Capitol Update: Early childhood mental health consultation gets a head start with first hearing

Written by: Riley Kitts
Date Posted: January 24, 2020

Even in a short week, a lot happened under the Gold Dome! We had our first priority bill in committee! Earlier today House Bill 20-1006, a bill to officially establish an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation program, passed out of the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee. Thank you to all the educators, providers, and clinicians who came to testify in support of the bill. It was really great to hear community voices lifted up in the legislative process. And a huge thank you to our fearless sponsors, Representative Julie McCluskie (Summit County) and Representative Emily Sirota (Denver) for being such strong champions on this issue; they helped craft a truly comprehensive and inclusive piece of legislation.  You can hear more about this innovative idea on this week’s episode of The West Steps podcast.

Nearly 280 bills have been introduced thus far, with more than 50 having to do with K-12 education alone. Next week we will be watching some of those education bills very closely and may even weigh in on a few. We will be sure to keep you all updated as things proceed through our legislative process. Our policy staff work hard each week to analyze bills that would impact children and families. Here are a few highlights, and you can always track all the bills on our Capitol Updates page:

Nicotine Product Regulation (Mullica & Larson/ Bridges & Priola)

This bill would raise the minimum age to purchase nicotine products from 18 to 21 years old and ban online sales of nicotine products without proof of I.D. The bill would also require every retailer that sells nicotine products to obtain a license by July 1, 2021 and ensure the enforcement of retail licenses. In addition, the bill would limit a retailer’s ability to advertise nicotine products within 500 feet of a school and increase penalties for selling nicotine products to underage persons. Read more about the bill and its progress through the legislature here.

Childhood Mental Health Consultation (McCluskie & Sirota/Pettersen & Story)

This bill would bolster the state-managed early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) program by establishing program infrastructure, quality metrics, and evaluation requirements. It would help ensure sustainable funding, define and enhance program structure and design, maintain and support a qualified ECMHC workforce, and ensure quality services in the state-managed ECMHC program. Read more about the bill and its progress through the legislature here.

Excused Absences for Mental Health Day (Fields/ Michaelson Jenet)

This bill would require school districts to include excused absences for behavioral health concerns in their written attendance policies. This bill would help reduce stigma for youth and families around behavioral health and would give students an opportunity to address behavioral health concerns and mitigate crises before they occur. Read more about the bill and its progress through the legislature here.