Capitol Update: Legislature Adjourns; Bills Pending Approval by Governor

The Colorado General Assembly finished its 2013 legislative session this week. We’re excited to report that all of the Children’s Campaign’s priority bills were approved by lawmakers. Priority bills with final action this week:

  • Alignment of Early Childhood Programs: House Bill 13-1117 (Hamner/Hodge & Kerr) was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper this week. It aligns early childhood services by moving numerous programs serving young children from multiple state agencies to the Colorado Department of Human Services. This will better serve children and families by streamlining enrollment processes and program administration. Click here to download a fact sheet.
  • Infant and Toddler Quality and Access Grant Program: House Bill 13-1291 (Duran/Kefalas) earned final approval by the Senate and moves to the governor for approval. It would create a grant program through the Department of Human Services that would expand quality and availability for infant and toddler care. The program would fund quality improvement grants for infant and toddler classrooms and tiered reimbursement for children receiving child care subsidies and attending participating programs.

Stay tuned for our legislative impacts document next week and thank you for all of your help in making this such a strong session for kids!

Capitol Update – May 3, 2013

  • Medicaid Expansion: Senate Bill 200 (Aguilar/Ferrandino) was approved by the full House this week with a 36-23 vote with 6 lawmakers excused and goes to the governor’s desk. It would expand eligibility for Medicaid to adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level—about $31,000 for a family of four. It would also reduce the number of uninsured kids in Colorado and improve quality and continuity of care for children in Medicaid by helping connect already eligible kids to coverage and implementing a policy of 12 months continuous eligibility in Medicaid for children. Ensuring kids get the care they need, when they need it isn’t asking too much. Click here for a fact sheet on why Medicaid expansion is good for kids. 
  • Infant and Toddler Quality and Access Grant Program: House Bill 1291 (Duran/Kefalas) would create a grant program through the Department of Human Services that would expand quality and availability for infant and toddler care. The program would fund quality improvement grants for infant and toddler classrooms and tiered reimbursement for those children receiving child care subsidies and attending participating programs. It was approved Wednesday by the Senate Health and Human Services on 4-2 vote and on Thursday by Senate Appropriations on a 4-3 vote.
  • Oral Health Community Programs: Senate Bill 261 (Nicholson/McCann) was approved by the full House Friday with a bipartisan 39-26 vote. The Children’s Campaign’s fellow from the Colorado College Public Interest Fellowship Program, Marley Hamrick, testified in support of the bill. It would establish a community grant program, administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, to support community-level preventative dental health care efforts such as water fluoridation programs and school-based dental sealant programs, particularly for low-income Coloradans.  This bill was approved by the House and now moves to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
  • Reauthorization of the Early Childhood & School Readiness Commission: House Bill 13-1007 (Peniston/Hudak) would renew and extend authorization of the Early Childhood and School Readiness Commission through 2018. The bill was amended in the House before moving to Senate to remove the appropriation for the bill’s implementation, and to allow for the interim committee to be funded via gifts, grants, and in kind donations from relevant stakeholders. The bill was approved Thursday by the Senate Education committee on a 4-3 vote, and now moves to the Senate floor for final consideration.
  • Alignment of Early Childhood Programs: House Bill 13-1117 (Hamner/Hodge & Kerr) would align early childhood services by moving numerous programs serving young children from multiple state agencies to the Colorado Department of Human Services. This would better serve children and families by streamlining enrollment processes and program administration. This bill passed out of the Senate Thursday on third reading with a bipartisan vote of 21-14. The House concurred with Senate amendments on Tuesday and the bill is now on its way to the Governor for his signature. Click here to download a fact sheet. 
  • Current School Finance Act: Senate Bill 260 (Hudak & Steadman/Hamner) determines school financing for the 2013-14 budget year. It was approved this week by the full House with a bipartisan 52-12 vote with one lawmaker excused, and the Senate concurred with House amendments. It now heads to the governor’s desk. The bill includes an Early Childhood At-Risk Enhancement (ECARE) provision for the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) that will allocate 3,200 slots for school districts to use flexibly. Slots can be used to serve more children in CPP, add a second half of the day for children already being served in CPP to create a full day or add the second half of the day for at-risk kindergarteners.
  • Working Families Economic Opportunity Act: Senate Bill 001 (Morse & Kefalas/Kagan) was approved by the House. This bill would enact a permanent state earned income tax credit of 10 percent of the federal EITC, and would create a Colorado child tax credit. The first, larger credit would be triggered when the state has a budget surplus subject to a TABOR refund; the second, when the federal Marketplace Fairness Act and conforming Colorado legislation are enacted. Together, the tax credits would save approximately 400,000 low-income Colorado working families more than $100 million.
  • Childhood Vaccinations: Senate Bill 222 (Aguilar/Pabon) was approved by the full House Friday on a bipartisan vote of 41-24. It would improve access to childhood immunizations in Colorado by streamlining the financing and delivery of vaccines. The bill establishes a thoughtful and inclusive stakeholder process designed to deliver innovative strategies to maximize efficiency in the purchase and distribution of childhood vaccines. Click here to read more about the bill.

