K–12 Legislative Narrative
April 13–17, 2015
This past Thursday, April 16, marked the 100th day of the 120-day legislative session. With adjournment quickly approaching on May 6, the legislature has spent extensive time working through lengthy floor calendars and committee hearings. The House Education Committee has scheduled additional meetings in order to complete their work on significant bills, including HB15-1323 Assessments Task Force Recommendations (Reps. Buckner and Wilson), HB15-1273 School Discipline Reporting (Rep. Lawrence), and SB15-147 Student Data Privacy (Rep. Pabon). This coming week, the full Senate and House will have the opportunity to debate their respective assessment bills, SB15-257 and HB15-1323 (see pg. 4 for a comparison chart of the two proposals). Additionally, a handful of K–12 bills requiring state funding passed through the Appropriations Committees on Friday, April 17,, including HB15-1170 Increasing Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness, HB15-1201 BOCES Operating Services Grants, HB15-1321 Flexibility and Funding for Rural School Districts, HB15-1324 Implementing Student Learning Objectives, and HB15-1334 Legislative Oversight Committee on School Finance.
The Joint Budget Committee (JBC) completed their work on the state budget, including SB15-234 the Long Bill, and the legislature also finished giving their final vote of approval on the package. The state budget is now awaiting the Governor’s signature into law. JBC adjustments to the budget package were minimal and largely focused on rearranging funds between various health services line items. The JBC also finalized their discussion on the yet-to-be-introduced bill that will put a question on the November ballot asking for voter approval to retain the full amount of state sales tax revenues from recreational marijuana. The pending ‘Proposition AA Fix’ bill will propose allocating the revenues to the BEST program, a variety of youth dropout prevention and at-risk youth services, and earmarks $1 million to local governments that have not approved marijuana sales for the purpose of mitigating the impact of their neighbors having done so.
On Thursday, April 16, the Senate Education Committee heard and passed SB15-267 the School Finance Act, which includes $25 million above inflation and enrollment growth to buy down the $880 million negative factor. In a move to allocate additional future state revenues to K–12 education and other programs, Governor John Hickenlooper issued a letter to the legislature requesting legislation that transforms the state’s hospital provider fee into an enterprise fee. This would remove the growing hospital fee from triggering TABOR refunds, therefore freeing up additional dollars in fiscal year 2016–2017 and onwards for allocation towards a variety of state programs. The Governor’s proposal includes $50 million in fiscal year 2016–2017 to buy down the negative factor. Legislative debate about this proposal remains heated and, with only 13 weekdays left in the 2015 session, the outlook for its success remains unlikely.
Hearings this Week
Senate Judiciary Committee
SB15-213 Waive Government Immunity for Acts of School Violence (Sens. Cadman and Scheffel)
- Status: Senate second reading laid over to Monday, April 20
- Hearing: On Monday, April 13, a somber Senate Judiciary Committee amended and passed SB15-213 on a vote of 4-1 (No vote - Sen. Merrifield, D). The parents of Claire Davis, the victim of school violence at Arapahoe High School in December 2013, testified in support of the bill, as did several Arapahoe High School students and community members. Notable testimony seeking amendments and highlighting significant concerns came from Cherry Creek School District, CEA, and the Colorado School Districts Self Insurance Pool. A significant concern about what defines ‘exercising reasonable care’ remains.
- Amendments: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved five sponsor-requested amendments.
1. Bill will take effect upon the signature of the Governor. Retroactive implementation language removed.
2. Removes the award of attorney’s fees in order to not promote a litigious environment.
3. Allows a case to be settled prior to completion of discovery, but full agreements will not be finalized until 14 days after the completion of discovery.
4. Makes the bill’s legislative declaration language non-statutory.
5. Defines incidents of school violence using the Colorado statutory definition of Crimes of Violence, which includes murder, first degree assault, second degree assault, or sexual assault as defined in C.R.S. 18-3-402. Incidents must have occurred at a public school or public school-sponsored activity.
