These are all of the human services bills proposed in the 2021 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.

HB21-1018 Adoptive Parents Payments To Outside Providers (Jaquez Lewis (D)) [Bernett (R), Van Beber (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • 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.

Description:

This program exists for kids with special needs that the state has not been able to place without the subsidies provided by the program.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This allows parents to choose the doctor they want for the child and take Medicaid off the hook for those payments.

In Further Detail: Part of this program is an agreement 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 HB21-1018

HB21-1084 Drivers' Licenses For Foster Children (Hisey (R)) [Exum (D), Van Winkle (R)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible 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 15-21. Directs the state to create rules for kids who are in the custody of the state and do not possess all of the documentation required so they can still apply for an instruction permit or a minor driver’s license.

Description:

Program does not create liability for counties for contracting with private driving schools for injuries that occur during instruction. May accept gifts, grants, and donations.

Clarifies that a guardian ad litem, county official, or state official who signs a minor’s permit for a instruction permit or minor’s driver’s license does not add liability to themselves or their organization unless they sign an affidavit of liability.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This removes two 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 lack of all required documentation. And removing the liability from counties should ensure that they use the program.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • 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 HB21-1084

HB21-1099 Policies And Procedures To Identify Domestic Abuse (Zenzinger (D), Smallwood (R)) [Ransom (R), Michaelson Jenet (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible in first year

Goal:

  • Recognize exposing children to domestic abuse as a form of child abuse or neglect. Require the state to create rules to implement assessment policies, procedures, and training for case workers to use to recognize and assess situations where children are being exposed to domestic abuse

Description:

State must create rules by July 2022. Bill also requires creating similar rules for mandatory reporters of abuse. These are people who by law must report suspected abuse to law enforcement and include professions like doctors and teachers.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Domestic abuse and child abuse are often linked, and even without physical abuse of the child being a witness to domestic abuse is psychological abuse that leaves life-long scars and can perpetuate damaging personal relationship cycles
  • Child in domestic abuse situations are in danger, from being abused themselves up to increased risk of death
  • Current law requires explicit connections between domestic abuse and child abuse—it is not enough that the domestic abuse is occurring. This is inadequate to address the real dangers of domestic abuse to children

In Further Detail: Domestic abuse and child abuse are often linked but even in cases where the child is not yet directly being abused (and in many cases, the key word there is “yet”). And even in those cases where the child is not being physically harmed, they are being abused psychologically. Witness abuse leaves life-long scars and can lead to children repeating the patterns they have learned in childhood in their adult relationships, whether that be as the abuser or the abused. This of course is not an absolute link and nothing is predetermined, but we all know children model the behavior of the adults they are exposed to. This is also critically important for the child’s safety. Roughly 40% of child fatality cases reviewed between 2014 and 2019 found domestic abuse as a stressor. Risk of abuse of a previously unabused child rises after domestic partner separation. These two elements came together tragically in the case of Ty Tesoriero, murdered by his father on the last night his father was allowed to have him. Our current laws require child welfare caseworks to connect the dots between domestic abuse and child abuse: that is just the presence of domestic abuse is not enough. That is not good enough and this bill rectifies the situation. As for the idea of using this as a weapon, anyone who wanted to falsely accuse someone else of abuse wouldn’t need the added weapon of child abuse in a custody case. So this bill would not materially change that sort of hypothetical situation, a domestic abuse charge alone, as would occur under current law, would be enough. And we don’t decide not to protect people based on hypotheticals on potential abuse of law. We have courts to sort out false claims.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Family disputes can be fraught and false claims of abuse can happen. This could be used as a weapon in child custody cases

In Further Detail: While we must protect children who are truly in danger, we also know that family disputes over child custody can get overheated and a false accusation of domestic abuse could be used to trigger a child abuse charge.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1099

HB21-1116 Purple Heart Recipient Free State Park Access (Liston (D)) [Holtorf (R), Ortiz (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible each year

Goal:

  • Allow all Colorado residents who have received a Purple Heart free entrance to all state parks and recreation areas

Description:

