Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Inside a 120 days, we passed bills to accelerate the economy, increase renewable energy, improve the election process, authorize civil unions, propose sustainable school finance, improve criminal justice, further civil rights, promote wild land fire safety and many others to protect families and children.We took bold action, passed a balanced budget with zero deficits — zilch! Here is an overview of what we accomplished this year.
Summary of Major Bills Passed
Jobs & Economy – Several bills were passed to help create jobs and provide vocational training. HB 1193 promotes the growth of advanced manufacturing industries by encouraging public-private partnerships, increasing access to early – stage capital, and creating a strong infrastructure to bring innovative ideas out of the laboratory and into the marketplace.
HB 1002 provides additional funding for Small Business Development Centers. HB 1003 creates an economic gardening project for companies that are in their second stage of development. HB 1004 matches skills training programs with available jobs and provides funding for on-the-job training. HB 1005 directs the community college system to create pilot programs of career and technical education certificate courses. HB 1292 requires state agencies to weigh “best value” when awarding contracts, including the use of Colorado workers and products. HB 1287 extends the job growth incentive tax credit. HB 1301 funds the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers to help businesses navigate the procurement process. Another bill limits the enterprise zone credit by $750,000 a year for a single company.
Education Reform – SB 213 redesigns Colorado’s school finance formula to increase the fairness of school funding throughout the state subject to future revenues. The budget this year increases funding for K-12 by $127 million, including funding for 3200 new preschool slots, and additional money for special education and gifted and talented students.
Election Reform – HB 1303 simplifies and standardizes the voting process by eliminating the “inactive” status and providing for mail ballots for all voters. It allows same day voter registration and will save counties approximately $9.5 million per year.
Medicaid Expansion – SB 200 will provide health care to more individuals by expanding access to Medicaid. This will also cut state spending on uncompensated care. Medicaid coverage will expand from 100 to 133 percent of the federal poverty income level, which is $31,332 for a family of four and $15,282 for an individual. The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) estimates that the expansion will allow more than 160,000 Coloradans to gain access to health coverage. Another bill provides funding for a dental benefit for those on Medicaid.
Civil Unions – SB 011 allows all loving couples to enter into civil unions, providing important benefits and responsibilities similar to married couples.
Comprehensive Gun Safety Legislation – We successfully passed 5 bills regarding gun safety.HB 1229 requires universal background checks; HB 12224 limits magazine size; SB 197 requires domestic violence offenders to sell or turn in their firearms; SB 196 requires in-person training for concealed carry permits; HB 1228 requires those who want to purchase a firearm to pay for their own background check. These reasonable gun safety measures will help ensure that those who shouldn’t have guns, don’t have access to firearms and will help protect our communities.
Colorado ASSET – SB 033 allows graduates of Colorado high schools (at least 3 years in attendance) to pay in-state tuition rates attend a Colorado higher education institution, regardless of immigration status. This will allow Colorado to take advantage of their talents and skills in a productive way.
Renewable Energy – SB 252 requires the cooperative electric associations to obtain 20% of their energy resources from renewable energy by 2020. It also expands the list of eligible energy resources to include innovative new companies and technologies. IT includes methane gas collected at wells and reused as a renewable energy source.
Marijuana Regulation – HB 1317 and SB 283 establish a regulatory framework for the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana as authorized in Amendment 64. HB 1318 refers to the citizens a ballot proposal to provide for a 15% excise tax and up to 10% sales tax on the sale of marijuana.
Mental Health System Reforms – SB 266 provides for a more robust crisis intervention system for those experiencing serious mental health issues and provides funding for this purpose. HB 1296 creates a task force to explore combining the various forms of involuntary holds (mental health and alcohol, substance abuse) and adopting clearer definitions for these holds.
Child Welfare System Reforms – HB 1271 establishes a statewide child abuse reporting hotline. SB 255 directs local public health agencies to create child fatality prevention teams which will coordinate with the state agencies to review child deaths, near deaths, and egregious abuse of children to help prevent these tragedies in the future. SB 220 and SB 012 add emergency medical providers and youth sports organization personnel to the list of those required to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
Rights of Workers – HB 1136 expands the rights of workers who have been discriminated against to bring a lawsuit and recover certain damages from their employers. SB 25 increases the rights of firefighters to form collective bargaining groups to negotiate with their employers. HB 1046 prohibits employers from requiring or requesting access to personal accounts such as Facebook.
