This Week at the Capitol: April 1

Current Events & News, Legislation | 04/01/2016

Amy Pitlik
Government Affairs Director

Amy is Stand for Children's Government Affairs Director

On March 30, Stand for Children had the privilege of hosting parents and teachers at our annual advocacy Day at the Capitol. Individuals had the ability to attend trainings, speak with legislators, tour the Capitol, and meet with the Governor’s staff.

Under the Gold Dome

This week at the Capitol, the legislature had its hands full as the House introduced the Long Bill (HB 1405), Colorado’s state budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The Joint Budget Committee (JBC), consisting of three Republicans and three Democrats, was responsible for crafting legislation that funds numerous state departments and agencies. Stand for Children’s government affairs team closely monitored the bill and warded off attacks to our statewide assessment system. Ultimately, the Long Bill passed on a 39-26 vote after several marathon debates, and moves to the Senate next week.

The School Finance Act (HB 1422), a companion bill to the budget, was also introduced this week in what was viewed as a rushed manner. Several members of the House Education Committee expressed their concern about the lack of time they had to review the bill before taking a vote. The School Finance Act was able to avoid another funding shortfall, holding the negative factor to $831 million and increasing average per-pupil funding to $7,424. Despite some concerns, the bill passed on a 9-2 vote. Overall, we are pleased that education funding remained intact, and will continue to track the School Finance Act’s progress as it makes its way through the General Assembly. The School Finance Act will be debated among the entire House on April 4.

On March 31, the Senate Education Committee approved SB16-148 by Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) on a 5-4 vote. The bill would require all high school students to pass the civics portion of the United States citizenship exam before they graduate. Students would have the opportunity to take the exam on multiple occasions, if necessary. While proponents of the bill believe it is important for students to have a thorough understanding of civics, opponents believe it adds to the testing burden. 

Looking Forward…

On April 4, HB16-1423 by Reps. Alec Garnett (D-Denver) and Paul Lundeen (R-Monument) will be heard before the House Education Committee. The bill would to give guidelines to schools and districts about how they should maintain the security of a student’s personally identifiable information.  Not only would software providers be unable to sell such information, the bill also sets requirements around student data is destroyed after a contract ends.

HB6-1128 by Rep. Paul Lundeen (R-Monument) will be discussed in the House Education Committee on April 6. The bill would require all school districts, charter school, local education providers, and public institutions of higher education to provide concurrent enrollment opportunities for qualified high school students. The qualified students must apply to the school district superintendent or school principal, specifying the course in which they seek to enroll. If the student’s request is denied, reasons for the denial must be put in writing. 

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