Capitol Update – April 19, 2013

  • Current School Finance Act: Senate Bill 260 (Hudak & Steadman/Hamner) determines school financing for the 2013-14 budget year. It was approved earlier today by the Senate with a bipartisan 23-12 vote. A new Early Childhood At-Risk Enhancement (ECARE) provision was added to the Colorado Preschool Program 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 day for at-risk kindergarteners.
  • Medicaid Expansion: Senate Bill 200 (Aguilar/Ferrandino) was approved by the full Senate Friday with a bipartisan vote of 21-14. It is scheduled to be heard by the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23. 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. 
  • Breakfast After the Bell: House Bill 13-1006 (Moreno & Exum/Giron) was approved by the Senate Thursday 20-15 and goes to Gov. John Hickenlooper for his approval. The bill 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 or to access a helpful infographic.
  • Childhood Vaccinations: Senate Bill 222 (Aguilar/Pabon) was approved by the Colorado Senate and will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration. 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. The bill was being heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee late Friday afternoon. Click here to read more about the bill.
  • Oral Health Community Programs: Senate Bill 261 (Nicholson/McCann) was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee with a bipartisan 6-1 vote and moves to the full Senate. This bill would establish a community grant program, administered by the Colorado Department of 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.
  • Infant and Toddler Quality and Access Grant Program: House Bill 1291 (Duran), was heard by the House Public Health Care and Human Services committee on Tuesday after being amended to create a grant program through the Department of Human Services that would expand quality and availability for infant and toddler care. The program will 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 by the House Appropriations Committee 7-5 on Friday and now moves to the full House.

Capitol Update – April 12, 2013

  • Medicaid Expansion: Senate Bill 200 (Aguilar/Ferrandino) was approved by the full Senate Friday with a bipartisan preliminary vote. 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.
  • Current School Finance Act: Senate Bill 260 (Hudak & Steadman/Hamner) determines school financing for the 2013-14 budget year. It was approved by the Senate Education Committee on a bipartisan 8-1 vote this week and moves to Senate Appropriations. The Children’s Campaign is excited that several provisions that would boost quality early childhood education were included in the bill.  The number of slots for the high quality Colorado Preschool Program would be increased by 3,200, for a total of 23,360 slots to provide more at-risk Colorado children with high quality early education. The bill also would include the new Expanding Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) which would allow school districts to apply for grants to improve the quality of its preschool program.
  • Future School Finance Act: Senate Bill 13-213 (Johnston & Heath/Hamner) would modernize Colorado’s school financing system by driving change to the way dollars are allocated to support students. Those changes would only happen once Colorado voters decide to make greater investments in our education system. It is scheduled to be heard in the House Education Committee Monday, April 15 at 1:30 p.m. in the Old Supreme Court Chambers. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel’s editorial board this week urged passage of the bill, because it would “significantly improve the school-finance system in Colorado. It deserves bipartisan support.” Click here to read the editorial. Learn more about the bill here.
  • Breakfast After the Bell: House Bill 13-1006 (Moreno & Exum/Giron) was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday on a 4-3 vote and moves to full Senate. The bill 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 or to access a helpful infographic.
  • Improve Access to Childhood Immunizations: Senate Bill 13-222 (Aguilar/Pabon) seeks to 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. The bill was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee late Friday, April 5 with a bipartisan 5-1 vote. Click here to read more about the bill.
  • English Language Learning Support: House Bill 13-1211 (Buckner & Navarro-Ratzlaff/Todd) was approved by the House Appropriations Committee Friday in a 13-0 vote and also passed initial approval in the full House. It increases support for professional development to help teachers work with English Language Learners (ELLs) on all academic subjects, from chemistry to history.

Capitol Update

  1. CHP+ Waiting Period Elimination (PASSED): 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 House with a bipartisan 48-16 vote and heads to the governor for his signature. This means more children eligible for health insurance will get the care they need when they need by not having to wait to see a doctor. Click here to download a fact sheet.
  2. School Breakfast: House Bill 13-1006 (Moreno & Exum/Giron) was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Thursday on a 4-3 vote. The bill 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 or to access a helpful infographic.
  3. Supplemental Online Education Services: Senate Bill 13-139 (Roberts/Coram would strengthen supplemental and online education services by driving both greater access and quality in our statewide supplemental online program. It faced overwhelming support in the Senate with a 35-0 vote to approve the bill and it heads to the House. The bill is scheduled for its next hearing in House Education on Monday.

