Well, the 2016 Session is upon us! I’ve been visiting around the district and heard plenty of things that need work.
Last year I co-sponsored more than ten workforce development bills to address jobs and the economy as well as education. Several passed and UCCS, PPCC, the Regional Business Alliance, and the City and County are working together to enact what will help our community.
This year I heard of issues affecting many of my neighbors and friends. So, here is the list of my 2016 bills as of today:
HB16-1066 Domestic Violence Offender. From our district, I have received strong bi-partisan support for this bill. The current Domestic Violence Offender bill is rarely used. This bill cleans up the current law, will make it a Class 5 Felony on the fourth offense of domestic violence, provides consistent direction about the evidence of domestic violence, and allows the introduction of out-of-state convictions of domestic violence. Out-of-state convictions are not currently considered. This bill is supported by the Colorado District Attorney Council (CDAC), the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), and TESSA. According to TESSA.org, “in 2013, 15,522 Domestic Violence incidents were reported to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, including 13,070 aggravated and simple assaults, 440 sex offenses, 905 kidnappings, and 26 homicides.” This bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Coming soon is a bill to address Military Veteran Discharge. As many service members are released from active duty because of force reductions, the military discharge types and meanings now vary from times before and result in inconsistent services among state agencies for our Veterans. Working with the United Veterans Committee (UVC) and the Department of Military Affairs, we have a bill that will bring consistency to Colorado statutes and support our Veterans, as we should. Not yet introduced and assigned a bill number.
Yet to be Introduced is the Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled (IDD) Abuse Registry. This issue was a startling discovery and brought to my attention by The Resource Exchange (TRE). The purpose of the Registry is to track convicted abusers of the IDD community and prevent their employment in facilities should the abusers be convicted. It will be a difficult year to pass this bill because of the cost. Not yet introduced and assigned a bill number.
Tax Incentive for the Un-reimbursed Portion of Medicaid. A serious fiscal crisis is looming and is driven by the federal and state’s financial inability to match the Medicaid and Medicare subsidies. We need to start somewhere and do something different. This bill will allow Medicaid providers to deduct a portion of the un-reimbursed Medicaid costs. We’ll start with a 25% tax credit. We may likely need to cap the amount of the reimbursement and I am working with stakeholders on what might be reasonable. We will also have a 3-year sunset to assess how this incentive worked and if we will continue to offer the incentive. My goal is to help our doctors, seniors, wounded warriors, and many others relying on Medicaid. Not yet introduced and assigned a bill number.
This past year, I received many emails and visited our local clinics. They told me and showed me the impact of Medicaid providers not being reimbursed enough. Further, the Federal and State government are considering reimbursing even less, as much as 25 to 27% less. Who can keep the lights on when less than half the cost of doing business is paid? No one. This bill addresses the cut in reimbursement, helps small business doctors and clinics working to provide these needed services, helps those who rely on Medicaid, and reduces unrealistic demands on the government.
Felony-Summons. Brought to me by our Sheriffs, this bill will allow a ticket felony-summons for low-income people who commit a felony that is non-violent; that is the crime does not involve a weapon or domestic violence or assault. Many low-income people lose their jobs because they cannot post the bail. It costs $80 per day to the jail system. Compound the issue with the loss of their jobs, we see these people commit more crimes and apply for government assistance. This bill is one step to help end this negative cycle. Awaiting to be Introduced and assigned a bill number.
Joint Resolution Recognizing the Olympics and the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. This year the Olympics will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Colorado along with Colorado Springs play an important role in preparing our athletes for the upcoming Olympics. With State Representative Pete Lee and State Senator Mike Merrifield, we will recognize and celebrate the positive contribution of the Olympic Movement as well as the key role Colorado plays in supporting the Olympics.
There are some bills that I am partnering with Senators on. I will provide an update as soon as I can provide a summary of the bills.