It’s a bit difficult to play the political game in Colorado when Pac Man is already eating the cards. The States can’t play if DC dramatically changes the rules. As Senator Everett Dirksen reportedly said, “a billion here, a billion there, sooner or later, it adds up to real money.”

Contrary to the nation, Colorado’s checkbook has to balance out each year; so, how does one plan for this new American reality show? How does one debate the value of a proposed annual $300M transportation infrastructure bill when $14B of federal threat looms on the budget horizon?

This brings an entirely new and real meaning to the business term, Disaster Plan. Every company, agency, almost all entities have disaster plans: the economy goes south, a damaging storm, something catastrophic. A ‘just in case’ document. Governor Hickenlooper has already asked his team to come up with potential scenarios; but, there’s a huge difference between millions and billions.

One week from today, the budget process begins with zero visibility in the national forecast, which makes an indoor political game nigh impossible for any state. Alerts have been posted across the country to be on the lookout for expensive solutions in search of a host of problems rather than the other way around. So, it’s not just burning the midnight oil to develop meaningful disaster plans; it’s also preparing for a reality show doomed to a short run.

And, time might just be the ticket. While many are swooning at the proposed re-shaping of our institutions, the political wind must be mighty to keep those proposals afloat for the long term. Some will get the wind knocked out of them, some will gain in emotional intensity. But, time settles all things.
Given the nature of uncertainty, time itself might become the State’s best weapon. Summer session anyone?

New Bills we are watching

PACE Ombudsman Program Add Local Ombudsmen. There is urgent need to get more boots on the ground, especially for our rural citizens. Ombudsmen are our eyes and ears for those who have no voice. Health, Insurance & Environment, Mar 30th, 1:30p, Room 0107

Construction Defect bill. Require majority approval by homeowners to initiate a legal action against a builder rather than leaving that decision to a homeowner association board. Nothing Scheduled

Expand ‘Notice to Quit’ ‘Notice of Rent Increase’ from 7 days to 21 days. Allowing more time for the transition prevents a host of additional problems down the road. Nothing scheduled

Bills we are watching

*Strongly Support      **Support      ***Oppose      ****Strongly Oppose

Reverse Mortgage Repayment when Home Uninhabitable. Concerning the suspension of a borrower’s obligation to repay a reverse mortgage when a force majeure renders the subject property uninhabitable as a principal residence. Local Government Committee, Apr 12th, 1:30p, Room 0107

Extend Home Care Allowance Grant Program. Appropriations, nothing scheduled.

Update National Standards Citations Accessible Housing. Signed by the Governor

Requirement Durable Medical Equipment Suppliers. Individuals in the state, closer to other state borders, can only find suppliers across the border. This is primarily an access bill. Current law says the supplier must be from Colorado. Health, Insurance & Environment, Mar 28th, Upon Adjournment, 0107

Office of Public Guardianship Pilot Prevention Program. The bill creates the office of public guardianship (office) within the judicial department to provide legal guardianship services to indigent and incapacitated adults. Judiciary Committee, Refer Amended to Appropriations

Telehealth Coverage under Health Benefit Plans. Clarification of services that should be covered whether via telehealth or in person. Signed by the Governor

Continue Low-income Household Energy Assistance. This bill continues energy-related assistance to low-income households. In Senate, Ag, Natural Resources & Energy, Mar 23rd, 1:30p, Room 357

Patient Safety Act. The bill requires applicants for initial licensure or certification, as well as current licensees and certificate holders, to submit to a fingerprint-based criminal history record check. Includes: Podiatrists, Dentists and dental hygienists, Medical doctors, physician assistants, and anesthesiologists; Nurses, Certified nurse aides, Optometrists and Veterinarians. Finance, Refer Unamended to Appropriations

Medicaid Appeal Review Legal Notice Requirements. The bill requires the administrative law judge hearing Medicaid appeals to review the legal sufficiency of the notice of action from which the recipient is appealing at the commencement of the appeal hearing if the notice of action concerns the termination or reduction of an existing benefit. If the notice is legally insufficient, the judge shall advise the appellant that he or she may waive the defense of insufficient notice and proceed to a hearing on the merits or may ask the judge to decide the appeal based on the judge’s finding of insufficiency. The judge shall advise the appellant that a legally sufficient notice may be issued in the future and that the state may recoup benefits from the appellant. Senate Health and Human Services, Mar 22nd, Upon Adjournment, SCR 354

