Duran Brings Bipartisan Construction Defects Deal
New Speaker Says Bill Will Drive Down Insurance Costs to Spur Condo Builders
(Jan. 11) – The new speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Crisanta Duran, began the 2017 legislative session this morning by announcing a bipartisan compromise on construction defects reform, a perennial sticking point in the legislature.
In her opening day speech after being formally elected by the 65-member House, Speaker Duran said that she and the new Senate president, Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, had agreed to be prime sponsors of a bill intended to tackle the sticky issue of insurance, one of the issues identified by stakeholders as impacting new home starts.
The bill, with the co-prime sponsorship of Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist, R-Centennial, and Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver, is scheduled to be formally introduced this afternoon.
“By targeting insurance rates we’re addressing the problem without reducing consumers’ right to protect the property that they spent their life’s savings to buy,” said Speaker Duran, D-Denver.
The bill will allow insurers to go to court to apportion defense costs equitably among liability insurers who are required to defend a defect claim through an expedited process. The legislation seeks to address one of the root causes making it harder to build more condos, without compromising consumer rights.
In other highlights of her opening day speech, Speaker Duran said she was involved in “promising discussions” with members of both parties in both chambers to devise a comprehensive statewide plan to upgrade Colorado’s crumbling, overburdened transportation system.
“Anyone who’s been on I-25 at rush hour, anywhere from Fort Collins to Pueblo, knows the need is real,” she said, adding that the emerging plan “will provide new resources and will benefit our entire state.”
Speaker Duran also noted discussions about education funding and a long-term solution to the state’s chronic budget problems.
She closed with an appeal for “an inclusive Colorado” where bullying of people because of their gender, race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation is off-limits.
Speaker Duran is the first Latina speaker in Colorado history. She presides over a House where Democrats expanded their majority to 37-28, a six-seat swing, in the November 2016 elections.
Colorado has the distinction of having the nation's seventh highest suicide rate. The statistics get a little trickier on youth suicides, though that number is also high. (We're third in the nation for youth suicides, ages 10 to 18, though Kirk Bol, interim vital records registrar for the Colorado Center for Health and Environmental Data, says statistically there is no real difference between the rates of the top 20 states.)On the bright side, several things are being done to combat the problem locally and statewide. Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention is offering these free suicide prevention trainings to the public: Penrose Library 6/14 6-7 p.m.; Tri-Lakes YMCA 6/17 10-11 a.m.; East Library 6/27 6-7 p.m.; Tri-Lakes YMCA 6/28 6-7 p.m.; Fountain Library 7/8 6-7 p.m.; and Sand Creek Library 7/27 6:30-7:30 p.m.
El Paso County isn't exactly a role model. While statistically speaking, there's no difference between the county and state suicide rates, it's reasonable to assume that El Paso County is nowhere near the low end for the state — and our rate has been going up. Between 2012 and 2014, the county recorded 24 youth suicides (ages 10 to 18) for a rate of 9.39 deaths per 100,000 youths, while the state had 140 youth suicides, for a rate of 7.41 deaths per 100,000 youths.
Implementing Zero Suicide in Colorado
Hick Signs Pettersen Bill to Implement Successful National Zero Suicide Model
(June 10) – A bill by Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood to implement the Zero Suicide model in order to reduce the rate of suicide in Colorado was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper this morning.
“Whether you know someone personally or know a family going through the loss of a loved one, suicide is something that has touched everyone,” said Rep. Pettersen. “This week my brother would have turned 44 years old. I often wonder if the health professionals who were in contact with him at the time had been trained in prevention if he would still be here today.”
“I’m so happy to know that the Zero Suicide model, which has been shown to decrease suicide by 80 percent, will be implemented in Colorado. Suicide is a complex problem in Colorado and demands a proven solution.”
Colorado has the seventh highest suicide rate in the nation and the Zero Suicide model has been shown to decrease suicide by up to 80 percent when implemented in health systems. More than 30 percent of people who die of suicide are receiving mental health care at the time of death and 25 percent go to the Emergency Department in the month before death, demonstrating that coordinated care by professionals trained in the Zero Suicide model can have a significant impact.
SB16-147 creates the Office of Suicide Prevention which will collaborate with health agencies and private healthcare systems to foster the national Zero Suicide model. A wide variety of health and behavioral health systems (including community mental health centers, HMOs, hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities, and the statewide crisis services system) will be encouraged to adopt suicide prevention best practices known as the seven tenets of Zero Suicide: leadership, training, identification and assessment, patient engagement, treatment, transition, and quality improvement.
