BILL SUMMARY for SB09-144
SENATE COMMITTEE ON HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
|Votes: View--> ||Action Taken: |
|Adopt prepared amendment L.001 (Attachment B). Th|
Refer Senate Bill 09-144, as amended, to the Commi
|Pass Without Objection|
01:35 PM -- Senate Bill 09-144
Senator Boyd announced that she would limit testimony in order to keep the committee's hearing within the time allotted. Senator Kester introduced Senate Bill 09-144. The bill addresses technical issues within the Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and adds additional duties that are directly related to the existing statutory mandates of the commission. A fact sheet concerning the bill was distributed to the committee (Attachment A).
01:39 PM -- Cliff Moers, Director of the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, testified that the bill involves a small amount of money but will have a huge impact on the deaf and hard of hearing community. He described the provisions of the bill. Specifically, the bill changes the title of the director of the commission, and clarifies the definition of the state court system to ensure that it is clear that the commission's legal auxiliary services' obligations are limited to courts within the state judicial branch. In addition, the bill updates the statutory language of the commission's telecommunications equipment distribution program. He explained why the statutory language should be updated, stating that the change will allow deaf and hard of hearing individuals to access up-to-date technology. In addition, the bill authorizes the commission's Legal Auxiliary Services program to coordinate scheduling of auxiliary services, including interpreting and real-time captioning, for the state court system. The bill creates a system navigator/technical assistance specialist under the commission to assist deaf and hard of hearing citizens who are attempting to access government system. He gave an example of a situation in which a navigator could assist individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. Finally, the bill creates a grant program to provide grants to meet the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing community.
01:47 PM -- Joe Benedetto, Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard Hearing, testified that the bill will support the deaf community.
01:49 PM -- Cheri Davis, Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, testified regarding the changes made to the Legal Auxiliary Services program. She stated that the needs of deaf and hard of hearing citizens in the court system are different than those of hearing citizens. She stated allowing the commission to schedule auxiliary services for the court will create efficiencies. She responded to questions from Senator Carroll regarding how the Legal Auxiliary Services program will coordinate the services for the court system.
01:54 PM -- Emy Lopez, Judicial Department, testified in support of the bill, specifically as it relates to the scheduling of interpreters for the court system. She stated that there are a number of instances that lead her to believe that the scheduling of interpreters would better be handled through a centralized system. She stated that such a system would reduce the burden on judicial staff, and ensure that the needs of deaf and hard of hearing citizens are met.
01:56 PM -- Ami Garry, Dove Advocacy Services, testified that prior to the creation of the commission, the courts were often not equipped to address the needs of deaf and hard of hearing citizens in the judicial system. She stated that the commission is a great resource for individuals who have questions about services for deaf and hard of hearing citizens.
02:00 PM -- Ray Kilthau, representing himself, testified that there has been a lot of work on the provisions of the bill and that the bill is a big step forward.
02:00 PM -- Karen Keil, representing herself, testified regarding her experiences being called for jury duty as an individual who is hard of hearing. She testified regarding the importance of adequate accommodations for individuals in the court system. She spoke in favor of the bill's provisions regarding the system navigator, stating such a position will go a long way to meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
02:06 PM -- Carrie Ann Lucas, Colorado Cross Disability Coalition, testified in support of the bill. She testified regarding the portion of the bill that creates a system navigator, and spoke to how the navigator could help avoid conflicts of interest and difficulties in scheduling interpreters in the court system.
02:10 PM -- Devorah Kappers, representing ADAPT and Disability Center for Independent Living, testified in support of the bill.
02:11 PM -- Mary McGhee, Colorado Department of Human Services, testified regarding the source of funding for the bill's provisions, which is the Disabled Telephone Users Fund. She specified that the commission receives money both from the General Fund and the Disabled Telephone Users Fund. She explained that the bill's services would be funded by an increase in the Disabled Telephone Users Fee, which is a monthly fee charged on residential telephone lines in Colorado. Senator Mitchell commented on the funding source for the bill, stating his belief that the bill essentially increases taxes, and asked if the Attorney General had provided an opinion regarding whether there was a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) issue with the fee increase. Ms. McGhee responded that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has the authority to raise and lower the fee, and noted that the PUC has lowered the assessment in the past. Senator Morse commented on the differences between fees and taxes, and Ms. McGhee discussed some of the services that are funded with the fee. Ms. McGee responded to questions from Senator Schultheis regarding the fiscal note of the bill. She responded to additional questions from Senator Tochtrop regarding whether the fee is assessed only against land lines, responding that it is. Senator Kester asked whether there was a TABOR issue when the fee was lowered in past years. The committee discussed TABOR and the authority of the General Assembly to implement and increase fees.
Senator Kester gave concluding remarks regarding the bill. Amendment L.001 (Attachment B) was distributed to the committee. The amendment makes a technical correction to the wording of the bill.
|TIME: || 02:31:49 PM|
|MOTION:||Refer Senate Bill 09-144, as amended, to the Committee on Appropriations. The motion passed on a 5-3 roll call vote.|
Final YES: 5 NO: 3 EXC: 0 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS