Highlights of the 2014 Legislative Session (Information provided by Rep Paul Rosenthal and Senators Irene Aguilar and Pat Steadman
The 2014-15 state budget:
• Commits $188 million to recovery from the floods and wildfires of 2013 and to wildfire prevention
• Increases state funding for education by nearly $400 per pupil
• Boosts funding to our public colleges and universities by $100 million
• Implements economic development programs to boost key industries, create good-paying jobs and build a strong, sustainable economy that supports all Coloradans
• Increases funding for workforce development programs
• Boosts reimbursements for social services providers
• Increases the state reserve by more than $130 million, to 6.5 percent, to prepare for future emergencies and economic downturns
• Boosts investments in women’s health services and family planning
• Increases services for victims of domestic violence and child abuse
State law requires that a portion of the General Fund be held back in reserve. HB 1337 raises the “statutory reserve” equal to 6.5% of General Fund appropriations. This reserve is our savings account for rainy days.
Low-income Colorado seniors and those with disabilities become eligible for an increase in the grants they receive for rent assistance and home heating, and the income limits change to allow more individuals to qualify. Under the new law, sponsored by Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), individuals making $6,639 a year or less, or married couples with a combined income of $10,731 or less, can receive up to $700 a year to help pay rent and $192 a year to help pay heating bills, helping keep these Coloradans in their homes and out of other, more expensive social services programs.
The bill aligns our state laws with the ADA and strengthens protections for people with disabilities, including those who use service animals.
?“Jessica’s Law” brings our state in line with a national initiative to impose mandatory minimum sentences for those who commit violent sexual assaults against children. Sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote (D-Lafayette), it imposes sentences of 24 years to life for class 2 felony assault on a child under the age of 13, 18 to life for class 3 felony assault on a child, and 10 to life for class 4 felony assault on a child.
Colorado women gain legal standing to sue for damages if they miscarry because of the malicious or reckless actions of others.
The new law, sponsored by Reps. Pettersen and Foote, builds on a 2013 law that imposed criminal penalties for unlawful termination of pregnancy and allows civil actions by women whose pregnancies are terminated by intentional or reckless acts.
Online Retail Sales Taxes
The new law, sponsored by Reps. Lois Court (D-Denver) and Angela Williams (D-Denver), expands the types of business activities that require a company to collect and remit state sales taxes for their sales in Colorado, ending those companies’ 2.9 percent to 10.4 percent price advantage over Colorado businesses that must charge sales tax.
Consumers now have another tool to get information from their insurer. They can opt-in receiving general information about their policy by email, as long as it doesn't have personally identifiable information.
SB 187 Creates a 12 member commission tasked to make recommendations regarding controlling health care costs focused on evidence based data on cost control, access and quality of care.
Extending the commission on family medicine's support of the development of family medicine residency programs in rural and other underserved areas of the state, the bill requires the commission to make an evaluation and recommendations concerning the use of Medicaid graduate medical education funding to support family medicine training.
The legislature allocated $24.4 million in new marijuana tax revenues to enforcement of industry regulations, law enforcement, youth prevention & education efforts and substance abuse treatment.
Authorizes the creation of financial service co-ops specifically for marijuana and hemp businesses. Currently, federal laws and regulations make it nearly impossible for them to find a bank or credit union, resulting in most of these businesses operating on a cash-only basis. This bill is a first step toward a solution.