Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – May 2018

By Doris Beaver ~

House Bill 18-1380:
The state of Colorado makes available to low-income seniors or individuals with a disability two types of annual state assistance grants relating to his or her property, administered by the Colorado Department of Revenue:

1) a grant for their property taxes or rent paid, with the latter being deemed a tax-equivalent payment, oddly enough, referred to as a property tax and rent assistance grant; and
2) a grant for heat or fuel expenses (heat assistance grant).

HB 1380 provides for expansion of the property tax and rent assistance grant by repealing the requirement that rent must be paid to a landlord that pays property tax.
While the amount of increases for grants claimed in 2018 may be small, they can mean a great deal to those on fixed income, and in many cases, the difference of a decent meal:

• maximum property tax and rent assistance grant from $700 to $753;
• Maximum heat assistance grant from $192 to $206; and
• Flat grant amount which is the minimum grant amount, from $227 to $244 for the property tax and rent assistance grant and from $73 to $78 for the heat assistance grant, assuming that the actual expenses exceed these amounts.

One mind boggling point in the bill is that “All of these increases reflect inflationary growth since 2014, and all of these amounts will continue to be adjusted annually for inflation.”
HB 1380, a late-introduced bill, is yet to have its first committee hearing in the House of Representatives.
Sponsors of House Bill 18-1380: Representatives Mike Weissman (D-Arapaho) 866-2942, and Tony Exum, Sr. (D-El Paso) 866-3069; and Senator John Kafalas (D-Larimer) 866-4841.

House Bill 18-1285:
Titled “Parking for People with Certain Disabilities,” HB 1285 “creates a remuneration-exempt placard that exempts individuals with qualifying disabilities from paying for meter parking.”
The requirements for qualifying for such a placard are these:

• fine motor control in both hands;
• ability to reach a height of 42 inches from the ground; or
• ability to reach or access a parking meter due to use of a wheelchair or other device.

Additional requirement for the placard is that an individual must submit a written statement that they have a qualifying disability, a signed affidavit and driver license or other qualifying identification. Readers take note – only the person issued the remuneration-exempt placard may use it, and doing so is a misdemeanor.
Current law exempts individuals from paying at a meter if his or her vehicle bears a disability placard or license plate, and the method of remuneration is not reasonably accessible to a person with the disability – said provision is repealed.
Lead Sponsors of House Bill 18-1285: Representatives Dan Pabon (D-Denver) 866-2954; and Senators Jim Smallwood (R-Douglas) 866-4869, and Nancy Todd (D-Arapaho) 866-3432.

Senate Bill 18-115:
Due to limited space, this column does not usually include legislation that is postponed indefinitely (a/k/a killed); however, SB 115 suffered that fate in its first Senate committee hearing early in the legislative session, but bears acknowledgment for its intended purpose and readers noting the organizations testifying against it.
SB 115 would have prohibited all medical providers from making a referral for medical services to an entity owned or controlled by the provider or an immediate family member, and designates these referrals as a deceptive trade practice. Under current law, the prohibition applies to Medicaid providers.
The sponsor of the bill was Senator Irene Aguilar (also an M. D.) It is interesting to note the organizations offering testimony against the bill: the Colorado Bar Association, the Colorado Medical Society, the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado and the Colorado Hospital Association.
Part VII of the bill as introduced states: Under the “Colorado Assistance Act,” articles 4, 5, and 6 of title 25.5, Colorado Revised Statutes, cost containment through control of self-referrals in the medicaid program has proven effective in reducing the overall cost of medical care. The limitations on self-referrals are based on a well-established body of federal law and regulations commonly known as the “Stark law.”
In closing, the “purpose of this act is to protect consumers from financial harm by ensuring that providers do not have a conflict of interest when making referrals for care.” So, look for this one to appear in a future legislative session.

Doris Beaver

Doris Beaver

Doris Beaver is a free lance journalist who writes from her home high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on senior issues, politics, ethics and environmental issues. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com, or e-mail her at doris@dorisbeaver.com.