Coverage of Opioid Bills

Coverage of Opioid Bills

Recovering Opioid Addict Testifies For Coloradans ‘Left Behind”

By Shaun Boyd (March 13, 2018)

DENVER (CBS4) – A Colorado state lawmaker’s mother gives powerful testimony about the cost of opioid addiction as her daughter introduces legislation aimed at saving the lives of those addicted.

“I went from being a dedicated, loving mother of four with a career to someone who’s life became focused on feeding an addiction at the expense of everyone else,” Stacy Pettersen told a House committee on Tuesday.

Her daughter, Rep. Brittany Pettersen, has a package of bills aimed at addressing everything from overprescribing, to access to affordable treatment, and prevention and intervention in kids and families.

One of the bills would help with education and prevention in kids, provide training for health care professionals and $750,000 in grants for school based health centers.

Read Full Story at Denver CBS4

Bipartisan-sponsored bills target Colorado opioid epidemic

By Zach Thaxton (March 13, 2018)

A bipartisan group of Colorado lawmakers on Tuesday introduced five bills for the 2018 legislative session aimed at addressing the growing opioid epidemic in Colorado.  “42 Coloradans per day died from opioid overdoses in 2016,” said Dr. Rob Valuck, Director of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention.  Valuck was among the featured speakers at a press conference Tuesday at the State Capitol in Denver.

The five bills cover a range of issues related to the opioid epidemic, including prevention and education, clinical practice, workforce development, payment reform, and Medicaid coverage for inpatient substance abuse treatment.  “We’re finding ways to cut the red tape in our medical system so people can get the help when they need it,” said Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont).  “These bills are going to find a way to help heal our individuals in our state and set this tone for the whole nation so we can solve this crisis once and for all.”

Read Full Story at

Bill to link doctors to pharmacies online combats forgeries for opioids

By Joey Bunch (March 13, 2018)

A bipartisan bill filed in the Colorado House last week would make it harder for drug abusers to forge or duplicate prescriptions on paper to steal opioids, and it’s kind of simple: Prescribers and pharmacies should close the loop online.

The bill would require podiatrists, dentists, physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses and optometrists, as well as medical professionals serving rural communities or those in a solo practice, to send opioid prescriptions directly to pharmacies using a secure online connection, except under a few exemptions.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration approved the electronic-prescription system in 2010, and after years of federal reimbursement incentives, pharmacies are at or near 100 percent ready. In Colorado, however, only about 9 percent of prescribers are using it. The national average is 15 percent.

Six states have made it mandatory and 10 states are considering legislation.

Read Full Story at

State Lawmakers Consider Bills To Address Rising Prescription Drug Prices

State Lawmakers Consider Bills To Address Rising Prescription Drug Prices

Denver CBS4 (March 9, 2018)

As a group at the Colorado Capitol tries to put the brakes on the runaway cost of health care, some lawmakers are demanding more transparency from insurers, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.

A bill being heard this week would require pharmaceutical companies to give notice of big price increases and justify them. Insurers would also need to report which drugs had the highest price increases each year.

That prescription drug bill is one of three that were being considered in a committee Thursday that address the escalating cost of health care.

Read Full Story at Denver CBS4

Transparency in Health Care

Transparency in Health Care

We all know that the high cost of health care is a problem, but the solutions are far from obvious. That’s why we must start by increasing the transparency of our health care system, and more specifically, hospitals.

There are many sources of information about hospital spending including the Medicare Cost Reports, the Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise Annual Report, the Financial Health of Colorado Hospitals Report, and the All-Payer Claims Database, but none of them are able to answer a key question:

After all the money we’ve invested in our hospitals to improve Medicaid reimbursements and reduce uncompensated care, why is the cost shift to privately insured patients increasing?Text BoxHouse Bill 18-1207 requires hospitals to share more of their financial information with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, including audited financial statements, utilization and staffing information, and access to the existing secure data system containing utilization and financial data at the individual hospital level. With this data, HCPF will be better equipped to engage with Colorado hospitals to design the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payments (DSRIP) program, also known as the Hospital Transformation Project, which seeks to accelerate hospitals’ transitions to value-based payment systems and improved care coordination.


