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April 2019 legislative update

The Colorado Legislature has only two weeks left in the 2019 session, and it’s a mad dash to the finish line – the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 3.

The last weeks will include discussion of several bills related to opioid use disorder prevention and treatment, as well as other substances. All the bills from the Interim Study Committee on Opioids and Other Substances have been introduced and are working their way through the Legislature, as are opioid-related bills introduced earlier this year.

This update is intended to let you know about those and where they are in the legislative process. Here is a chart on how a Colorado bill becomes a law. Click on the bill title or number to go to the Legislature’s page for each bill, which lists amendments and committee hearings.

As of April 18, those bills include* (in order of introduction from last to first):

HB19-1287 – Treatment for Opioids and Substance Use Disorders

Sponsors: Rep. D. Esgar, Rep. J. Wilson, Sen. B. Pettersen, Sen. K. Priola

This bill directs the Department of Human Services to implement a centralized, web-based behavioral health tracking system to track available treatment capacity at behavioral health and treatment providers to support treatment access. The bill also directs the Department of Human Services to implement a care navigation system. Finally the bill expands treatment capacity in rural and underserved areas.

On April 17, it passed the Health and Insurance Committee unanimously and has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

SB19-228 – Substance Use Disorders Prevention Measures

Sponsors: Sen. F. Winter, Sen. D. Moreno, Rep. B. Buentello, Rep. J. Singer

This bill has a variety of components related to prevention; for the most complete information, please view the bill text.  Some components are that it requires certain healthcare providers to complete substance use disorder training as part of continuing education required to renew a provider’s license. It requires opioids for outpatient use to carry a warning label. It allocates funding to state and local health departments to address opioid and other substance use prevention. It creates two grant programs for at-risk youth. It requires the study and implementation of several interventions targeting pregnant women for interventions and screenings for substance use disorder.

On April 1, SB228 was introduced to the Senate and assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee was heard on April 11, passed 3-1 in Senate Health and Human Services Committee and was referred to Appropriations.

SB19-227 Harm Reduction Substance Use Disorders

Sponsors: Sen. B. Pettersen, Sen. Julie Gonzales, Rep. Chris Kennedy, Rep. Leslie Herod

This bill carries a variety of harm reduction measures including: allowing school districts to carry naloxone, specifying that hospitals can be a syringe access site, creating a naloxone bulk purchase fund, expanding the medication take back to include sharps, requiring naloxone to be available where an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available, prohibiting the Office of Behavioral Health from penalizing a facility if an individual does not have identification (up to 6 weeks.)

This bill was introduced on April 1 and passed 5-0 out of Senate Health and Human Services Committee on April 11. It was heard in the Senate Finance Committee on April 16 and referred to Appropriations.

SB19-001 — Expand Medication-assisted Treatment Pilot Program

Sponsors: Sen. L. Garcia, Rep. Buentello

This bill concerns the expansion of the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) expansion pilot program and would expand the counties that may participate in the program; extend the duration of the program; and increasing funding for the program.

The bill is a continuation and enhancement of SB17-074, which created a pilot program that enabled the University of Colorado College of Nursing to train and coach Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants in delivering MAT services in Pueblo and Routt Counties. This bill intends to expand the work to the San Luis Valley and two additional counties in which a need is demonstrated.

On March 8, SB19-001 passed Senate Appropriations 10-0. The fiscal note was decreased to $2.5 million per year annually for two years in an amendment. The bill was heard on the Colorado Senate Floor on March 12 for second reading and March 14 for third and final reading in the Senate. On March 22, the bill passed the House Committee on Public Health Care and Human Services and on April 16 passed House Appropriations and was referred to the House for a vote.

SB19-008 — Substance Use Disorder Treatment In Criminal Justice System

Sponsors: Sen. K. Priola, Sen. B. Pettersen; Rep. C. Kennedy, Rep. J. Singer

The bill addresses treatment of individuals with substance use disorders in the criminal justice system and includes recommendations from the Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force with regard to law enforcement responses to the opioid crisis. This is a bill put forward by the Interim Study Committee on Opioids and Other Substance Use Disorders.

On January 4, SB19-008 was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Judiciary Committee. On April 3, SB008 passed out of the Senate Judiciary 5-0 and referred to the Committee on Finance with amendments to change funding for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programming to funding for a Harm Reduction Grant Program and to ease the language on medication assisted treatment in jail from medication assisted treatment to be “allowed in jails” to “have a policy in place on or before January 1, 2020.” On April 11, the bill was heard in the Committee of Finance and referred to Appropriations.

SB19-079 — Electronic Prescribing Controlled Substances

Prime sponsors: Sen. N. Todd, Sen. K. Priola; Rep. D. Esgar, Rep. L. Landgraf

The bill would require podiatrists, physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, and optometrists, starting July 1, 2021, and dentists and practitioners serving rural communities or in a solo practice, starting July 1, 2023, to prescribe schedule II, III, or IV controlled substances only via a prescription that is electronically transmitted to a pharmacy unless a specified exception applies.

SB19-079 was introduced on January 14 and has passed through both the House and Senate with amendments and was signed by the Governor on April 8.

HB19-1009 — Substance Use Disorders Recovery

Sponsors: Rep. C. Kennedy, Rep. J. Singer; Sen. K. Priola, Sen. B. Pettersen

This bill is another bill from the Interim Study Committee and focuses on expanding housing vouchers for individuals recovering from a substance use disorder and licensing of recovery residences. It also creates an opioid crisis recovery fund for money the state receives as settlement from opioid litigation.

On March 6, HB19-1009 was heard at the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee. The bill passed House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee 8-3 with a variety of amendments and was referred to House Appropriations.

*Please note: this might be an incomplete list, and bills are frequently amended. The Legislature is a dynamic process—the best way to keep up if you want to follow the progress of a bill or the hearing schedule is to use the General Assembly’s web page for tracking bills. Enter the bill number into the search field or use keywords such as “opioids” or “substance use” and use the filters to sort the results. In addition to the General Assembly’s website, you can consult the bill tracker used by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. For live audio and tracking day of hearing and archives, please visit the Legislature’s public tracking.

The Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention coordinates Colorado’s statewide response to prescription drug misuse, focusing on the opioid crisis. The Consortium works with stakeholders such as government agencies, community groups, law enforcement, and the medical community. The Consortium is part of the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

For more information about the Consortium, visit