Capitol Update – March 15, 2013

  1. School Finance: Sen. Mike Johnston’s proposed overhaul of the state School Finance Act was introduced late last week along with data on the positive impact the overhaul would have on every Colorado school district. Senate Bill 13-2013 (Johnston & Heath/Hamner) would be the first significant change in the way we allocate education financing in nearly 20 years. It would create a more equitable, sustainable and efficient education system and ensure all Colorado children are prepared to excel in school, college, careers and life. Please visit Sen. Johnston’s website to learn more about the bill or click here to download a fact sheet. It is scheduled for its first hearing at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 in the Senate Education Committee.
  2. 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 the Senate Health and Human Services on a bipartisan vote of 6-1 and moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Children’s Campaign President and CEO Chris Watney testified in support of the bill. 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 House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee with a bipartisan 11-2 vote. Children’s Campaign Vice President for Health Initiatives Cody Belzley testified in support of the bill. It now moves to the full House. Click here to download a fact sheet.
  4. School Breakfast House Bill 13-1006 (Moreno & Exum/Giron) was approved with a bipartisan vote of the House this week and moves to the Senate. The bill 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 or to access a helpful infographic.

Capitol Update – March 8, 2013

  1. ASSET Bill
    The Colorado House of Representatives voted 40-21 with bipartisan support today to approve Senate Bill 13-033 (Johnston and Giron/Williams and Duran), Colorado’s public colleges and universities, regardless of citizenship. The bill is headed to Gov. John Hickenlooper for his signature. Advocates celebrated today after working for 10 years to pass the legislation. Read more about the history of this historic legislation from our partners at Padres y Jovenes Unidos
  2. SB-200 Medicaid Expansion Introduced
    On Friday, March 1, Sen. Irene Aguilar introduced legislation to make adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the Federal poverty level—about $31,000 for a family of four—eligible for Medicaid. Senate Bill 200 will make a meaningful difference in the lives of Colorado kids without creating new eligibility in Medicaid for children, as we already cover kids to that income level. SB 200 will 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 for adults is good for kids.
  3. School Breakfast After the Bell
    House Bill 13-1006 (Moreno and Exum/Giron) also won bipartisan support this week, as the House Appropriations Committee gave 12-1 approval to send the bill to the House floor. The bill 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 or to access a helpful infographic.
  4. Supplemental Online Education Services
    Children’s Campaign Government Affairs Director Dan O’Connell testified in support this week of SB 13-139 (Roberts/Coram). This bill would strengthen supplemental and online education services by driving both greater access and quality in our statewide supplemental online program. The bill establishes a more robust request for proposal process and enhances collaboration between the Colorado Department of Education’s Online and Blended Learning Office and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) designated to administer Colorado’s statewide supplemental online program. This bill would also encourage information sharing, professional development and best practices throughout the state to ensure a continued focus on the increased affordability, quality, and student access for Colorado’s supplemental online program. A committee vote is expected next week.
  5. School Finance Bill Ready to be Introduced
    Sen. Mike Johnston’s proposed overhaul of the state School Finance Act stands ready to be introduced at the legislature, as early as this afternoon at the time of Kids Flash publication. The bill would be the first significant change in the way we allocate education funds in nearly 20 years. It would create a more equitable, sustainable and efficient education system and ensure all Colorado children are prepared to excel in school, college, careers and life. To learn more about the bill, please visit Sen. Johnston’s website. Stay tuned to the Children’s Campaign for updates as the bill moves through the process.

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.

Capitol Update: ASSET Bill Passes First Committee

The Colorado ASSET Bill passed by the Senate Education Committee by a bipartisan vote of 6-3 Thursday. Introduced by Sens. Johnston and Giron, this Children’s Campaign priority bill would make college affordable for all Colorado graduates, regardless of citizenship status, by allowing all high school graduates to pay in-state tuition at Colorado’s public colleges and universities. The ASSET bill (Senate Bill 13-033) moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Read more about the bill here.

