Eye on the Legislature

January 30, 2017

Senate Bill 17-016:  Current law will be amended to allow counties to make “the use of child protection teams optional for all counties, regardless of the number of referrals received by the county,” and also provides for “confirming amendments in statute to reflect the optional nature of child protection teams.”

Current law now in the statutes requires that “all counties receiving more than 50 referrals relating to child abuse or neglect must form a child protection team to publicly review the assessments made by child welfare staff and make recommendations about particular cases and the child welfare system generally.” Colorado now has 52 counties required to use child protection teams – optional but encouraged in other Colorado counties.

For those unfamiliar with child protection teams, they are made up community volunteers and coordinated by the county director of human services or his or her designee.

Lead Sponsor of Senate Bill 17-016:   Senator Tim Neville (R-Jefferson) 866-4873; and Representative Dan Nordberg (R-El Paso) 866-2965.

Senate Bill 17-019:  Medication and treatment of persons with mental illness in the criminal and juvenile justice system is complicated, difficult and costly. The legislative declaration set forth in SB 019 states “the lack of medication consistency for individuals with mental illness who are involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems creates additional, often serious problems for these individuals.”

The General Assembly also found it is “critical that the state increase the likelihood that a broad spectrum of effective medications, including psychotropic medications, are available to these individuals, regardless of setting or service provider.”

The Legislative Oversight Committee on the Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System recommends passage of SB 19.

Cooperation between the criminal and juvenile justice systems and mental health service providers means the state can help ensure medication consistency and also decrease overall state costs through the use of a common and agreed upon medication formulary and cooperative purchasing,” and “result in long-term benefits for the state and for persons with mental illness who are involved in the criminal and juvenile justice system.”

Sponsors of Senate Bill 17-019:  Senator Martinez Humenik (R-Adams) 866-4863; and Representative Jonathan Singer (D-Boulder) 866-2780.

Senate Bill 17-021:  Concerning Reentry Services for Persons with Mental Illness in the Criminal Justice System, SB 021 establishes two programs for persons with mental illness transitioning from incarceration.

First, a housing assistance program in the Department of Local Affairs to provide persons with vouchers to persons newly released from the Department of Corrections (DOC) or county jail.

Second, SB 021 creates a reentry program for incarcerated persons with mental illness in the Division of Behavioral Health in the Department of Human Services (DHS). The catch on this one is that it is “subject to available appropriations,” and “the DHS must implement initiatives to assist each offender’s transition from a correctional facility or jail into the community.”

Typical reentry program services may include assistance concerning housing vouchers, supportive employment services, Medicaid enrollment, mental health treatment, case management services, medication monitoring, peer specialist support, and positive recreational activities – indescribably overwhelming needs for the newly released person with mental illness transitioning from incarceration.

Presently, DHS does not currently operate a reentry program, but the DOC currently offers such services. In the DOC program, offenders participating in pre-release programs while in prison receive education concerning employment readiness, housing, money management, education options and family, relationship and support systems.

Sponsors of SB17-021:  Senator Martinez Humenik (R-Adams) 866-4863; and Representative Jonathan Singer (D-Boulder) 866-2780.

House Bill 17-1029:  Government types at all levels of state, city and county seem to be fixated on keeping things secret from the prying public. Lost in the zeal is the principal it is the public’s business. However, certain “requesters of information” are prone to going overboard, thus necessitating what legislators believe are additional protections.

HB 1029 will “allow a state entity to deny requests under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) for records that contain confidential personal information.” CORA “creates a presumption in favor of public access to government documents.”

What’s covered by the term “confidential personal information” is a person’s home address, phone number, social security number, birth date, bank account information, tax identification number, personal signature, personal email address, or similarly unique information.”

The fiscal note provides this clarification as to public records included in the Colorado Revised Statutes:  “Public records to include all writings made, maintained, or kept by the state, any agency, institution, political subdivision of the state, local government-financed entity, or nonprofit corporation incorporated by a state supported higher education institution’s governing board. Colorado case law has determined that CORA does not apply to the Judicial Branch.”

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1029:  Representative Polly Lawrence (R-Douglas, Teller) 866-2935; and Senator Bob Gardner (R-El Paso) 866-4880.

House Bill 17-1041:  HB 1041, titled “Measures to Inform Students of Education Opportunities Leading to Jobs,” amends Colorado Revised Statute 22-35-104 (1)(b)(I) to require that local education provide all students and parents or legal guardians of students enrolled in the local education with notice “at least twice during each school year” of the opportunity for concurrent enrollment by qualified students in postsecondary courses including academic courses and career and technical educations courses, which may include course work related to apprenticeship programs and internship programs.

HB 1041 also requires the notice include:

  •  the number of postsecondary course credits a qualified student may concurrently enroll for in each school year while the qualified student is enrolled in high school;
  • the types of career pathways developed pursuant to Section 24-46.3-104 that a student may participate in through concurrent enrollment and the types of credentials and jobs to which each pathway leads;
  • the types of postsecondary credentials that a qualified student may earn by the time he or she graduates from high school if the student concurrently enrolls in postsecondary courses and the number of course credit hours required for each type of postseconary credential; and
  • based on information obtained from the postsecondary and work force readiness statewide coordinator pursuant to Section  24-46.3-3302, the types and availability of jobs that require persons who hold the types of postsecondary credential that a qualified student may earn through concurrent enrollment.

   Sponsors of House Bill 17-1041:  Represent Phil Covarrubias (R-Arapahoe, Adams) 866-2912. No sponsor as yet in the Senate.

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.