Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – June 2022
By Doris Beaver ~
Despite yet another legislative session with the COVID 19 pandemic plaguing the country gas and inflation, the highest since the 1970s – Colorado seems to be on track for a banner tourist year. Old timers would venture an opinion, “it’s been a long time since such a blast of snow so late in May, and a wet one at that.”
Here’s the report on success or “not such success” of legislation that appeared in Colorado’s Citizen Legislature during the legislative session.
House Bill 22-1035:
HB 22-1035, Concerned Modernization of Older Coloradan’s Act was one needed by Colorado’s citizens. According to the General Assembly, the number of persons in this state sixty years of age and older is increasing rapidly, and, of these persons, the number of women, people of color, and persons seventy-five years of age or older is expanding at an even greater rate. HB 1035 was signed by the Governor on March 24, 2022.
A Commission on aging is to be created within the state department of Colorado, consisting of 19 members from various state sources of the United State Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to the Federal “Older Americans Comprehensive Services Amendments of 1973,”Pub.L. 93-29, as amended.
Here are some of, but not limited to, the topics the Commission established by HB 1035 will deal with:
- (i) workforce opportunities for older Coloradans;
- (ii) the direct-care workforce;
- (iii) housing options for older Coloradans; page 9-house bill 22-1035
- (iv) age-friendly, affordable, and livable communities;
- (v) health care;
- (vi) chronic disease prevention and maintenance;
- (vii) behavioral health;
- (viii) lifelong learning;
- (ix) retirement security;
- (x) legislative and local government affairs;
- (xi) transportation;
- (xii) disparities among older Coloradans;
- (xiii) elder rights; and
- (xiv) innovation and technology.
HB 1035 also sets forth other duties of the Commission, include serving as principal advocacy body in the state relating to programs and services that affect older Coloradans, conduct and encourage private and nonprofit organizations, and state agencies to conduct research and analysis related to the state’s aging population, and assist governmental and private agencies to coordinate their efforts on behalf of older Coloradans in order that such affairs be effective, that duplication and waste of effort be eliminated. For even more details on HB 22-1035, refer to the February 2022 column of Prime Time For Seniors.
HB 1035 also creates the Lifelong Colorado Initiative within the state office which has the designated purpose of representing state, regional and local strategies that support aging and assist older Coloradans to lead independent, meaningful and dignified lives in their own homes and communities.
House Bill 22-1205:
HB 1205 was postponed indefinitely on March 15th, 2022, but had it passed, the General Assembly’s intent was to “establish a refundable income tax credit for income-qualified Seniors who do not qualify for the Senior property exemption to help them afford the high cost of housing.” Note: “Credit” means “a credit against income tax that is created in this section.”
As of the editor’s deadline for this edition, the Governor had not acted on a number of pieces of legislation that made it through the legislature and awaiting his action Ð sign, become law without his signing it or veto. Those pieces of legislation are recapped for information purposes.
House Bill 22-1114: Still not acted upon by the Governor, HB 1114 would authorize transportation companies to “provide non-medical transportation services to persons who are enrolled in certain medicaid waiver programs.” The General Assembly declares, “it is imperative that Colorado allow for flexibility and growth in available transportation options for adults with disabilities, at comparable costs and funded as an alternative to mass transportation in a way that maintains safety and fosters community living and independence for adults with disabilities.”
Senate Bills 22-154: Still not acted upon by the Governor, SB 154 concerns increasing safety in assisted living residences – an unusual piece of legislation in that both parties have an equal part at stake, so to speak. The Governor has 30 days from the date the General Assembly adjourns to act on unsigned legislation.
Senate Bill 22-053: Still not acted upon by the Governor, is to be known as “No Patient or Resident Left Alone Act” if signed. SB 053 has specific prohibitions in it as to disallowing visitation if the sole reason is to reduce the risk of transmission of a pandemic disease. The bill does allow health care facilities to impose requirements and limitations on visitors to reduce the risk of transmission of a pandemic disease as follows (directly from the legislative fiscal note): 1) require visitors to wear face coverings or other protective equipment and require them to sign a waiver acknowledging the risks of visitation; 2) agree to be screened for symptoms of the disease before visitation, and deny entrance to any visitor who had symptoms of the disease; and 3) facilities may limit visitation to essential caregivers or for compassionate care visits from a friend or family member to alleviate physical or emotional distress.
Senate Bill 22-079: Still not acted on by the Governor, SB 079 concerns required dementia training for direct-care staff of specified facilities that provide services to clients living with dementia. During the Pandemic, when families could not visit dementia patients living in nursing or other residential facilities, the critical need for direct-care staff to be adequately trained in dementia care was highlighted. Staff turnover became a huge problem throughout the country, the single most important determinant of quality dementia care across all care settings is direct-care staff.
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, and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.