With less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session, bills are starting to break through the logjam and undergo lengthy debates. Most notably, a bill to alter Colorado’s hospital provider fee and offer more money for schools and roads passed the House on third reading—it is now headed to the Senate where it will likely experience strong opposition. We expect late nights and high tensions as lawmakers attempt to pass their priorities before the 2016 session comes to a close.
Under the Gold Dome
On April 27, the Senate Education Committee unanimously passed HB16-1423 by Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs). The bill, which has seen little resistance as it makes its way through the legislature, 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.
The Senate Education Committee discussed HB16-1422 (School Finance Act) by Sen. Kent Lambert (R-Colorado Springs) on April 28. The legislation, crafted by members of the Joint Budget Committee, was able to avoid another funding shortfall, holding the negative factor to $831 million and increasing average per-pupil funding to $7,424. HB 1422, which passed on a 7-2 vote, will be discussed on the Senate floor next week.
On April 29, HB16-1446 by Rep. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) passed third reading in the House with a 43-22 vote. Currently, students enrolled in dual English-Spanish programs are required to take reading proficiency assessments in both languages to determine their progress toward literacy in the two languages they are learning. The bill would change this provision to remove one of the assessments and allow the district to determine if the student will take the reading assessment in only English or Spanish. If the student takes the reading assessment in Spanish, parents may also request an assessment in English.
SB16-104 by Sen. Nancy Todd (D-Aurora) passed third reading in the Senate on April 29 and will be debated in the House Education Committee next week. The amended version of the bill would provide stipends for teacher candidates who student teach in rural districts. It would also give financial assistance for teachers who seek national board certification or a master’s degree to teach concurrent enrollment classes.
On May 2, the Senate is scheduled to debate SB16-187 and SB16-188, both sponsored by Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs). As an overview, SB 188 would require districts to share revenues from mill levies equally between traditional and charter schools, while SB 187 seeks to allow charter schools to submit school performance plans every two years, rather than annually. Charter schools are public schools just like any other district-run school—they are either authorized by the district or Colorado’s Charter School Institute. Both bills passed the Senate Education Committee on a 6-3 vote.