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College safety bill watered down

Rep. Steve King got House Education Committee approval of his college and university safety bill Monday, but in a much diminished form.

The Grand Junction Republican’s original House Bill 10-1054 originally would have required state colleges and universities to give 45-minute orientations to new students about how to respond in critical incidents. A much more expansive school and college safety bill by King went nowhere last year, defeated in large part by opponent concerns about cost.

King’s more modest 2010 bill looked to be in big trouble when House Ed first considered it Jan. 28, but committee chair Rep. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, mercifully laid it over.

The version approved by the committee Monday merely requires that colleges “shall disseminate school safety information to students, faculty and staff.”

The committee devoted two hours to House Bill 10-1131, the Colorado Kids Outdoors program, which would set up grants to fund outdoors programs for school children. The trouble is, this is one of those gifts-grants-and-donations programs, except for an unused $27,000 fund in the Department of Natural Resources.

It also wasn’t that the bill was controversial (except to some committee Republicans, who were worried about environmentalist indoctrination). But, sponsor Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Dillon, had lined up 18 witnesses to support the idea (many of them from her central mountains district), and all that testimony took time. A leadoff witness was Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, who’s made the proposal one of here 2010 priorities.

The bill passed easily, with three Republicans voting no.

The committee also approved House Bill 10-1171, which would repeal various school data reporting requirements, and House Bill 10-1183, which would set up a study of alternative school finance methods.

Quite frankly, it was just a for-the-record kind of day, with no major debates or decisive votes.

Here’s the rest of the rundown:

• House Bill 10-1193 – Sales tax on out-of-state retailers (part of budget-balancing package), passed Senate Appropriations Committee

• House Bill 10-1064 – Mandatory appeals process for prep athlete eligibility disputes, final House approval

• Gov. Bill Ritter Monday nominated Ruth Ann Woods of South Fork of Richard E. Martinez Jr. of Centennial to the State Board of Community Colleges and Occupation Education and five people to the Charter School Institute board – Patricia Hayes of Aurora, Amy Anderson of Denver, John Schlickting of Greenwood Village, Cecilia Sanchez de Ortiz or Denver and Celeste Di Ioria of Fort Collins.

Use the Education Bill Tracker for links to bill texts and status information.

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