Jul 6, 2021

Anthony Lux serves as CCLP's director of communications. His areas of expertise include institutional communications strategies, constituency growth and network activation for cause-driven organizations. Staff page ›

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Press release: Governor Polis signs collateral consequences reform bill

by | Jul 6, 2021

HB21-1214, with strong bipartisan support, was signed into law on July 6th, throwing open the doors of opportunity for thousands of Coloradans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2021

(PDF version available here)

Denver, CO — Clean Slate Colorado, an effort led by criminal justice reform advocates, faith leaders, grassroots organizations, and directly-impacted individuals and families, celebrates the passage of HB21-1214 – Record Sealing Collateral Consequences Reduction.

This law, championed by Representatives Mike Weissman and Jennifer Bacon and Senators Pete Lee and James Coleman, represents an important step in the statewide effort to advance real second chances for millions of Coloradans, helping pave the way for comprehensive Clean Slate reform.

Melanie Kesner, Public Policy Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado says, “This is a significant victory and helps pave the way to full clean slate reform. Everyone deserves a second chance and the ability to provide for their families.”

HB21-1214 increases eligibility requirements and removes barriers to record sealing by:

  • Allowing for the sealing of multiple eligible records for some eligible crimes
  • Establishing an automatic process for the sealing of most arrest records where no charges are filed as well as for some drug conviction records
  • Creating a website where individuals can confidentially determine if their conviction has been sealed
  • Allowing the state public defender and the office of alternate defense counsel to seek and accept funding for the purposes of representing defendants in record sealing proceedings.

According to Jack Regenbogen, Senior Attorney at Colorado Center on Law and Policy, those process improvements are crucial to ensuring positive impact for Coloradans: “Whether or not a person is convicted of a crime, the presence of a record will often impede access to housing and employment. With the passage and signing of HB 1214, nearly two million Coloradans will have more opportunities to attain economic security for themselves and their families.”

The full impact of the law, however, will be experienced by families and individuals across the state. By reducing barriers to employment, housing, and economic security, HB21-1214 will improve community safety while growing Colorado’s economy, giving more families greater opportunity to move on with their lives and fully participate in society.

The Clean Slate Colorado movement celebrates Governor Polis signing this bill into law today as well as the greater freedom and opportunity the new law will bring to all Coloradans.

About Clean Slate Colorado

Clean Slate Colorado is a grassroots campaign backed by the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Progress Now Colorado, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, the ACLU of Colorado, Justice Reskill, Expunge Colorado, Stand for Children, the Colorado Poverty Law Clinic, Second Chance Center, and the national Clean Slate Initiative.

Following decades of criminalization and mass incarceration, nearly 2 million Coloradans have some type of criminal record—nearly half of all children in America have a parent with a record. In the digital era, with nearly 9 in 10 employers now using background checks, any criminal record—no matter how old or minor—can be a life sentence to poverty. Clean Slate Colorado is dedicated to advancing reforms that expand access and automate the clearing of arrest and conviction records that block second chances.

Contacts

Melanie Kesner
Interfaith Alliance of Colorado
melanie@interfaithallianceco.org

Anthony Lux
Colorado Center on Law and Policy
tlux@copolicy.org

Recent articles

HEALTH:
HEALTH FIRST COLORADO (MEDICAID)

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.

FOOD SECURITY:
SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP)

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.

FOOD SECURITY:
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN (WIC)

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.

EARLY LEARNING:
COLORADO CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (CCCAP)

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.