Pettersen Bills to Increase Equity for Kids and Combat Opioid Abuse Now Law

(June 2) – Gov. John Hickenlooper this morning signed into law two groundbreaking bills by Rep. Brittany Pettersen to solve a statewide issue about mill levy funding while also increasing accountability for schools and to combat opioid addiction through inpatient treatment.

Gov. Hickenlooper joined advocates at Rocky Mountain Prep Southwest to sign HB17-1375, the first bill in the nation to address equity for all public school students. The historic piece of legislation strikes a balance that maintains local control for school districts, ensures funding is allocated based on equity and student need and not type of school, and creates greater transparency and accountability for charter schools.

“This compromise was years in the making and I’m so glad we were able to create a solution that focuses on the needs of kids while putting flexibility in the hands of school districts,” said Rep. Pettersen, D-Lakewood. “Each child deserves the opportunity to succeed and this plan prioritizes funding for kids who have been historically underserved, regardless of the type of school they attend.”

Under the bill, any school district that passes a mill levy override has two options: to implement a plan for distributing the new revenue to each charter and innovation school in the district or distribute to these schools 95 percent of the district’s mill levy override per pupil revenue. The bill also requires schools to publicly post more information and to be available to answer parents’ questions.

Gov. Hickenlooper then signed HB17-1351 at West Pines Behavioral Health in Wheat Ridge. This new law directs the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to study the feasibility of providing residential and inpatient substance use disorder treatment as a part of the state’s Medicaid program. Currently, the program only offers emergency treatment, but not inpatient treatment for patients who wish to enter recovery, which is the most effective and inexpensive way to treat people struggling with opioid addiction.

“We have a public health crisis and people are dying every day in Colorado and across the nation from opioid addiction,” said Rep. Pettersen, whose mother suffers from addiction. “And even for those patients who have lost everything and are desperate to get better, they cannot access treatment. We’ve heard from ER doctors that the one thing patients need the most is actually the cheapest. But instead, we provide emergency treatment to save their lives and then turn them away, knowing full well they will be back needing emergency care once again. This law offers us a chance to change that and give people a second chance at life.”

“This bill was signed at West Pines because it is the one place that took my mom in when no one else would,” added Rep. Pettersen. “They gave my mom a second chance.”

“Many Coloradans who want treatment for addiction are unable to access it due to limits in the type of treatment Medicaid covers, particularly residential treatment,” said Brad Sjostrom, manager of addiction services at West Pines Behavioral Health. “This new law opens the door for more patients to receive intensive residential care, a treatment that is essential to kick-starting recovery, and in some instances, saving a person’s life.”




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