April 22, 2016

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BVSD School Board Treasurer Tina Marquis testifies against SB 187 and SB 188.
(photo by Todd Engdahl
, Chalkbeat Colorado)

With just 19 days left in this legislative session, key PK-12 issues are still unresolved

In last week's BVSD Legislative Update, I wrote that "legislators are moving quickly to take final action as the Colorado General Assembly enters the final month of this regular session." This session, the Colorado General Assembly must adjourn no later than May 11. That speedy pace has slowed somewhat.

The proposed Colorado state government budget (always referred to as the "Long Bill") for fiscal year 2016-17 (HB 1405) has almost completed its legislative journey. All bills that pass the Colorado General Assembly must ultimately pass the House of Representatives and the Senate in exactly the same form in order to be ready to transmit them to the governor for final action. A bill as complex and lengthy as the Long Bill initially passes each chamber in a different form.

While one house or the other could just accept and repass the other house's version, that is not usually what happens with the Long Bill. So, instead, it goes to a conference committee of three senators and three representatives. In the case of the Long Bill, the conference committee is always the Joint Budget Committee. A conference report irons out the differences between the two versions. It is then sent to each house for debate and action. A conference report may only be voted up or down; no floor amendments are allowed. Both the House and the Senate passed the Long Bill conference report on April 15. Staff is proofing this bill of more than 1,000 pages to clean up any clerical errors, typos etc. It will then be signed by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President and then off to the governor.

There are, however, key public education bills still queued for legislative action. HB 1423 deals with setting in law new standards for protecting, maintaining and, when appropriate, destroying individually identifiable student data. This data is intended to accurately measure student achievement and inform future curricular delivery. HB 1423 is gaining strong bipartisan support. On April 14, it passed the House by a vote of 65-0 and is expected to receive strong bipartisan support in the Senate. On another note, the 2016-17 amendments to the Colorado School Finance Act (HB 1422), which sets per pupil total program funding for the next school year, has passed the House but has been sitting in the Senate Education Committee for more than two weeks. HB 1422 is awaiting Senate Education Committee action that would, if passed, send it to the Senate Appropriations Committee and then to the full Senate for action. HB 1422 passed the House 56-8 on April 5.

Two charter school bills, SB 187 and SB 188, if passed, 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 heard in the Senate Education Committee, and each passed 6-3 on April 21 and are now before the full Senate for action. BVSD School Board Treasurer Tina Marquis testified against both bills which are each opposed by 176 school districts, the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Colorado Association of School Executives, and the Colorado Education Association.

Finally, action is stirring on a bill of great importance to the Colorado PK-12 public education community. It is sponsored by House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Gunbarrel) and Senator Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa). As explained in earlier updates, the purpose of this bill is to move the Hospital Provider Fee from the state's general fund to its own enterprise fund. The original bill for this purpose was HB 1421. However, this week, in an attempt to garner greater bipartisan support among House Republicans, HB 1421 is being scrapped in favor of HB 1450. If HB 1450 can pass the House as expected, the sponsor's challenge becomes getting it to the Senate floor where there are currently at least 18 votes to pass the bill. Governor John Hickenlooper strongly supports this approach. If passed, HB 1450 would add millions back into the state's general fund for the next few fiscal years that will otherwise, under the TABOR Amendment of 1992, require refunds to taxpayers thereby causing cuts in education and other state services during a time of strong state economic growth.

Briggs Gamblin
BVSD Communications and Legislative Policy Director
BVSD Legislative Update

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 an April 21, 2016 article by Todd Engdahl - "Charter revenue-sharing bill advances to Senate floor debate."

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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 briggs.gamblin@bvsd.org​.​​​​​​