Our 2021 Legislative Priorities

The 73rd General Assembly of the Colorado Legislature “gaveled in” on Jan. 13, 2021 to address urgent business and swear in new members. Due to concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislature is scheduled to reconvene on Feb. 16 to carry out the rest of the 120-day lawmaking term. Colorado Center on Law and Policy will periodically update this webpage to reflect its priorities throughout the session.

On Jan. 7, CCLP hosted its 2021 Legislative Preview virtual event, during which content experts shared their legislative priorities for the session ahead. You can learn more about this year’s agenda in our focus areas of Food, Health, Housing and Income by viewing the series of short, recorded webinars from the event. Videos from all four sessions are available on our YouTube channel.

SB21-018: Continuation of Necessary Documents Program

A key priority this year, working in partnership with Metro Caring, is to renew the 2016 Necessary Documents Program. CCLP led the legislative effort for the Colorado Collaborative ID Project to get funding to pay for documents necessary to obtain a government issued ID. Such official ID is now necessary to get a job, rent and apartment, cash a check or obtain most medical care, open a bank account or apply for public benefits.

CCLP supports SB21-018 in renewing Colorado’s Necessary Documents program. For more details, download this fact sheet (PDF).

HB21-1198: Healthcare Billing Requirements For Indigent Patients

CCLP supports HB21-1198. This bill will repair Colorado’s Hospital Financial Assistance Law, benefiting Coloradans by improving patient experience, establishing clear and consistent billing and collection practices across providers, improving access to health coverage and discounted care, by reducing administrative burden and requiring screening, reducing the number of Coloradans sent to collections for receiving necessary health care, and improving utilization of care at the right time and the right place, especially for communities denied access to coverage.

HB21-1198 better protects public health in Colorado as we combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the bill on our HB21-1198 information page or download our Fact Sheet (PDF).

SB21-173: Rights in Residential Lease Agreements

Everyone benefits when all Coloradans have a place to call home. However, the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted and exacerbated the challenges many Coloradans face in securing and maintaining healthy, safe, and stable housing. CCLP supports SB21-173, which will increase fairness in the eviction court process and reasonably limit late fees to prevent housing instability, eviction, and homelessness.

Keep Coloradans housed. Learn more about SB21-173 with this Fact Sheet (PDF).

HB19-1223: Social Security Disability Application Assistance

Applying for federal disability income (SSI/SSDI) involves mountains of paperwork and specialized knowledge. People must collect years of medical and vocational documents, keep multiple appointments, and respond regularly to the SSA through the months-long process. The requirements can be insurmountable for many with the greatest need – people with severe mental or physical disabilities who are living in poverty or homelessness.

HB19-1223 will help more Coloradans receive the federal disability benefits they need to survive while boosting Colorado’s economy. Learn more about the bill with our HB19-1223 fact sheet (PDF) and this Supplemental Security Income and Colorado’s Aid to the Needy and Disabled (AND) Infographic.

HB21-1214: Record Sealing Collateral Consequences Reduction

There are more than 1.8 million Coloradans listed on the state criminal record database. For many of these people, involvement with the justice system has led to perpetual unemployment, housing insecurity, and the loss of income for themselves and their families.

HB21-1214 would open the process for adults and juveniles to file motions for relief from the collateral consequences of criminal records. It would also establish an automated sealing process for arrest records that do not lead to a charge ever being filed, with some exceptions. By removing barriers to employment and housing, HB21-1214 will give people a chance to move on with their lives and become more productive citizens, while lowering recidivism and strengthening public safety.

CCLP supports HB21-1214. Learn more about the bill with this Fact Sheet (PDF).

Other Legislative Priorities

Follow our Facebook and Twitter pages and subscribe to our email newsletter to keep current throughout the session.


2021 State Legislation List

Throughout the legislative session, CCLP compiles a list of bills concerning economic opportunity and poverty reduction. This list includes bill sponsors, assigned committees, and the organizations that have expressed their support for or opposition to each bill.


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.