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Polis tours state, signs dozens of bills on affordable housing, health care, public safety | Subscriber-Only Content

Gov. Jared Polis signed dozens of bills into law throughout the week, including numerous measures on affordable housing, health care and public safety in Colorado.

The governor has been visiting parts of the state in the last few days, part a bill signing tour that seeks to highlight the Legislature’s recently concluded work.   

Affordable housing

On Tuesday, Polis traveled to Greeley, Fort Collins and Boulder to sign legislation he said will expand access to affordable housing, including House Bill 1082, which establishes a fair housing unit; Senate Bill 160, which helps mobile home residents buy their parks; and HB 1242, which invests in the regulation of tiny homes.

“We are taking action to save Coloradans money on housing,” Polis said. “Our economy grows even stronger when hardworking Coloradans have access to affordable housing close to where they work.”

The most expensive bill of the bunch, SB 160, creates a $35 million loan and grant program to help finance mobile home residents who are trying to buy their for-sale mobile home parks.

“We’re putting mobile homeowners above corporate profits,” said bill sponsor Rep. Andrew Boesenecker, D-Fort Collins. “Our law invests critical resources to keep mobile home parks affordable by empowering mobile homeowners to purchase and manage the land their homes sit on. I’m incredibly proud to see this law through the finish line because resident owned communities are the key to affordable, resilient mobile homes.”

The fair housing unit established under HB 1082 will be responsible for enforcing civil and criminal action for housing laws, protecting Coloradans seeking housing. HB 1242 gives the State Board of Housing the power to regulate tiny homes and exempt the homes from sales tax.

Signed into law on Friday, HB 1282 also spends $40 million on building new, affordable homes, including innovative housing structures, such as modular and 3-D printed homes.

Health care

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Polis signed bills that seek to support the health care industry and “cut red tape” for consumers, including spending nearly $200 million on behavioral health services.

HB 1281 creates a $90 million grant program for local governments and nonprofits to fill behavioral health care gaps. HB 1283 invests $54 million in intensive residential and outpatient care for youth and families. HB 1302 provides $35 million for primary care practices to integrate behavioral health care into their clinical models. SB 147 gives $11 million to programs providing behavioral health care for youth and families.

HB 1243, signed on Thursday, also invests in behavioral health by spending $14 million to improve safety and behavioral health services in public schools.

“Accessing behavioral health care in our state can be complex and difficult, making it challenging for Coloradans to get the care they need to maintain their health and well-being,” said Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, sponsor of HB 1281. “This critical investment will address these inequities as we continue working toward building a healthier Colorado for all.”

Outside of behavioral health, other legislation aims to boost the health care industry at large. SB 226 spends $61 million on education, training, recruitment and retention of health care workers; HB 1325 develops alternative payment models for health care services; and HB 1370 lowers costs for prescription drugs by requiring insurance companies to pass along the savings from manufacturers’ rebates.

Two smaller bills, HB 1298 and HB 1299, also reduce license fees for mental health professionals, nurses, nurse aides and technicians.

“I am proud we are making health care more accessible, affordable and reliable in Colorado, as we take bold steps to lower the cost of prescription drugs and save health care workers money,” Polis said. “We are making transformational investments in our public health system to ensure health care readiness for any current or future public health need.”

Public safety

On Thursday and Friday, Polis signed several efforts to tackle crime in Colorado, including SB 145, which spends $30.5 million to fund prevention and crisis intervention in high-crime areas; law enforcement recruitment, retention, tuition and training; and, improving law enforcement diversity.

“This legislation recognizes the critical need for communities to develop crime prevention and intervention strategies specific to their local needs,” said Debbie Oldenettel, deputy director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “At the same time, it addresses the need for retaining and recruiting law enforcement, particularly those who represent the communities they serve.”

Other crime-prevention bills signed include SB 1, which creates a $10.3 million grant program to upgrade high-crime neighborhoods; HB 1003, which spends $4 million on projects that prevent youth crime; HB 1234, which spends $2 million on projects that prevent identity-based crime; and HB 1120, which reauthorizes the School Security Disbursement Program to fund safety strategies in local schools.

Larger investments include SB 183, using $48 million to fund and expand crime victim resources, and SB 196, which allocates nearly $62 million in early intervention and diversion efforts to keep people with mental health and substance abuse issues out of the criminal justice system.

“We are delivering real results to make Colorado communities safer,” Polis said. “Every Coloradan has the right to a safe community, and today, we are one step closer to my goal of making Colorado one of the 10 safest states in the country in the next five years.”

The following bills were also signed this week:

• SB 206 creates a new office for addressing climate change.

• HB 1133 pays $57 million to prepay state employer insurance premiums.

• HB 1292 allows tobacco funds to be used for oral health programs.

• HB 1301 changes the tax treatment of hydroponic equipment used in farms.

• SB 35 establishes insurance coverage requirements for work accidents for commercial drivers.

• HB 1091 provides court opinions online free.

• SB 106 mandates contract health care administrators comply with conflict-of-interest policies.

• SB 18 expands the court texts reminder program.

• SB 188 creates the Public Defender and Prosecutor Behavioral Health Support Program.

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