Legislative Session Wrap-Up, Part 4: Key Legislation, Interim Committees, & Ballot Issues

This is Part 4 of a 4-part series documenting the CWBA's Public Policy Committee's efforts during the 2022 Legislative Session. The first 3 parts are posted here, here, and here.

Please see the Summary Matrix that includes a view of bills, with hyperlinks to more information about bill versions, fiscal notes, engaged lobbyists, history, etc.


Key 2022 Legislation


The 657 bills introduced during the 2022 sessions covered a wide range of issues. Here is a brief rundown on legislation that passed in a key areas. Bear in mind that most bills are amended after introduction—some significantly and some late in the session.



Behavioral Health


In addition to spending more than $400 million in ARPA funds on behavioral health programs and initiatives, lawmakers also passed HB 22-1278, a massive measure intended to create a Behavioral Health Administration within the Department of Human Services. The new agency, originally recommended by a Polis administration task force, is supposed to centralize state behavioral health offices and reform a system that has exhibited serious deficiencies in recent years.


Other bills passed in this area affected the behavioral health crisis response system (HB 22-1214), changes to the involuntary commitment law (HB 22-1256), and pretrial diversion for people with behavioral health issues (SB 22-010).


See this tracker for information on behavioral health bills:

https://coloradocapitolwatch.com/bill- analysis/6505/2022/0/


Education & Early Childhood


In addition to bolstering school funding, legislators passed a number of notable education measures, including ones that restart the state school rating and accountability system (SB 22-137), update the educator evaluation system (SBs 22-069 and 070), and provide $52.8 million in stipends for teacher training and other measures to support the educator workforce.


Other measures include a proposal to voters to fund universal free school meals (HB 22-1414) and a grant program to detect and filter lead in school water systems (HB 22-1358).

A significant step was taken in early childhood with the passage of HB 22-1295, a massive and somewhat controversial bill to set up the Department of Early Childhood, which will run the state’s new universal preschool program.


Get information on all K-12 and early childhood bills in this tracker:

https://coloradocapitolwatch.com/bill-analysis/6508/2022/0/


Environment


Lawmakers approved measures to strengthen regulation of toxic air pollution (HB 22-1244), improve recycling programs and participation (HB 22-1159), reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings (HB 22-1362), regulate oil and gas drilling liquids (HB 22-1348), and reduce ozone pollution (SB 22-180). The 2022-23 budget also includes significant increases for the air pollution control division on the Department of Public Health and Environment.


Of potential interest to property owners is HB 22-1151, which will launch a program encouraging replacement of lawns with landscaping that uses less water.


Legislators also approved measures on wildfire prevention, mitigation, and control: HBs 22-1007, 1011, 1012, and 1132. But they could not agree on the issue of statewide requirements for building fire safety.


There is more information about environmental and natural resources bills in this tracker:

https://coloradocapitolwatch.com/bill-analysis/6513/2022/0/


Human Services


Beyond behavioral health, other legislation in this area dealt with emergency temporary care for children (HB 22-1056), transportation services for clients in Medicaid waiver programs (HB 22-1114), advance payment of some premiums for family and medical leave insurance (HB 22-1133), foster parents’ rights (HB 22-1231), increased benefits for public assistance programs (HB 22-1259), and safety in assisted living facilities (SB 22-154), among others.


Check human services bills in this tracker:

https://coloradocapitolwatch.com/bill-analysis/6550/2022/0/


Public Safety & Crime


While the fentanyl bill was the main focus of debate on public safety, other legislation on this topic also advanced.


Those included grants for youth delinquency prevention (HB 22-1003), right to counsel for youth (HB 22- 1038), modifications to the insanity plea (HB 22-1061), a safer streets grant program (SB 22-001), enhanced restitution services for crime victims (SB 22-043), expanded sealing of criminal records (SB 22- 099), and a community safety grant program for police (SB 22-145).


