It’s the same drill every year. Start the session out slowly; get the easy bills done. Soon, the tough stuff stacks up with the pressure of the clock ticking towards an inability to drive the big decisions over the finish line. What can be done about this repeat performance of our legislative leaders?
Let’s meet the candidates at the beginning when life was fresh and full of promise. The family still loved them; and, the neighborhood was all excited, launching a campaign and standing up for common values. It felt so humbling. The commitment to the constituency felt wonderful. The timing was right. Let’s run for office.
Despite the blisters, they kept walking the district on nights and weekends. Despite the financial difficulties, they tapped their own bank accounts for that extra yard sign and a few hundred more brochures. It paid off. They won. And, on the day after Election Day, it was time to celebrate.
Hardly. The day after Election Day was the day they said farewell to the self they once knew. In the first three weeks, they undergo Capitol Boot Camp training; from parliamentary procedures, to how the Capitol works, how the process works, who the players are, how the pecking order and power structure work and just how little help they’ll get when the dam is released.
Holidays? They get one month after Election Day to get their five bills in front of Legal Services for writing during December. Prior to this, the only bills they’ve ever known are their credit card statements. The family is beginning to dislike this idea already, because they just missed Christmas. Soon, though, it will be Opening Day.
Over the next five months, they’ll put more time into this thankless job than most people put in during an entire year. They’ll have hundreds of new friends who will vanish when they leave office. These are the new buddies who flood their email box 24/7 on subjects in which they’re now supposed to be expert–jobs, education, transportation, healthcare, prisons. And, the expertise doesn’t stop there. They are also leaders on social issues like mental health, disabilities, the homeless and the elderly. And then, of course, they’ll know how much it all costs, how much it will cost and even where all of the money will come from. The family is not sure who they are anymore.
Here’s the best part. After all of that effort, after investing heart and soul into a new job that literally sucks the life out of you while paying minimum wage, the session nears its end and the belittling begins. For those lucky enough to escape the criticism, none are rewarded with a simple thanks. In just a few months, they’ve become ‘the government.’ ‘They’ are the reason the government isn’t working. Ouch. Anyone feel like running for office? Discuss it with your family.
Colorado citizens are big fans of term limits. Understandable. The last thing we need are professional politicians gaming the system. Still, we must stop assuming that the learning curve of running our state is a walk in the park. We throw our fresh talent into the fire with little preparation. And, we don’t even bother with the talent that comes out beautifully cooked every two-to-four year term. We let them vanish without so much as a formal de-brief.
As the session ends, we have to stop blaming this system for its lack of effectiveness. It’s our system. For many very talented people, the mechanics of Colorado government are complex enough; but, it’s the integration of the parts that requires the study and the patience. We will get more out of our Legislators when we invest more of ourselves in them. If we are dissatisfied with our legislative performers, instead of blaming them for not coming up with answers, perhaps we should start asking them how to improve the process.
New Bills we are watching
There are no new bills to watch this week.
Bills we are watching
*Strongly Support **Support Monitor ***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. State & Military Affairs, Apr 24th, 1:30p, SCR 357
Extend Home Care Allowance Grant Program. Consideration of Amendments to House, Apr 24th
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. State & Military Affairs, Apr 24th, 1:30p, SCR 357
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. House, Third Reading Passed, No Amendments
Telehealth Coverage under Health Benefit Plans. Clarification of services that should be covered whether via telehealth or in person. Signed by the Governor.
