Capitol Updates: Legislators hear bills on family planning services, early childhood workforce after the State Budget is finalized
The legislative logjam has started to break! For the most part, bills that require funding are often parked in an Appropriations committee for months as they wait for funding to be assigned to them. Now that the State Budget, or Long Bill, is complete, that means all those bills that had been waiting can now get their funding and continue their journey through the legislative process. Dozens of bills broke through that logjam this week, including several of our priorities to support family planning services, increase access to community birth workers, and bolster the early childhood workforce. Great news! These bills now have the funding needed and will quickly move closer to being placed on the Governor’s Desk to become law!
That wasn’t the only exciting thing to happen at the Capitol-far from it! A bill to create a new state Department of Early Childhood and implement a voluntary, universal preschool program was introduced as well. House Bill 1304, also known at the Anna Jo Haynes Act after the longtime advocate, is a truly historical move for our state and has the strong backing of both legislative leadership and the Governor’s Office. HB1304 will help end our fragmented Early Childhood system by streamlining programs and lifting many of the complications and burdens of government off families and providers. Thank you to Speaker Alec Garnett, Rep. Emily Sirota, Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, Sen. Janet Buckner, and, of course, Anna Jo Haynes for the amazing leadership to make this reality for Colorado’s kids and families!
Agriculture Workers’ Rights (Danielson/McCormick & Caraveo)
This bill would remove the exemption of agricultural labor from state and local minimum wage laws and would grant agricultural employees meal breaks and rest periods throughout each work period, consistent with protections for other employees. The bill would provide basic health and safety protections during the pandemic and ensure that service providers like doctors have access to farmworkers on employer-provided housing. The bill would also authorize agricultural employees to organize and join labor unions. To read more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.
Restrict Insurers’ Use of External Consumer Data (Buckner)
This bill would hold insurers accountable for testing their big data systems to ensure they are not unfairly discriminating against protected classes and requires them to take corrective action to address any consumer harms that are discovered. The Colorado Children’s Campaign supports this bill as one step to combat systemic racism and institutional bias and remove barriers to the social determinants of health. To learn more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.
Office of Gun Violence Prevention (Sullivan & Bacon/Fields & Hansen)
This bill would create the Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the Department of Public Health and Environment to coordinate and promote effective efforts to reduce gun violence. It would create a requirement for the office to launch and conduct public awareness campaigns to educate the public about existing resources related to gun violence prevention. To learn more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.