DENVER — Today the State Senate Finance Committee voted against HB-1420 in a 3-2 vote. If this bill had passed, it would have undermined Coloradans' Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) by taking fees that the Colorado hospitals collect, and putting them into an "enterprise fund" instead of the general fund, where they trigger taxpayer funds.The hospital association said this:
In reaction to today's vote, AFP Colorado State Director Michael Fields released the following statement:
"We applaud the state senate for killing a convoluted scheme today in HB- 1420, that would have denied taxpayers their refunds in future years without even giving Coloradans a say. We are now hopeful that the state can get down to the business of addressing the real state budget issues that will not be fixed by enterprising the hospital provider fee. Our network of 127,000 Colorado activists will continue to stand strong for the best interest of all Coloradans."
This is the second year in a row that the legislature has voted down this legislation. AFP Colorado thanks Senators Hill, Holbert and Neville for standing up for taxpayers.
GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLO. – May 10, 2016 – “The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) is extremely disappointed that our legislative leaders couldn’t come to a compromise on the Hospital Provider Fee enterprise this year – despite bipartisan support and no testimony opposing the bill in its final committee hearing – and in effect, didn’t listen to their constituents or the broad organizational support through the Fix the Glitch coalition who strongly advocated for this change,” said Steven J. Summer, CHA president and CEO. “However, we are grateful to Speaker Hullinghorst and Senator Crowder for their leadership on this issue, as well as to the many others – including our member hospitals and health systems – who supported this important effort. Our hospitals recognize the critical nature of the priorities in their communities that are subject to budget constraints this year – including health care, education and transportation.We suppose Hill and his cohorts would, if they could, follow the lead of Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who led that state's GOP-dominated legislature to not accept the expansion of Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, while at the same time giving huge tax breaks to businesses and farmers. As a result the state faces huge revenue shortfalls and severe cuts to transportation and health care.
Because the legislature was unable to fix this glitch this year – even though it was within their purview to do so – CHA is committed to finding a long-term solution that supports the vital services provided by our members as well as the broader fiscal, education and infrastructure needs of Coloradans. Otherwise, we risk facing detrimental health care budget cuts – mostly on the backs of our rural hospitals – in the years to come.”
About the Colorado Hospital Association
The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) is the leading voice of Colorado’s hospital and health system community. Representing more than 100 member hospitals and health systems throughout the state, CHA serves as a trusted, credible and reliable resource on health issues, hospital data and trends for its members, media, policymakers and the general public. Through CHA, Colorado’s hospitals and health systems work together in their shared commitment to improve health and health care in Colorado.
Colorado’s leaders have found a solution to the state’s thorny budget problem. It’s simple; it’s legal and it has the support of nearly every business group from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce to the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.
The solution: Move the hospital provider fee from the general fund to its own enterprise fund. Since it has a dedicated use — to match federal Medicaid dollars on a one-to-one basis — it doesn’t belong in the general fund. Since it’s a fee, not a tax, that hospitals pay to reduce their uncompensated debt and charity care, it doesn’t belong in calculated revenue limits under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. And there are $60 million reasons why the change is vital.
There’s only one man standing in the way: Sen. Bill Cadman. Cadman, who represents a portion of Colorado Springs in the General Assembly, is the Senate president. It’s his job to make sure legislation gets a vote — but he has said he doesn’t support this change and believes it’s illegal.
His stance is in direct opposition to at least two prominent fellow Republicans. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman released a legal opinion earlier this month saying there were no legal barriers to the enterprise fee designation. Springs Mayor John Suthers, who preceded Coffman as attorney general, concurs with her opinion. Supporters say they have enough votes in the full Senate to pass the change.
Some political insiders believe Cadman has become too close to Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ conservative political action group that believes any change to TABOR is a threat to the state. When he became Senate president, Cadman credited AFP and its influence. He also made sure every senator had a copy of AFP’s legislative agenda on the first day of the session.
It’s interesting that Cadman thanked a political action group instead of voters who trusted him to act on their behalf. It shows where his loyalty lies — not with Colorado Springs.
This isn’t just legislative sleight-of-hand designed to increase spending. Without removing the provider fee, the state will have to cut $60 million from its budget because of TABOR.
It’s almost certain that there will be cuts to higher education, harming low- and middle-income families already struggling to pay high tuition and fees at state institutions.
But for Colorado Springs, Cadman’s recalcitrance has added implications.
The city is currently celebrating Gov. John Hickenlooper’s announced plan to place a National Cyber Intelligence Center here. It’s good news for Colorado Springs, already home to more than 80 cyber companies.
But without state money, it can’t happen. The Springs’ share of a $5 billion industry, its jobs, its research and development, the cyber defense the nation demands to keep networks safe — all could disappear.
By following AFP’s agenda, Cadman’s ignoring the will of local Republicans who put him in office. He’s damaging the state’s ability to educate its children, meaning that high-paying, high-tech jobs won’t be available to Colorado natives.
He’s harming the chances for the Springs — the area he represents — to bring together cybersecurity leaders, researchers, businesses and community leaders to create a national center.
