Today is Sine Die, the final day of Colorado’s 2022 General Assembly. I expect us to adjourn late tonight, having passed historic legislation to address Colorado’s mental health crisis, increase resources for unhoused people, promote cleaner air through bold climate action, make producers more responsible for plastic waste, protect communities from wildfires, launch universal preschool, provide tax relief to Colorado families and businesses, increase affordable housing, infuse public schools with more resources, and many other initiatives.
Here are some thoughts on my work this session, by the numbers:
We allocated an infusion of Federal dollars across a package of bills to turn the tide on Colorado’s high rates of untreated mental illness, suicide, homelessness, addiction, and incarceration. With these funds, we’ve finally committed the magnitude of resources needed to address these devastating problems.This is why I ran for office.
My session mantra became a single word: BEDS!
I pushed hard for inpatient, adult mental health capacity because people with serious mental illness can recover when they get the treatment they need. My bill HB-1303 creates 16 new beds at the state hospital in Fort Logan, and 125 new residential beds statewide.
Colorado’s competency backlog keeps some 400 people who have not been convicted of any crime in jail for many months, even years. I fought to allow people charged with low level offenses to be released back to their communities for competency restoration services. My bill HB-1386 invests some $30 million to make progress on this terrible backlog.
My bill HB-1256 to modernize Colorado’s involuntary civil commitment laws strengthens and streamlines mental health holds to protect patients and providers. With more than 50,000 holds annually in Colorado, the statutes regulating these processes needed to be meaningfully updated. I am beyond grateful to Mental Health Colorado for making this progress possible.
We must educate communities on the futility of addressing mental illness through the criminal justice system. The reforms we passed will take time to make a difference. We need to stop criminalizing mental illness now.
The profound losses of fire survivors in Boulder County and beyond over the last several years ignited action at the Capitol. I brought two key bills: HB22-1111, a bipartisan effort to improve the insurance claims process for victims of future wildfire disasters, and SB22-206, a bill that invests more than $50 million to support sustainable recovery, and establishes the Office of Climate Preparedness, Both bills are strong steps toward improving Colorado’s resilience.
I collaborated with criminal justice reformers, prosecutors, public defenders, county commissioners, and, most importantly, county sheriffs to run HB-1063, which creates a legislative oversight committee to recommend standards for Colorado county jails. The goal is jails that are more modern, humane, and safe for prisoners and staff alike. This is an important first step.
With Colorado rated 51st in the nation for access to mental health care, it isn’t wise to frustrate an already stressed workforce. I brought two bills, SB-156 and HB-1268, to improve conditions for therapists in private practice by reforming convoluted Medicaid payment rules and insisting on transparency.
You wrote to me about roads, reproductive rights, worker’s rights, mobile home owner’s rights, elections, universal health care, licensing for electricians – dentists – nurses, air quality, climate action, credit unions, gun safety, animal rights, towing companies, unemployment problems, and so much more. I read every letter. Keep them coming.
Connor Siruta just graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and Melissa Lewis is wrapping up her junior year at the University of Denver. I am grateful for their ultra competent work on constituent outreach throughout this session
Read my full press release on the 2022 session here
Town Hall Session Wrap Up
I’ll be joined by Senate President Steve Fenberg and Representative Edie Hooton in this virtual town hall to wrap up of Colorado’s 2022 General Assembly. Bring your questions, concerns, and ideas for 2024.
Tuesday, May 17th | 5:30 – 7 pm
Thank you for your calls, emails, and advocacy during the 2022 Colorado Assembly. It is an honor to represent you.