The 2019 General Assembly has come to a close. It’s been a wild one at times. I am focusing here on two things in particular: first, gratitude for our team of volunteer citizen lobbyists who contributed their extensive talents and experience to inform and persuade, sometimes late into the evenings. Their unselfish dedication to advocating for Colorado’s older adults at the Capitol is remarkable as they heartily invested their time and energy into the cause.
Often, a short conversation with a legislator or an ally organization at a critical time can make a huge difference. It can actually be exciting; the Capitol kind of hums with the energy of diverse interests and activities from the beginning of the session to the end. Politics is a “contact sport” – building relationships is critical.
Secondly, I also thank them for the results of their efforts. Visibility and participation matter. Many important bills were advanced thanks to both their individual efforts and collaborative work with other organizations. It is an extremely rare – practically unheard of–situation where one person, from one organization, actually moves the needle. It takes a team, and typically that team is working with many other teams, often directly with legislators (and the non-partisan support staffs of Legislative Council and Legislative Legal Services) – to help shape and refine language in the bills.
Every advocacy organization, no matter their cause, can only do their best to inform and persuade, working with other teams of people; it’s up to our elected officials to actually create new legislation. Fortunately, there are many legislators who are willing to work with various groups, like CSL, to refine bills until they are workable.
Thanks to our Capitol Gang, CSL is a well-known and respected organization at the Capitol. Showing up, being visible, never letting our legislators forget that there is often a senior component to many of the bills they propose.
This year’s Capitol Gang grew a bit, and we are very thankful for that. There is plenty of room for you, dear reader, if you’d like to be a part of this outstanding group. We will show you and coach you along the way.
Standing members of Capitol Gang include Jeanette Hensley (leader of the Gang), Rich Mauro, Ed Shackelford, Christina Johnson, Diane Robinson, Evelyn Marchese, Francesca Maes, Neal Christensen, and Phil Cernanec – with contributions from Kelley Horton, Kelsey Lesco, and others.
There were several bills that CSL was deeply involved in – contributing ideas as the bills were shaped prior to introduction and actively advocating for those bills all along the way. Here are a few examples ( a full report will be provide to CSL members later):
|Bill Number and Description||Why CSL involved||Outcome|
|HB19-1085 – Increase Grants For Property Tax Rent And Heat (also known as PTC program) and Index Grant Amounts to Inflation||These very low-income qualifying grant amounts under the PTC program have not been increased since 2014, as they were not indexed to inflation, while the maximum income has been, creating an out of balance situation.||Awaiting Governor’s Signature.
The small grant program for qualifying older adults and persons with disabilities has not had the grant amounts increased since 2014. This bill helps these folks with these housing-related costs by increasing the grant amounts and indexing them to inflation. It also expands the number of people who will qualify by increasing the income eligibility criteria and including renters in government and nonprofit housing.
|HB19-1045 – Office of Public Guardianship Pilot Program||The intent here is to set up public guardianship program for older adults who have no responsible family or friends to guide them to the care and resources they need; to look out for their interests.||Awaiting Governor’s Signature.
The bill provides funding for the Office of Public Guardianship to begin operating in in the Second Judical District (Denver). Previous legislation had provided for the office to operate in three specified judicial districts but was never funded.
|SB19-172 – Protect from Unlawful Abandonment and Confinement.||The bill makes it a crime to unlawfully abandon or unlawfully confine an at-risk person. The purposeful desertion of an at-risk person in a manner that endangers the safety of that person constitutes unlawful abandonment. Tying, locking up, caging, chaining, or otherwise unreasonably restricting an at-risk person’s freedom of movement constitutes unlawful confinement. The bill reclassifies the at-risk adult crimes that are class 1 misdemeanors into class 6 felonies and makes unlawful abandonment and unlawful confinement class 6 felonies.||Awaiting Governor’s Signature.