This tracker includes public safety and criminal justice bills:

https://coloradocapitolwatch.com/bill- analysis/6507/2022/0/



Failed Legislation


Of course, a lot of bills do not survive a legislative session. As of the last day, 120 bills had been postponed indefinitely, and others were allowed to “die on the calendar” because they had not passed when time ran out on Wednesday.


In addition to the vaping bill, other notable failures included restrictions on cell phone use while driving (SB 22-175), changes in liquor licensing laws (HB 22-1417), and limits on police interrogation of juveniles (SB 22-023).


Changing of the Guard


This year was the “Second Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly,” as the official title goes, meaning the next time lawmakers convene it will be the 74th General Assembly, and there will be lots of new lawmakers.


At least two dozen of the 100 lawmakers are expected to be new because of term limits, redistricting, desire to run for higher office, and a few people not running for re-election. Almost 10 representatives are running for Senate seats.


Democrats now have a 41-24 majority in the House and a 20-15 edge in the Senate. Looking at voter registration percentages in the new districts, political prognosticators generally agree that there probably are sufficient numbers of safe Democratic districts and lean-Democratic districts to deliver continued Democratic control of both chambers. If Republicans have any shot at a majority, it would be in the Senate.


There will be big turnover on the current set of top leaders, with Speaker Alec Garnett of Denver, Senate President Pro Tempore Kerry Donovan of Vail, and House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, all Democrats, term limited. Republican Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert of Parker also will be leaving, as will Sterling GOP Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, the only current member who has served a full eight years in each chamber. Democratic Senate President Steven Fenberg of Boulder and Majority Leader Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, along with House Minority Leader Hugh McKean of Loveland, are not termed out.


Only one member of the Joint Budget Committee, GOP Rep. Kim Ransom of Commerce City, is term limited.



Interim Committees


There will be several interim committees meeting before the 2023 session begins. An official list of committees has yet to be released; however, we do know that the committees listed below are ongoing task forces. Please stay tuned for more information on newly formed committees.

  • Sales and Use Tax Simplification Task Force

  • Colorado Health Insurance Exchange Oversight Committee

  • Colorado Youth Advisory Council Committee

  • Early Childhood and School Readiness Legislative Commission

  • Transportation Legislation Review Committee

  • Legislative Interim Committee on School Finance

  • Water Resources Review Committee

  • Legislative Oversight Committee Concerning Tax Policy & Task Force

  • Wildfire Matters Review Committee

  • Pension Review Commission

  • Pension Review Subcommittee

  • Judicial Discipline

  • Treatment of Persons with Behavioral Health Disorders in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems Oversight Committee + Task Force

  • Task Force for the Consideration of Facial Recognition Services

  • Statewide Health Care Review Committee

  • Legislative Oversight Committee Concerning Jail Standards + Jail Standards Commission



2022 Ballot Issues


Aponte & Busam intends to send a follow-up brief on the 2022 Ballot after the official ballot is determined. This analysis will include a summary of initiatives and polling data. Along with various propositions, referred measures, and citizen initiatives, Colorado voters will also see various statewide and local officials and local measures on the ballot this fall.


As a reminder, this cycle will include about half of the state legislature, the Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Attorney General, the full congressional delegation and Senator Michael Bennet.

 

To support the CWBA's public policy lobbying efforts, please attend the CWBA Public Policy Committee's benefit event on August 31st at the Comedy Works in Greenwood Village. This event is open to both CWBA members, and members of the public. Tickets can be purchased here.



There is also a silent auction, with items available for bidding prior to the event and all donated by local women-owned businesses in the greater Denver metro area. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.


All funds raised through this event will support the CWBA's vitally important public policy work and its lobbying at the State Capitol. The CWBA’s public policy work allows it to serve as a strong advocate for issues and legislation important to advancing the interests and well-being of women and children.

 

The CWBA 2022 Legislative Session Wrap-Up was adapted from a report prepared by Aponte & Busam, Public Affairs Consultants and with additional updates provided by CWBA Public Policy Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Publications Committee, Chelsea Augelli.

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