The Expulsion of A Serial Sexual Harasser

The Expulsion of A Serial Sexual Harasser

On Friday, I voted yes to expel Representative Steve Lebsock from the Colorado House of Representatives. A thorough, independent investigation reviewed 11 allegations from 5 women and found them all to be credible. One incident that stood out to me was when he solicited sex from a female lobbyist who had stopped by his office to talk to him about a piece of legislation.

This was probably the most serious vote I’ve been asked to take since being elected, and I did not arrive at my decision lightly. I read the redacted report and all related materials that were made available for those of us voting on the expulsion resolution. I was sufficiently convinced that Rep. Lebsock’s behavior has been both severe and pervasive, and there is no place for such behavior in any workplace, let alone the State Capitol.

You can hear my remarks during Friday’s debate here:

I am so proud of the conversation we had on Friday. Members of both parties took their responsibilities very seriously and worked through a difficult decision about expelling a member for the first time in 103 years. At the end of the day, 16 Republicans joined 36 Democrats in casting their vote to expel.

We were called upon to make a decision that was not about the fate of one man – it was about whether or not we would continue tolerating sexual harassment in the workplace. Now that we’ve taken this step, we must move forward with a commitment to changing this culture and setting a new standard at our own workplace and workplaces across our state and country.

Caucus is This Tuesday!

I’m excited to be running for reelection this year, and the first step is coming up on Tuesday, March 6th at 7:00pm. Both the Democratic and Republican parties will be holding their precinct caucuses all across Colorado, and I’ll be attending the Democratic precinct caucus in my area and seeking to earn the support of attendees, many of whom will be elected delegates to the Jefferson County Assembly on March 17th. At that assembly, I hope to be nominated to get my name on the ballot for the June 26th primary election.

If you’ve never been before, it can be a bit of a process. Fortunately, there’s some great info available on the Jeffco Dems webpage and the Colorado Dems webpage.

If you’re a Democrat living in House District 23, join us at Creighton Middle School (50 S. Kipling St, Lakewood) at 7:00pm. It shouldn’t be nearly as much of a circus as 2016 and I expect there to be ample parking in the school lot. That said, you should still plan to arrive between 6:00 and 6:30 so we can get started right on time.

More questions? Email me at See you Tuesday!

Jeffco supports bill for online-only publication of fiscal information

By Corinne Westeman (February 27, 2018)

Jeffco Commissioner Tina Francone told the Colorado State Senate on Feb. 14 that she and her fellow commissioners support a bill that would no longer require counties to publish full financial reports in newspapers.

Instead, counties would only have to publish a link in the newspaper that would take readers to the corresponding information on the counties’ websites.

Those who oppose the bill have argued that the current system allows for more transparency, but Francone said she believes that — if the bill is passed — counties would still be transparent via their own websites while saving taxpayer dollars.

SB-156 is sponsored by Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, and Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood. It was assigned to the Senate Committee on State, Veterans & Military Affairs on Jan. 29, and the committee moved it to the floor in a 5-0 vote on Feb. 14.

Currently, the law requires counties to publish reports regarding its expenses and contracts, the salaries of public employees and officials, and the financial statements for each fund kept by the county treasurer. The expense report is published monthly and the salary report is published twice a year.

But SB-156 would change these two reports to annual reports effective Jan. 1, 2020, and counties only would be required to publish links to the expense report, the salary report and the financial statement on their websites. They would still have the option to publish full reports in newspapers.

Read the full story at

Coverage of Rental Applications Bill

State Bill Aims To Relieve Rental Applicants From Burden Of Multiple Fees

By Tyler Young (March 05, 2018)

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Rental application fees, they can run as high as $50 to $60 dollars and do not have a cap on what a property management can charge.

“We do have a rental application fee of $35. That fee just covers our background checks which in covers credit criteria background check and felony criminal background check”, says Cindy Hoppe a property manager for Bray Property Management.

Every property management company charges an application fee to cover background check costs, with background checks pricing around $32 combined both credit and criminal background check.

