2023 Legislative Session
The Colorado Children’s Campaign serves as the leading voice for kids and their families at the state Capitol and in communities across the state. For almost four decades, we have worked with policymakers across various political perspectives to ensure every chance for every child.
Children’s issues are not partisan, and our work proves we can find systemic solutions when we work together. Our commitment to kids and families includes developing and advocating for legislation throughout the 2023 legislative session. It also involves sustained work with government agencies, partners, and communities to ensure that successful bills become departments, programs, initiatives, and policies that respond to the needs of Colorado kids and families.
Child & Family Health Priorities
- Multi-Year Continuous Eligibility for Medicaid and CHP+: Policies that keep people enrolled in Medicaid and the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) have reduced the state’s uninsurance rate - a silver lining of the pandemic. However, hundreds of thousands of Colorado kids are at risk of losing their health insurance coverage when the declared public health emergency ends, even though most will still be eligible for coverage—largely due to complex, burdensome processes required to stay enrolled that have been paused since early 2020. Colorado can ensure that families with low incomes can access the health care they need to thrive by providing longer periods of continuous Medicaid and CHP+ coverage to young children and other critical populations.
- Access to Reproductive and Preventive Health Services: Recent federal court rulings jeopardize Coloradans’ access to family planning and preventive services. Increasing state funding for family planning clinics will help ensure that Coloradans can continue to access the comprehensive, confidential family planning services that all people deserve. Colorado must also strengthen state coverage requirements for private health plans to ensure that access to critical preventive care, including reproductive health, oral health, and behavioral health services, is protected.
- Cover All Coloradans: The Children’s Campaign is working closely with partners to ensure that House Bill 22-1289, Cover All Coloradans, achieves its goals of increasing access to health insurance and care. In 2023, this work will include improving data collection about the perinatal period, health coverage for pregnant Coloradans, and access to services that improve well-being in the perinatal period. The Children’s Campaign will engage with three state agencies - the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, the Colorado Division of Insurance and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing - to achieve these goals. We are committed to supporting and promoting community involvement throughout the implementation of this bill.
Youth Success Priorities
- Equitable Changes to School Finance: Colorado’s school finance formula is nearly 30 years old. An update is sorely needed to remove structural barriers to opportunity and improve student outcomes. Colorado has an opportunity to update the way it defines and provides resources to students experiencing economic disadvantage. In addition, the state can better support school districts that struggle to raise adequate revenue due to low property wealth.
- Enhance School Climate Data: Schools play a crucial role in fostering safety, community, and healthy conditions for students’ learning and development. We will continue our work with the Colorado Department of Education to improve transparency and accuracy in data collection related to school discipline, absenteeism, harassment, and bullying. These data will be the foundation of school climate profile reports that provide crucial information about learning environments to parents, students, educators, and policymakers.
Early Childhood Priorities
- Child Care Contribution Tax Credit Reauthorization: Colorado’s Child Care Contribution Tax Credit brings an estimated $60 million each year to child care providers across the state, helping them keep their doors open and helping families access care. Coloradans can receive tax credits for donations to child care programs, child care provider training, and child care resource and referral systems. Reauthorizing Colorado’s Child Care Contribution Tax Credit will ensure that Colorado continues to provide an essential support to child care providers and Colorado families in the years to come.
- Establish New Department of Early Childhood and Universal Preschool Program: Our early childhood system is strongest when it can respond to the needs of all Colorado families and early childhood program providers. House Bill 22-1295 aligned nearly all the programs and services that support Colorado’s young children and their families under the purview of the Colorado Department of Early Childhood and created the Colorado Universal Preschool Program. To realize the whole child, whole family, whole community vision for early childhood established through HB22-1295’s stakeholder processes, those who are most impacted by changes to early childhood policy – families and providers – must remain engaged. The Children’s Campaign will be working to ensure community involvement is sustained throughout the implementation of Colorado’s new early childhood system.
Family Economic Prosperity Priorities
- Transparency and Access for Eviction Proceedings: Eviction takes a toll on health, well-being, and economic prosperity – and those impacts are magnified for families with children. When families are involved in eviction proceedings, they have a better chance of staying in their homes and avoiding an automatic judgment against them. Allowing all parties to attend eviction hearings remotely – a practice that had positive results during the pandemic – would remove many barriers to participation in these proceedings. Colorado can also improve the transparency of its eviction processes by collecting and publishing more consistent, comprehensive data. This would increase our understanding of who is most affected and allow us to identify the best ways to prevent families from being evicted.