The numbers are clear: Without changes to the state budget, Colorado soon will only be able to pay for Medicare and prisons.
Why is Sen. Bill Cadman standing alone? The answer: He isn’t. He’s standing with Americans for Prosperity, and against business development and higher education in Colorado Springs.
Colorado DMV to begin statewide rollout of new design for driver licenses, instruction permits and identification cards
March 28, 2016 – DENVER – The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will start a two-week statewide rollout of the newly designed driver licenses, instruction permits and identification cards beginning April 6, 2016.
Offices will be closed one day prior to issuing the new design to allow for the installation of new equipment and for training. Please refer to the DMV website for up-to-date closure information for specific offices. In addition, closure information will also be posted at each office.
Colorado residents can continue to use their current valid driver licenses, instruction permits and identification cards through their expiration date. The current design will continue to be issued at offices until they have converted to the new equipment and software associated with the new design.
The DMV encourages customers to attempt to renew their driver license or identification cards online at www.colorado.gov/vroom. The new design will be available through online renewal beginning in mid-April.
Customers obtaining a newly-designed card in an office will receive an updated temporary paper document that will contain a removable section with an image that resembles the card. The temporary document will be valid for 30 days to allow for the physical card to be produced and mailed.
The new design features a more colorful background showcasing Mount Sneffels located between Ouray and Telluride. The State Capital is pictured on the reverse. The card also includes laser engraving of the customer’s information and primary photograph in grayscale to enhance the security and safety of the document.
The Littleton, Aurora and Frisco state driver license offices have been piloting the new design since the beginning of March.
For more information on the new card design, please visit www.colorado.gov/dmv/newlook.
Today the Republicans on the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado Senate had the chance to, yet again, do the right thing for transgender Coloradans. Despite the fact there was no testimony in opposition to the Birth Certificate Modernization Act today, the Republican members of the committee chose to play politics with our families.
"It was our hope that at least one Republican senator on the committee would side with the five Republicans in the Colorado House of Representatives who voted in favor of House Bill 1185 because it upholds the Republican ideals of freedom, privacy, and limited government.
"This much-needed legislation would simply have brought Colorado law in line with existing policies at the federal level, and in doing so would have protected the privacy of transgender Coloradans and protected them from discrimination. Not only did dozens of transgender Coloradans and their families ask the committee to pass this bill today, but the Office of the State Registrar — which is the department in charge of issuing birth certificates — came out firmly in support of House Bill 1185 because of the its importance for transgender Coloradans.
House Votes to Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’
Rosenthal Bill Ending Archaic Anti-LGBT Practice Second Reading
(March 14) – The House gave voice approval this morning to a bill by Rep. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” and therefore to ensure that no more Colorado teens are subjected to this harmful practice. Over the loud objections of Republican members of the House, the bill proceeds to a third reading.
“Colorado families have a right to know that a therapist will not put their child’s well-being in danger,” said Rep. Rosenthal. “So-called gay conversion therapy is an imposition of a therapist’s own view on the child. We heard in committee from several adults who still bear the scars from a therapist who tried to force them to be someone they are not. Let us protect our children from this harmful practice.”
“This bill is about therapy that provides acceptance, understanding, coping and support—not trying to change someone into someone else,” said Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City.
“Conversion therapy” is a dangerous and discredited practice aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or suppressing a person’s gender identity. The practice has been rejected by every mainstream mental health professional association. HB16-1210 prohibits physicians specializing in psychiatry and licensed or registered mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with patients under 18 years of age. Studies have shown that minors being subjected to this practice are at a higher risk of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and suicide.
During the bill’s hearing before the House Public Health Care &Human Services Committee, several individuals testified about the negative impacts of having survived “conversion therapy.” Republican members of the Committee compared being LGBT to drug use or alcohol addiction multiple times.
The approval sends the bill to the House floor for a third reading.
Campaign Launched To Hold Kevin Priola Accountable for Parental Leave Hypocrisy
DENVER: After the narrow passage of legislation reauthorizing Colorado’s parental leave law for school activities in the state House of Representatives, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, launched a voter education campaign highlighting the vote by Rep. Kevin Priola of Adams County against this important bill—a vote taken after Priola hypocritically requested leave from the legislature to take his child to a doctor’s appointment.
“Kevin Priola’s vote to take away the parental leave rights Colorado families had for years proves he is not looking out for the best interests of the citizens he represents,” said ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin. “It’s critical for me as the father of a Colorado public school student that I be there for my son’s educational needs. Parental leave for children’s academic needs was the law in Colorado for years, and it didn’t hurt the economy. How can Kevin Priola look Colorado parents in the eye after voting to take away their right to be there for their kids?”
