"Aid in Dying" Bills Set for Showdown, Plus Our Weekly Bill Update

This is a big week for backers and opponents of aid in dying, the movement to allow terminally ill adults to obtain medication to end their lives. Identical bills that seek to enact the “Colorado End-of-life Options Act” will both have hearings this week.

The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee will consider Senate Bill 25 on Wednesday, February 3, while the House Judiciary Committee will hear House Bill 1054 on Thursday, February 4. The Senate bill is expected to fail, and the fate of the House bill is anyone’s guess. Last year’s version, HB 15-1135, could not get past its first House committee.

Expect many people to make the trek to the Capitol to testify on the bills, including disability advocates, terminally ill people, doctors, religious leaders and others. We’ll recap the discussions next week. CHI recently published an analysis of the debate over aid in dying, which you can read here.

January 28 was a busy day for health bills. Four bills we’re tracking were up for debate, and all four passed out of committee:

  • The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed SB 2, which asks voters to approve fees from Connect for Health Colorado. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R) and advanced on a 3-2 party-line vote. Lundberg set up the discussion of whether the fees should count as a tax by saying, “The question is do we, the legislature, abide by the terms specified in the constitution, or do we not?” He disagreed with Sen. Irene Aguilar (D) over whether the marketplace is part of state government. The bill heads next to Senate Appropriations.
  • The same afternoon, SB 69, which regulates community paramedics, passed the committee unanimously after a long list of people showed up to testify in support. It is up next on February 4 in Senate Finance.
  • HB 1065, which creates a home services tax credit for seniors, passed the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee by a vote of 10-3. Half of the committee’s Republican members sided with all seven Democrats to support the measure. It goes next to Finance, where it failed last year over concerns about its fiscal impact. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kathleen Conti (R), hopes to make the idea more feasible by staggering the introduction of the tax credits and suspending them if the state budget does not grow fast enough.
  • Finally, SB 15, which designates a state agency to decide which pesticides are allowed in marijuana growing, passed the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee by a vote of 8-0. It has been placed on the Senate’s Consent Calendar, meaning that committee members don’t expect opposition from either party as the bill moves forward. It’s up for a vote on the Senate floor as early as this morning.

We’ll be monitoring a variety of hearings this week, in addition to those for the End-of-life Options bills mentioned above. Highlights by day:

February 2

  • The House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee will hear HB 1095, which would allow for more frequent prescription refills for glaucoma patients.
  • The House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee will hear SB 39, which would include mental health professionals in collaborative services teams. It is likely to move through its second chamber with little to no debate.

February 3

  • The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee will hear HB 1015, which would repeal state health insurance laws if the ACA is repealed at the federal level.
  • The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will vote again on SB 6, which would refer all new marketplace customers to brokers. The bill failed to advance on January 20, but the committee did not officially decide to postpone it indefinitely. The committee will then hear SB 27, which would allow Medicaid enrollees to receive prescription drugs by mail.

February 4

  • The House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee will hear HB 1047, a bill that would create an interstate medical licensure agreement for doctors.

And we’ll be tracking several new bills of note:

  • HB 1112 would create a program that would pair up to 10 qualified military veterans with dogs to train as their service or companion animals. The veterans would need referrals from mental health professionals to qualify. The bill has bipartisan sponsorship, including 14 members of the House.
  • HB 1164 is another bill with bipartisan sponsorship. When parents or students request an exemption from immunization requirements, this bill would change the entity that reviews the request from a student’s school to the state Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
  • SB 90 comes from the six members of the Joint Budget Committee. It would grant CDPHE the option to change from collecting data on the health effects of marijuana use at the county level, as is currently the case, to the regional level.