Capitol Update: The Colorado General Assembly is back from recess and here is how the first week went
The 2021 Legislative Session has kicked off…again! After a month-long pause due to COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, the legislature reconvened on Tuesday for what was technically “day 4” of this year’s session. This week looked somewhat similar to how session typically goes in a first week–legislative leadership made speeches outlining priorities, the Governor gave his State of the State address, and more than 200 bills were introduced-wow! Although the Capitol is open to the public, and full of mask-wearers and plexiglass for protection, virtual participation is still encouraged, and we will see both legislators and advocates calling in remotely throughout the duration of session.
Within those 200 bills introduced, there are several that are amazing for kids and families! One of them is a Children’s Campaign priority bill-Senate Bill 25. This bipartisan bill from Senators Pettersen and Coram will expand income eligibility for family planning services in our state Medicaid program. The COVID-19 pandemic has jeopardized access to family planning services while demand for those services has grown. With SB25, Colorado has the opportunity to expand coverage for family planning services at a minimal cost to the state — drawing down millions in federal matching dollars. The public health benefits are outstanding! This bill will support the health, well-being, and financial security of families and children by reducing unintended pregnancies and empowering people who can become pregnant to attain their education goals and create financially-secure families. We are really proud to see this bipartisan bill introduced so early in the session and look forward to shepherding it along through the process.
We will be sure to have even more updates on what is happening at the Capitol in the weeks and months ahead, including info on other bills that benefit Colorado kids and families.
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:
Safe Storage of Firearms (Duran & Mullica/Bridges & Hansen)
This bill would create requirements to responsibly and securely store firearms away from children when they are not in use. It would also create penalties for the unlawful storage of a firearm and for selling devices not properly locked upon completion of the sale. It would require the Office of Suicide Prevention to create, maintain and disseminate information about the penalties associated with unlawful storage to firearms related businesses and about the importance of safe firearm storage for health care providers with their patients. Studies suggest that child access prevention laws can reduce self-injury from firearms among children and youth, and may have spillover effects in reducing suicide among other groups. This is especially critical in Colorado, where suicide is a driving cause of maternal mortality.
To learn more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.
Family Planning Service for Eligible Individuals (Pettersen)
This bill would increase the number of Coloradans who would qualify for Medicaid-covered family planning services by increasing the income eligibility limits for these services. If this bill passed, Coloradans who make up to 260 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($68,900 in annual income for a family of four in 2021), lack coverage for family planning services, and meet all other eligibility criteria for Medicaid could access family planning services. This bill helps support the health and wellbeing of families and children by reducing unintended pregnancies, empowering people who can become pregnant to attain their education goals, helping create financially secure and strong families, and reducing the number of people who need to use Medicaid and CHP+ for pregnancy and postpartum coverage. To learn more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.
Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families (Pettersen/Gonzales-Gutierrez & Tipper)
This bill would provide funding to nonprofit organizations across the state, including diaper banks and family resource centers, to allow these organizations to distribute diapers to families in their communities. Diapers are one of the most basic, essential things that parents need to be able to provide for their children. To learn more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.