A Review of the 2013 Session
The 2013 session ended in a whirlwind of activity. We made significant progress towards the goals we set at the beginning of the year. Our goal was to encourage job creation and economic development to help Coloradans get back to work, and we passed a number of bills that will help them do so. These are bills that will help foster advanced industries in Colorado; bills to make it easier for unemployed Coloradans to find job training; and bills that will incentivize small businesses to grow and hire more employees.
In addition to the jobs bills that we passed, we have also made tremendous progress on a host of other issues, including the passage of the Future School Finance Act, the first major step forward on school finance that we have made in decades.
I’ve talked about some of these before, but I wanted to update you on my bills that are working through the process.
HB 1001 – Advanced Industries Acceleration Act
This is a bipartisan jobs bill that I am really excited about. This bill will provide grants for advanced manufacturing, aerospace, bioscience, electronics, energy and natural resources, infrastructure engineering, and information technology. This bill will support the creation of many high-skilled jobs in Colorado, both now and for the long term. The bill passed the House with significant bipartisan support, 48 to 16! 1001 was signed into law at UNC Wednesday, May 15th, and went into effect on August 7th.
SB 266 – Coordinated Behavioral Health Crisis Response
Many Coloradans are in need of behavioral health services and the economic downturn caused mental health services to be significantly cut. This bill seeks to create a comprehensive mental health crisis response system by requiring the Department of Human Services to work with a committee of interested stakeholders and focus their efforts on 5 key components of the system: 24 hour crisis hotline, walk in services, mobile services, residential and respite services and a public information campaign. This bill will help people who are in crisis situations get help as quickly as possible. SB 266 was signed by Governor Hickenlooper on May 16th.
HB 1011 – Remove Fee on Veteran’s Identifier on Drivers’ Licenses
This bill eliminates the $15 fee that veterans and active duty military members currently have to pay to add the military identifier on their driver’s licenses’. Last year, it failed on a party-line vote, but this year, the bill passed through the House on Feb. 11 and through the Senate on Mar. 21. HB 1011 was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper on April 4th.
HB 1068 – On-Site Inspection of Medicaid Providers
This bill will permit both Medicare and Medicaid officials to inspect its providers without advanced notice. This bill will allow greater transparency in the health care industry by ensuring accountability and accuracy. HB 1068 was signed into law by the Governor on April 8th.
HB 1091 – Alternative Air Quality Testing for Diesel Trucks
This bill will allow a maintenance-based program as an alternative to opacity, or smoke density, testing for diesel trucks. This adds flexibility for businesses because they can use either one. This bill will also involve stakeholders in the details of the Air Quality Control Commission’s rule-making process. Allowing this flexibility for businesses will save fleets time, money and productivity, while assuring emissions reductions from diesel fleets. Current statute requires opacity testing of all trucks, but this test is increasingly less effective for newer electronically-controlled heavy-duty diesels. HB 1091 had broad bipartisan support and was signed into law on April 4th.
HB 1237 – The Special Olympics Colorado Tax Checkoff
Special Olympics Colorado is a proud organization that helps developmentally disabled children and adults build confidence and social skills that help them successfully integrate into society and become productive citizens. This bill will recreate the Special Olympics Colorado voluntary contribution program, and will also place it into the queue for the tax check-off program. The bill also requires the department of revenue to notify an organization electronically when their voluntary contribution program is repealed one year ahead of time. This bill was signed into law by the Governor on April 19th.
HB 1240 – Concerning Penalties for Persistent Drunk Drivers
The goal of this bill is to ensure persistent drunk drivers are not getting back on the road without an ignition interlock device. It creates stricter definitions for a person to be a persistent drunk driver. The wait time for a persistent drunk driver to get back on the road with an ignition interlock device is currently too long, and more persistent drunk drivers are driving again without these devices. This bill will help them get on the road with the equipment they need and help keep our streets safe. HB 1240 was signed into law by the Governor on May 28th.
