Colorado State Legislative Issues

The Colorado Counseling Association is actively monitoring and engaging advocacy efforts to promote the mental health profession and those we serve.

Members of CCA receive a weekly Public Policy and Legislative (PP&L) Newsletter containing progress reports on current events taking place at the State and Federal level during the legislative session each year and pertinent updates the rest of the year.

Beginning in 2018, CCA is actively preparing for the 2020 Colorado Mental Health Sunset. During the sunset review, the Colorado legislature reviews all mental health state statutes. During the Mental Health Sunset, which occurs every ten years, CCA is committed to review and subsequently make recommendations, specifically on Title 12, Article 43, Part 6 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS 12.43.6), supporting professional counselors in Colorado. Statute recommendations may include repealing the statute, altering or revising it, or maintaining it in its entirety.

Additionally, CCA is forming a Mental Health Sunset Committee to review CRS 12.43.6. This committee will make recommendations to the Mental Health Sunset Coalition, a collaborative effort by several mental health professional associations to represent mental health professionals during the sunset review. In partnership with CCA, the Mental Health Sunset Coalition will advocate for the mental health profession during the sunset review.

The sunset review is extremely important to the mental health profession in Colorado, as these statutes inform and govern how you practice. More than ever, your support as a CCA member directly impacts our profession in meaningful ways.  CCA is excited to engage this important legislative season on your behalf.

Current State Advocacy Efforts

2020 Mental Health Sunset

The Colorado Mental Health Sunset occurs once every 10 years. DORA defines the mental health sunset as "a periodic assessment of state boards, programs, and functions to determine whether they should be continued by the legislature. Sunset reviews focus on creating the least restrictive form of regulation consistent with protecting the public. In formulating recommendations, sunset reviews consider the public's right to consistent, high quality professional or occupational services and the ability of businesses to exist and thrive in a competitive market, free from unnecessary regulation."

Since late 2018, the CCA has been spearheading the effort to advocate for professional counselors in this legislative process. These efforts include:

  • Ensuring a high level of quality supervision for LPCCs and LPCs
  • Better defining LPCCs and the candidacy pathway
  • Placing term limits on Letters of Admonition from DORA
  • Minimal qualifications when servicing vulnerable populations
  • Repealing limits placed upon tele-supervision
  • Clarifying direct and indirect post-degree clinical hours in the pathway to licensure

Medicaid Reimbursement Cuts

In the fall of 2019, CCHA announced intentions to cut Medicaid Reimbursement for professional counselors by 20% in Regions 6 and 7. The CCA is leading statewide efforts to not only support professional counselors, but ultimately the clients we serve through mental health services support at a state government level.

The CCA has a webpage dedicated to these efforts.

Review of mental health legislation proposed during the 2019 Colorado State Legislative Year

 To read the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) review of the 2019 legislative season, click here.

Prohibit Conversion Therapy for A Minor- HB19-1129

The bill prohibits a licensed physician specializing in psychiatry or a licensed, certified, or registered mental health care provider from engaging in conversion therapy with a patient under 18 years of age. A licensee who engages in these practices is subject to disciplinary action by the appropriate licensing board. The bill also makes the advertising or practice of conversion therapy by a physician or mental health care provider a deceptive trade practice under the "Colorado Consumer Protection Act". "Conversion therapy" means efforts to change an individual's sexual orientation, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.

Mental Health Facility Pilot Program - HB19-1160

The bill creates a new 3-year mental health facility pilot program to provide residential care, treatment, and services to persons with both a mental health diagnosis and a physical health diagnosis. It contains requirements for applicants and directs the department of public health and environment to select one or 2 applicants for the pilot program.

Mental Health Involuntary Transportation Holds - HB19-1169

Current law allows specified intervening professionals to transport to a treatment facility any person who appears to be in need of an immediate evaluation for treatment of a mental health disorder to prevent physical or psychiatric harm to others or to himself or herself. The authority to involuntarily hold such a person in custody expires upon the delivery of the person to the facility. The bill adds language to clarify that the authority to hold the person remains in effect until the evaluation is completed and a determination is made concerning the need for continued emergency evaluation and treatment.

Youth Mental Health Education And Suicide Prevention - HB19-1120

The bill allows a minor 12 years of age or older to seek and obtain psychotherapy services with or without the consent of the minor's parent or guardian. A registered psychotherapist or licensed social worker providing psychotherapy services to a minor may, with the consent of the minor, advise the minor's parent or legal guardian of the psychotherapy services provided.

The bill requires the department of education, in consultation with the office of suicide prevention (office), the youth advisory council, and the suicide prevention commission, to create and maintain a mental health education literacy resource bank. The resource bank is available to the public free of charge.

The bill requires the state board of education to adopt standards related to mental health, including suicide prevention.

Kindergarten Through Fifth Grade Social And Emotional Health Act - HB19-1017

The bill creates the "Colorado K-5 Social and Emotional Health Act" (act). The act requires the department of education (department) to select a pilot school district (pilot district) to participate in a pilot program that ensures that a school social worker, as defined in the act, is dedicated to each of grades kindergarten through fifth grade. To the extent possible, the school social worker shall follow the same students through each grade. The general assembly shall appropriate the resources necessary for the pilot district to hire or contract with the additional school social workers.

