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Party divisions shown in committee votes

Two of the session’s higher profile education bills, on resident tuition for undocumented students and on charter school facilities, were set up Friday for initial floor consideration.

Both measures passed from committee on party-line votes, perhaps prefiguring divisions during floor debate and problems if and when each measure moves to the second house.

Senate Bill 11-126, the undocumented tuition bill, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 5-4 vote, with Democrats in the majority.

Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, went 0 for 2 in his effort to remove the word “unsubsidized” from the bill. Supporters used that word because such undocumented students wouldn’t be eligible for College Opportunity Fund stipends, a tuition discount device. King argues students would be at least indirectly subsidized through another type of state aid to colleges. The amendment was defeated earlier this week in another committee and again Friday in Appropriations.

Majority Republicans prevailed in the 7-6 vote to pass House Bill 11-1055 out of the House Appropriations Committee.

The measure would allow charter schools to request use of vacant district buildings and if refused appeal to the Department of Education. It would create the same process for Charter School Institute schools that want to use state buildings.

The bill was amended earlier in the house Education Committee to remove provisions that would have given charters the same access to vacant district or state land.

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, questioned whether the state portion of the bill would give CDE unconstitutional power over other state agencies and also improperly interfere with the legislature’s budgeting authority. (Those issues didn’t come up in Education Committee debate.)

Appropriations Chair Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, voted for the bill but told sponsor Rep. Don Beezley, R-Broomfield, she has concerns. “We can talk more about this on the floor.”

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