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K–12 Legislative Narrative
April 27–May 1, 2015
The legislature has been working long hours in the past week in order to complete their work on the nearly 300 bills still left in the hopper. Last week, the House introduced a handful of significant late bills, including HB15-1388 authorizing bonding against statutorily-required increases in PERA pension contribution rates, and HB15-1389 creating the Hospital Provider Enterprise Fee in order to free-up $166.8 million in state general fund revenues in fiscal year 2016–2017. The Hospital Provider Enterprise Fee concept faces an uncertain future in the Senate. The PERA bonding measure is supported across both chambers.
Bills have also been dying quickly in marathon committee and floor hearings, including the controversial SB15-223, which would have removed any penalties to schools, districts, and teachers when a student’s parents decide to opt them out of a standardized assessment. Furthermore, the House and Senate have still not heard both of the major assessment overhaul bills: HB15-1323 and SB15-257. The main sticking point and difference between the two bills lies in 9th grade testing. The House has retained testing in English Language Arts and Math in both the 9th and 10th grades, while the Senate has recommended the federal testing minimum for these subjects, which is only once in high school.
Negotiations on all of these significant issues are ongoing. The legislature has three days left to find compromise, as the 70th General Assembly is required to adjourn by midnight on Wednesday, May 6, 2015.
School Finance Update
Last week, SB15-267 the School Finance Act, was passed on House second and third readings with several amendments, including an additional $30 million for a reduction of the negative factor and for at-risk students. Additionally, both Republicans and Democrats in the House were frustrated that on Monday, the Senate Appropriations Committee swiftly killed HB15-1334. Passed out of the House unanimously, HB1334 was the bipartisan-sponsored measure creating an interim committee to study school finance issues. As a result of HB1334’s death in the Senate, on second reading, House Rep. Tim Dore (R, Elizabeth) introduced an amendment to SB267 the School Finance Act to again create the interim committee. Caught by surprise and supportive of the concept, Joint Budget Committee members Millie Hamner (D, Summit County) and Bob Rankin (R, Carbondale) agreed to the amendment. The Senate sponsors of SB267 then stated they would not accept the interim committee amendment and this action would jeopardize the full School Finance Act. Representatives Hamner and Rankin then successfully pleaded with the full House to remove the interim committee amendment on third reading.
SB267’s K–12 funding for inflation and enrollment growth, the $25 million for negative factor buy down, $5 million for at-risk students, and language directing the legislature to maintain the full fiscal year 2015–2016 state appropriation regardless of local revenues, remain intact. SB15-267 awaits a vote of concurrence by the Senate, expected to happen on Monday, May 4, and then will be on its way to Governor Hickenlooper to be signed into law.
Hearings this Week
Waive Governmental Immunity for School Districts
SB15-213 Waive Governmental Immunity for Acts of School Violence (Reps. Hullinghorst and Duran/Sens. Cadman and Scheffel)
- Status: House Third Reading Passed - No Amendments (05/01/2015)
- Hearings: The bill was heard and passed by the House Judiciary Committee and on second and third readings. The majority of the debate in the House centered around the practical difficulties of providing a reasonably safe environment for students and the potential consequences of increasing scrutiny for students with mild to moderate behavioral issues. The House Judiciary Committee amended the bill to define ‘sexual assault’ as ‘felony sexual assault’ and to clarify that incidents having occurred on or before July 1, 2017 are eligible for discovery but not eligible for financial damages or court-ruled negligence. Representative Yeulin Willit (R, Grand Junction) unsuccessfully attempted to amend the bill several times to replace the term “negligence” with “deliberate indifference or reckless disregard” in reference to defining a district’s conduct. SB15-213 now awaits a vote of concurrence by the Senate, expected to occur on Monday, May 4 before being sent to the Governor for his signature into law.
- SB15-214, creating a Safe Schools and Youth in Crisis Task Force, will be heard in the House Education Committee on Monday, May 4.
Bills Killed This Week
SB15-223 Remove Penalty When Parent Opts Child Out of Test (Reps. Todd and Holbert/Sens. Ransom and Lebsock)
- Status: House Education Postpone Indefinitely (05/01/2015)
Tax and Budget Bills
HB15-1109 Additional SB09-228 Transfers to Highway Users Tax Fund and Capital Construction (Rep. DelGrosso)
- Status: House Appropriations Postpone Indefinitely (05/01/2015)
HB15-1195 Commencement of Earned Income Tax Credit (Rep. Kagan)
- Status: House Finance Postpone Indefinitely (04/29/2015)
HB15-1251 PERA and Denver Public Schools 5-Year True Up (Reps. Court and Wilson/Sen. Kerr)
- Status: Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Postpone Indefinitely (04/29/2015)
- Note: This bill was introduced again on Friday as HB15-1391
HB15-1334 Legislative Oversight Committee on School Finance (Reps. Hamner and Rankin/Sens. Hill and Kerr)
- Status: Senate Appropriations Postpone Indefinitely (04/28/2015)
Upcoming Legislative Hearing Schedule
May 4–May 6, 2015
* Calendar is subject to change without advanced notification.
- Monday, May 4
o Senate Education, Upon Adjournment, SCR356
§ SB15-215 Changes to Assessments in Public Schools (Sens. Hill and Kerr)
§ HB15-1273 Comprehensive School Discipline Reporting (Sen. Newell)
§ HB15-1339 School District Financial Transparency Reporting (Sen. Grantham)
§ HB15-1349 Grow Your Own Teacher: A Colorado Initiative (Sen. Ulibarri)
o Senate Finance, Upon Adjournment of Education Committee, SCR356
§ HB15-1388 SCORE Act for PERA Pension Obligation Bonds
o Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs, Upon Adjournment of Agriculture and Finance committees, SCR353
§ HB15-1003 Fund Safe Routes to School Program (Sen. Todd)
§ HB15-1027 In-State Tuition American Indian Tribes Ties to CO (Sen. Guzman)
§ HB15-1328 Background Checks for Youth Sports Organizations (Sen. Heath)
o Senate Appropriations, 12:00 p.m., SCR356
§ HB15-1324 Implementing Student Learning Objectives Processes (Sens. Scott and Kerr)
§ HB15-1366 Expand Job Growth Tax Credit for Higher Education Project (Sen. Balmer)
§ SB15-280 Hold Harmless Online Pupil Count in Size Factor (Sens. Scheffel and Carroll)
§ HB15-1201 BOCES and Centralized Operating Services Grants (Sen. Todd)
o House Education, 1:30 p.m., HCR0112
§ SB15-214 Interim Committee Safe Schools Youth Mental Health (Reps. Duran and Hullinghorst)
§ SB15-117 Prohibit Discrimination in Higher Education Funding (Rep. Joshi)
o House State, Veterans and Military Affairs, 1:30 p.m., LSB-A
§ SB15-216 School District Exclusive Chartering Authority (Rep. Fields)
- Wednesday, May 6
o 70th General Assembly Sine Die
§ Mandatory adjournment by 12:00 a.m.
Listen Live to Hearings
* Live stream legislative hearings - http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/cslFrontPages.nsf/Audio?OpenPage