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The Colorado state Capitol dome is pictured behind snowy trees on April 30 in Denver.

A panel of lawmakers reviewing treatment of those with mental health disorders in the criminal justice system is moving forward with 10 bill drafts, the maximum the interim committee can recommend.

Included in the topics that members of the Treatment of Persons with Mental Health Disorders in the Criminal Justice System committee voted to move forward with drafting bills on are:

  • An effort led by Sen. Cleave Simpson, R-Alamosa, to utilize vital records for research by combining three proposals presented to the panel on Wednesday by the Mental Health Disorders in the Criminal Justice System Task Force’s Data and Information Sharing Subcommittee
  • A pair of proposals led by Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, to enshrine in state law recommendations from Mental Health Colorado on the treatment of people found incompetent to proceed and not guilty by reason of insanity
  • A proposal from Simpson and Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, to review and extend Colorado’s mental health diversion program and combine it with the current adult diversion program
  • An effort from Lee to explore the possibility of creating triage centers as an alternative to jails for those in mental health crisis, a concept developed by the National League of Cities
  • A proposal from Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Denver, and Sen. Robert Rodriguez, D-Denver, to find permanent funding for a program that provides housing for those released from Department of Corrections custody
  • An effort from Benevidez to tweak state laws on mental health holds and require providers to issue discharge plans
  • An effort from Amabile, stemming in part from a Wednesday presentation Denver County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jamison Brown, to create standards to encourage uniformity of practices in jail management
  • A proposal from Lee to reintroduce House Bill 20-1035, a housing support services bill that died as lawmakers shifted their focus to COVID-19 response
  • A proposal from Benevidez to reauthorize the panel

None of the bill concepts featured a dissenting vote, though not all were unanimous as Rodriguez missed votes due to tech issues.

The panel opted against moving forward with a bulk of the recommendations presented Wednesday by the Mental Health Disorders in the Criminal Justice System Task Force's subpanels.

Rather than moving forward with bill concepts developed by Housing subcommittee, lawmakers opted to send them to an interim panel on housing. Those bill concepts envisioned using federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, dollars which the interim housing panel has jurisdiction over.

Lawmakers also chose not to move forward a proposal presented Wednesday to cap medical marijuana potency. Though that was met with initial skepticism and no members of the panel opted to champion its cause, Amabile said, “We should be doing something about limiting people from using marijuana when they're on probation or parole.”

“But I don't think we have a good idea here yet,” she added.

The panel will spend the next month-and-a-half drafting bills from those concepts and will reconvene in late October to vote on moving forward with the bill drafts, which will also be reviewed by Legislative Council.

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