SB15-214 Interim Committee Safe Schools and Youth in Crisis (Sens. Cadman and Scheffel)
- Status: Senate Appropriations referred amended to Senate Floor (04/17/2015)
- Amendments: The Senate Judiciary Committee passed four sponsor-requested amendments.
1. Requires that the only the Governor makes appointments to the task force.
2. Replaces the representative from the School Safety Resource Center with a licensed educator experienced in working with students with disabilities.
3. Replaces ‘mental health’ with ‘in crisis’ in bill title.
4. Requires six meetings per year and repeals task force in 2019.
Senate Education Committee
SB15-267 School Finance Act (Sen. Hill)
- Status: Senate Appropriations referred amended to Senate Floor (04/17/2015)
- Senate Education Hearing: The Senate Education Committee unanimously passed SB15-267 on Thursday, April 16. The committee failed by party line votes to pass two amendments proposed by Senator Mike Johnston (D, Aurora). One amendment, based on the Governor’s budget proposal given last November, would have allocated an additional $200 million of State Education Fund dollars towards buying down the negative factor. The second amendment divided the additional $25 million in General Fund dollars included in the bill according to a proposal submitted by a majority of Superintendents across the state. The proposal would have allocated $20 million to buy down the negative factor and the remaining $5 million to the at-risk funding factor.
- Senate Appropriations Hearing: The Senate Appropriations Committee heard SB15-267 the morning after the Senate Education Committee hearing. The quick turnaround was not anticipated by JBC member Senator Pat Steadman (D, Denver). Not being prepared with a drafted amendment, Senator Steadman requested a conceptual amendment to eliminate the Minimum State Aid provision of the school finance formula. This issue was discussed and agreed upon by the JBC in the early weeks of session, but recent uncertainty about how this will impact districts caused the Appropriations Committee Republicans to reject the conceptual amendment. The debate about eliminating Minimum State Aid will resume on the Senate floor during second reading.
Bills Killed This Week
HB15-1168 Concealed Handgun Carry in Public Schools (Rep. Neville)
- Status: House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs postponed indefinitely (04/13/2015)
- Summary: Removed the limitation on the authority of a person who holds a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun by prohibiting permit holders from carrying a concealed handgun on public elementary, middle, junior high, and high school grounds.
SB15-230 Telephone Company Property Tax Valuation Method (Sen. Scheffel / Rep. Williams)
- Status: Senate Appropriations postponed indefinitely (04/17/2015)
- Summary: Prohibited the property tax administrator from considering a percentage of a telephone company's intangible personal property when determining the value of the company. Based on the average statewide school finance operating mill levy, the proposed reduction in property taxes available for school finance would have required additional state aid of $2.4 million in fiscal year 2015–2016, $4.7 million in fiscal year 2016–2017, $7.1 million in fiscal year 2017–2018, $9.4 million in fiscal year 2018–2019, and $11.8 million in fiscal year 2019–2020 and subsequent years when fully implemented.
Upcoming Legislative Hearing Schedule
April 20–24, 2015
- Monday, April 20
o House Education, 1:30 p.m., Old Supreme Court Chamber
§ SB15-173 School District Data Protection and Transparency (Rep. Pabon) - FOR ACTION ONLY
§ HB15-1347 Middle Class College Savings Act (Reps. Pettersen and Young)
§ HB15-1105 Revising CO Education Accountability Measures (Rep. Everett)
§ HB15-1123 Federal Test Requirements Option for Local Education Providers (Rep. Tate)
§ HB15-1125 CO State Academic Standards and Flexible Assessments (Reps. Lundeen and Carver)
§ HB15-1208 Repeal of Common Core Education Standards (Rep. Klingenschmitt)
- Wednesday, April 22
o House Finance, 1:30 p.m., LSB-A
§ HB15-1335 Fiscal Notes for Interim Committee Bills (Rep. Sias)
- Friday, April 24
o House Public Health Care and Human Services, Upon Adjournment, HCR0107
§ SB15-020 Education to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Assault (Rep. McCann)
Listen Live to Hearings
* Live stream legislative hearings - http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/cslFrontPages.nsf/Audio?OpenPage