The Colorado General Assembly is about a quarter of the way through its session that will end May 11. And of nearly 300 bills under consideration so far, the Colorado Center for Aging (CCA) is following 46.
In last month’s Gray Zone, we shared what AARP Colorado, CCA and the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter are hoping to see unfold this session. Now we’ve also reached out to North Denver’s Senator Julie Gonzales, House Representatives Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Alex Valdez, and the Governor’s Senior Policy Advisor on Aging, Jarett Hughes.
But first, a roundup of seven bills The Gray Zone is following for readers this month:
Modernization of The Older Coloradans’ Act
HB22-1035 adds state infrastructure geared toward implementing the 2020 Strategic Action Plan on Aging. The changes stem from work by the Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging (SAPGA) that was formed as a result of 2015 legislation. Among other things, the bill reorganizes and expands (from 17 to 19) the state’s commission on aging and it connects strategic goals on aging to specific staff and committees of the state. HB22-1035 passed (with amendments) out of the Committee for Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services, where North Denver’s House Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez serves. CCA strongly supports this bill.
Health-care Preceptors Tax Credit
HB22-1005 expands a tax credit program for health-care preceptors working in rural and frontier areas of the state. It has been amended and approved by the House Committee on Health & Insurance. CCA supports this bill.
Electric and Gas Utility Customer Protections
HB22-1018 provides greater consumer protections connected to a customer’s ability to pay their utility bill, including restrictions forbidding an electric or gas utility from shutting off service on a weekend or a state or federal holiday. HB22-1018 was introduced in the House and assigned to the Energy & Environment Committee, where North Denver’s House Representative Alex Valdez serves. CCA supports this bill.
Home Owners’ Reasonable Access To Common Areas
HB22-1040 establishes the right of unit owners in “common interest communities” to have reasonable access to common elements of those communities. It includes a requirement that an association provide, in writing and through posted signage, an explanation for the closure and an estimated end date. HB22-1040 passed (with amendments) out of the House Committee on Business Affairs & Labor. CCA supports this bill.
Mod Affordable Housing Tax Credit
HB22-1051 extends the period of the tax credit through 2034 (adding 10 years) and increases the annual aggregate cap for those additional years to $15M. HB22-1051 has been introduced in the House and assigned to the House Transportation & Local Government committee. CCA supports this bill.
Dementia Training Requirements Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Department of Health Care Policy and Financing Rules
SB22-079 will require state departments to develop rules requiring nursing care facilities, assisted living residences, and adult day care facilities to provide dementia training for staff who provide direct-care services to clients and residents of the facilities. It has been introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Health & Human Services Committee. The Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter was instrumental in developing the framework for this bill.
Health Facility Visitation During Pandemic
SB22-053 responds to limitations on visitation that were implemented by health care facilities during the pandemic. SB22-053 has been introduced in the Senate and assigned to the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee, which is chaired by North Denver Senator Julie Gonzales. CCA is neutral on this bill.
A spokesperson for the Governor’s office expressed support for HB22-1035, Modernization of the Older Coloradans’ Act,
“Colorado has one of the fastest growing populations of adults aged 60+ in the country. Our growing aging population will create unique opportunities and challenges across a variety of sectors including workforce, housing, health care, education, transportation and mobility, social services, built design, and technology. Updating our Older Coloradans’ Act is a fundamental step in the right direction.”
House Representative Alex Valdez said he agrees that Colorado needs to be better equipped to support and leverage its growing 65+ population. Regarding SB22-079 (dementia training for direct care providers), he believes it’s important to support health care worker competency in as many areas as possible. As Chair of the House Energy & Environment Committee, he thinks of his grandparents, and others on fixed incomes, whenever a bill connected to utility costs crosses his desk.
CCA makes their Bill Report, built on the nonpartisan Colorado Capitol Watch platform, available online. They also encourage people to get involved by becoming a member and helping to shape positions on bills. The 46 bills CCA is tracking this session can be sorted by columns including the CCA position (support, monitor, neutral, oppose), the bill’s status and next hearing date.
Included with each bill on the CCA Bill Report is a link to view how registered lobbyists are lining up (amending, monitoring, opposing or supporting). You’ll see a wide range of cities, consultants, associations, and advocacy groups represented here. For example, in the case of HB22-1018 (consumer protections with utility companies) you will see that groups like AARP and Colorado Cross Disability Coalition are currently in support, while Excel Energy and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce stand opposed.
To get involved with CCA at the Capitol or by Zoom, visit coloradocenterforaging.org. And visit these websites to dig further in:
• CCA Bill Tracker: coloradocenterforaging.org/legislative-resources/cca-2022-bill-tracker
• Watch the General Assembly (including committees) LIVE: leg.colorado.gov/watch-listen
One final note: Thank you to the Governor’s office on aging and Rep. Alex Valdez for taking the time to talk about legislation impacting 65+ Coloradans. We hope Senator Julie Gonzales and Rep. Serena Gonazles-Gutierrez are able to share their thoughts in a future edition of The Gray Zone.
North Denver in the Colorado General Assembly State Senate District 34 Senator Julie Gonzales firstname.lastname@example.org 303-866-4862 State House District 4 Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez email@example.com 303-866-2954 State House District 5 Representative Alex Valdez firstname.lastname@example.org 303-866-2925
Kathryn has lived in North Denver since around the time the Mount Carmel High School building was razed and its lot at 3600 Zuni became Anna Marie Sandoval Elementary. She’s raised two children in the neighborhood, worked at several nonprofits, and volunteered with the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter.
Do you have story ideas for The Gray Zone? Email Kathryn@DenverNorthStar.com.