“It’s making them fully disclose what their fees are and we’re already doing that”, says Hoppe, “Now, different companies have different fees and they’re probably using different processing companies and the fees will fluctuate based on who you use and how many credit applications you put through a month, that kind of thing.”

Read full story at

Colorado landlords would have to limit rental application fees and explain why tenants were rejected under measure

By Jesse Paul (February 26, 2018)

Landlords would be required to tell prospective rental-property tenants more about their application costs and requirements in a measure that passed the Democratic-controlled House on Monday.

House Bill 1127 also seeks to limit rental application charges to the costs of background and credit checks and mandate that landlords spell out to applicants the requirements for approval — such as rental and credit histories and income.

The legislation would also require landlords to provide a written notice to rejected tenants, as well, explaining on what grounds they were turned away. Landlords, under the measure, would also be barred from charging different rental application fees to different applicants and from changing those fees between different properties they might be offering for rent.

Read full story at

Dems try to ease cost of apartment screenings

By Charles Ashby (February 18, 2018)

DENVER — Landlords who charge for rental screening applications would be restricted on just how much they can charge under a bill the Colorado House is to debate this week.

The measure, HB1127, which has no support from House Republicans so far, is aimed at making it less expensive for low-income people to get affordable housing, said its main sponsor, Rep. Dominique Jackson, D-Denver.

“The fact of the matter is, this is pretty common-sense stuff,” Jackson said. “Everybody knows that we’ve got a massive affordable housing problem. If you can’t even get into a piece of property because you’re paying so much for application screening fees, the bill limits the amount that a landlord can charge to screen a prospective tenant to their actual cost of those screenings.”

Jackson said many people can’t afford to spend money on multiple screenings at different apartments they are considering renting, and then come up with first- and last-month’s rent along with a security deposit.

Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Denver, who also is sponsoring the bill with Jackson, said he’s hopeful changes to this year’s bill will win the approval from the Colorado Apartment Association with some changes, which haven’t been worked out yet.

Read full story at

State Lawmakers Push For ‘Renter’s Rights’ Bill

By Shaun Boyd (February 12, 2018)

DENVER (CBS4) – Finding an affordable apartment in Colorado is tough enough, but some people are spending hundreds of dollars just to apply for places.

Two state lawmakers say it’s time renters had some rights.

Rep. Dominique Jackson and Rep. Chris Kennedy are carrying a bill that would limit application fees to the actual cost of screening a prospective tenant.

“We talked about whether we wanted to set a specific dollar amount. We decided we did not, that it was okay for the landlords to figure out what those costs were,” said Kennedy.

Read full story at CBS Denver

Lawmakers seek to give renters more rights when applying for an apartment

By John Herrick (February 12, 2018)

Renters looking for a more affordable place to live are spending hundreds of dollars applying for apartments, prompting Democratic lawmakers to set limits on how much landlords can charge for these applications.

bill to cap apartment application fees cleared the House Finance committee on Monday by a 7-6 vote along party lines. The bill would cap the fee at the actual cost to screen the applicant.

There is no legal limit on how much landlords can charge for applications. Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, a lead sponsor on the bill, said he wants to make sure landlords are not profiting off these fees. He also said renters should have more rights.

“It’s tackling just another facet of the affordability problem,” Kennedy told The Colorado Independent.

Read the full story at

Capitol zeros in on opioid problem

By Charles Ashby (February 25, 2018)

The Colorado Legislature is slowly making progress on some of the measures that have been introduced this year to deal with the opioid crisis.

Last week, the Colorado Senate approved a bill designed to restrict the number of pills a health care provider can prescribe, to a seven-day supply.

While there are some exceptions to that restriction ­— such as patients that have chronic pain that lasts longer than three months — SB22 is designed to help prevent overprescribing, and prevent people from accumulating too many unused pills that others might find and abuse.

“The latent supply of prescription opioids in people’s cabinets, waiting to be acquired by those who may abuse and misuse, is a looming danger,” said Sen. Jack Tate, R-Parker, who introduced the bipartisan measure with Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, and Lakewood Democratic Reps. Brittany Petterson and Chris Kennedy. “Reducing these latent supplies that result from clinical opioid overprescribing is a critical first step.”

