Eye on the Legislature

June 5, 2017

   Senate Bill 021 is much needed legislation for those persons with mental illness transitioning from incarceration. Governor Hickenlooper sign SB 021 on June 2nd.

First, SB 021 creates a housing assistance program in the Department of Local Affairs to provide vouchers to persons newly released from the Department of Corrections (DOC) or county jail.

SB 021 also creates a reentry program for incarcerated persons with mental illness in the Division of Behavioral Health in the Department of Human and 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.

Since the General Assembly adjourned as scheduled, SB 021 takes effect on August 9, 2017, if no referendum petition is filed.

   Senate Bill 105 provides for a new informative billing format for customers of investor-owned electric utilities. The requirement for a comprehensive billing format is now required when the utility files for a rate schedule with the Public Utilities Commission. Among inclusions in the new bill format will a be a line-item representation of all monthly charges and credits applied to the customer, indication whether the charges have increased from the prior month as a result of increased fuel costs, and each source of electricity used to provide the customer’s electricity for the month – renewable energy sources, natural gas, and coal, and a determination of the percentage of the monthly charges that apply to electricity derived from that source. The Governor signed the bill on May 22nd.

   Senate Bill 17-202 provides for an appropriation of $1.5 million from the Species Conservation Trust Fund for programs submitted by the Director of the Department of Natural Resources that are designed to conserve native species that have been listed as threatened or endangered under state or federal law, or are likely to become candidate species as determined by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The bill was signed by the Governor on June 2nd.

Senate Bill 267 was signed by the Governor on May 30th. and is one of those pieces of legislation with a title that demanded close review because of its complicated and lengthy content.

The legislative declaration of SB 267 sets forth what the General Assembly deems is the necessity for SB 267:  “Due to insufficient funds, necessary high-priority state highway projects and state capital construction projects, including projects at state institutions of higher education in all areas of the state have been delayed, and the state has also delayed critical controlled maintenance and upkeep of state capital assets. . .” 

The six principal components of SB 267 are these:

  1. repeals existing Hospital Provider Fee and creates the Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise;
  2. authorizes the state to execute lease-purchase agreements on existing facilities and credits the proceeds of such agreements to fund transportation, capital construction and controlled maintenance projects;
  3. repeals current General Fund transfers to the Highway Users Tax Fund and instead transfers this money to the State Public School Fund for allocation to rural and small rural school districts;
  4. requires executive department to submit Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget requests that are 2 percent lower than the amounts they received for Fiscal Year 2017-18;
  5. allows health care providers that are not enrolled in Medicaid to bill Medicaid patients for health care servics, provided that the provider and patient enter into a written contract; and
  6. conditional on enactment of the federal Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act (ACE Kids Act), requires the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) to seek federal waivers necessary to fund an enhanced pediatric health home for children with complex medical conditions.

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