The department shall select a pilot district that meets the characteristics outlined in the bill, including high poverty, ethnic diversity, and a large concentration of students in the foster care system.

Among other responsibilities consistent with the school social worker license, the school social worker shall provide needed services to students and their families in the pilot district, including identifying learning disabilities, conducting functional behavior assessments and developing behavior intervention plans, identifying food insecurities, and helping eligible students and their families access public benefits. Services must be provided at school and during school hours, as appropriate.

The pilot program begins operation during the 2020-21 school year and repeals in July 2027. The department shall contract with a professional program evaluator (evaluator) to conduct a preliminary evaluation in 2024 and a final evaluation before the repeal of the pilot program. The evaluator shall establish the method for the pilot district's data collection and monitor data throughout the pilot program.

The evaluator shall evaluate the effectiveness of services provided by the pilot program on the academic, mental, and physical health and well-being of the student cohorts within the scope of the pilot program.

The bill requires the department to request money for pilot program administration, employment contracts for social workers, and the pilot program evaluation through the annual budget process.

Revise Traumatic Brain Injury Program - HB19-1147

The bill makes revisions to the Colorado traumatic brain injury program (program), including:

  • Renaming the program, the trust fund board, and the trust fund to remove "traumatic" from the titles and making conforming amendments in other statutes to reflect the new names;
  • Defining "brain injury" and removing the definition of "traumatic brain injury";
  • Removing obsolete dates relating to trust fund board appointments;
  • Removing the specific statutory listing of potential services under the program and clarifying that all persons served by the program receive service coordination and skills training and may receive other services as determined by the trust fund board;
  • Allowing the trust fund board to prioritize services and eligibility for services;
  • Removing a restriction on the use of general fund money for the program trust fund;
  • Removing general provisions relating to the administration of the program; and
  • Removing the fee collected by municipalities for speeding traffic offenses and increasing fees currently collected for other offenses for the benefit of the trust fund.

Identity Documents For Transgender Persons - HB19-1039

Under current law, a person born in Colorado who seeks a new birth certificate from the registrar of vital statistics (state registrar) to reflect a change in gender designation must obtain a court order indicating that the sex of the person has been changed by surgical procedure and ordering that the gender designation on the birth certificate be amended, and the person must obtain a court order with a legal name change. The bill repeals that provision and creates new requirements for the issuance of birth certificates in cases of changes to gender designation or for an intersex individual.

The bill requires that the state registrar issue a new birth certificate rather than an amended birth certificate. The bill allows a person who has previously obtained an amended birth certificate under previous versions of the law to apply to receive a new birth certificate. A person is not required to obtain a court order for a legal name change in order to obtain a new birth certificate with a change in gender designation.

The bill gives the courts in this state jurisdiction to issue a decree to amend a birth certificate to reflect a change in gender designation for persons born in another state or foreign jurisdiction if the law of such other state or foreign jurisdiction requires a court decree in order to amend a birth certificate to reflect a change in gender designation.

The bill exempts transgender persons from having to submit a public notice of name change.

Statute Of Limitation Failure Report Child Abuse - SB19-049

The bill makes the statute of limitations 3 years for failure to report child abuse when a mandatory reporter has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to unlawful sexual behavior or observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions that would reasonably result in unlawful sexual behavior.

Mental Health Professional Access To Dismissed Complaint - HB19-1125

Under current law, when a complaint against a mental health professional is dismissed, information contained in the records of the board that licenses, registers, or certifies the mental health professional (board) is exempt from the disclosure requirements of the state's open records law. The bill allows a mental health professional who is a respondent to a dismissed complaint (respondent) to access information in the files of the board and in the files of the division of professions and occupations in the department of regulatory agencies (division). Before allowing the access, the board and the division shall redact from the information the names of the respondent's clients or other recipients of service and any other information that would identify an individual person, including the complainant or a witness.

Medical Marijuana Condition Autism - HB19-1028

The bill adds autism spectrum disorders to the list of disabling medical conditions that authorize a person to use medical marijuana for his or her condition. Under current law, a child under 18 years of age who wants to be added to the medical marijuana registry for a disabling medical condition must be diagnosed as having a disabling medical condition by 2 physicians, one of whom must be a board-certified pediatrician, a board-certified family physician, or a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist who attests that he or she is part of the patient's primary care provider team. The bill removes the additional requirements on specific physicians to align with the constitutional provisions for a debilitating medical condition. The bill states if the recommending physician is not the patient's primary care physician, the recommending physician shall review the records of a diagnosing physician or a licensed mental health provider acting within its scope of practice.

The bill encourages the state board of health, when awarding marijuana study grants, to prioritize grants to gather objective scientific research regarding the efficacy and the safety of administering medical marijuana for pediatric conditions, including but not limited to autism spectrum disorder.