March 19, 2019

Denver, CO  The Senate Appropriations Committee today voted to advance several priority bills sponsored by members of the Colorado Senate Democrats to help Coloradans tackle issues like rising healthcare costs, a lack of access to mental health services, student loan debt, and campaign finance reform. These pieces of legislation now head to the Committee of the Whole for a Second Reading.

“We have worked tirelessly over the past several months to make healthcare more affordable and accessible to Coloradans, reform unfair campaign finance laws, and provide much needed relief to those with student debt across the state. We are more than halfway through the legislative session, and many of our top priorities are well on their way to becoming law,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia.

The five bills that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee include:

SB19-002, Regulate Student Education Loan Servicers: More than half of Colorado’s college graduates finish school with some form of student debt, totaling more than $26 billion. This bill will regulate companies that service student loans and create a student loan ombudsman to investigate complaints and provide assistance and education to borrowers.

SB19-003, Educator Loan Forgiveness Program: An estimated 3,000 educator openings remain unfilled in Colorado, particularly in rural districts and in certain fields including math, science, and special education. That number does not include unfilled positions for other support positions like speech pathologists. This legislation is a creative solution to solve Colorado’s teacher shortage by improving an existing, but unfunded, program. It would provide applicants as much as $5,000 in loan forgiveness upon completion of a year of teaching in a targeted geographical or subject area.  

SB19-005, Import Prescription Drugs From Canada: Americans pay far more for prescription drugs than Canadians. For example, the popular cholesterol drug Lipitor can cost Canadian patients under $50, compared to more than $150 for the same dose sold on the US market. This legislation will allow Coloradans to save money on prescription drugs by importing them from Canada.

SB19-010, Professional Behavioral Health Services For Schools: Coloradans can thrive if we ensure mental health resources are robust and accessible, and this bill will take an important step towards ensuring we support children’s mental health. This bill will put more health professionals in schools to support the needs of students across Colorado by building on the success of an existing program that allows schools to use grant funding to contract with providers and invest in telehealth.

HB19-1007, Contribution Limits For County Offices: Colorado does not currently have a law setting limits on contributions to candidates for a county office. In order to reform campaign finance laws, this bill sets a maximum donation amount for individuals and small donors.