This would be accomplished either with the existing purple heart license plate or by some method which the state needs to determine involving receiving a free transferrable parks pass by demonstrating proper documentation. Disabled veterans already enjoy this benefit (in a similar manner), as do active duty members of the national guard.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The least we can do for those who have literally bled to defend our nation is to provide them free year-round access to our beautiful state parks. We can never really repay these heroes, but this is a nice, small gesture that we can easily do

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • 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.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1116

HB21-1123 CAPS Checks For Substantiated Mistreatment Of Adult (Fields (D), Smallwood (R)) [Michaelson Jenet (D), Larson (R)]

From the Legislative Audit Committee

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal:

  • Require courts to request a check of Colorado Adult Protective Services (CAPS) to determine if someone petitioning to be a conservator or guardian of an adult has had any substantiated cases of mistreatment of an at-risk adult
  • Requires the state department of human services (DHS) to notify the department of regulatory agencies (DORA) anytime it makes a substantiated finding of mistreatment by an individual DORA licenses or regulates. DHS is to create rules around this process and DORA must keep it confidential and only use it for the purposes of conducting an investigation. DHS must also share with DORA the outcome of any appeals

Description:

Courts must start making these requests in 2022. They can pass the filing fee for the request onto the petitioner (it is $9 at the moment). DHS had seven calendar days to return results which must include the date of the finding(s), type and severity of mistreatment, and the county that investigated it. No information that was expunged in an appeal will be provided. Petitioners knowingly providing false information to the court for a CAPS check is a class 1 misdemeanor.

DHS has 10 calendar days to notify DORA of any substantiated findings of mistreatment. The information must include: license number of the individual, date of the finding, name and location of the at-risk adult, type and severity of the mistreatment, location where the mistreatment occurred, and the county that investigated. Any information submitted as evidence during a proceeding must de-identify the at-risk adult. Bill also requires anyone who is substantiated by DHS of mistreating an at-risk adult must provide all professional license, registration, or certificate numbers to DHS.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This arose out of an audit of the CAPS program, which uncovered some holes in cross-agency and cross-branch reporting—we don’t want guardians or conservators who have mistreated at-risk adults, they are asking to be put in charge of at-risk adult’s lives. We also want regulators to know about license holders mistreating adults because it might be extremely important to their license. And regulators need enough information to do their own investigation

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1123

SB21-015 Veterans Service Organization Stipend For Funeral Services (Cooke (R), Garcia (D))

Appropriation: $20,000
Fiscal Impact: Negligible in future years

Goal:

  • Pay local veterans service organizations up to $75 stipend for performing military services for an honorably discharged veteran.

Description:

Requires the state to pay local veterans service organizations up to $75 for performing a basic military funeral honors ceremony or other funeral related services and personnel for an honorably discharged veteran. $75 is the amount that must be paid for the first such service performed in a single day, the state has discretion on how much less than $75 should be paid for subsequent services at the same location. State is to take actual expenses into account. If the organization uses a student to play taps, it can pay the student all or some of the money.

Service organization must request the money. State must setup a process for doing so by January 15, 2022. Requests must be made within 15 days of the funeral, provide the name of the veteran and the services performed. For second and subsequent same-day requests, organization must submit actual expenses, including mileage and transportation costs and meals.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • These organizations provide valuable services for free to honor our veterans as we pay our last respects. Anyone who has attended a military funeral can attest to the power of these ceremonies. This is the least we can do to assist these organizations.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-015

SB21-024 Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day (Jaquez Lewis (D)) [Sullivan (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Declare March 30th “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” and directs appropriate observances may be held by the public and all public schools in the state in tribute to Vietnam veterans

Description: Nothing further

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The Vietnam War was incredibly divisive, but unfortunately in a way that rebounded onto the troops themselves as they returned home not to the grateful thanks we offer now, even when we disagree entirely with the war itself, but to vitriol and outright hostility in some cases
  • This war saw more than 2.7 million American serve in active duty, with more than 58,000 losing their lives and more than 300,000 wounded. It is entirely appropriate for us to set aside a day, the day that the last troops left Vietnam in 1973, for remembrance of those who served. The war was not their fault and in fact remembering their sacrifices will make it more likely that we also remember the numerous mistakes we made as a country in this time period—mistakes we will hopefully avoid in the future

