2020 Legislative Session

Date Posted: January 3, 2020

Intro

The Colorado Children’s Campaign serves as the leading voice for kids at the state Capitol and in communities across the state. In our 35-year history we’ve worked with policy makers from every corner of the state and every political perspective to improve the well-being of Colorado kids. Children’s issues aren’t partisan, and we’ve proven that we can develop innovative solutions when we work together.

In 2020, legislators and advocates faced a massive public health crisis and economic freefall in the middle of the regular legislative session. Many important bills that would have advanced the well-being of Colorado children and families were lost. However, legislators returned to the Capitol to make incredibly difficult decisions to help families respond to, and recover from, the pandemic. Here are the results that we championed and supported.

 Priorities

Child Health Priorities

  • Family Planning Investment: Colorado’s Family Planning Program is a long-standing, effective program that is poised to serve more women, especially in the rural areas of the state. Investing in this program supports the health and well-being of women and their children.
  • Perinatal Depression Support: Mood and anxiety disorders are the most common complication of pregnancy and early motherhood—and can be caught with frequent check-ins with medical providers. Aligning the number of screenings allowed under a child’s Medicaid benefit with national best practices would support families with low incomes in this critical time.

K-12 Education Priorities

  • Fair Local Share for K-12 Establishing a uniform mill levy for property owners would fix an unintended consequence of Colorado’s inflexible tax system. It would ensure the quality of a child’s education and the resources that schools can access don’t depend on where a child lives. The majority of taxpayers will see little or no increase in property taxes. For more information, visit FairShareforK12.co.

Early Childhood Priorities

  • Workforce Education and Career Pathways: Colorado’s working parents can’t get to work without early childhood educators. Improving career and education pathways for these high-demand jobs will catapult qualified, aspiring early childhood educators into classrooms by streamlining licensing, providing scholarships and grants, and establishing an apprentice program.
  • Mental Health Consultation: The foundation of mental wellness is established in the early years of life. We can ensure that the many providers and caregivers that work with children have the support they need to foster healthy young minds and promote social and emotional well-being.
  • Educator Tax Credit Technical Fix: A technical change to correct a drafting error will allow a bipartisan bill passed in 2019 to establish an early childhood educator tax credit to go into effect.
  • Expanding Access to Early Care and Education: This year’s budget must include increased investments in the Colorado Preschool Program and the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program to keep our state’s economy thriving and to ensure young children have access to high quality early learning experiences.

Budget Priorities

  • Helping Families Access Federal Income Support: For families with incomes significantly below the poverty line, Basic Cash Assistance helps decrease the stress of making ends meet. Adjusting this program for inflation would support families and reduce extreme childhood poverty, which has a lifelong impact on child well-being.

 Impacts

New Progress

  • Basic Cash Assistance for TANF Families: SB20-29 (Fields & Moreno/Coleman & Duran) : allows Colorado to use federal funds to ensure that families enrolled in the TANF program, who are experiencing extreme poverty, receive additional money in their pockets as soon as possible to help weather the immediate effects of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Health Care Affordability Fund: SB20-215 (Moreno & Donovan/Kennedy & McCluskie) : allows Colorado to pick up a federal fee on health insurance providers set to expire at the end of this year in order to reduce premiums, increase tax credits for insurance subsidies and cover people left out of the system—including Coloradans without proper documentation.
  • Tobacco & Nicotine Tax for Housing, Education, & Pre-K: HB20-1427 (Caraveo & McCluskie/Fields & Moreno) : refers a question to voters in November to raise taxes on nicotine products to fill budget deficits caused by the pandemic, and also establish a universal preschool program that targets the greatest resources to those with the most barriers.
  • Early Childhood Workforce Supports including Mental Health & Quality Improvements: HB20-1053 (Sirota & Wilson/Story & Pettersen) : helps recruit and retain early childhood educators and support early childhood mental health.
  • School Finance Act with Mill Levy Equity Framework: HB20-1418 (Becker/Todd) : sets funding levels for public schools and resets the way the state calculates a school district’s property tax rate, creating a structure to reduce taxpayer inequality between districts.
  • Adjust Tax Expenditures for State Education Fund: HB20-1420 (Sirota & Gray/ Moreno & Hansen):  increases fairness in our tax code by closing or means-testing certain deductions and by expanding the state Earned Income Tax Credit and making it available to working families who file taxes using an ITIN number.
  • Repeal Gallagher Amendment: SCR20-001 (Tate & Hansen/Esgar & Soper) : refers a question to voters in November to repeal a constitutional amendment that forces permanent property tax cuts to residences. Repealing the amendment is expected to increase property tax revenue for local governments and reduce the state aid requirement for school funding.
  • School Entry Immunization Requirements: SB20-163 (Gonzales & Priola/Mullica) : will improve state vaccination rates by standardizing the immunization exemption process and requiring schools to proactively notify parents of school immunization rates. It also supports public health vaccination efforts.

Protecting Progress

  • Weakening Immunization Standards (HB20-1063, 1144, 1239, and SB20-084):  If not defeated, these bills would have significantly limited the ability of our government and community-based service providers to protect and promote public health and safety through vaccinations.
  • Repeal Colorado Reinsurance Program (SB20-145): The reinsurance program lowers premiums by helping insurance carriers reduce the risk of expensive claims. Individual Insurance premiums dropped in Colorado by an average of 20 percent in the program’s first year. Not only was this bill to eliminate the program defeated, but the program was extended and fully funded through SB20-215.