Children’s Campaign Board Chair Lance Bolton, who is President of Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, testified in support of the legislation. He cited a study that found Colorado is on pace to create 600,000 high-skill, high-wage jobs by 2018, but we’ll only produce half the number of workers needed to fill those jobs during the same period.

“We don’t profit or prosper as a state by maintaining barriers to higher education for segments of our society,” Bolton said.

Next week:

  • School Breakfast After the Bell School Nutrition Program (House Bill 13-1006) will be heard by the House Education Committee at 1:30 p.m. on Monday. The bill would require Colorado schools with 70 percent or more students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals to provide a nutritious after-the-bell breakfast program, if they have at least 100 students in their school and 300 total in the district. Click here to download a fact sheet.
  • Alignment of Child Development Programs (House Bill 13-1117):  Rep. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) introduced this Children’s Campaign priority bill Jan. 18. The bill will be heard by the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 29. This bill seeks to help young children and their families access services more easily by streamlining and aligning the  administration of a number of child development programs currently distributed across several state agencies and departments by moving them to the Colorado Department of Human Services. Click here to download a fact sheet.
  • CHP+ Waiting Period (Senate Bill 13-008): will ensure families can more easily access Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) benefits and streamline program administration by eliminating the three month waiting period for children moving from employer-supported private coverage. It  is scheduled to be considered by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Click here to download a fact sheet.

Read more about our 2013 legislative priorities.

Capitol Update – Jan. 18, 2013

Today, the General Assembly will complete its first full week of legislative work, with more than 100 bills introduced in the House and nearly 70 bills in the Senate.

The Colorado ASSET bill, a Children’s Campaign priority, was introduced this week. Educators, students and advocates rallied at the Colorado State Capitol this week to urge lawmakers to quickly pass legislation to make college affordable for all Colorado graduates, regardless of citizenship status. Rallying for the seventh year in a row, supporters of the Colorado ASSET bill say now is the time to allow undocumented Colorado high school graduates to pay in-state tuition at Colorado public colleges and universities. The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to debate this important measure next Thursday, Jan. 24. Read more about the bill here.

Additionally, two other Children’s Campaign priority bills have been scheduled to be heard in committee:

  • School Breakfast: House Bill-13-1006, to 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, is set to be considered by the House Education Committee on Monday, Jan. 28. Click here to download a fact sheet.
  • CHP+ Waiting Period: Senate Bill 13-008, to ensure families can more easily access Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) health benefits and streamline program administration by eliminating the three month waiting period for children moving from employer-supported private coverage, is scheduled to be considered by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Click here to download a fact sheet.

Read more about our 2013 legislative priorities.

2013 Legislative Session Opens with Kids Front and Center

The Colorado General Assembly opened its annual legislative session this week with encouraging signs that issues facing Colorado kids will be prominent in 2013. Two priority bills for the Colorado Children’s Campaign were introduced on the first day, and lawmakers tell us that child health and safety, education and supporting early childhood development and learning will be priorities.

This includes attention to the School Finance Act, a focus of the Children’s Campaign for the past year. In his State of the State Address this week, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Colorado must ensure that “we have a school finance formula that offers equity to all districts and opportunity to all kids, and it means all of us committing to making Colorado the national leader, not just on reform, but on results.”

Hickenlooper lauded the state’s recent federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge award for innovations in early childhood services and reiterated his support for extending quality preschool and full-day kindergarten to more Colorado kids. And he again voiced support for extending Medicaid to low-income adults, many of them parents, so all Coloradans can get the care they need, when they need it.

Each year we work with partners and supporters to craft an annual agenda for the session. Read our 2013 Legislative Priorities to see where we’ll focus our attention in the areas of child health, K-12 education, early childhood and the Colorado budget this session. We host a series of Lunch and Learn discussions to explore our priorities and other issues facing kids. Click here to learn more.

Two of our priority bills were introduced Wednesday:

  • School Breakfast: House Bill 13-1006 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.
  • CHP+ Waiting Period:  Senate Bill 13-008 would ensure families can more easily access Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) health benefits and streamline program administration by eliminating the three-month waiting period for children moving from employer-supported private coverage.

We look forward to keeping you updated on legislation affecting kids in the coming months.