementing the program.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-182

SB20-195 Adoptive Parents Payments To Outside Providers (Foote (D)) [Singer (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Allow adoptive parents of kids with special needs adopted under the state’s subsidized adoption program to get for Medicaid covered items or services from non-Medicaid providers, with the parents directly paying for it themselves.

Description:

Allow adoptive parents of kids with special needs adopted under the state’s subsidized adoption program to knowingly take on additional costs for items or services that are otherwise covered by Medicaid. To do this the parents must enter into a written agreement with the provider who does not accept Medicaid.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This program exists for kids with special needs that the state has not been able to place without the subsidies provided by the program. Part of this is that the child is enrolled in Medicaid and currently the program does not allow parents to use (and pay for) services that could be covered by Medicaid from a non-Medicaid provider. This in effect can limit the ability of the parents to choose the doctor they want for their child. The bill makes it clear that the parents are entirely on the hook for the costs (subsidies under this program are not a flat amount but provided for specific costs, so the parents would not be able to use them for this purpose) so we will not be paying extra. In fact quite the opposite, we won’t be paying for these services at all (the parents will).

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB195

SB20-202 Foster Care Student Services Coordination (Moreno (D)) [Michaelson Jenet (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Require use of standardized billing form for students in out-of-home placements’ transportation to school and let the schools establish transportation plans for these students on a regional basis.

Description:

Requires state and local agencies to use standardized forms and invoices approved by both the department of education and department of human services to bill for transportation services provided to students in out-of-home placements. Authorizes schools establishing transportation plans with counties (as required by law) to do them by region or through a board of cooperative services (can still do it by individual entity as well). Aligns definition of “student in out-of-home placement” in this section of law with the definition for students in custody of county departments of human or social services.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

When a student is placed out-of-home, the law requires that the student still be able to attend their original school, with the schools and counties arranging the transportation. Currently there is no standardized billing form, which can cause confusion, and schools have to do this on an individualized basis, which can be more cumbersome. This bill standardizes the billing form and allows schools to work regionally (boards of cooperative services cover several different districts).

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB202