(June 5) – Three bills by Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, were signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper this afternoon. The first, HB17-1282, will help keep qualified veterinarians working in Colorado while helping them pay off student debt. The second, SB17-091, will make home-based health care easier to access. The third, SB17-278, prohibits the practice of rolling coal.

“Veterinary student loan repayment programs are a vital tool to address the shortage of veterinarians in rural Colorado,” said Rep. Ginal. “We have a critical shortage of veterinarians in rural areas, which has widespread impacts on our ranching and agricultural sectors and our economy overall. This bill will provide newly graduated veterinarians who wish to practice in rural Colorado the opportunity to do so. This will also help replace the many retiring veterinarians in rural Colorado.”

HB17-1282 creates a council tasked with selecting applicants to participate in the repayment program. Once selected, a participant is eligible for funding to help repay the cost of veterinary school for each year the participant works in a community with a veterinary shortage, for up to four years and up to $70,000.

The law earned strong bipartisan support in the legislature and also had support from Colorado State University – Fort Collins, which has a highly regarded professional veterinary medicine program.

The second bill, SB17-091, removes the requirement that home health care services through Medicaid can only be accessed in a residence and instead allows services to be accessed in a community setting as well. These services include skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

“This as an important step forward to ensure Coloradans have access to the health care and services they need, in the setting that works best for them,” said Rep. Ginal, chair of the Health, Insurance & Environment committee. “By increasing access to care, we are also improving health outcomes and helping folks to age with dignity and independence. It also allows people to be able to continue to work in and be a vital part of their community.”

Those two bills were signed on the same day as yet another Rep. Ginal bill, HB17-1102, was signed that gives new tools to law enforcement to crack down on the harassing behavior of “rolling coal,” where someone in a large truck intentionally blows dirty black smoke at another motorist, pedestrian or cyclist.

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