Suite of bills going into effect Friday address health care costs, affordable housing, environment, and more

(August 1) – 221 new state laws are set to go into effect on Friday, representing key components of the Colorado House Democrats’ agenda focused on building a fair economy that expands opportunity for all; investing in our future; and protecting the Colorado way of life. Over half of the new laws going into effect tomorrow had bipartisan sponsors, and the vast majority passed with bipartisan support. 

“I’m proud of what we accomplished this year – we were able to make progress on a wide range of issues including health care, climate change and the environment, education, transportation, election access and fair campaigns,” said Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. “The laws going into effect tomorrow will help Coloradans get ahead and ensure that Colorado continues to be the best state in the nation to live, work and play.” 

A selection of highlights on key issues is below, and a full list can be found here.

Expanding Opportunity & Building a Fair Economy

Too many hardworking Coloradans aren’t seeing the benefit of our state’s economic success and feel like they can’t get ahead. This year Democrats made important progress on leveling the playing field for all Coloradans.

One new law going into effect on Friday will help families with the high cost of child care. Another new law will help kick-start college savings for every baby born or adopted in Colorado, helping address the burden of higher education costs on students and their families. HB19-1013 (Exum), HB19-1280 (Herod & Becker)

Also going into effect on Friday is a bill increasing protections for student loan borrowers by establishing licensing requirements for loan service providers and increasing enforcement of complaints. SB19-002 (Roberts & Jackson)

Helping to Lower the Cost of Health Care

Democrats focused on lowering health care costs this year, improving transparency and enacting cost-cutting measures. Multiple bills going into effect on Friday require increased cost transparency by hospitals, implement protections for consumers when accessing freestanding emergency departments, and streamline access to care. HB19-1001 (Kennedy), HB19-1010 (Mullica & Landgraf), HB19-1211 (Michaelson Jenet & Caraveo)

Democrats also focused on addressing the high cost of prescription drugs by capping co-pays for life-saving insulin, allowing importation of lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, and increasing transparency of prescription costs for both prescribers and patients. HB19-1216 (Roberts), SB19-005 (Jaquez Lewis), HB19-1131 (Jaquez Lewis)

Also going into effect this week, but for a different reason, is the landmark Reinsurance bill, which is expected to decrease health insurance premiums on the individual market by 18.2% statewide next year. HB19-1168 (McCluskie & Rich)
Click here to see our release announcing the approval of a federal waiver allowing the program to proceed.

Increasing Access to Jobs & Workforce Training

The SHOP Act, which goes into effect this week, will help Colorado schools build or renovate career & technical education facilities, expanding opportunities for students to explore skills training and a range of career options. HB19-1008 (Kraft-Tharp & Larson)

Another new law will help students and adults pursuing careers in the trades access opportunity by building a directory of apprenticeship programs and coordinating with local workforce centers, businesses, and education institutions. SB19-171 (Sullivan & Galindo)

Protecting Colorado’s Environment & Promoting Clean Energy

Clean air and water are key to Colorado’s unique quality of life. This year Colorado Democrats took action to protect our environment and promote clean energy.

Two key bills that go into effect on Friday will prevent pollution of precious water resources from future hardrock mining operations and protect water sources and firefighters from dangerous PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam. HB 19-1113 (Roberts & McLachlan), HB19-1279 (Exum & Landgraf)

Also going into effect is a bill to increase access to renewable energy for Coloradans by expanding and streamlining the community solar gardens program. HB19-1003 (Hansen & Valdez A.)

Increasing Affordable Housing and Renters’ Rights

One of the major issues impacting hardworking Coloradans is the cost of living, and in particular the lack of affordable housing. Two key components of the House Democrats’ efforts to boost investment in affordable housing go into effect on Friday and will provide much-needed relief in areas across the state. HB19-1245 (Weissman), HB19-1322 (Roberts & Will)

Another important component of the housing crisis is the lack of protections for renters. Also going into effect on Friday are a law to improve a renter’s rights if their home becomes uninhabitable or unfit for human habitation, and a law to put reasonable limitations on the application fees landlords can charge prospective tenants. HB19-1170 (Jackson & Weissman), HB19-1106 (Titone & Gonzales-Gutierrez).

