Eye on the Legislature

February 20, 2017

House Bill 17-1121:  Colorado’s patient safety will improve if HB 1121 is passed and enacted. Various medical professions covered by the more stringent regulations are these:

  1. pediatrists
  2. dentists and dental hygienists
  3. medical doctors, physician assistants and anesthesiologists;
  4. nurses
  5. certified nurse aides
  6. optometrists 
  7. veterinarians

   HB 1121 is lengthy and detailed, and requires “current licensees and certificate holders and future applicants for initial licensure or certification to submit to a criminal history record check” for all of the above-listed professions.

Upon receipt of the criminal history record check, a regulatory board in the Department of Regulatory Agencies “may deny licensure or certification if an applicant was convicted of, pled guilty or nolo contendere to or received a deferred sentence, in any state, to any of the following charges: 

  1. unlawful sexual behavior;
  2. the transfer of any controlled substance from a permissible to an illicit channel of distribution or use; or
  3. the transfer of a substance with effects similar to the effects of a controlled substance from a permissible to an illicit channel or distribution or use. 

   HB 1121 also requires than employers report any action that results in the termination of a certified nurse aid, including resignation in lieu of termination, to the Nursing Board within 30 days.

HB 1121 includes an in-depth explanation for repeal of the current “Nurse Licensure Compact” and adoption of the “Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact,” which provides that applicants must comply with disclosure requirements under the “Medical Transparency Act of 2010.” That enhanced compact allows nurses to provide telehealth nursing services and also requires background checks.

The much publicized cases in recent years of Denver area hospital employees stealing drugs and replacing with various other substances is no doubt the driving force behind this bill. The bill includes a “Finding and Declaration of Purpose” as the basis for such:

  1. The health and safety of the public are affected by the degree of compliance with and the effectiveness of enforcement activities related to state nurse licensure laws;
  2. Violations of nurse licensure and other laws regulating the practice of nursing may result in injury or harm to the public;
  3. The expanded mobility of nurses and the use of advanced communication technologies as part of our nation’s health care delivery system require greater coordination and cooperation among states in the areas of nurse licensure and regulation;
  4. New practice modalities and technology make compliance with individual state nurse licensure laws difficult and complex;
  5. The current system of duplicative licensure for nurses practicing in multiple states is cumbersome and redundant for both nurses and states; and
  6. Uniformity of nurse licensure requirements throughout the states promotes public safety and public health benefits. 

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1121:  Representative Janet P. Buckner (D-Arapahoe) 866-2944. No sponsor as yet in the Senate.

House Bill 17-1119:  Titled “The Payment of Workers’ Compensation Benefits to Injured Employees of Uninsured Employers,” HB 1119 creates the “Colorado Uninsured Employer Act,” (Act) and the Uninsured Employer Board.

The Colorado Uninsured Employer Fund “consists of fines collected from employers failing to carry workers compensation insurance, other civil penalties, fines and revenue collected by the division; and any appropriations made to the fund, including interest.”

The legislative declaration explains the necessity for such an Act and the need to “provide for a mechanism for the payment of covered claims to workers injured while employed by employers who have failed to obtain and maintain the required workers’ compensation insurance and to avoid excessive delay in payment and financial loss to injured workers.”

Further explanation notes it is the intent of the General Assembly that requirements of HB 1119 be vigorously enforced “in order to protect compliant employers from those who would gain a competitive advantage at the expense of the safety and well-being of employees.”

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1119:  Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Jefferson), 866-2950; and Senator Cheri Jahn (D-Jefferson) 866-4856.

Senate Bill 17-037:  Long waiting lines at vote centers each election always results in negative publicity, even though current law requires vote centers be open a minimum of 15 days prior to election day except on Sundays for all general elections. Current law also requires that counties with more than 25,000 active voters must have at least one vote center for every 30,000 active voters during the early voting period and at least one for every 15,000 active voters on election day.

SB 037 requires that counties must collect data in counties with greater than 25,000 active voters to measure the wait time to vote or receive a ballot and the arrival rate of voters at each vote center and polling center (vote center) during each general election. Said data must be submitted to the Department of State which has authorization to create rules setting measurement and reporting criteria as well as reporting deadlines.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 17-037:  Senator Stephen Fenberg, (D-Boulder 866-4872. No sponsor as yet in the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 17-105:  Customers’ monthly bills will take on a new appearance if SB 105 is passed and enacted. When an investor-owned electric utility files a rate schedule with the Public Utilities Commission (Commission), a comprehensive billing format for its monthly billing of customers must be filed, effective January 1, 2018. No doubt customers will be shocked at what goes into their monthly bill and in theory will no longer be left asking the question, “why is electricity so high?”

The format must include a line-item representation of all monthly charges and credits applied to the customer, including:

  1. indication whether the charges have increased from the prior month as a result of increased fuel costs; and
  2. for each source of electricity used to provide the customer’s electricity for the month, including renewable energy sources, natural gas, and coal, a determination of the percentage of the monthly charges that apply to electricity derived from that source.

   For months in which tiered rates are applied, a breakdown of the tiered rates must be shown and the amount of usage to which each rate was applied for the month.

The rate and usage for the current month and each of the previous twelve months, will be shown in a bar graph or similar visual format.

Demand rates apply for certain customers:

  1. A listing of the applicable demand charge; and
  2. After aggregating the data for each day of the billing period, a calculation of the range and average of kilowatts used during the various demand periods of the billing period; and
  3. For residential customers, a calculation of the amount that the residential customer would have been billed had standard residential rates applied.

   Once approved by the Commission, billing formats will not have to be filed with each rate schedule unless the investor-owned electric utility makes changes to its comprehensive billing format.

Lead Sponsors of Senate Bill 17-105:  Senator Leroy M. Garcia (D-Pueblo) 866-4878. No sponsor as yet in the House of Representatives.

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