Medicaid Provider Compliance Billing Safety Rules. The bill subjects a provider of Medicaid services to a civil monetary penalty if the provider improperly bills or seeks collection from a Medicaid recipient or the estate of a Medicaid recipient. Public Health Care & Human Services, Nothing Scheduled

Audits of Medicaid Client Correspondence. The bill directs the office of the state auditor (OSA) to conduct or cause to be conducted an audit of client communications, including letters and notices, sent to clients or potential clients in Medicaid programs. The audits will be conducted in 2020 and 2023 and thereafter at the discretion of the state auditor. Senate, passed third reading, no amendments, off to the Governor

Remedies for Forcible Entry and Detainer. The bill adds to the current descriptions of forcible detainer the act of a person preventing an owner from access to or possession of property by locking or changing the lock on the property. The bill creates a procedure for the plaintiff to seek a temporary, mandatory injunction giving the plaintiff possession of the property if a complaint for forcible entry or detainer is filed. The procedure requires the plaintiff to store any personal property found on the property but allows the plaintiff to recover the costs of the storage. The bill establishes as new crimes related to forcible entry and detainer the crimes of unlawful occupancy and unlawful reentry. Judiciary + Appropriations, nothing scheduled

Domestic Violence Awareness Barbers Cosmetologists. A training bill to improve awareness. General Orders, Second Reading, Mar 27th

PERA Public Employees’ Retirement Association Retirees Employed By Rural School Districts. Concerning an extension of the employment after retirement limitations for retirees of the public employees’ retirement association employed by a rural school district after retirement. Refer Unamended to Appropriations

Change Excess State Revenues Cap Growth Factor. Change formula used under TABOR to set spending cap for budget every year. The original formula, a combination of CPI, inflation, %, plus percentage growth in population. This bill says TABOR allows voters to make changes, but a better formula might be growth in personal income, a more effective indicator of economic growth. This bill asks voters to change TABOR to a five year rolling average of income growth as the formula for the cap. Veterans & Military Affairs, Mar 20th, 1:30pm SCR 357

Harassment Sexual Orientation or Disability. The bill adds physical or mental disability and sexual orientation to the categories described in the harassment statute to make the statute consistent with Colorado’s law concerning bias-motivated crimes. House, Third Reading Passed, no Amendments

Demographic Notes for Certain Legislative Bills. The bill requires the staff of the legislative council to prepare demographic notes on legislative bills in each regular session of the general assembly. The speaker of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, the president of the senate, and the minority leader of the senate are authorized to request 5 demographic notes each, or more at the discretion of the director of research of the legislative council. Finance, Refer Unamended to Appropriations

Create Family Caregiver Support Fund Tax check-off. Caregiving costs in Colorado and across the nation are through the roof with no end in sight. Finance, Mar 20th, 1:30p, Room LSB-A

New Transportation Infrastructure Funding Revenue. This bill requires a ballot question to be submitted to voters in November 2017. The voters will be asked to approve a temporary sales and use tax rate increase with the money going solely to fund transportation infrastructure issues. Transportation & Energy, Mar 22nd, 1:30p, Room 0112

Task Force Recommendations for Heart Attack Care. A task force was created out of SB13-225 to improve quality of care to STEM1 heart attack patients. This bill implements or modifies the recommendations of that panel. Health, Insurance & Environment, Mar 21st, Upon Adjournment, Room 0107

Protect Seniors from Financial Abuse. If licensed securities professionals (qualified individuals), while acting within the scope of their employment, reasonably suspect that an elderly or at-risk person is the subject of financial exploitation, the bill requires the broker-dealer or investment adviser to report to the commissioner of securities (commissioner). Public Health Care & Human Services, Mar 28th, 1:30p, Room 0107

Repeal Colorado Health Benefit Exchange. Repeals the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2010 and gives that entity one year to ‘wind up its affairs’ by January 1st, 2018. Finance Committee, Refer Unamended to Appropriations.