Investing in Student Success

On top of historic investments in K-12 and higher education this year, House Democrats have been working to invest in targeted strategies to improve student success.

This Friday, two new laws will go into effect increasing access to AP and IB courses for low-income students. Also going into effect is a bill to support local accountability systems to ensure high quality education programs in schools. SB19-059 (Buckner), HB19-1222 (Kipp & McCluskie), SB19-204 (Arndt & Bird)

Another bill going into effect Friday will expand access to concurrent enrollment opportunities for students to earn higher education course credit while enrolled in high school and improve workforce readiness. SB19-176 (McCluskie & Geitner)

Improving Access to Mental Health Services

An important part of the House Democrats’ legislative agenda this year was to improve mental health care in Colorado and increase access to services. The K-5 Social and Emotional Health Act, which goes into effect this week, will increase access to mental health services for children through a pilot program that provides a social worker in participating elementary schools. HB19-1017 (Michaelson Jenet)

Another bill going into effect on Friday creates a new mental health facility to provide residential care, treatment, and services for individuals with mental or physical health diagnoses, to provide treatment options that are more tailored and cost-effective than acute care hospitals. HB19-1160 (Landgraf & Singer)

In addition, the new law banning the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy” against LGBTQ individuals partially goes into effect on Friday. This discredited practice has been found to make young people three times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, six times more likely to fall into depression, and eight times more likely to attempt suicide. The bill will be in full effect by October 1st. HB19-1129 (Michaelson Jenet & Esgar)

Pursuing Criminal Justice Reform

This year, Colorado made great progress in a significantly bipartisan fashion on reasonable reforms to our criminal justice system.

One new law going into effect expands access to record sealing to help more people successfully obtain and maintain housing and employment and move on from their past mistakes after they have served their sentences. HB19-1275 (Weissman & Soper)

The legislature also passed a “Ban the Box” bill giving former offenders a chance to demonstrate their qualifications for a job based on their merit and skill during an interview, rather than being immediately passed over because they checked “the box” indicating criminal history on an initial application form. HB19-1025 (Herod & Melton)

Another new law creates a scholarship program for former youth offenders who are pursuing a higher education, lowering the chance of recidivism and helping them become productive members of society. SB19-231 (Exum & Tipper)

The legislature also passed a bill to increase mental health support for peace officers, as well as training and prevention programs, peer support groups, and other services. HB19-1244 (Coleman & Carver)

Standing Up for Rural Colorado

Legislators also continued to work together to address the unique needs of rural Colorado. On Friday, a new law will continue the legislature’s efforts to expand the deployment of broadband infrastructure across the state and close the digital divide. SB19-107 (Roberts)

Another bill going into effect promotes both Colorado agriculture and healthy eating by encouraging schools to use food grown in our state. Also going into effect is a bill to improve produce safety standards. HB19-1132 (Buentello & Pelton), HB19-1114 (Catlin & Valdez D.)

Supporting Open & Transparent Government, Fair Campaigns, and Access to the Ballot

The legislature passed a range of bills this year to significantly increase access to the ballot and make our elections more secure and transparent. Two particularly notable bills go into effect this week that require expanded disclosure of funding behind campaign communications and increased transparency of political spending. Another bill establishes contribution limits for county candidates to better ensure a level playing field. SB19-068 (Weissman & Cutter), HB19-1318 (Weissman), HB19-1007 (Sirota)

Also going into effect are three bills that expand access to the ballot by updating our elections laws, reducing wait times at voting centers, expanding automatic voter registration, and improving access for voters with disabilities. HB19-1278 (Lontine), SB19-235 (Esgar & Mullica), SB19-202 (Froelich)

See full list of bills going into effect on Friday, August 2nd, here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mo2mOp8gF14OSaEpQsgbB8LDVWSDnaC9

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