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March 2019 legislative update

The Colorado Legislature is half way through the 2019 session, and lawmakers have ramped up to move several bills addressing the opioid crisis and prescription drug abuse prevention through the Legislature.

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. Here is a chart on how a Colorado bill becomes a law.

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.

As of March 14, 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 March 8, SB19-001 passed Senate Appropriations 10-0. The amount allocated for the program was decreased to $2.5 million per year annually for two years. The Senate approved the bill on March 14 and it has been introduced in the House and assigned to the Public Health Care & Human Services and Appropriations committees.

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. A hearing date has yet to be scheduled.

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 Senate passed SB19-079, and the House is scheduled to take its final vote on the bill on March 15. It was passed by the House Public Health Care and Human Services committee with amendments.

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 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 and was referred to House Appropriations.

Additional Interim Study Bills – Not Yet Introduced

Three additional bills developed by the Interim Study Committee on Opioids and Other Substance Use Disorders about Harm Reduction, Prevention, and Treatment did not pass Legislative Council. They have not yet been introduced. Stay tuned for more information.

*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. For live audio and tracking day of hearing and archives, please visit the Legislature’s public tracking.

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