2023 Interim Committee Recap – Part 2

This is the second of three articles summarizing this year’s interim committee actions. As mentioned in Part 1 last week, we’re providing summaries of four of 12 committees and their recommended legislation. The Legislative Council met on Wednesday, November 15, to review interim committee legislation proposals. Click here to listen to the Legislative Council meeting.

Legislative Oversight Committee Concerning the Treatment of Persons with Behavioral Health Disorders in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems

The committee met five times during the 2023 interim. It heard presentations from multiple stakeholders, behavioral and mental health advocates, and representatives from state executive departments concerning issues facing persons with behavioral health disorders who have been in contact, in one form or another, with the criminal or juvenile justice systems. The committee requested seven bills to be drafted and recommended the following five bills to the Legislative Council for consideration:

  • Bill A – Concerning persons detained in jail who are held on an emergency commitment. The bill prohibits a law enforcement officer or emergency officer or emergency service patrol officer who takes a person into protective custody from detaining a person in jail. Requires each local law enforcement agency that has taken a person into protective custody to provide an annual report to the Behavioral Health Administration that includes disaggregated and nonidentifying information concerning persons who were taken into protective custody. Requires each approved treatment facility or emergency medical services facility that detains or holds a person on an emergency commitment to provide a quarterly report to the Behavioral Health Administration.
  • Bill B – Concerning adult competency to stand trial. The bill reforms and clarifies the criminal competency to proceed process. Provides necessary parties with access to information related to the defendant’s claim of incompetency to proceed. Requires the Department of Human Services to search prior competency evaluations in its possession when the court orders a competency evaluation or the court finds the defendant incompetent to proceed and provide any evaluations to the court. Adds to the information that is included in a competency report. Delineates a court’s options when it finds that a defendant is incompetent to proceed. Directs when competency services may be provided on an outpatient basis. Sets forth the circumstances when a court has to dismiss the defendant’s case based on the highest level of charge against the defendant and how long the defendant has been waiting for restoration services.
  • Bill C – Concerning ongoing funding for the Colorado 911 resource center, and in connection therewith, requiring reporting to ensure that the funding is being expended efficiently and effectively, and making an appropriation.The bill requires the General Assembly to annually appropriate $250,000 from the general fund to the Department of Regulatory Agencies for use by the Public Utilities Commission to fund the operations of the Colorado 911 Resource Center. The center is required to provide a quarterly report outlining the use of the funding provided, and the commission is required to include an accounting of the expenditure and uses of this funding in an annual report that current law requires it to make to the members of the general assembly. The center is required to survey 911 professionals and local 911 emergency call authorities and summarize results in each quarterly report to the commission.
  • Bill D – Concerning expanding a program to continue responding to youth behavioral health crises.Under current law, the Department of Human Services offers statewide access to crisis system services for children and youth. The bill expands the services provided through the creation of the crisis resolution team program. The Behavioral Health Administration shall administer the program to provide community-based services to de-escalate and stabilize children or youth experiencing high-acuity behavioral health crises. The administration shall contract with crisis resolution team providers to provide community-based de-escalation and stabilization services to children or youth. The administration shall submit to the General Assembly a feasibility study to determine whether the program can be further expanded.
  • Bill E – Concerning considering factors related to the capability to participate in the judicial process in determining whether to place a person into a pretrial diversion program.The bill requires a district attorney’s office, or the office’s designee, to consider the use of a juvenile diversion program to prevent a juvenile who demonstrates behaviors or symptoms consistent with an intellectual and developmental disability, a mental or behavioral health issue, or a lack of mental capacity from further involvement in formal delinquency proceedings. Adds behavioral health services and services for juveniles with developmental disabilities to the types of services a juvenile may need and adds behavioral health treatment providers and providers who offer services to juveniles with developmental disabilities to the list of professionals who may provide the appropriate diversion services. If a defendant’s competency is raised or a defendant is found incompetent to proceed, the bill allows the defendant to enter into a diversion agreement if the court finds that the defendant has the ability to participate and is advised of the potential consequences of failure to comply.

The Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee

The committee met six times during the 2023 interim. It heard presentations from multiple stakeholders, state agencies, behavioral and mental health advocates, and other interested parties concerning the issues facing individuals with substance use disorders. The committee requested five bills to be drafted and recommended the following four bills to the Legislative Council for consideration:

  • Bill A – The Prevention of Substance Use Disorders. The bill modifies the prescription drug monitoring program by exempting veterinarians from complying with specific aspects of the program, adding reporting requirements for gabapentin, allowing the medical director of a medical practice or hospital to appoint designees to query the program, allowing the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to access the program, and updating current language in the laws relating to the program by using more modern terminology. Creates the substance use disorder prevention gap grant program; permits a multidisciplinary and multiagency drug overdose fatality review team to request and receive information from certain specified persons and entities as necessary; and requires the substance use screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment grant program to implement a statewide adolescent program and referral practice for pediatricians and professionals in pediatric settings. Modifies the statewide perinatal substance use data linkage project and authorizes the University of Colorado School of Medicine to conduct a statewide opioid use disorder prevalence data linkage project.
  • Bill B – Treatment for Substance Use Disorders. The bill prohibits a carrier that provides coverage under a health benefit plan for a drug used to treat a substance use disorder from requiring prior authorization for the drug based solely on the dosage amount. Requires an insurance carrier and the medical assistance program to reimburse a licensed pharmacist prescribing or administering medication-assisted treatment pursuant to a collaborative pharmacy practice agreement at a rate equal to the reimbursement rate for other providers. Amends the practice of pharmacy to include prescriptive authority for any FDA-approved product or medication for opioid use disorder in accordance with federal law and requires that a protocol for pharmacists to prescribe, dispense, and administer medication-assisted treatment be developed. Authorizes certain licensed clinical social workers and licensed professional counselors to provide clinical supervision to individuals seeking certification as addiction technicians and addiction specialists and authorizes rules to be adopted relating to this clinical supervision. Establishes the behavioral health diversion pilot program and expands the medication-assisted treatment expansion pilot program. Requires the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to seek federal authorization to provide certain screenings for physical and behavioral health needs to persons up to 90 days prior to release from jail, a juvenile institutional facility, or a Department of Corrections facility. Requires the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to seek federal authorization to provide partial hospitalization for substance use disorder treatment, adds substance use disorder treatment to the list of health-care or mental health-care services that are required to be reimbursed at the same rate for telemedicine as in-person services, and places additional requirements on managed care entities and the Behavioral Health Administration.
  • Bill C – Substance use Disorders Harm Reduction. The bill excludes injuries involving the possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia from a physician’s mandatory reporting requirements. Clarifies that the civil and criminal immunity that protects a person who acts in good faith to furnish or administer an opioid antagonist also protects a person who distributes the opioid antagonist. Adds an exemption to the prohibition on possessing drug paraphernalia for possession of drug paraphernalia that a person received from an approved syringe exchange program or a program carried out by a harm reduction organization while the person was participating in the program. Specifies that money appropriated to the Department of Public Health and Environment to purchase non-laboratory synthetic opiate detection tests may also be used to purchase other drug testing equipment. Authorizes an organization operating a clean syringe exchange program to provide drug testing services through the program. Updates the term “opiate antagonist” to “opioid antagonist”.
  • Bill D – Substance Use Disorders Recovery. The bill implements a voluntary designation process for recovery-friendly workplaces. Allows a school district to include in the annual pupil count a student who has transferred to a recovery high school before the pupil count date. Allows a recovery community organization that receives a grant through the recovery support services grant program to use the money to provide guidance to individuals on the many pathways for recovery. Declares that recovery residences, sober living facilities, and sober homes are a residential use of land for zoning purposes. Places restrictions on where liquor-licensed drugstores and fermented malt beverage and wine retailers may display alcohol beverages on the stores’ licensed premises.

Pension Review Commission and Pension Review Subcommittee

The commission met twice during the 2023 interim. It heard presentations from the Fire and Police Pension Association and the Public Employees’ Retirement Association. In addition, the commission heard proposals for legislation from its own Pension Review Subcommittee. The subcommittee met three times during the 2023 interim to: (1) Hear presentations from PERA; (2) Discuss proposed legislation and questions to be submitted to PERA; (3) Hear from PERA regarding answers to their submitted questions; (4) Discuss inflation relief for PERA retirees; and (5) Discuss its annual reports to the General Assembly and the citizens of Colorado. The commission requested that six bills be drafted and recommended the four following bills to the Legislative Council for introduction:

  • Bill A – Additional PERA Service Retirees for Schools. With limited exceptions, current law limits the number of service retirees that a state college or university or an employer in the school or Denver Public Schools division of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association can hire, without a reduction in the service retirees’ benefits, to 10 service retirees when an employer determines there is a critical shortage of qualified candidates. The bill allows an employer to hire such service retirees when the employer determines there is a need. Authorizes an employer in the school or Denver Public Schools division with a student enrollment above 10,000 to hire, without a reduction in service retirees’ benefits, an additional service retiree for each 1,000 students enrolled above 10,000. An employer with 10,000 students or less will continue to be allowed to hire 10 service retirees. The bill requires an employer in the school or Denver Public Schools division to provide PERA with a list of all employed service retirees by September 1 of an applicable calendar year.
  • Bill B – PERA Retiree Refundable Income Tax Credit. The bill creates a refundable income tax credit that is available for income tax years commencing on or after January 1, 2024, but prior to January 1, 2026, for a qualifying public employees’ retirement association retiree, which means a full-time Colorado resident individual who is 65 years of age or older at the end of the 2024 or 2025 income tax year; and has an annual gross income of no more than $38,000 as a single filer or $76,000 as a joint filer.
  • Bill C – Fire and Police Pension Law Technical Corrections. House Bill 22-1034 merged three retirement plans administered by the Fire and Police Pension Association, the statewide defined benefit plan, the statewide hybrid plan, and the social security supplemental plan into a single statewide retirement plan. House Bill 22-1034 accomplished the merger in part by repealing several statutes and relocating some of the substantive provisions of those statutes into new statutes. In doing so, certain statutory cross references were not properly updated to reflect the repeals and relocations. The bill updates the obsolete statutory cross references. Updates the definition of “member” in the new hire pension plan statute to clarify that a portion of the definition applies only for purposes of the statewide money purchase plan. Repeals an inapplicable portion of the definition of “member” in the statewide retirement plan statute.
  • Bill D – State Contribution to FPPA Death & Disability Fund. For members of the Fire and Police Pension Association hired before January 1, 1997, death and disability benefits are paid from state money in the statewide death and disability trust fund. State funding for this benefit discontinued in 1997 based on an assumption that the last payment had fully funded all the benefits to be paid. An actuarial analysis from 2021 determined that the payment in 1997 was not sufficient to cover the benefit obligations associated with members hired prior to January 1, 1997. The 2021 actuarial analysis indicated a shortfall of $33.191 million. The state made payments to cover a portion of this shortfall. Based on the 2023 actuarial calculation, the remaining shortfall is now $27.39 million. The bill requires the state treasurer to pay a total of $27.39 million, in three equal payments of $9.13 million, to be made on July 1, 2024, July 1, 2025, and July 1, 2026, to the association for it to deposit into the trust fund so that there will be sufficient money to pay future death and disability benefits to these members.

Recidivism Interim Study Committee

The committee met three times during the 2023 interim to review Colorado state agency and department definitions of recidivism; examine other state and academic approaches to defining recidivism; review means other than recidivism that can be used to measure program success; and evaluate aligning agency and department recidivism definitions. It heard presentations from the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Treatment of Persons with Behavioral Health Disorders in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Task Force, various state departments, the state board of parole, the state public defender, the judicial branch, and experts in the field of criminal justice and recidivism. The committee requested three bills be drafted and recommended each of the three drafts to the Legislative Council for its consideration.

  • Bill A – Creating a Working Group to Develop a Definition of Recidivism. The bill requires the Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Public Safety to convene a working group to develop a definition of “recidivism” to be used by each state entity that collects data or reports on recidivism in any report issued by the entity. The working group shall develop a definition of “recidivism” no later than January 15, 2025, and each state entity that collects data or reports on recidivism in any report issued by the entity shall begin using the working group’s definition on July 1, 2025.
  • Bill B – A Study of How to Measure the Effectiveness of the Criminal Justice System Using Metrics Other Than Recidivism. The bill creates the alternative metrics to measure criminal justice system performance working group to study metrics and methods, other than measuring recidivism, to supplement the current measure of recidivism; measure risk-reduction outcomes; comprehensively measure successful outcomes that consider various aspects of life, including employment, housing, education, mental health, personal well-being, social supports, and civic and community engagement; and more effectively measure criminal justice system performance. The working group shall submit a report to the House of Representatives Health and Insurance and Judiciary committees and the Senate Health and Human Services and Judiciary committees on or before July 1, 2025.
  • Bill C – A Study to Examine How Individuals Proceed Through the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems. The bill requires the Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Public Safety to conduct a study to examine how individuals proceed through the various stages of criminal and juvenile justice proceedings, including sentences and alternative sentencing programs. The division shall solicit proposals for an entity to assist with the study. The bill requires the division to submit a report of its findings to the Joint Budget Committee and Judiciary committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate by June 30, 2025.

Next week in Part 3, the final part of this series, will summarize the actions of four additional committees that met during this interim.