The bill establishes the offenses of “unlawful abandonment” and “false imprisonment” of an at-risk person. “Unlawful abandonment” is a Class 1 misdemeanor; “false imprisonment” by physical confinement is a Class 6 felony and by emotional confinement is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This will enable district attorneys to prosecute cases they have been unable to under current law.
|HB19-1106 – Rental Application Fairness Act||Prohibits a landlord from charging a rental application fee unless the entire amount of the fee is used to cover the landlord’s cost to process a rental application, such as the cost to conduct a personal reference check or to obtain a consumer credit report. Landlords may not charge two or more prospective renters different amounts for applications to rent the same property.||Signed by Governor on 4/25/19.|
|HB19-1118 – Providing more time for a tenant to cure a lease violation that is not a substantial violation.||Requires that a landlord provide ten days’ (from three days) notice of insufficient rent prior to beginning eviction proceedings or terminating a lease agreement for a subsequent violation of terms.||Sent to Governor on 5/2/19.|
|HB19-1170 – Increasing tenant protections relating to residential warranty of habitability.||Repeals current law exceptions to leasing a residential property with one or more uninhabitable conditions and instead requires that all premises be free of any of these specified conditions prior to leasing; Adds specific conditions of a property to the description of an uninhabitable residence to include the presence of mold or the absence of functioning appliances||Awaiting Governor’s Signature.
Updates the “warranty of habitability” statutes to provide certain protections for tenants, including the authority to notify landlords of uninhabitable conditions (adding electronic correspondence); provide reasonable timeframes for the landlord to effect repairs; expand the definition of uninhabitable to include a functioning refrigerator, range or oven, and mold from dampness. Also, provides the renter the right to withhold the cost of repair from a rent payment and to break the lease if the conditions persist; protects tenants from retaliation; and provides additional legal remedies.
|HB19-1216 – Reduce Insulin Prices||The bill requires an insurance carrier to reduce the cost sharing a covered person is required to pay for prescription insulin drugs by an amount equal to the greater of 51% of the total rebates received by the carrier per prescription insulin drug including price protection rebates or an amount that ensures cost sharing will not exceed 125% of the carrier’s cost for the prescription insulin drug, subject to a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $100 per one-month supply of insulin.||Awaiting Governor’s Signature.
The bill lowers the cost of requires a carrier that provides coverage for prescription insulin drugs pursuant to the terms of a health coverage plan the carrier offers shall cap the total amount that a covered person is required to pay for a covered prescription insulin drug at an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars per thirty-day supply of insulin, regardless of the amount or type of insulin needed to fill the covered person’s prescription.
|HB19-1268 – Require disclosures of referrals to assisted living residences.||Prior to this bill, people who were referred to assisted living facilities had no idea of payments being made by those facilities to various referral agencies; it’s a consumer awareness issue.||Awaiting Governor’s Signature.|
|SB19-015 – Create Statewide Health Care Review Committee to study health care issues impacting Colorado residents throughout the state.||Study health care issues affecting all Colorado residents, e.g.-emerging trends, ability of consumers to get and keep insurance, changes in how health care is delivered.||Awaiting Governor’s Signature.|
|HB19-1001 – Hospital Transparency Measures to Analyze Efficacy||This bill directs the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to create an annual report on uncompensated costs and expenditures made by hospitals – the idea here is to collect information that may help to reduce the cost of hospital stays.||Governor has signed into law.|
|SB19-173 – Create Colorado Secure Savings Plan Board||Sets up study teams regarding appropriate approaches to increase the amount of retirement savings by Colorado’s private sector workers.||Awaiting Governor’s Signature.|
|HB19-1317 – Proposed changing the Senior Property Tax exemption to an income tax credit.||This bill would allow renters over the age of 65 to receive a tax credit, as well as homeowners, and would eliminate the current 10 year residency requirement. It also has income restrictions to qualify.||This bill, along with two others related to the Homestead Exemption, were postponed indefinitely – killed in committee. We expect to engage in discussions during the summer and fall to take another look at what, if anything, might be done to modify the senior property tax exemption. TABOR and Gallagher both have an impact here.|
HB19-1145 – Exempt primary residence from judgment liens for unpaid medical debt.
This bill would have exempted medical debt from a lien against the debtor’s property as a way to secure payment of that debt.
1145 did not make it out of committee and is dead for this session.