Access to Providers for Medicaid Recipients. Concerning access by Medicaid recipients to non-enrolled medical providers. Veterans & Military Affairs, April 13th, Upon Adjournment, Room LSB-A

Study Transportation Access for People with Disabilities. How can advanced technologies improve and increase access for people with disabilities? This would be a pilot project throughout the year. Senate Considered House Amendments-Result was to Concur-Repass. Signed by House Speaker, off to the Governor

Transportation Network Company Drivers Medical Certificate Not Required. The bill eliminates the requirement for a medical certificate for persons who drive for transportation network companies. Transportation & Energy, Apr 12th, 1:30p, Room 0112

Construction Defect Claim Allocation of Defense Costs. Concerning a requirement for equitable allocation of the costs of defending a construction defect claim. This is just one bill expected on the construction defects issue. Business, Labor & Technology Committee, Refer Amended to Appropriations

Colorado Healthcare Affordability & Sustainability Enterprise. This is the Hospital Provider Fee bill. Concerning the creation of an enterprise that is exempt from the requirements of section 20 of article X of the state constitution and related statutory provisions to administer a fee-based healthcare affordability and sustainability program for hospitals. Finance Committee, Mar 21st, 2:00p, Room 271

Transparency in Direct Pay Health Care Prices. Concerning a requirement that health care providers disclose the charges they impose for common health care services when payment is made directly rather than by a third party. Health & Human Services Committee, Mar 21st, General Orders, Second Reading

Income Tax Deduction for Military Retirement Benefits. Concerning a state income tax deduction for military retirement benefits. Finance Committee. Refer Unamended to Appropriations

Allow Medicaid Home Health Services. Removes restriction that services be provided in the home alone. Health & Human Services Committee, Refer Unamended to Appropriations

Consumer Right to Know Electric Utility Charges. Concerning consumers’ right to know their electric utility charges by requiring investor-owned electric utilities to provide their customers with a comprehensive breakdown of cost on their monthly bills. Transportation & Energy, Apr 12th, 1:30p, Room 0112

Improve Medicaid Client Correspondence. Ensure due process is being followed. Health & Human Services, Refer Amended to Appropriations

Insurance Commissioner Investigation of Provider Complaints. Requires the commissioner to investigate provider complaints and notify the provider of the results of the investigation. Business Labor & Technology, Nothing scheduled

Access to Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Concerning access to the electronic prescription drug monitoring program. General Orders, Second Reading of Bills, Mar 21st

Statutory Definition of Construction Defect. Concerning the statutory definition of a construction defect for purposes of the Construction Defect Action Reform Act. Business, Labor & Technology, Nothing scheduled

Homeowners’ Association Construction Defect Lawsuit Approval Timelines. The bill states that when the governing documents of a common interest community require mediation or arbitration of a construction defect claim and the requirement is later amended or removed, mediation
or arbitration is still required for a construction defect claim. Veterans & Military Affairs, Apr 19th, 1:30p, Room LSB-A

Prohibit Carrier from Requiring Alternative Drug. Prohibits a carrier from requiring a covered person to undergo step therapy. Business, Labor & Technology, Mar 20th, General Orders, Second Reading of Bills

Out of Network Providers Payments Patient Notice. The bill outlines the method for a health insurer to use in determining the amount it must pay an out-of-network provider that rendered covered services to a covered person at an in-network facility and requires the health insurer to pay the out-of-network provider directly. The bill also establishes an independent dispute resolution process by which an out-of-network provider may obtain review of a payment from a health insurer. Business, Labor & Technology, Mar 21st, Upon Adjournment, SCR 354

Strengthen Colorado Behavioral Health Crisis System. The bill clarifies the intent of the general assembly for establishing a coordinated behavioral health crisis response system (crisis system). Judiciary. Mar 22nd 1:30p, SCR 352

Automated Driving Motor Vehicles. The bill declares that the regulation of automated driving systems is a matter of statewide concern, and, therefore, local authorities are prohibited from regulating these systems. The use of automated driving systems is authorized if the system is capable of conforming to every state and federal law applying to driving. If not, a person testing a system is required to coordinate with the Colorado state patrol and the Colorado department of transportation. Mar 21st, General Orders, Second Reading of Bills

*Strongly Support      **Support      ***Oppose      ****Strongly Oppose

View Colorado Senior Lobby’s Current Bill Sheet – CLICK HERE
– Steve

Steve Grund serves as Policy Chair for the Colorado Aging Commission and as a legislative liaison for the Colorado Senior Lobby. The Senior Space, however, is a reflection of his views only.
Email Steve Grund