Gun Safety – two gun safety bills I sponsored all passed and were signed by the Governor: HB 1229 establishes universal background checks; SB 197 – takes guns away from domestic violence offenders. I also sponsored HB 1306 which would have established a taskforce to examine the issue of mental health and access to firearms. Despite a lot of support and passage in the House, this bill died in the Senate Committee
Health Care – I sponsored several bills relating to health care. All passed and were signed into law. SB 8 eliminates the three month waiting period for a child to begin coverage under the Childrens’ Health Care Plan Plus. HB 1266 is a long, detailed bill that aligns our state statutes with the federal Affordable Care Act which will be fully effective Jan. 1, 2014. This bill was a great collaborative process with many stakeholders and enjoyed wide bipartisan support. HB 1115 phases out the Cover Colorado high risk insurance pool which will no longer be needed with the advent of the health insurance exchange. HB 1245 provides funding mechanisms for the Health Benefit Exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, once the federal money runs out in 2015. HB 1290 will help support the Health Insurance Exchange by putting some limits on the ability of businesses to use stop loss insurance. SB 39continues the licensing and regulation of audiologists which was due to sunset this year.
Spousal Maintenance – HB 1058 establishes guidelines for judges to use when entering orders for permanent maintenance (alimony) in domestic relations cases. This will increase consistency and predictability for those going through this difficult time in their lives. This bill passed and has been signed into law.
Domestic Violence – A coalition of multiple stakeholders met for 18 months and recommended several changes to the way the law currently reads regarding parental rights and protective order proceedings. The bill, HB 1259, will make sure that the courts put the safety of the children and any former domestic violence victims first when considering parenting responsibilities and visitation. This bill was just signed into law after passing both Houses.
Youth Development Plan – HB 1239 requires the development of a statewide youth development plan the Tony Grampsas Board for youth between the ages of 9-21. The plan will identify duplicative services and gaps in service for this age group. I am President of this Board so I look forward to working on this issue as well. The bill has been or will be signed soon.
Foreclosure – HB 1249 was an important bill to provide consumers with more rights when facing foreclosure proceedings. It would have allowed the borrower to challenge whether the party that was bringing the foreclosure was the proper party, It would also have prohibited “dual tracking” which occurs when a person is making payments on a loan modification program and the lender forecloses on the house anyway. The bill also required a lender to establish a single point of contact when a borrower seeks a loan modification. It was a good bill for consumers, but unfortunately, it was defeated in the House Business Affairs Committee.
Oral Health – This bill, SB 261 , allows funding to help communities provide fluoride in their drinking water to help protect the oral health of their residents. It also allows funding for sealants to be put on the teeth of low income children in school settings. This bill is contingent on finding funding, but it passed and should be signed by the governor.
Authority of Secret Service– SB 13 passed and has been signed by the governor. It allows Secret Service agents to assist local law enforcement officers in financial fraud cases.
Medical Marijuana enforcement – HB 1238 clarifies some of the procedures surrounding the state issuance of a medical marijuana dispensary license and allows the state to collect the state licensing fee at an earlier stage of the proceedings.
Civil Unions – SB 011 allows all loving couples to enter into civil unions, providing important benefits and responsibilities similar to married couples.
Education Reform – SB 213 redesigns Colorado’s school finance formula to increase the fairness of school funding throughout the state subject to future revenues. The budget this year increases funding for K-12 by $127 million, including funding for 3200 new preschool slots, and additional money for special education and gifted and talented students.
Election Reform – HB 1303 simplifies and standardizes the voting process by eliminating the “inactive” status and providing for mail ballots for all voters. It allows same day voter registration and will save counties approximately $9.5 million per year.
Medicaid Expansion – SB 200 will provide health care to more individuals by expanding access to Medicaid. This will also cut state spending on uncompensated care. Medicaid coverage will expand from 100 to 133 percent of the federal poverty income level, which is $31,332 for a family of four and $15,282 for an individual. The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) estimates that the expansion will allow more than 160,000 Coloradans to gain access to health coverage. Another bill provides funding for a dental benefit for those on Medicaid.
Colorado ASSET – SB 033 allows graduates of Colorado high schools (at least 3 years in attendance) to pay in-state tuition rates attend a Colorado higher education institution, regardless of immigration status. This will allow Colorado to take advantage of their talents and skills in a productive way.
Renewable Energy – SB 252 requires the cooperative electric associations to obtain 20% of their energy resources from renewable energy by 2020. It also expands the list of eligible energy resources to include innovative new companies and technologies. IT includes methane gas collected at wells and reused as a renewable energy source
Marijuana Regulation – HB 1317 and SB 283 establish a regulatory framework for the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana as authorized in Amendment 64. HB 1318 refers to the citizens a ballot proposal to provide for a 15% excise tax and up to 10% sales tax on the sale of marijuana.
