House Passes Emergency Mental Health, Watershed Restoration Funding

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DENVER, Colorado – The House of Representatives passed bill today to make emergency investments to improve access to behavioral medicine and repair damage to Colorado’s water catchment areas caused by forest fires.

“Colorado is facing a mental health crisis and right now too many people in our state cannot get the care they need.” said Rep Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “We are providing $ 100 million in federal funding to support our behavioral health system and facilitate access to critical mental health care for Colorado youth. Colorado will rebuild stronger by doing everything in our power to significantly expand access to these services for all Colorado residents. “

“Access to behavioral care saves lives” said Rep Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “In Colorado, the number of fatal drug overdoses has risen 59 percent as our communities see an alarming increase in the number of Coloradans with mental illness. Today we passed a bill that will allocate $ 100 million to bolster the mental health of Colorado so that more people in our state have access to the drug abuse treatment, mental health services, and health care they need to cope with the pandemic survive and get up again strengthened. “

SB21-137, sponsored by Reps Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Chis Kennedy, has been modified to instantly allocate over $ 100 million to federal stimulus funds for emergency behavioral health services. The pandemic and accompanying economic recession have severely affected the mental health of Colorado residents, with mental health issues and substance use disorders taking a particularly heavy toll on people of color and people who live and work in border and rural communities. In 2020, fatal drug overdoses in Colorado rose 59 percent. The law was passed in 42-23.

As amended, to address the Colorado adolescent mental health crisis, the bill requires the CDHS to develop a program to provide licensed providers with emergency resources to help provide treatment and services to adolescents whose health needs are met require, have to live in a residential facility, encounter obstacles. The department signs contracts with licensed providers to provide these services. The General Assembly approved $ 5 million to fund this program.

Among its many provisions, the bill provides recovery-oriented services for those with SUD or concurrent substance use and mental disorder, support for training programs for providers in rural and metropolitan areas to develop mental health and substance abuse skills, and grants to nonprofit organizations to provide vouchers for people living in rural and border communities who need behavioral health services. The changes also create a behavioral and mental health cash fund and a robust interim process for the allocation of federal stimulus funds to behavioral health. The Colorado comeback Timetable to Building Back Stronger plans to spend more than half a billion on behavioral health services.

“As climate change causes devastating forest fires in Colorado, we are seeing significant damage to our water catchment areas, which not only endangers our drinking water, but also the water, the Colorado ranches, farms, residents and our outdoor leisure industries need to thrive.” said Rep Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins. “Half the country is already in a severe drought. We must act now to preserve the resources that make our state a place worth living in. This bill is investing $ 30 million to restore water catchment areas after devastating forest fires and to preserve our precious water resources for all Colorado communities and industries. “

Sponsored by representatives Cathy Kipp and Marc Catlin, SB21-240, Commits $ 30 million to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for the Watershed Restoration and Flood Mitigation Grant Program to help water catchment areas recover from the effects of forest fires. The bill also provides funding for a nationwide watershed assessment that examines the vulnerability of life, security, infrastructure and water supplies to forest fires. The bill passed 60-5.

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