2017 Legislative Session

This session, the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) faced a very tight 2017-18 budget situation.  As a member of the six-person committee, I started my work in November with much concern.  The Governor’s budget proposal, submitted to the JBC just before the 2016 election, included a number of cuts designed to address a projected $500 million budget shortfall.  As the session progressed, the shortfall grew to $700 million. Fortunately, through lots of bipartisan work between the JBC members and between House and Senate leadership, the legislature passed a budget that avoided the major cuts originally proposed.  In addition, SB17-267, the Rural Sustainability Act, passed to avoid significant cuts to rural hospitals that were originally part of the Long Bill package, and provide additional funding for rural schools and transportation.

Key accomplishments this year’s budget (The Long Appropriations Bill, SB17-254):

  • Balanced a $28.3 billion budget
  • Kept the negative factor (now called the Budget Stabilization Factor) flat
  • Added $79 million to State Education Fund as a result of Gallagher adjustments
  • Increased funding for school health professionals by $9.5 million.
  • Improved K-12 per-student funding, on average, by $242 for next year
  • Directed $15.3 million from marijuana tax dollars to develop more affordable housing
  • Increased state patrol salaries along with modest increases for other state employees
  • Increased funding for the Senior Citizen and Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption
  • Restored funding for Colorado Healthy Kids Survey
  • Increased funding for the third consecutive year for county child welfare workers, this year by $4 million.

 The Long Appropriations Bill passed May 3rd and signed into law by the Governor on May 26th.

(Speaking about the budget at the signing of the Long Bill)

In addition to the Long Appropriations Bill (SB17-254) described above, my 2017 legislative package consisted of 19 bills, 14 of which passed both the House and the Senate and have been signed or are about to be signed by the Governor:

HB17-1045 Extend Home Care Allowance Grant Program

This bill extends the repeal date of the Home Care Allowance Grant Program until all people served by the program have a suitable substitute.  This program helps provide funds for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to support their ability to live independently or with necessary supports in their own homes.
Passed and sent to the Governor

 HB17-1080 Requirements Durable Medical Equipment Suppliers

This bill strengthens the accountability measures in place designed to help protect patients that utilize medical equipment. The bill mandates providers of durable medical equipment prove to the state that their physical offices are staffed and are authentic places of business. This bill is designed to reduce fraudulent practices identified in the past.
Lost in the Senate

HB17-1087 Office of Public Guardianship Pilot Program

This legislation establishes a pilot program for three offices of public guardianship to explore the feasibility of providing people without the ability to make informed decisions with access to reliable and qualified public guardians. The office will serve as a temporary program housed within the Judicial Branch and serve as a proof of concept model to provide future legislators with the data they need for making decisions about whether to develop a statewide Office of Public Guardianship and, if so, how the Office will function.
Passed and sent to the Governor

HB17-1280 Disability Trust 21st Century Act Language

The bill allows individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to create their own disability trust fund.  This aligns state statutes with federal law.
Passed and sent to the Governor

HB17-1292 Child Welfare Provider Rates

This Joint Budget Committee (JBC) bill sets forth guidelines for the establishment of provider rates for licensed out-of-home residential treatment providers of services for children in the child welfare system. The problem of low provider rates has caused 21 facilities to close in the past 10 years, five of those closures occurred in 2016. HB 1292 will allow for better data collection on rates to help inform stakeholders as they develop new rate-setting methodologies.
Passed and sent to the Governor

HB17 -1336 Additional Protections for Forced Pooling Orders

Forced pooling is a method used in the oil and gas industry to compel non-consenting mineral rights owners to participate in the extraction of the minerals they own.  The bill would add due process protections for mineral owners through improved notification standards and more transparency.
Lost in the Senate

HB17-1343 Conflict Free Case Management

This JBC bill implements conflict-free case management for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  These individuals are eligible for home and community-based services under the Medicaid program. The issue of conflict of interest in delivery of services has been an identified problem for those in the disabilities community since the late 1970’s.
Passed and sent to the Governor

HB17-1353 Implement Medicaid Delivery and Payment Initiatives

This JBC bill provides a basic policy framework for implementing Medicaid delivery innovations and payment reform initiatives. This bill would create a higher value in the Medicaid program leading to better health outcomes for Medicaid clients by continuing the implementation of the Accountable Care Collaborative (ACC) and authorizing performance-based provider payments.
Passed and sent to the Governor

HB17-1355 County Block Grant Money to Child Care Quality Programs

This bill allows the use of reserve money from the county block grant for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for childcare quality improvement activities.
Passed and sent to the Governor

HB17-1359 CDE Colorado Department of Education Positions Exempt from State Personnel System

This bill addresses an issue raised by JBC staff concerning positions in the Department of Education that are exempt from the state personnel system. The bill authorizes the board to delegate the authority to make the determination of which positions in the department of education board shall be exempt from the state personnel system.
Passed and sent to the Governor

SB17-024 Clarify Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Hearsay Exemption

This bill provides increased protections for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities under the law, more specifically when giving testimony in front of jurors and the court.
Signed into Law

SB17-070 Certify Authorizers of Multi-district Online Schools

This bill seeks to improve the quality of multi-district online instruction within the public elementary and secondary education system by certifying authorizers (school districts) to hold them more accountable for student performance.
Lost in the Senate

SB17-133 Insurance Commissioner Investigation of Provider Complaints

The bill concerns complaints by health care providers to the commissioner of insurance regarding the improper handling of benefit claims by health insurance carriers.  It requires additional reporting by the commissioner to the general assembly.
Lost in the Senate

SB17-196 DOL, Department of Law Information Technology Security

This JBC bill improves the department of law’s information technology security.
Signed into Law

SB17-197 CDE, Department of Education Legal Services

This JBC bill would provide necessary legal services that the Department of Education will need as it works with school districts on accountability issues.
Signed into Law

SB17-261 2013 Flood Recovery Account and Transfer

This JBC bill creates a 2013 flood recovery account in the disaster emergency fund. It is estimated that $12.5 million per year over the next five years will be appropriated annually by the legislature to this account.  These funds will help small municipalities that experienced damage from the 2013 floods meet their required federal match.
Signed into Law

SB17-264 Funding for Behavioral Mental Health Disorder Services

This JBC bill clarifies that the authorized purposes for which the marijuana tax cash fund may be used include behavioral services.  The bill also repeals the offender mental health services fund, which no longer has a revenue source, and directs the remaining money in the fund to be transferred to the general fund.
Passed and sent to the Governor

SB17-288 Decouple of General Assembly Compensation from Judges Compensation

This bill would separate salaries from the General Assembly and salaries of county court judges.  Legislative salaries were tied to the salaries of Type B county court judges through legislative action in 2015.  The Judicial Branch reported to JBC that a significant need exists to increase judicial salaries.  The coupling of those salaries to legislative salaries has prevented the ability the legislature to provide judicial salary increases.
Lost in the House

SB17-295 Revise Medicaid Fraud Reporting

Medicaid provider fraud is reported by the Attorney General’s office.  Medicaid client fraud is investigated at the county level, which is then submitted through reports to the Department of Human Services.  This JBC bill combines agency reports concerning Medicaid fraud into a single report to the JBC and the health committees in each chamber.
Passed and sent to the Governor