Please download a PDF of this week's Legislative Narrative here
K–12 Legislative Narrative
April 7–April 11, 2014
The Colorado legislature has 18 weekdays remaining in the 2014 session. Many pieces of introduced legislation, if funded, have finally begun to move through the political process. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn Wednesday, May 7,and it is expected that many significant pieces of education legislation will be amended in the next few weeks.
So far this session…
- 568 bills have been introduced
- 129 bills have been signed into law by the Governor
- 2 bills have been vetoed by the Governor
- 133 bills have been killed (postponed indefinitely)
- 304 bills remain active on legislative calendars (although it is not required that all bills be officially acted upon)
HB14-1292 Student Success Act – House Second Reading Amendments
HB14-1292 was approved by the full House this week on second and third readings with amendments increasing financial reporting requirements for school districts. Up for discussion were several amendments increasing mandates to districts and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) related to financial reporting. The financial transparency language inserted on Wednesday into HB14-1292 is expected to generate a fiscal impact to both CDE and districts, but a new official fiscal note is pending. The current fiscal note estimates that similar transparency language would require an increase of 1.5 FTE in fiscal year 2014–2015 and 4.0 FTE and $3.5 million in fiscal year 2015–2016 to accommodate the school-site level reporting.
The House Republicans and four Democrats, including Representative Daniel Kagan (D, Arapahoe County), voted several times on Wednesday against the new transparency language. Instead, Republicans and the dissenting Democrats voted in favor of a pared-down reporting process championed by Representative Jim Wilson (R, Salida). The Wilson transparency language was narrowly defeated by one and two votes each time.
HB14-1292 will now move to the Senate and additional amendments to the bill are also pending.
Fiscal Year 2014–2015 Budget Package
Joint Budget Committee (JBC) Final Decisions
The JBCe met last week to finalize decisions on the state’s fiscal year 2014–2015 budget package. A majority of the discussion focused on modifying the variety of future dollar spending amendments that had been proposed during the budget’s passage through both chambers. This includes higher education’s nearly $130 million capture of any excess state revenues above predictions for fiscal year 2013–2014, designated for a variety of capital construction projects on campuses around Colorado.
A majority of the K–12 funding has been negotiated in the Student Success Act. One exception to this is K–12’s anticipated receipt of $31.3 million in revenues at the end of fiscal year 2013–2014. Last week, this $31.3 million amount was reduced by $10 million to $21.3 million. The JBC voted to divert the $10 million to North Fork fire recovery efforts. Final approval of the JBC’s budget modifications by both chambers is expected this week.
State Board of Education Resolution
On Wednesday, April 9, the State Board of Education voted 4-3 to support a resolution asking the state to develop its own set of student assessments and to withdraw from the national assessment consortium PARCC. The vote occurred after nearly three hours of testimony outlining arguments against the national test-development consortium, citing cost and other controversial issues. The state board’s Republican members voted in favor of withdrawing from the national group and expressed concern with the state’s adoption of the Common Core Standards.
It is not expected that any official legislative or CDE action will arise from this largely-symbolic vote.
Such a vote by the State Board and legislature regarding PARCC was statutorily allowed to occur before January 2014. This was a provision included in legislation passed in 2012 directing the state to join the PARCC consortium (SB12-172). At the time, language allowing an opt-out vote was included as a compromise to the State Board but the vote was not exercised before January 2014.
Committee Hearings – Clearing the Backlog of Legislation
Lengthy Appropriations Committee hearings have been taking place each morning to clear the extensive list of bills awaiting fiscal consideration. A majority of the decisions on these bills have been pre-determined and have been awaiting movement of the state budget bills. Tensions between legislators in the House Appropriations Committee have been mounting with each meeting and discussion has been tense on measures with large fiscal impacts.
Bills Killed in Committee
- HB14-1076 Early Childhood Quality Incentive Program (QRIS Pre School Program Rating) (Rep. Peniston/Sen. Zenzinger)
o Postponed indefinitely on Friday, April 4 by the House Appropriations Committee. The legislation carried a nearly $12.5 million fiscal impact to the State Education Fund.
- HB14-1262 Non-Probationary Teacher No Indefinite Unpaid Leave (Rep. Salazar/Sen. Todd)
o On Wednesday, April 7, the House Education Committee, at the sponsor’s request, postponed indefinitely HB14-1262. The Colorado Education Association is currently in litigation with Denver Public Schools regarding these teacher employment issues and discussions around this legislation are ongoing.
Bills Introduced this Week
More Bills Expected
The legislature has stated they are not done introducing legislation this session and additional bills related to education may still be introduced. The 6-week online task force, sponsored by Representative Dave Young (D, Greeley) and Senator Andy Kerr (D, JeffCo) has yet to officially introduce any legislation as a result of their recommendations distributed in late March.
HB14-1376 Analysis of Student Opportunity Gaps (Reps. Buckner & Moreno / None)
On Friday, the House introduced HB14-1376 requiring CDE to annually produce a report on a variety of student performance measures broken down by student demographic, including ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, English language proficiency, gifted and talented, and disability. A fiscal note for this bill has not yet been released.
SB14-185 (Sens. Johnston and Zenzinger/Rep. Petterson) Pay for Success Contracts for Early Childhood Education
Introduced last week, SB14-185 creates the Pay for Success Contracts for Early Childhood Education Services Program for the ‘purpose of authorizing the Governor's budget office (OSPB) to enter into state pay for success contracts with one or more lead contractors for the provision of early childhood education services.’ Bill sponsors claim this program will ‘reduce the need for the state to provide subsequent education support and other social services for early childhood programs.’ The bill is scheduled for a Senate Education Committee hearing on Wednesday, April 15.
SB14-186 (Sens. Schwartz and Kerr/Rep. Tyler) Efficient School and Community Performance Contract
On Friday, the Senate introduced SB14-185, an attempt to modify the state’s K–12 capital construction statute in consideration of energy efficiency programs. Senator Andy Kerr (D, JeffCo) has introduced legislation with similar goals almost every year he has been in the legislature.
Upcoming Legislative Hearing Schedule
- Monday, April 7
o House Education, 1:30 p.m., HCR0112
§ HB14-1287 (Rep. Young) BEST Moneys For Disaster Damaged Public Schools
- Tuesday, April 14
o Full Senate, second reading, 9:00 a.m.
§ SB14-150 (Sens. Todd and Zenzinger) Colorado Counselor Corps Grant Program
o Senate Local Government, 2:00 p.m., SCR353
§ SB14-186 (Sens. Schwartz and Kerr) Efficient School and Community Performance Contracts
- Wednesday, April 15
o Senate Education, Upon Adjournment, SCR356
§ HB14-1204 (Rep. Wilson) Flexibility for Rural School Districts
§ SB14-182 (Sen. Hodge) School Boards Meeting in Executive Session
§ HB14-1314 (Sen. Kerr) School District and Charter School Mill Levy Overrides
§ SB14-185 (Sens. Johnston and Zenzinger) Pay for Success Contracts for Early Childhood Education