Much was accomplished in legislative session

Guest column by Meg Froelich
Posted 5/31/19

The Colorado Legislature concluded a very successful session on May 3. We took steps to keep Colorado beautiful by combating climate change, enacted measures to reduce the cost of health care, made …

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Much was accomplished in legislative session

Posted

The Colorado Legislature concluded a very successful session on May 3. We took steps to keep Colorado beautiful by combating climate change, enacted measures to reduce the cost of health care, made important strides on mental and behavioral health, and funded Education and Transportation at high levels. We also passed several bills in support of working families.

Environment

There was much debate on SB19-181 — Oil and Gas Regulation. SB19-181 empowers local communities to enact appropriate regulation, requires cleanup of orphan wells, requires better disclosure of gas lines, and changes the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservartion Commission to emphasize health and safety. HB19-1261 addresses climate change by setting the goal of 26% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050 of 2005 levels.

We passed several bills in support of electrification of the state fleet (HB19-1198, HB19-1298, and SB19-077), and banned a toxic firefighting foam (HB19-1279) that polluted the water table in El Paso County. My bill updating standards for appliances (HB19-1231 — Energy Efficiency Standards) will save consumers energy, water, and money, and keep Colorado at the forefront of innovation.

Health care

One of the primary goals of Gov. Jared Polis was to save people money on health care. We took steps to realize this goal by passing surprise billing (HB19-1174), reinsurance (HB19-1168), bills for drug pricing and transparency (HB19-1216, HB19-1131 and HB19-1296), and hospital transparency measures (HB19-1001). My bill supporting Investments in primary care (HB19-1233) sets targets to align primary care reimbursements with robust primary care to deliver better health outcomes and ultimately reduce the cost of premiums.

The bill was based on a similar model in Rhode Island where a 1% increase in benefit allocations from insurance companies to primary care resulted in a double-digit reduction in costs to consumers.

Mental and behavioral health

I believe we are in the middle of a mental health crisis, particularly concerning our youth. I was proud to co-sponsor a bill on suicide prevention (HB19-1120 — Youth Mental Health Education and Suicide Prevention), an important measure to require mental health parity (HB19-1269), and a pilot program in schools to address emotional health (HB19-1017 — Kindergarten Through Fifth Grade Social and Emotional Health Act).

I was fortunate enough to be the prime sponsor of a bill on pediatric behavioral health (SB19-195 Child and Youth Behavioral Health System Enhancements) that will coordinate services across the state and address behavioral health earlier so that youth receive treatment. Currently we delay mental and behavioral health treatment for children by an average of eight to 10 years.

Working families

We all know the cost of housing in the metro area is outrageous and the strain of paying for basic needs (including housing, food, transportation and health care) while caring for children and our elderly are taking a toll on our community. At the Legislature we are implementing a wide variety of measures to help working families, including a study on paid family leave (SB19-188 — FAMLI), programs for prevailing wage and apprenticeship (HB19-1293, SB19-196), and several bills on renters’ rights (HB19-1118 — Eviction, HB19-1397 — Habitability and HB19-1328 — Bed Bugs).

We were also able to finally pass equal pay for equal work (SB19-085)!

I was honored to sponsor a bill combating wage theft (HB19-1267), which passed with wide bipartisan support. We also renewed the Human Trafficking Council to continue to do the amazing work of combatting pervasive labor and sex trafficking (SB19-149 — Sunset Human Trafficking Council).

Education

The chronic underfunding of our public schools in Colorado is a huge concern and we addressed that through the budget. This year we were able to secure full-day kindergarten, $100 million to buy down the budget stabilization factor, and an additional $183 per student. We committed to no tuition increases at Colorado’s public colleges and universities. We referred a measure to the ballot in November that would allow us to take steps to reach previous levels of school funding (HB19-1257 and HB19-1258). Colorado ranks 46th for teacher pay and 42nd in per-student funding, all while our economy is booming. That is not right.

There is much more to be done, and there are hundreds more bills we did pass that I am happy to discuss! I hold nonpartisan town halls at least once a month and encourage folks to sign up for my newsletter and/or let me know your thoughts. I do endeavor to return all phone calls as well. I am out in the community knocking on doors and attending events because it is very important to me to represent the good people of House District 3.

State Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, represents House District 3, which includes Englewood, Sheridan, Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village and parts of northern Littleton.

Meg Froelich

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