Mental Health System Reforms – SB 266 provides for a more robust crisis intervention system for those experiencing serious mental health issues and provides funding for this purpose. HB 1296 creates a task force to explore combining the various forms of involuntary holds (mental health and alcohol, substance abuse) and adopting clearer definitions for these holds.
Child Welfare System Reforms – HB 1271 establishes a statewide child abuse reporting hotline. SB 255 directs local public health agencies to create child fatality prevention teams which will coordinate with the state agencies to review child deaths, near deaths, and egregious abuse of children to help prevent these tragedies in the future. SB 220 and SB 012 add emergency medical providers and youth sports organization personnel to the list of those required to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
Rights of Workers – HB 1136 expands the rights of workers who have been discriminated against to bring a lawsuit and recover certain damages from their employers. SB 25 increases the rights of firefighters to form collective bargaining groups to negotiate with their employers. HB 1046 prohibits employers from requiring or requesting access to personal accounts such as Facebook.
Tax Reform – SB 1 expands the reach of the Earned Income Tax Credit to help those working poor who are at or near the poverty level. It only goes into effect if the state revenue reaches a certain point. HB 1295 allows the state to collect state and local sales tax for Internet sales should the U.S. Congress pass a law allowing the collection of sales tax from those who sell on the internet. This will help level the playing field for small businesses.
Wildfire Safety – HB 1012 continues a tax deduction for landowners who perform wildfire mitigation measures; SB 273 incentivizes the beneficial use of forest biomass; SB 269 creates a new grant program for wildfire risk reduction; SB 270 authorizes the governor to transfer funds to the Wildfire Emergency Response Fund in the case of imminent disaster; HB 1225 will provide better protection for homeowners from fire damage through their insurance coverage.
Greywater – HB 1044 directs the Water Quality Control Commission to authorize and create standards for the use of grey water, the slightly used wastewater from bathtubs, showers and sinks.
Budget – For the first time in several years, our revenue picture is brighter. We passed a balanced budget that increases K-12 funding by $127.1 million and adds $36 million to the higher education budget. The senior property tax exemption will continue. We also were able to increase the general fund reserve to 5%.
Jobs – Several bills were passed to help create jobs and provide vocational training. HB 1193 promotes the growth of advanced manufacturing industries by encouraging public-private partnerships, increasing access to early – stage capital, and creating a strong infrastructure to bring innovative ideas out of the laboratory and into the marketplace. HB 1002 provides additional funding for Small Business Development Centers. HB 1003 creates an economic gardening project for companies that are in their second stage of development. HB 1004 matches skills training programs with available jobs and provides funding for on-the-job training. HB 1005 directs the community college system to create pilot programs of career and technical education certificate courses. HB 1292 requires state agencies to weigh “best value” when awarding contracts, including the use of Colorado workers and products. HB 1287 extends the job growth incentive tax credit. HB 1301 funds the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers to help businesses navigate the procurement process. Another bill limits the enterprise zone credit yp $750,000 a year for a single company.
Victim Protections – HB 1241 provides funding so victims of crimes can obtain information on the custody status of inmates. HB 1154 gives prosecutors a new law to prosecute those who cause the loss of a woman’s pregnancy through intentional or reckless criminal behavior. HB 1163 creates a fund to ensure that victims of sexual assault don’t have to pay for medical treatment costs associated with an attack. SB 111 requires mandatory reporting of suspected abuse of at-risk elders.
Oil and Gas -HB 1278 requires oil and gas operators to report spills to the Oil and Gas Commission and the local municipality or county within 24 hours.
Home Ownership – HB 1017 requires that the terms of an approved loan modification agreement be honored when a new servicer takes over the loan. Several bills also were passed that increase the rights of homeowners who belong to Homeowner Associations.
Health Care – SB 008 eliminates the waiting period for children who become eligible for the Children’s Basic Health Plan (CHP+) after having been on a private insurance policy. HB 1115 phases out Cover Colorado, Colorado’s current high risk insurance pool because health insurance carriers will no longer be able to deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition. HB 1245 provides for continued funding for the Health Benefit Exchange after the federal money is no longer available in 2015. The Exchange will be operational by October 1, 2014 and will be called “Connect for Health Colorado”.
Criminal Law – SB 250 is a drug sentencing reform bill recommended by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. HB 1082 provides an avenue for juveniles to have their records expunged based on the severity of the crime and other factors.
Ft. Lyon Repurposing – A bill was ultimately passed that included the repurposing of the Ft. Lyon Correctional facility into a facility for housing homeless persons in order to provide housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and job training for homeless folks from across the state. Preference will be given to homeless veterans. The bill was initially defeated in the Senate but was then revived as an attachment to a different bill.