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January 2021 legislative update

By Jamie Feld, External Relations Strategist

Legislators are poised to tackle a number of important issues related to the opioid crisis and substance use prevention and treatment as they prepare for the 2021 session.

The Colorado State General Assembly convened on Wednesday, Jan. 13, to start the 2021 legislative session, albeit temporarily. Over a few short days, lawmakers will attend to urgent business and statutory obligations, such as the swearing in of new members. The General Assembly will then go into a temporary recess with the aim of returning Feb. 16. 

The pause is for reasons of public health and safety and follows last year’s precedent, when the leg shut down because of COVID-19. The goal is to return further out from the holiday peak from COVID-19. Deadlines for introduction of bills have been pushed back to reflect the new February session start. 

The Joint Budget Committee will continue to meet during recess. The 2021 schedule for the Joint Budget Committee can be found here.

In the meantime, the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention is continuing to work with state legislators to provide subject matter expertise and facilitate stakeholder engagement.

Areas of Focus Include:

Restoration of past funding to substance use and mental health programming

  • Track cuts to past bills due to last year’s budgetary shortfall and recommend restoration of funds for substance use and mental health programming to Joint Budget Committee
  • Track fiscal items removed from Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee bills for 2020 and recommend funding to Joint Budget Committee

Potential behavioral health bill

  • Identify items requiring statutory change for 2021
  • Remove repeal dates from past Opioid and Other Study Use Disorder Committee Bills
  • Note: The various components will be discussed in the Consortium Work Groups

Revisit HB20-1085, Prevention Bill

  • Address components that were vetoed by the Governor, working with the bill sponsor

Other bills as identified

  • Other bills may be identified through the course of the session

The Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorder Committee is now meeting every other year. The Committee did not meet in 2020 and will reconvene in the summer of 2021. The Consortium will continue to provide stakeholder engagement for this committee when it reconvenes.

Other Legislative Efforts Statewide

We are working with state and local partners to ensure coordination and avoid duplication.

You can find more information about Mental Health Colorado’s 2021 Policy Agenda here. Their work on peer-delivered services is particularly relevant to the Recovery Work Group.

In addition, the Governor’s Behavioral Health Task Force released the blueprint, “Behavioral Health in Colorado: Putting People First – A Blueprint for Reform,” in September 2020. Legislation implementing Phase One is expected for 2021.

Gov. Polis submitted his FY 2021-22 budget request on Nov. 2. It included restorations of certain funds.

More information on funds restored will be available in the coming months.  

Jamie Feld, External Relations Strategist is beginning parental leave mid-January 2021. José Esquibel is the primary contact for legislative efforts during this time. For more information on Policy or Legislative Efforts, please reach out to him at