Homeless youth, food banks and anyone who needs a document notarized will benefit from three bills Gov. Jared Polis signed into law Friday.
During a virtual bill-signing ceremony, Polis signed those and other measures into law, one of which will allow homeless youth as young as 15 to get into shelters without the consent of an adult.
That measure, SB106, allows underaged homeless youth who believe they are in unsafe circumstances to access shelters for up to three days while their parents or guardians are notified.
“This bill could not be more timely,” said Sen. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, who introduced it with Sen. Rob Woodward, R-Berthoud.
“It provides the protection for homeless youth seeking shelter and seeking services that shelters and charities may be able to offer,” she added. “It ensures that young people can stay somewhere safe and warm in the winter or cool in the summer when facing the prospect of abuse, either at home or out on the streets.”
Under the bill, if the homeless youth does not reconcile with family within three days and the shelter does not believe that is likely anytime soon, they are to notify the teen and their legal guardians of possible longer-term accommodations, counseling programs and possible referral to a county’s department of human services.
The bill also calls for similar notifications if the youth is admitted to a licensed shelter, child-care facility or host family for 72 hours.
Meanwhile, SB90 opens up state laws allowing more groups to donate food to nonprofit groups that distribute free food to those in need.
Under current law, retail food establishments and nonprofit groups have limited immunity protections from civil or criminal liability when they donate food. The bill extends that liability protection to correctional facilities, school districts and farmers, allowing them to donate food to those food pantries.
The bill’s sponsors, Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and Reps. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, said much food goes to waste because of liability concerns.
“This is a common-sense bill that had us scratching our heads saying, ‘Why can’t we do this? Why can’t we allow different facilities the ability to donate what they have available?’” Esgar said. “We thought about this bill and introduced this bill long before COVID, and once COVID hit, it became even more apparent of the need for this.”
Another bill signed by the governor is something that’s been worked on for years, but it took the pandemic to help make it happen.
Early on during the public health crisis, Polis signed an executive order in March suspending the personal appearance requirement for notaries to perform notarizations.
Under SB96, which had both Republican and Democratic support, that becomes permanent starting in January 2021.