- Improve Colorado Works (TANF): House Bill 22-1259 advanced significant improvements to Colorado’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, known here as Colorado Works. This included enhancement of its basic cash assistance; smoothing the program’s “cliff effect,” which occurs when families are disenrolled after small increases in earnings; easing punitive sanctions; and enhancing family outreach and engagement. The TANF Coalition, co-convened by the Children’s Campaign, will work with the Colorado Department of Human Services and other stakeholders to ensure that the rulemaking and implementation processes for these improvements promote economic security and reduce barriers for Colorado families.
- HB23-1300: Multi-Year Continuous Eligibility for Medicaid and CHP+ (Sirota & Bird/Zenzinger & Kirkmeyer): Allows the state to provide continuous Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) coverage to children from birth to age 3 and to provide 12 months of coverage for Coloradans leaving state prison. The bill also creates a study of how to improve the state Medicaid program to support Coloradans’ health, food security, and housing stability. Extending Medicaid and CHP+ coverage for young kids and people leaving carceral settings builds on a successful pandemic-era policy, improving oral and behavioral health, well-being, and access to health services for thousands of Coloradans during critical life periods.
- SB23-189: Access to Reproductive and Preventive Health Services (Moreno & Cutter/Michaelson Jenet & Garcia): Reduces surprise billing, removes patient cost-sharing for reproductive health care services offered to privately insured Coloradans, and codifies coverage of Affordable Care Act preventive services in Colorado. This includes critical resources such as preventive fluoride for young children, perinatal depression screening, and childhood immunizations. The bill also expands access to reproductive health services for people who use Medicaid, including by adding family planning-related services to the state’s reproductive health program for undocumented Coloradans.
- SB23-214: Family Planning Funding in the Long Bill (Zenzinger/Bird): Increases funding for the Family Planning Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment to serve more people at clinics across the state. The program helps create financially secure Colorado families and enables people to chart their own futures.
- HB23-1091: Child Care Contribution Tax Credit Renewal (Pugliese & Kipp/Marchman & Rich): Renews the Child Care Contribution Tax Credit (CCTC) for an additional three years. Child care providers rely on the donations incentivized by the CCTC (an estimated $60 million yearly, statewide) to fund their core programs, increase quality and wages, improve access to care for families, expand their capacity, and provide professional training and career pathway support for staff.
- HB23-1290: Retain Revenue for Universal Preschool (McCluskie & Sirota/Moreno & Fields): Refers a question to November 2023 voters about whether to retain excess revenue raised from Proposition EE, a ballot measure Coloradans passed overwhelmingly in 2020. Prop EE raised taxes on tobacco and nicotine products to fund a free, voluntary universal preschool program. Retaining the additional revenue will allow Colorado to provide universal preschool services and extend additional preschool programming to more children, especially those with qualifying factors who need it most.
- HB23-1186: Remote Access for Eviction Proceedings (Lindsay & Jodeh, Exum & Jaquez Lewis): Allows all parties in a residential eviction proceeding to choose whether they intend to participate in person or virtually, extending an effective pandemic-era practice. This bill will help ensure that fewer people receive a default judgment and lose their home solely because they cannot appear in-person for an eviction hearing due to barriers such as difficulty taking time off work, finding child care, or accessing transportation.
This is good progress, but Colorado must further improve the transparency and fairness of eviction processes by collecting and publishing more consistent, comprehensive data. Better data collection around these traumatic events would increase understanding of who is most affected and allow policymakers to identify the best ways to prevent families from being evicted.
- SB23-287: Public School Finance Act (Zenzinger & Lundeen, McLachlan & Kipp): Creates a task force of school finance experts to deliver specific recommendations for a modernized, equitable, and student-centered school finance formula by January 2024. The School Finance Act also fully funds the Mill Levy Override Match Fund, which supports school districts that struggle to raise local revenue to meet student needs due to low property wealth.
While these are exciting wins for public education, Colorado’s School Finance Formula is still very much outdated, inequitable, and not serving the needs of students throughout the state. Policymakers must do more to prioritize student learning needs rather than maintaining an inequitable status quo.