JCRC Legislative Accomplishments During the 2023 Session
By: Dan Leshem, PhD
Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) Director
Each year, the 40 Jewish community-based organizations represented on JEWISHcolorado’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) work with our lobbying partners at The Capstone Group to ensure that the interests and needs of Jewish and other minority and marginalized communities are represented before the state’s legislative and executive branches. While some years we take it upon ourselves to lead legislation through the process—such as the 2022 HB1077 Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP)—other years we support important legislative initiatives brought forth by member organizations and community partners. The 2023 legislative session saw JCRC providing critical support for several such pieces of legislation including monitoring over 25 bills and actively engaging in the following priorities.
Colorado Non-Profit Security Grant Program
One of the top priorities for the JCRC this session was advocating to continue funding for the NSGP which funded vital security improvements to nine community organizations this past fall. We were relieved to learn early in the session that the push to renew this funding would not rest entirely on the JCRC and its nearly 100 coalition partners. Instead, the Colorado Department of Public Safety included the program’s $500,000 cost in its annual budget request. The budget “long bill,” which included this funding, was signed by the governor on May 1st. In the words of Shlomo Fried & Craig Schottenstein, co-chairs of the East Denver Orthodox Synagogue Security Team, and recipients of one of the inaugural program grants awarded this past fall:
“We are ecstatic to learn that state funding for this program has been extended for another year and hope that it will remain in perpetuity. We encourage every Jewish community organization to apply since safety and security is what allows our community organizations to welcome even more participants to our programs and members into our families without needing to worry about their physical safety. We believe this is essential for everyone in the Jewish community, and we are so passionate about these programs that we are happy to work with any community organization. Please, contact us with questions or concerns about this process. Finally, we want to acknowledge the vital role JEWISHcolorado’s safety and security programs—and the JCRC—for the transformative impact of their work in this space.”
Child Care Contribution Tax Credit
Another issue of great importance to multiple JCRC member organizations was HB23-1091: Continuation of the Child Care Contribution Tax Credit. HB23-1091 sponsored by Representatives Kipp and Pugliese extends the childcare contribution tax credit through 2027 and requires the Colorado Department of Revenue to collect additional data to develop recommendations for measuring the effectiveness of the tax credit. Governor Polis signed this bill into law on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. Jonathan Lev, Executive Director of the Boulder Jewish Community Center had this to say:
“We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the legislature for successfully passing the Colorado Child Care Contribution Tax Credit Bill (5c Tax Credit). The 5c Tax Credit holds immense significance in bolstering the efforts of youth-serving organizations across Colorado. Year after year, the Boulder JCC has witnessed the transformative impact of this credit, enabling us to secure vital funds for scholarships, essential facility enhancements, and overall operational support dedicated to our cherished Jay and Rose Phillips Early Childhood Center and Cherryvale Day Camps. With this tax credit as an unwavering source of inspiration, our community is motivated to contribute even more to these invaluable community programs.”
Nursing Facility Reimbursement Rate Setting
The JCRC also advocated for the passage of HB23-1228: Nursing Facility Reimbursement Rate, sponsored by Speaker McCluskie and Representative Willford. This bill increased the reimbursement rate for nursing home facilities by 10%. This was a top priority for Shalom Park who provided testimony in support of the bill in both the House and Senate. We also worked with the Joint Budget Committee to ensure there was funding set aside to pay for the increase. The bill received strong bipartisan support and is awaiting the governor’s signature. Marc Penner, CEO of Shalom Park, had this to say about the bill’s anticipated impact:
“On behalf of Shalom Park and Colorado’s nursing home industry, we sincerely thank Jewish Community Relations Council for their support of this critically important Medicaid rate bill. This increase will play a vital role in helping the Colorado nursing homes that serve a Medicaid population to meet the significant increases in operational costs that the industry experienced during and after the pandemic. This bill will allow for Shalom to continue its mission in providing the highest quality of care and services to our elders. It will strengthen our ability to fulfill the mitzvah of taking care of those who have taken care of us. We thank JCRC for demonstrating the importance of caring for the elderly.”
As JCRC enters its fourth decade supporting the Colorado Jewish community, we are humbled by the commitment and tireless dedication of our 40 member organizations and 15 at large representatives. We thank the community for sharing their struggles and goals with us. We look forward to next year’s advocacy work and anticipate tackling multiple challenges including expanding the resources available to Colorado educators implementing the 2020 Holocaust and Genocide Education mandate and ensuring that more organizations are able to take advantage of nonprofit security funding. Please reach out to us at email@example.com with any thoughts, questions, or concerns.