Tax Reform – SB 1 expands the reach of the Earned Income Tax Credit to help those working poor who are at or near the poverty level. It only goes into effect if the state revenue reaches a certain point. HB 1295 allows the state to collect state and local sales tax for Internet sales should the U.S. Congress pass a law allowing the collection of sales tax from those who sell on the internet. This will help level the playing field for small businesses.
Wildfire Safety – HB 1012 continues a tax deduction for landowners who perform wildfire mitigation measures; SB 273 incentivizes the beneficial use of forest biomass; SB 269 creates a new grant program for wildfire risk reduction; SB 270 authorizes the governor to transfer funds to the Wildfire Emergency Response Fund in the case of imminent disaster; HB 1225 will provide better protection for homeowners from fire damage through their insurance coverage.
Greywater – HB 1044 directs the Water Quality Control Commission to authorize and create standards for the use of grey water, the slightly used wastewater from bathtubs, showers and sinks.
Budget – For the first time in several years, our revenue picture is brighter. We passed a balanced budget that increases K-12 funding by $127.1 million and adds $36 million to the higher education budget. The senior property tax exemption will continue. We also were able to increase the general fund reserve to 5%.
Oil and Gas -HB 1278 requires oil and gas operators to report spills to the Oil and Gas Commission and the local municipality or county within 24 hours.
Home Ownership – HB 1017 requires that the terms of an approved loan modification agreement be honored when a new service takes over the loan. Several bills also were passed that increase the rights of homeowners who belong to Homeowner Associations.
Health Care – SB 008 eliminates the waiting period for children who become eligible for the Children’s Basic Health Plan (CHP+) after having been on a private insurance policy. HB 1115 phases out Cover Colorado, Colorado’s current high risk insurance pool because health insurance carriers will no longer be able to deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition. HB 1245 provides for continued funding for the Health Benefit Exchange after the federal money is no longer available in 2015. The Exchange will be operational by October 1, 2014 and will be called “Connect for Health Colorado”.
Criminal Law – SB 250 is a drug sentencing reform bill recommended by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. HB 1082 provides an avenue for juveniles to have their records expunged based on the severity of the crime and other factors.
Ft. Lyon Repurposing – A bill was ultimately passed that included the repurposing of the Ft. Lyon Correctional facility into a facility for housing homeless persons in order to provide housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and job training for homeless folks from across the state. Preference will be given to homeless veterans. The bill was initially defeated in the Senate but was then revived as an attachment to a different bill.
2013 Session Facts:
Number of bills introduced during the 2013 Legislative Session: 613 bills
Number of bills sent to the Governor’s office to be signed: 441 bills
Percentage of bill passed with bipartisan support: 91%
Although the media coverage often emphasized the partisan issues, as you can see, most of the bills actually had some bipartisan support. Again, I want to thank you always for your support. It is a honor and pleasure to serve you and I look forward to seeing you around town.
Stay Connect and Engaged,
House District 42
Rep. Fields Bills – 2013 Legislative Accomplishments
HB13-1021-Improving School Attendance
SB13- 183 – Concerning Water Conservation Measures in Common-Interest Communities
SB 13-197 – No Firearms for Domestic Violence Offenders
SB 13-220 – Medical Workers to Report Child Abuse
HB13- 1023 – Academic Acceleration School District Policy
HB13- 1088 – Office of Health Equity CDPHE
HB13- 1224 – Prohibiting Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazines
HB13- 1229 – Background Checks for Gun Transfers
HB13- 1005 – Basic Ed & Career & Tech Ed Pilot Program
HB13-1325 – Penalties for Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs
HB13- 1241 – Statewide Victim Information and Notification System
HB13- 1270 – Send Initiative to Colorado Voters to End Death Penalty
HB13- 1244 – Continuation of the Educational Success Task Force
SB 13-71 – Unique Student ID Number for Adult Education Programs