Capitol Week in Review

Legislation | 06/14/2020

Amy Pitlik
Director of Government Affairs

This week we are sharing key updates around legislative activity at the Capitol.

Legislative Update

The School Finance Act made it through the House and the Senate without significant amendments. The bill prioritized across the board cuts, nearing 15%, rather than targeted cuts that would allow for funding streams to highest need districts. The Governor is expected to sign once it passes the Senate.

Democrats introduced HB20-1420 Fair Tax Act which would eliminate tax deductions to big businesses and high earners to drive additional revenue to the state education fund. The Governor has said he would not sign the bill as introduced but is open to negotiations. This proposal is running in addition to the work to bring a Gallagher repeal to voters.

On Thursday, the Democrats introduced HB20-1427 Cigarette Tobacco and Nicotene Products Tax which calls for a gradual increase of taxes on nicotine products and vaping. The revenue would support preschool amongst other things.

After a 28-1 pass vote in the Senate, SB20-217 Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity passed through the House on a 52-13 vote and Governor Polis announced he will sign the bill into law.

With immense public support and in a unanimous vote, the Denver School Board voted to end its contract with the Denver Police Department. The Board will enter a year of planning an effective phase out, and School Resource Officers will be removed from schools by school year 2021-2022.

Our Take

Last night the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to end the district’s contract with the Denver Police Department. We applaud this important first step toward ending the school to prison pipeline.

Thanks to the leadership of Directors Tay Anderson and Jennifer Bacon for listening to the students impacted by the police presence in what is supposed to be their safe place and taking action. As we said, this is a first step. Much more is needed right now to ensure an excellent education for our Black students. We need to follow through on the promise of the Black Excellence resolution and as a district define what the next steps are. We support the calls for replacing the officers in schools with school counselors and other critical roles to support our students.

Stand’s Chief Executive Officer Jonah Edelman said last week: “School policing is inextricably linked to our country’s longstanding pattern of oppressing and criminalizing African Americans. Evidence is overwhelming that the presence of police or School Resource Officers (SROs) results in Black students being disproportionately arrested, which can have devastating consequences on educational and life outcomes. Police and SROs also consistently treat Black students more harshly than white students even though there’s no evidence to support that Black students exhibit higher rates of misbehavior. Police presence at schools often results in conflicts escalating rather than being diffused. For Black students, the presence of police on campus can create anxiety and fuel a negative self-concept that impedes learning and healthy development. At the same time, there is simply no rigorous, causal evidence that police or School Resource Officers make schools safer.” Read his full blog post here and Stand’s position on Police Free Schools is here.

For More Information

School finance act advances, but with many questions about proposed property tax change

Colorado tax code change to raise millions for K-12 education advances, but Polis says he won’t support without revisions

Denver School Board votes to phase police out of schools

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