Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – May – June 2021

By Doris Beaver ~

May 2021

The General Assembly has been most unusual this session. As adjournment date (June 12th) approaches, today’s column will be the final for this session. Give a read in the July issue of Prime Time for what happened to the legislation not already signed by the Governor.

Senate Bill 21-216:

SB 21-216 was signed by the Governor on April 30, 2021, in fulfillment of a pilot program through a Joint Budget Committee decision during the FY 2018-19 budget process by codifying the Rural Auxiliary Services program in statute. SB 216 requires the Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind to arrange for the provision of auxiliary services in rural areas of the state, and recognizes the severe shortage of auxiliary services available in rural parts of the state. 

SB 216 also modifies grant eligibility requirements to remove the requirement that a nonprofit organization must be a community-based organization to be able to apply for grant money. 

Funding from the Telephone Users with Disabilities Fund is provided on an ongoing basis for the continuation of the program. 

Senate Bill 21-210:  

SB 210 concerned remote supports which are an “emerging service model that combines technology and direct care to support people with disabilities and reduces the use of in-person services enabling them to stay in their homes.” 

As examples, SB 210 provides for remote supports such as “monitors, sensors, and communication devices that allow attendants in a separate location to provide verbal prompts to members in their homes.” 

There are several home and community-based services waivers, all of which can be made under current law, except the Elderly, Blind and Disabled waiver requires a change in law implemented by SB 210. Approval from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services is required so implementation is planned for January 1, 2022.

Remote supports are critical to Colorado’s vast rural health area in that they “allow attendants in a separate location to provide prompts to members in their homes.” 

The Governor signed Senate Bill 210 on April 30th. 

House Bill 21-1281:

While not specifically for the benefit of the “over 50 crowd,” HB 1281 is especially welcome by that segment of the population. HB 1281 creates the Community Behavioral Health Disaster Preparedness and Response Program in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmental (CDPHE).

One only has to see the faces of Colorado’s elder citizens to understand what the intentions of the program will mean to them – “… enhance, support and formalize behavioral health disaster preparedness and response activities of community behavioral health organizations.” The fear in the eyes of elder citizens being airlifted from flood and tornado areas never fades. 

HB 1281 is yet to have its first committee hearing.

Sponsors of House Bill 21-1281:  Representatives Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson, 866-2562, and Perry Will, R-Garfield, Moffat, Rio Blanco, 866-2949; and Senator Brittany Petterson, D-Jefferson, 866-4859.

June 2021

The Governor has until July 12th to act on legislation from the 2021 session. Any legislation not signed or vetoed within 30 days following adjournment becomes law at 12:01 a. m. July 13th. 

On September 11th, legislation passed with “Act Subject to Petition” clause becomes effective at 12:01 a. m. if no referendum petition against it is filed.

In July, legislation’s trip down under the Gold Dome will be reviewed.

Senate Bill 21-214:  

Under current law, persons enrolled in Medicaid are not covered for hospice services, and “some clients are at the end of life and require hospice care but have not been able to access the necessary level of care in an appropriate setting, due to the presence of COVID-19 in the state and other reasons described in the legislation.” 

SB 214 will offer an option, and “authorizes a statement payment to qualified hospice providers that provide hospice services to persons enrolled in Medicaid and who are eligible for care in a nursing facility, but who are unable to secure a bed in a nursing facility due to the presence of COVID-19 in the state or for other reasons included in the legislation.”

Patients must have a hospice diagnosis with a limitation to not more than 28 days and numerous details must be met.  Senate Bill 214 was signed by the Governor on May 4th.

House Bill 21-1014:  

HB 1014 provides a method for law enforcement officers “who may not have adequate training or experience identifying or interacting with people living with disabilities such as neurodiversity or a mental health disorder.”

By directing the Department of Revenue to issue drivers licenses and identification cards marked with a symbol, the General Assembly hopes to eliminate or reduce the number of use-of-force incidents between law enforcement officers and people with disabilities including neurodiversity or a mental health disorder. 

The General Assembly found and declared that “one way to avoid unnecessary escalation resulting from the failure of law enforcement officers to identify a person with a disability is by marking the person’s drivers license or state identification card with a simply, widely recognized symbol, such as that adopted by the Invisible Disabilities Association, Inc., for this purpose.” 

As part of the option described above is to have disability information about a driver or regular passenger attached to a vehicle registration made available when law enforcement queries the vehicle’s registration information, which symbol will indicate that the person has a disability that may result in behaviors or communications that may be misinterpreted in a stressful situation.

HB 1014 passed third reading in the House on May 10th, and is now under consideration by the Senate Transportation committee.

Sponsors of House Bill 21-1014:  Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Adams, 866-2945, and Mark Baisley, R-Douglas, Teller, 866-2935, and twenty-four other members of the House; and Senator Jessie Danielson, D-Jefferson, 866-4856.

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, and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com, or e-mail her at doris@dorisbeaver.com.

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