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-024

SB21-075 Supported Decision-making Agreement (Gardner (R)) [Tipper (D), Young (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Create supported decision-making agreements for adults with disabilities to help them make their own life decisions with the help of a trusted adult

Description:

Creates a framework for adults with disabilities to enter into supported decision-making agreements with another adult who can then assist with making certain life decisions. The exact scope of decisions must be in the agreement, but can include any life decisions, including health, safety, and finances. The supporting adult is directed to help the adult with a disability understand the issues and choices, answer questions, provide explanations where necessary, facilitate getting whatever information the adult with a disability might need (such as access to records), and communicate decisions to others when necessary (and only with consent). The agreement cannot be used as evidence of incapacity. The agreement can be terminated at any time with no notice required. It is automatically terminated if adult protective services finds the adult with a disability is being mistreated or if the assisting adult is substantiated to have mistreated any at-risk individual, convicted of a crime against an at-risk individual, or convicted of a financial crime.

Additional Information:

Agreements must be signed voluntarily, with no coercion, in the presence of two or more adult witnesses or a notary. The agreement must contain the following:

  • Name of the adult with a disability
  • Name and contact information of the assisting adult
  • List of decisions the assisting adult may offer advice with and a description of the assisting adults duties, including at a minimum that they must provide unbiased advice in the best interest of the adult with a disability, they respect any decision the adult with a disability makes and not try to coerce any decisions, and provide the most up-to-date and relevant information to help make decisions
  • Notice that anyone relying on this document must report any suspected mistreatment to the state

The assistor must treat any protected or confidential information, like health records, as privileged and confidential.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This provides a good legal middle-ground between leaving adults with disabilities to fend for themselves and full guardianship—many adults with a disability can make decisions for themselves, they just need a little help sometimes

In Further Detail: We need to have some middle legal ground between leaving adults with disabilities to fend for themselves and full guardianship. The presumption should be that an adult with a disability can make decisions for themselves, and if that is ineffective, that they can do it with some help. This allows us to not just jump straight to guardianship, but encourage adults with disabilities to be masters of their own lives by providing structured support that is clear and legally based. This will help prevent these adults from being taken advantage of, but also help them learn decision-making skills. We are deliberately keeping this below the court level: courts are for adults who cannot make decisions on their own. They also bring in added costs and potentially legal fees. Of course we must be vigilant for abuse and the bill takes care to note that any third party given this document must report any suspected abuse.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Courts should be involved in these sorts of arrangements, as they are with guardianships, in order to protect the adult with a disability

In Further Detail: By not involving the court at all, we are sadly inviting potential abuse here. It is all well and good to say that coercion and manipulation are not allowed, but it is more difficult for an adult with a disability to distinguish between helpful advice and outright manipulation. Since no court must approve these agreements, all we are left with is the good-will and intentions of two witnesses and/or a notary who is not trained in these matters and who does not know any of the parties at all. The agreement doesn’t even have to be registered with the state in any manner, so it is impossible for the state to even know they exist.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-075

SB21-104 Sunset Special Education Fiscal Advisory Committee (Zenzinger (D))

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Continue the Special Education Fiscal Advisory Committee indefinitely by removing its sunset review date. It was scheduled to repeal in September

Description:

This committee is required to evaluate annual applications and distribute funds relating to the state’s high-cost reimbursement grant fund for special education.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The Department of Regulatory Agencies’ sunset review report recommended continuing this committee
  • Special education costs continue to rise and there appears to be no point in the future where this committee will not be needed. If the grant program itself is repealed, that would almost certainly trigger the people writing that repeal bill to look at if the committee needs to continue, so further sunset review is not necessary and wastes the state’s resources

In Further Detail: From the sunset review report: “SEFAC serves an important function through the evaluation of high-cost grant applications and the awarding of funds to administrative units. Additionally, the annual reporting and recommendations provided to the education committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate are important tools for understanding the needs and trends related to high-cost special education funding across Colorado.” The report also noted that special education costs continue to rise in the state, so it hard to conceive of a point in the future where the committee won’t be needed. In addition, it is tied to an on-going grant program that cannot function without it. So doing sunset reviews on this committee are a waste of state resources. If for some reason that grant program was repealed, whoever wrote the repeal bill would certainly examine this attached committee too.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-104