Seven Republican senators opposed the bill, including Sen. Randy Baumgardner, whose district includes Garfield County, saying they did so because partly it was unfair to rural patients who might have to travel miles to their local pharmacies to get medications.

The bill is one of six related measures recommended by the Opioid and Other Substance Abuse Disorders Interim Study Committee, which met last summer to discuss the issue.

That panel, of which Tate was a member, recommended this bill and several others:

■ HB1007 requiring all individual and group health benefit plans to similarly restrict certain opioid prescriptions.

■ HB1136 adding residential and inpatient substance abuse disorder services to be eligible for the state’s Medicaid program.

■ SB24 making several changes to the Colorado Health Service Corps Program, including adding grant money to substance abuse providers in underserved areas.

■ SB40 offering liability protection to health care providers who provide clean syringes.

■ HB1003 creating a permanent legislative committee to monitor the issue and recommend changes as needed.

The House measures aren’t scheduled to be discussed in the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee until late March.

SB22 now heads to the House, while SB24 awaits approval in the Senate Appropriations Committee because of its $2.5 million price tag.

Read full story at

Presentations from Public Lands Town Hall

Presentations from Public Lands Town Hall

We had a fantastic town hall this morning with great speakers talking about all the ways we protect the lands that make our country and our state so special. If you missed it, check out the presentations below.


Public Lands 101

Josh Kuhn from Conservation Colorado gives an overview of federal and state lands.

Contact Josh at



Private Land Protection

Jordan Vana from Colorado Open Lands talks about how private landowners can opt to protect their land from development in perpetuity through our conservation easement system. Jordan didn’t give a powerpoint, but we have a map of Colorado’s conservation easements and you can learn more at the Colorado Open Lands website.

Contact Jordan at



A History of Jeffco Open Space

John Litz from PLAN Jeffco talks about the 1/2 sales tax adopted by Jeffco voters in 1972 and all the projects funded with that revenue over the last 47 years.

Contact John at

February Under the Golden Dome

February Under the Golden Dome

We’re now in the 4th full week of the 2018 legislative session. Things still feel a little quiet, but there’s a ton of work going on in the background as we all engage with stakeholders on our bills and finalize drafting. Six of my bills have now introduced, and I’m signed onto three in the Senate. Check them out here!

My first bill, HB18-1032, passed the House yesterday 44-20. I worked closely with Rep. Dan Thurlow (R-Grand Junction) on this bill to facilitate the sharing of certain health data to improve the quality of care. With the advent of electronic health records, more medical professionals are able to access patient data to better coordinate care, reduce duplicative tests, and save cost.

This is one of many bipartisan bills I’m working on this session. In fact, I’m partnering with Republican colleagues on nearly all of my bills. There will always be areas of disagreement, but the truth is there is a great deal of common ground. You just have to invest the time and energy to seek it out and build trust across the aisle.

Meanwhile, committee meetings are in full swing and we’re regularly working through bills. Just last week, my committees heard bills about oil and gas permitting, four-year nursing degrees, marijuana taxes, newborn hearing screenings, child care tax credits, teacher’s license renewals, and aquatic nuisance species.

Believe me when I say that it takes a bit of practice to jump from topic to topic every day like that. But it’s so interesting to learn about so many different issues and to see the legislators and advocates who engage to solve these kinds of problems.

This week, many of us are participating in #FightingForFamilies week. It’s the 25th anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and we’re spending a lot of time talking about steps we can take in Colorado to build upon FMLA. One of our top priorities of the session is the similarly acronym’d FAMLI Act, which will establish an insurance program to provide wage-replacement benefits for workers who are sick or who need time off to care for a child or other family member.

For my part, I’m pretty focused on the ways that the high cost of living makes it difficult for working families to get by. While it’s true that our economy is doing well, the costs of housing, health care, and child care are growing faster than income for many hard-working Coloradans.

Along with Rep. Dominique Jackson (D-Aurora), I’m sponsoring a bill to limit rental application fees and require landlords to be more transparent when processing applications for vacant units. You can read the bill here, and you can check out a little video I recorded with Rep. Jackson here:

Happy February!