The 2019 legislative session ended May 3, 2019, with many bills coming down to the wire.  It was a busy year for juvenile justice reform. Bill language and other details can be accessed by typing a bill number in the search engine the Colorado General Assembly website at https://leg.colorado.gov/bills.

HB19-1017 creates a pilot program in up to ten elementary schools to increase access to mental health professionals and social workers. 

HB19-1042 extends jurisdiction for vulnerable youth aged 18-21 in allocation of parental rights matters and probate matters.  This bill also permits courts to make findings necessary for youth aged 18-21 to pursue Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).  Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) was a major stakeholder in this legislation, and the OCR provided support and testimony. 

HB19-1063 permits adult protection departments within county departments of human services and child protection departments to communicate and share records in certain circumstances.  This was a county/department-driven bill passed early in the session. 

HB19-1092 prohibits future pet ownership for individuals convicted of animal cruelty.  This bill was amended after several groups, including the OCR, expressed concerns regarding the impact it would have on juveniles; the final bill includes more flexibility and treatment solutions.  GALs should familiarize themselves with the protection order provisions of this bill, as such orders could impact the placement of certain youth.

HB19-1104 was a clean-up bill initiated by the ORPC to add language to Colorado Revised Statutes 19-1-307 and 19-3-612. 

HB19-1155 added further conduct to the definition of sexual contact in Colorado Revised Statue 18-3-401(4). 

HB19-1194 modifies some school discipline laws for students in preschool through second grade.  One modification narrows the ability to suspend or expel such students.  The OCR consulted with stakeholders on this bill and hopes to see continuing reforms related to school discipline. 

HB19-1196 permits in-state students who are pursuing legal status to obtain some financial aid.

HB19-1232 makes Colorado Revised Statute 19-1-126 consistent with the 2016 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) regulations.  The OCR provided amendments which were integrated into the final bill and provided testimony on this bill. 

HB19-1263 changed the offense level for controlled substance possession, amending various portions of Title 18.  Most changes reduce the offense level for controlled substance possession. 

HB19-1282 amends the OCR’s enabling legislation as it relates to CASA oversight.  This bill was sought after the 2018 OCR audit.  The OCR worked with state CASA, a variety of stakeholders including local CASA programs, and this bill’s drafters to ensure appropriate CASA oversight, while respecting the independence of the CASA program.  The OCR testified in support of this bill, and its passage was essential in responding to the 2018 audit.   

HB19-1308 establishes a foundation for Colorado’s implementation of the Families First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA).  This bill is the first step in ensuring Colorado can implement the prevention services and Qualified Residential Treatment Placements (QRTPs) required under FFPSA.  The OCR participated in the committee tasked with writing this bill and worked closely with other stakeholders.  This is just the beginning of legislation we expect to see around FFPSA implementation. 

HB19-1310 modifies Colorado Revised Statute 18-1.3-603 to ensure that interest on restitution does not accrue for youth under 21 years of age. 

HB19-1315 amends Colorado Revised Statute 19-2-511, which concerns the admissibility of juvenile’s statements.  This bill provides protections when the responsible adult with juvenile at the time of the juvenile’s statement has an interest adverse to that of the juvenile. 

HB19-1316 modernizes Colorado marriage laws relating to minors and creates a role for GALs to investigate the best interests of youth aged 16-18 who seek a marriage license.  This bill modifies Title 14 and adds a GAL appointment type to Colorado Revised Statute 19-1-111.  The OCR worked closely with this bill’s sponsor, bill drafter and other stakeholders, and provided testimony at the capitol. 

HB19-1335 amends the juvenile record expungement process in Colorado Revised Statues 19-1-306 and 13-10-115.5. 

SB19-039 ensures inter-district transportation of students.

SB19-043 increases the number of Colorado district court judges by 15 judges.  The OCR testified in support of this bill, as it addresses court docket issues and delays impacting OCR contract attorneys and the best interests of the children/youth they represent. 

SB19-071 expands the admissibility of child hearsay statements.

SB19-108 is a comprehensive juvenile justice reform bill, covering 59 pages and touching on Titles 19, 22, 24, and 42.  OCR was involved throughout the entire process of this bill’s creation and passage. 

SB19-178 clarifies and updates the adoption subsidy process and eligibility requirements.  This bill resulted from the work of the Child Protection Ombudsman’s Office and their report on adoption subsidies throughout the state.  The OCR was involved in the robust stakeholder process, provided language for this bill, and testified in support of this bill.

SB19-231 creates the Colorado Second Chance Scholarship for youth leaving the Department of Youth Services.