The 2020 legislative session is well underway and there has been a lot going on. In addition to a wide variety of bills, we have been progressing through our budget cycle with figure setting occurring on March 12, 2020. As a reminder, figure setting is when the JBC members vote on recommendations from the OCR’s fiscal analyst regarding our budget requests. We are happy to share that the JBC voted to support the 5% rate increase for contractors! This is only provisional as the budget still has to go through the long bill process and survive any potential cuts in the House and the Senate before being approved. This is generally a positive sign though with the current COVID-19 situation and potential financial impact it is hard to predict how the budget will shape up. The OCR remains cautiously optimistic.

The surreal time that we find ourselves in extends to the General Assembly which voted on 3/15/2020 to pause the session for two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are questions about whether the 120 days allowed for a legislative session must be consecutive or not and the General Assembly will seek an advisory opinion from the Colorado Supreme Court. The answer to that will greatly impact how the remainder of the legislative session occurs.

Prior to the adjournment these bills were making their way through the general assembly:

HB20-1026: creates the 23rd Judicial District, separating Douglas and Elbert counties from Arapahoe county in the 18th Judicial District and creating a new judicial district. This bill has been approved by both the House and the Senate and sent the Governor.

HB20-1071: is the bill I mentioned in the winter newsletter that came out of the interim transportation committee. This is another bill to help foster youth get driver’s licenses including a program to pay for driver’s education. It was amended and passed by the House Transportation Committee and assigned to appropriations. Bills assigned to appropriations typically wait there until the general assembly gets closer to finalizing the state budget. Once it passes through appropriations it will be heard on the House floor and if passed there will go through a similar process in the Senate.

HB20-1079: is another bill mentioned in the winter newsletter that came out of the interim Treatment of Persons with Mental Health Disorders in the Criminal Justice System Committee. This one deals with juveniles on the sex offender registry and tackles a variety of recommendations from the interim committee. It was amended and passed by the House Judiciary Committee and is waiting in appropriations.

HB20-1104: deals with reinstatement of parental rights and ensures parents who relinquish their parental rights are eligible for reinstatement. The bill has been passed by the House and Senate and will be sent to the governor shortly.

HB20-1237: is a bill regarding foster youth who are assigned to get care through the regional RAE. It was passed by the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee as well as the Appropriations Committee and will be heard on the floor of the house before moving to the Senate.

HB20-1297: clarifies that immunization status alone cannot be the basis for filing of a D&N case. It was amended and passed by the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee.

SB20-162: is the FFPSA bill currently progressing through the House. It was passed and amended in the House Judiciary Committee and sent to appropriations. The bill will require further amendments and the OCR will remain actively involved.

SB20-165: is a bill to rename the 2018 disability bill in honor of Carrie Ann Lucas, former GAL, RPC and ORPC staff attorney. It passed through the Senate and is assigned to the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee.

In addition, there were a number of concerning bills that dealt with parental rights and various policies that would result in discrimination of LGBTQ individuals or families. The OCR participated in those bills impacting title 19 or the availability of foster and adoptive families. This package of bills were all heard by the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee which went to the early hours of the morning. None of the bills passed out of committee and are postponed indefinitely (aka “killed”). These included HB20-1033 Live and Live Act, HB20-1063 Fundamental Parental Rights, HB20-1114 Protect Minors from Mutilation and Sterilization, HB20-1144 Parent’s Bill of Rights and HB20-1272 Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act.

As you can see the legislative session was very active up to the adjournment. We will stay informed of what the general assembly decides to do and hope to push many of these past the finish line once we are able!