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February 2019 legislative update

The Colorado Legislature is in its second month, and lawmakers continue to consider a number of bills related to the opioid crisis and prescription drug abuse prevention.

The Legislature moves fast—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.

This update is intended to let you know about bills that have been introduced and are working their way through the legislative process. Click on the bill title or number to go to the Legislature’s page for each bill, which lists amendments and committee hearings. In addition to the General Assembly’s website, you can consult the bill tracker used by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

As of February 13, those bills include*:

SB19-001 — Expand Medication-assisted Treatment Pilot Program

Sponsor: Sen. L. Garcia

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 February 7, SB19-001 passed the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services unanimously 5-0 and was referred to Appropriations.

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. Some components include expansion of Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and Co-Responder programs as well addressing access to medication assisted treatment in jails. 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.

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.

The bill passed the Senate and was introduced in the House on Feb. 8 and assigned to Public Health Care and Human Services committee.

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 housing support for individuals recovering from a substance use disorder and licensing of recovery residences.

On February 15, HB19-1009 will be heard at the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee.

*Please note: this might be an incomplete list, and additional legislation could be introduced this session. Bills could also be amended. In addition to the General Assembly’s website, you can consult the bill tracker used by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Pilot Supervised Use Site Legislation – Not Yet Introduced

The Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention (and the University of Colorado, where it is housed) does not have a position on the issue of safe use sites. While the Consortium supports conversations on this topic, it does not have a position, either for or against.

Individuals can advocate in support or opposition to any bill as public citizens or members of another organization, but they should make clear they are not representing that position as a member of the Consortium or the University of Colorado.

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