Direct Primary Health Care Services. Parameters under which a direct primary care agreement may be implemented. House Concurred with Senate Amendments – Signed by Senate President
Continue Low-income Household Energy Assistance. This bill continues energy-related assistance to low-income households. In Senate, Ag, Natural Resources & Energy, Refer Unamended to Appropriations
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. Signed by the Governor
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. Signed by 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, Apr 27th, 1:30p, Room 0112
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. Senate, Second Reading, Apr 24th
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. Senate 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. Senate Third Reading Passed, No Amendments
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. Senate, Finance, 2:00p, Apr 25th
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. Senate, Second Reading, Apr 24th
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). The financial adviser/planner is protected from civil action too. Consideration of Senate Amendments to House, Apr 24th
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. Refer Unamended to Appropriations
Construction Defect Actions Notice Vote Approval. Require majority approval by homeowners to initiate a legal action against a builder rather than leaving that decision to a homeowner association board. Third Reading, Final Passage, Apr 24th
Data System Check for Employees Serving At-risk Adults. This bill establishes a state level program within the department of human services for a check of the department’s Colorado adult protective services data systems. Appropriations, Apr 25th, 8:30a, Room LSB-A
Colorado Secure Savings Plan. A retirement savings plan for private-sector employees in the form of an automatic enrollment payroll deduction individual retirement account. State & Military Affairs, Apr 26th, 1:30p, SCR 357
Chance to Compete Act. Prisoners who’ve done their time must ‘wear’ their record when set free. That, in itself, condemns them again. What’s the fairest way? Third Reading, Final Passage, Apr 24th
Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program Wage Replacement. Partial wage-replacement benefits for eligible individuals. Appropriations, Apr 25th, 8:30a, Room LSB-A
Documentary fee to Fund Affordable Housing. Increases the documentary fee for real estate property transactions by one cent per $100 valuation, and is estimated to generate $9 million- $10 million per year. On a $300,000 home, this would total a $30 fee increase and would yield significant benefits across the state. Local Government, Apr 26th, 1:30p, Room 0107
Application Fees for Renters. Keeps application fees to the price of what is actually necessary to screen residents—such as credit reports, reference checks or tenant screening reports—and ensures the fee is refunded if the applicant is never screened. Third Reading, Final Passage, Apr 24th
Receipts for Renters. Gives renters the right to have a copy of their lease and to receive receipts for cash payment of rent. Without a receipt, tenants facing eviction cannot prove they have paid what the landlord says they owe. Local Government. Apr 26th, 1:30p, Room 0107
Division of Insurance Annual Report Pharmaceutical Costs Data. This bill peels back the layers of what it really costs for drugs, as well as other hard-to-get facts from the companies that produce and distribute them. It asks that these companies provide this data to the Insurance Division annually. Third Reading Final Passage, Apr 24th
Domestic Violence Reports by Medical Professionals. This bill modifies current law that requires medical professionals to report all injuries to authorities. It provides more discretion for the medical professionals. Second Reading, Apr 25th
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. Second Reading, Apr 24th
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. Signed by 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, Nothing Scheduled
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
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. Signed by the Governor
Income Tax Deduction for Military Retirement Benefits. Concerning a state income tax deduction for military retirement benefits. Finance, Apr 26th, Upon Adjournment Room LSB-A
Allow Medicaid Home Health Services. Removes restriction that services be provided in the home alone. Refer Unamended to Appropriations, Nothing scheduled
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. Senate Concurs with House -Repass
Improve Medicaid Client Correspondence. Ensure due process is being followed. Health & Environment, Refer Unamended to Appropriations, Nothing scheduled
Access to Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Concerning access to the electronic prescription drug monitoring program. Signed by the Governor
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, Apr 24th, 2:00p, SCR 354
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. Consideration of House Amendments to Senate Bills
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. Refer Amended to Appropriations. Nothing scheduled
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. Conference Committee Adopted, Repass. 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. Third Reading Passed, No Amendments
The Long Bill. It is budget time. House Second Reading passed with Amendments. CSL monitors this process throughout and does not support or oppose an overall state ‘budget.’ Apr 24th, Consider House Amendments to Senate Bills
Sustainability of Rural Colorado. Reclassify the state’s hospital provider fee as an enterprise fund. An examination of rural Colorado’s fiscal status across the board. This is one of those bills that’s served best by reading the whole thing. Deep inside, for example, proposed statewide budget cutting. Appropriations, 8:40a, SCR 357
*Strongly Support **Support Monitor ***Oppose ****Strongly Oppose
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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.
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