Capitol Update – Feb. 22, 2012

  1. Online Learning: This week Reilly Pharo, Children’s Campaign Vice President for Education Initiatives, testified in support of Senate Bill 13-139 (Roberts/Coram). It would drive access, quality and affordability for students taking online course while still enrolled in traditional schools. Blended learning helps drive a more individualized, quality education experience for students. The Children’s Campaign has a 27-year history of supporting quality educational choices for students and in the past year we’ve been researching improving blended learning options. For more information, see the recent Children’s Campaign report, “Digital Learning in Colorado: Opportunities and Recommendations.” Click here to download a factsheet.
  2. Alignment of Child Development Programs: House Bill 13-1117 (Hamner/Hodge, Newell) would align early childhood services by moving numerous programs serving young children from multiple state agencies to the Colorado Department of Human Services to better serve children and families by streamlining enrollment processes and program administration. This bill passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 42-23 and moves to the Senate. Click here to download a factsheet.
  3. CHP+ Waiting Period Elimination: Senate Bill 13-008 (Newell/McCann) would streamline enrollment in CHP+ by eliminating the three month waiting period for children moving from an employer-supported health plan to CHP+. This bill passed the Senate with bi-partisan support on a vote of 22-12 with one Senator excused. The bill will now move to the House. Click here to download a fact sheet.
  4. ASSET BILL:  Senate Bill 13-033 (Giron,Johnston/Duran,Williams) would make college affordable for all Colorado graduates, regardless of citizenship. It passed a second reading in the Senate today with bipartisan support. The final vote may occur as soon as Monday and then it moves to the House.

Capitol Update: Children’s Campaign President and School Finance Partnership Co-Chairs Present to Joint Education Committee

Legislators were briefed this week on the School Finance Partnership’s nearly two-year effort to come to full consensus on principles to overhaul Colorado’s outdated and inequitable school finance law. Partnership Co-Chairs Chris Watney, Cary Kennedy and Bob Deibel gave a school finance presentation to the Joint Education Committee Wednesday.

“There has never been a better opportunity to align our education resources with our accountability system than School Finance Act reform,” said Watney, President and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “No one at the School Finance Partnership table got everything they wanted, but I think I speak for everyone at the table that the resulting recommendations were better than what any one of us would have created without each other’s unique perspectives.”

For more information on the school finance overhaul, please read a recent Denver Post story.

Chris Watney (right) addresses the Joint Education Committee with Cary Kennedy and Bob Deibel, co-chairs of the School Finance Partnership.

