Apr 12, 2019

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Legislative Update: April 12, 2019

by | Apr 12, 2019

Bill to Watch: HB 1280
Not very many bills pass through the House Finance Committee with a unanimous vote, but HB 1280 did exactly that on Monday.

The legislation would have College Invest, the state’s 529 college savings account program, provide $100 in seed money to open a college savings account for every baby born in Colorado over the next 20 years — without using state tax revenue. Similar programs are already in effect in 32 other states.

Such accounts help defray some education costs and tend to encourage additional family contributions while establishing an expectation of post-secondary education for Colorado kids. Funding for the program would be provided by College Invest. CCLP supports this bill which is sponsored in the House by Rep. Leslie Herod and Rep. KC Becker and in the Senate by Sen. Stephen Fenberg.

Congratulations to the sponsors, and Colorado Fiscal Institute and College Invest for developing a bill that would create such a potentially life-changing benefit for future Coloradans.

On the Radar: CCLP bills move forward
Several bills developed or supported by CCLP made progress over the past week, among them:

HB 1118, which would extend eviction notice in Colorado from three to 10 days, passed through the Business, Labor and Technology Committee on a bipartisan, 4-1 vote on Monday. The bill now goes to the Senate floor. Learn more about HB 1118 in this op-ed in The Colorado Sun.

HB 1189, which would reform Colorado’s wage-garnishment laws to keep people with consumer debt from sinking into bankruptcy or homelessness, passed out of the House floor on a 37-27 vote and will soon be considered by the Senate. You can read more about the HB 1189 in this op-ed in Colorado Politics from Bob Connelly, a retired attorney and friend of CCLP.

HB 1309, which would give the Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing the authority to administer a dispute resolution and enforcement program funded by a small lot fee on mobile-home park owners, was approved on a 7-4 vote by the House Transportation and Local Government Committee on Wednesday. The bill goes to the House Finance Committee next.

HB 1025, which would prohibit employers from asking about criminal history on an initial employment application, received preliminary approval on the Senate floor on Thursday. If approved on the final vote, the measure will head to the governor’s desk to become law. CCLP tilled the ground for this bill by developing two previous iterations and built support for “ban the box” legislation in 2016 and 2017.

– By Bob Mook

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To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.


Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.


Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.


Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.