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2024 Legislative Session Highlights

A skyline view of Denver with the gold dome of the Colorado state capitol building

We celebrate the passage of two pieces of legislation this session that exemplify our commitment to evidence use and evidence building in Colorado. The first, House Bill (HB) 24-1428, advances the state’s vision of evidence-based decision making in policymaking to drive state investments and outcomes during budget requests. The second, State Bill (SB) 24-047, strengthens the ability to link data across state systems to gain a comprehensive understanding of the problem of prenatal substance use and identify solutions.

HB24-1428 – Evidence-Based Designation for Budget

HB24-1428 updates SB21-284, requiring state agencies to apply specified evidence designations to programs and practices when providing evidence in a budget request. The legislation promotes the evidence-based decision-making (EBDM) approach to achieve meaningful use of existing evidence in resource decisions, while identifying opportunities for innovation and ongoing evidence building.

As the coordinating entity for Colorado’s implementation of Evidence-Based Decision Making, the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab (Colorado Lab) worked closely with the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) and the Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) to develop language for the bill, drawing on the literature and lessons learned from initial implementation efforts of SB21-284.“

This legislation will support state agencies in meaningfully using the best available research evidence to make decisions about programs and practices that benefit Coloradans. In turn, the JBC and OSPB are then positioned to better align the use of research evidence in policy and budget decisions across executive and legislative branches,” said Dr. Courtney Everson, Senior Project Director for the Colorado Lab. “This legislative action accelerates the state’s commitment to building evidence on what works and for whom, while promoting innovation and maintaining Colorado’s role as a national leader in evidence-based policymaking.”

To learn more, please contact Dr. Courtney Everson.

Venn diagram representing Evidence-Based Decision Making. One circle contains the words Decision-Maker Expertise, another contains Best Available Research Evidence, and another contains Community Needs & Implementation Context.
SB24-047: Prevention of Substance Use Disorders

Colorado has struggled to leverage data to inform prenatal substance use prevention efforts because the information exists in different systems. The passage of SB24-047 appropriates funding and expands the scope of the Perinatal Substance Use Data Linkage Project to address this need. The project links data across state systems—from public health to child welfare to medical care—to identify prevention measures that improve outcomes for parents and their newborns. It also makes population-level data on prenatal substance use available to inform the smart use of state dollars to improve family well-being.

“We know that opioid overdose is a leading cause of pregnancy-associated mortality. Beyond opioids, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that prenatal exposure to alcohol or illicit drugs affects 10-11% of all births,” said Dr. Elysia Versen, Deputy Executive Director and COO for the Colorado Lab. “The problem is even with bits and pieces of data, we still do not know the true extent of the issue. This legislation significantly boosts our ability to gain a comprehensive understanding of the problem and identify cross-system, sustainable solutions.”

To learn more, please contact Dr. Elysia Versen.