Other news from the state and U.S. capitols this week:

  • Two Children’s Campaign priority bills moved ahead this week and will head to full House or Senate chambers for consideration next week: Alignment of Child Development Programs: House Bill 13-1117 (Hamner/Hodge,Newell) would align early childhood services by moving numerous programs serving young children from multiple state agencies to the Colorado Department of Human Services to better serve children and families by streamlining enrollment processes and program administration. This bill passed House Appropriations on a vote of 9-4. Click here to download a factsheet. CHP+ Waiting Period Elimination: Senate Bill 13-008 (Newell/McCann) would streamline enrollment in the CHP+ by eliminating the three month waiting period for children moving from an employer-supported health plan to CHP+. Senate Appropriations approved the bill on a vote of 4-3. Click here to download a fact sheet.
  • We were encouraged by the commitment President Obama made in his State of the Union Address this week to increasing access to high-quality early childhood education in every state. While Congress and the Obama administration have much work to do to formulate a federal budget and stabilize our national fiscal standing, the President’s mention of quality early childhood education is evidence that this important priority is gaining visibility at the national level. Click here to read more.

Capitol Update – Feb. 8, 2013

Next week we expect two of our priority bills to have second committee hearings, including:

  • Alignment of Child Development Programs: House Bill 13-1117 (Hamner/Hodge,Newell) will be heard in the House Appropriations Committee Friday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 a.m. in the Legislative Services Building Room A. It would align early childhood services by moving numerous programs serving young children from multiple state agencies to the Colorado Department of Human Services to better serve children and families by streamlining enrollment processes and program administration. Click here to download a factsheet.
  • CHP+ Waiting Period Elimination: Senate Bill 13-008 (Newell/McCann) will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee Friday, Feb. 15 at 8 a.m. in Senate Committee Room 356. This legislation would streamline enrollment in the CHP+ by eliminating the three month waiting period for children moving from an employer-supported health plan to CHP+. Click here to download a fact sheet.

Transforming the School Finance Act remains a hot topic at the capitol in anticipation of Sen. Mike Johnston’s bill to overhaul the system based on the recommendations of the School Finance Partnership, convened by the Children’s Campaign. On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Partnership Co-Chairs Chris Watney, Cary Kennedy and Bob Deibel will give a school finance presentation to the Joint Education Committee. Watney, Deibel and Kennedy will brief legislators on the Partnership’s nearly two-year effort to come to full consensus on principles to overhaul the state’s outdated and inequitable school finance law. The committee meets at 7:45 a.m. Click here to listen to live audio. Read more about the partnership here. For more on Sen. Johnston’s proposed legislation, please read a recent Denver Post story.

Capitol Update: Early Childhood, School Breakfast and CHP+ Bills Move Ahead

This week was busy at the Capitol, with three key pieces of Children’s Campaign legislation being heard in committees, including testimony from two of our staff:

  • Alignment of Child Development Programs: House Bill 13-1117 earned bipartisan approval from the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee by a vote of 9-4 and moves on to the House Appropriations Committee. Children’s Campaign President and CEO Chris Watney testified in support of the bill, saying it “both lays the foundation for a more efficient, effective, and aligned approach to how Colorado provides early childhood services and, most importantly, would make it easier for parents and families of young children to navigate their options.” Click here to download a fact sheet.
  • CHP+ Waiting Period Elimination: Senate Bill 13-008 was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee by a bipartisan vote of 6-1 and moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Testifying in support of the bill, Children’s Campaign Vice President of Health Initiatives Cody Belzley said, “the CHP+ waiting period is an antiquated policy that is confusing and inefficient. Most detrimental though, it puts kids and families at risk.” Click here to download a fact sheet.
  • School Breakfast After the Bell: House Bill 13-1006 also won bipartisan support this week, as the House Education Committee voted 11-2 to approve the measure and send it to the House Appropriations Committee. Educators and health experts from across the state testified that it would support healthy development and student achievement by extending the School Breakfast After the Bell Nutrition Program to more schools with high populations of low-income students.  Click here to download a fact sheet in English and Spanish.