As part of ProgressNow Colorado’s accountability campaign, voter education phone calls were launched throughout Adams County calling attention to Priola’s vote and hypocrisy yesterday afternoon. Click here to listen to the recorded message, as delivered to thousands of voters in Adams County:
Hi, this is Alan Franklin, calling with an important update from the Colorado legislature. Representative Kevin Priola wants to take away parental leave rights for parents to attend school activities, even though parental leave was the law in Colorado for years. But that’s not the worst part. Priola actually requested to delay the vote on parental leave to take his child to a doctor’s appointment. Then he voted against parental leave for your kids. Call Representative Priola at 303-866-2912 and tell him enough is enough. Stop the hypocrisy. Paid for by ProgressNow Colorado.
“By requesting a delay in the vote on parental leave to attend to his own child’s needs, then voting against parental leave for everyone else, Kevin Priola has become a poster child for right-wing hypocrisy,” said Franklin. “The ‘party of family values’ is showing their true colors by fighting to take away parental leave rights Colorado families have enjoyed for years. As Kevin Priola seeks higher office, voters in Adams County need to understand whose side he is on—and it’s not the side of middle class families.”
Colorado Springs will be the home of a National Cybersecurity Intelligence Center, a planned national resource which will be “the country’s foremost authority on cybersecurity research and development, training and education,” Governor Hickenlooper announced today. The vision for the Center will be advanced through collaboration between federal, state and city government, the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs and the regional technology community.
Under the proposal, the Center would be housed in Colorado Springs, on UCCS property. The city was chosen as the location because of its “impressive concentration of assets, private sector interest and connection to the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs’ cybersecurity program,” said Hickenlooper, who also recognized the region’s “highly qualified workforce already plugged into this burgeoning industry.”
Hickenlooper recognized both Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and UCCS Chancellor Pamela Shockley-Zalabak for their collaboration in advancing plans for the Center.
“I have said often that Colorado Springs has what it takes to become the cybersecurity capital of the nation,” said Suthers. “With our concentration of technological experts, both military and civilian, our outstanding educational institutions in UCCS and the Air Force Academy and our available workforce, we are ready to embrace this opportunity and look forward to the positive impact that such a designation will have on our City’s economic vitality.”
“I am proud of UCCS cybersecurity programs and the university’s outstanding faculty. UCCS students are excellent and will build the workforce of the future,” said Shockley-Zalabak. “We look forward to continued collaboration with Mayor Suthers and other public officials as we advance this exciting initiative.”
Crandall signaled an openness to move Colorado away from the Common Core and its membership in PARCC, the multi-state testing effort. At the same time, he praised the importance of high academic standards and the value of comparing test results from several states.The 48-year-old Crandall has also served a school board member and the president of Mesa Public Schools.
[Crandall] is currently the president and founder of CN Resource, which provides oversight and audit services of USDA child nutrition programs for state education agencies. He is also the chief financial officer and partner of Crandall Corporate Dietitians, the nation’s largest provider of consulting dietitian services to long-term care and assisted living facilities. Crandall, age 48, is studying for a doctorate in education from Northern Arizona University and holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Brigham Young University. He is a licensed school nutrition specialist and a certified public accountant.Crandall has seven children and six step-children. He replaces Robert Hammond, who retired last summer.
DENVER – This year’s State Capitol Holiday Tree, themed the "Gold Star Tree of Honor," pays tribute to the more than 350 Colorado military service members lost in the global war on terror since Sept. 11, 2001, as well as their families.
At 4 p.m. today, Gov. John Hickenlooper will dedicate the tree at a formal lighting ceremony in the Capitol’s North Foyer in honor of Gold Star families – the survivors of service members who have lost their lives in conflict or in support of certain military operations.
“Given that 2015 marks the 14th anniversary of our nation at war, Colorado remains committed to honoring those who have made such a great sacrifice, be they soldiers or their families,” said Janelle Darnell, chief of protocol for the Office of The Adjutant General, Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Colorado has not and will not forget their sacrifice and service on behalf of our community, state and nation.”
The Capitol’s holiday tree was provided for the fifth year in a row by the Colorado State Forest Service Fort Collins District. The approximately 50-year-old, 25-foot subalpine fir was harvested on State Trust Land in northern Larimer County.
Colorado National Guard soldiers and their families decorated the tree, and boughs trimmed off of it will be used by the DMVA to craft wreaths for Gold Star families in attendance.
Each year, CSFS foresters selectively cut the State Capitol Holiday Tree and smaller trees destined for the Colorado State University campus as part of ongoing management efforts to improve forest health. This year, the CSFS also harvested a small number of trees for the families of deployed military personnel.
“It is a true honor to be allowed to provide this special tree for our State Capitol,” said Mike Lester, state forester and director of the CSFS, who is himself from a Gold Star family. “To many of us, it is a symbol of much more than the holiday season.”