April 15, 2016

Legislature begins tying PK-12 strands together as session enters final month

Whether it's the proposed 2016-17 Colorado state budget (HB 1405), the 2016-17 School Finance Act amendments (HB 1422) which detail the state per pupil funding program for next year, new student data privacy legal standards (HB 1423), or two end-of-session bills that would create possible unfunded state fiscal and regulatory mandates on local school districts, legislators are moving quickly to take final action as the Colorado General Assembly enters the final month of this regular session. This session must end no later than May 11, 2016.

The charter school bills (SB 187 & SB 188), if passed as introduced by sponsors Senator Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and Representatives Ling Sias (R-Arvada) and Angela Williams (D-Denver), would dictate to local school districts their financial relationships with their charter schools concerning mill levy revenue disbursement (SB 188) and create further state regulatory oversight of local school districts (SB 187). SB 187 would also give increased regulatory oversight to the statutorily created (2004) state Charter School Institute over the actions of locally elected school boards. Both bills were introduced April 12 and assigned to the Senate Education Committee which is chaired by Senator Hill. Both bills are being opposed jointly by the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) and the Colorado Education Association (CEA).

Meanwhile, a bill of great importance to the Colorado PK-12 public education community, jointly sponsored by House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Gunbarrel) and Senator Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa), to move the Hospital Provider Fee - discussed in earlier BVSD legislative updates - from the state's general fund to its own enterprise fund is awaiting final House action. Its future in the Senate is unclear at best. If HB 1420 can get to the Senate floor, it should pass as there are at least 18 of the 35 senators supporting it as does Governor John Hickenlooper. If passed, HB 1420 would add millions back into the state's general fund for the next fiscal year that will otherwise, under the TABOR Amendment of 1992, be required to be refunded to taxpayers. Unfortunately, at this time Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs) is expected to send it to​ a committee that has a majority ready to kill the bill before it can reach the full Senate.

In 1988, Colorado voters approved a state constitutional amendment limiting the annual regular session of the state legislature - officially named the Colorado General Assembly - to 120 calendar days beginning on the second Wednesday after the second Tuesday in January. A General Assembly has existed for two years at a time between state general elections in even numbered years since Colorado statehood in 1876. So, this legislative session is formally referred to as the Second Regular Session of the 70th Colorado General Assembly. This session must adjourn no later than May 11. A special session may always be called by proclamation of the governor or a petition of two thirds of the membership of each house of the legislature. The 71st Colorado General Assembly will be elected this November with approximately half the state Senate (four-year terms) and all of the state House of Representatives (two-year terms) up for election. Legislators are term-limited to eight years. Party control for next General Assembly is in play as Republicans control the Senate 18-17 and Democrats control the House of Representatives 34-31.

Briggs Gamblin
BVSD Communications and Legislative Policy Director

ChalkbeatCOLORADO​ covers PK-20 education issues throughout Colorado including one of the most in-depth and accurate PK-12 daily news to be found anywhere during the session. This week, BVSD Communications draws your particular attention to a April 13, 2016 article by Nicholas Garcia - "Commissioner Crandall wants Colorado to rethink everything from tests to teacher recruitment."

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During each regular session (January - May) of the Colorado General Assembly, the Boulder Valley School District is represented on a day-to-day basis by Tanya Kelly-Bowry and Ernestine Mondragon of the firm Policy Matters, LLC. They regularly communicate with BVSD Superintendent Bruce Messinger and Director of Communications & Legislative Policy Briggs Gamblin. This is a link to an online bill tracking system for legislation being monitored by our district.

Each year the Boulder Valley Board of Education approves a legislative platform that sets the district’s legislative priorities and guides the BVSD contract lobbying firm, Policy Matters, LLC, led by veteran lobbyists Tanya Kelly-Bowry and Ernestine Mondragon. BVSD’s effort is overseen by Superintendent Bruce Messinger and Communications and Legislative Policy Director Briggs Gamblin. 

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Understanding Colorado School Finance
Colorado supporters of PK-12 public education have found nonprofit Great Education Colorado to be a valuable resource both for important factual information concerning state funding of Colorado public schools and advocacy opportunities if interested. For the BVSD Weekly Legislative Bulletin's purposes, our focus will be setting context especially for those readers not yet familiar with the factors involved in Colorado state government's complex funding of public education across the state's 178 school districts. Colorado PK-12 Public Education Funding - Frequently Asked Questions. 
A list of legislators whose districts are wholly or partially within the boundaries of BVSD. ​

View the Legislative Update homepage for access to past issues. If you have any comments or questions, please contact me at​.​​​​​​