HB 1243 – Concerning Parenting Time
Currently, the courts do not have to provide a reason for restrictions, and this bill will require the courts to give parents a reason for denying time with their children. If a court moves to restrict parenting time based on a health or development concern, the court has a duty to state the specific reason for their decision to restrict parenting time. This bill would also allow parents to address the concerns of the court, and potentially solve the issues that the court has indicated. HB 1243 was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper on April 18th.
HB 1244 – Concerning Continuation of the Educational Success Task Force
This bill extends the educational success task force that is currently scheduled to expire. In addition to reviewing current strategies for increasing graduation rates and academic performance, the task force will also oversee recommendations for legislative solutions that will help students make better progress towards finding a job in the workforce when they leave school. HB 1244 passed its third reading in the House on April 9 and was referred to the Legislative Council on April 26, but because of limited financial resources, this task force was not selected for committee this year.
HB 1262 – Insurance False Claims Act
This bill sets up a definition for secondary agencies that insurance providers can report suspected arson fraud. These secondary agencies can then share the report amongst themselves and Attorney General’s office. This bill will allow reports of insurance fraud to be shared much more quickly and a lot more seamlessly with the authorities. HB 1262 was signed into law by the Governor on May 28th.
HJR 1023 – Concerning Redesigning Colorado’s Long Term Care and Support
This resolution finds that it is in our best interests as a state to redesign long-term services, and that we should put a number of guiding principles into place for how we as a legislature would do that. It is important that the work we do helps people, and this resolution reinforces that focus. The resolution was passed out of committee on April 23. I also worked on a bill to set up a committee to study this issue further over the summer and fall, but because of limited financial resources, this committee was not selected for funding this year.
HB 1322 – Concerning the Recovery of Flash Gas
This bill sets up a definition to treat natural gas that is recovered during oil and gas operations as lease gas. The idea is to limit the amount of flared gas by encouraging the use of technologies that recover the gas and funnel it back through the sales system. Good for our environment, good for mineral owners, and good for the state tax system–a Win-Win-Win. HB 1322 was introduced late in the session, but some concerns from various stakeholders surfaced as it came to committee for a hearing. So, I withdrew it so that I can refine the idea between now and the next session.
SB 81 – Concerning Vehicle Registration
This clarifying bill amends state statutes regarding vehicle registration cards and vehicle insurance, as well as repeals state statutes regarding special license plates. SB 81 was signed by the governor on April 8th.
SB 204 – Concerning the Colorado State Board of Chiropractic Examiners
This bill increases the number of members to the Colorado State Board of Chiropractic Examiners from five to seven. The two members who are being added are mandated that the board consist of one practitioner who has at least 5 years of experience and one member of the public at large. SB 204 was signed into law by the Governor on May 24th.
SB 205 – Revisions to the Colorado Medicaid False Claims Act
This bi-partisan bill amends sections of the Colorado Medicaid False Claims Act to bring them into compliance with federal law. These revisions will allow Colorado to retain a greater percentage of the money recovered from false Medicaid claims. This bill was introduced to the House on April 3, and was assigned to one of the committees that I sit on: Public Health Care & Human Services. The bill was signed into law by the Governor on May 24th.
SB 218 – Workforce Development for Key Industries in Colorado
This bill creates a workforce program that will provide funding for state colleges and universities that assist students who are seeking bachelor’s degrees, especially for those who are seeking degrees in key industries. The program will help undergraduate students pursue careers in areas such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace, bioscience, electronics and infrastructure. SB 218 didn’t make it out of the Appropriations committee due to lack of funding, but I look forward to working on this issue again next session.
SB 278 – Concerning the Definition of Drug-Endangered Child
This bill establishes a common definition for drug-endangered children for human services and law enforcement agencies. The definition would include children that are in harm’s way because of the use, distribution or manufacture of controlled substances as defined by federal law. This will allow law enforcement to better help children who are at risk. SB 278 was signed into law by the Governor on May 28th.