With less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session, outstanding bills are starting to experience lengthy debates as both Republicans and Democrats seek to push through their priority legislation. Most notably, a bill to alter Colorado’s construction defects legislation made its way through the House this week. We expect late nights and high tensions through the final days of the 2017 session.
Under the Gold Dome
On April 24, HB17-1347 by Rep. Alec Garnett (D-Denver) and Sen. Kevin Priola (R-Henderson) passed the House Education Committee with a 10-3 vote. Under the bill, if a student’s file contains a threat or suicide assessment, and if that student transfers schools, the new school can request to see the previous records. If no request for records is made, the previous school is not required to transfer the threat or suicide assessment.
HB17-1287 by Reps. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) and Bob Rankin (R-Carbondale) was heard in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee on April 26. The bill seeks to create a strategic planning legislative steering committee that will lead a statewide effort to establish a vision and strategic plan for education in Colorado. The steering committee will be responsible for reviewing information already collected by the Departments of Education and Higher Education concerning the state’s education system. Ultimately, the bill died on a 3-2 vote.
On April 27 SB17-296 by Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) was heard in the Senate Education Committee. SB 296 is the annual School Finance Act, which sets the statewide per-pupil funding for Colorado’s public schools. For the 2017-18 budget year, per-pupil funding will reach $6,546.20, which is an inflationary increase of 2.8%, or $185 per student. The total program funding for all schools this budget year will not fall lower than $6,585,800,182. SB17-296 was amended to include the entire content of SB17-61 (requires school districts to equally distribute the revenue they receive from local property tax mill levies among all their public schools—meaning that traditional and charter schools would receive an equal per-pupil share of that revenue) as it passed out of the Senate. Ultimately, the bill was sent to the Appropriations Committee.
On April 25, HB17-1340 by Reps. Paul Lundeen (R-Monument) and Alec Garnett (D-Denver) and Sens. Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City) and Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) passed the House on second reading. The bill would create a legislative interim committee to study school finance issues and make legislative recommendations concerning how to most effectively meet the educational needs of students through school funding. The bill previously passed the House Education Committee unanimously.