A senior prepares to get the COVID-19 vaccine at a drive-thru clinic at St. Cajetan Catholic Church in Denver on Feb. 6, 2021. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)
Two new Colorado laws will put $30 million from the latest coronavirus relief package passed by Congress toward support for Colorado seniors and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The state of Colorado received a total of $3.9 billion from the March COVID relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA. Another $2.29 billion from that federal legislation went to local governments in Colorado.
Much of the state’s ARPA money is still yet to be spent by the Colorado General Assembly, but a handful of bills passed by state lawmakers during the legislative session that ended in June allocated some cash for various purposes.
Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, added his signature to Senate Bill 21-290 on July 6. Using $15 million in ARPA money, the law establishes a temporary grant program to “support the health, well-being, and security” of Colorado seniors in collaboration with local Area Agencies on Aging. The state Department of Human Services must begin accepting grant applications by Jan. 1, 2022.
Sponsors of the legislation include Democratic Sens. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge and Janet Buckner of Aurora, along with Reps. Mary Young, a Greeley Democrat, and Mary Bradfield, a Republican from Colorado Springs.
“This funding will help seniors access food, critical health care and transportation services,” Young said in a statement following the bill signing. “It will also be used to implement best practices for preventing falls and managing chronic diseases.”
Another new law, Senate Bill 21-292, sends $15 million in federal ARPA funds to state programs addressing domestic violence and sexual assault, including the Domestic Violence Program in the Department of Human Services, which provides money for local community-based organizations, and the Forensic Nurse Examiner Telehealth Program in the Department of Public Safety, a new fund to improve access to exams and health care for survivors of sexual assault.
The bipartisan bill was sponsored by Sens. Faith Winter, a Westminster Democrat, and Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, along with Reps. Monica Duran, a Wheat Ridge Democrat, and Terri Carver, a Republican from Colorado Springs.
Polis signed SB-292 into law June 22.
“Instances of domestic violence increased when we implemented stay-at-home orders, which tragically put many Coloradans — particularly women — in danger,” Winter said in a statement at the time. “This law seeks to support victims of domestic violence, providing them with the resources necessary to ensure they are protected from further abuse and trauma.”
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