Both houses worked through long calendars of backed-up floor work Friday, including 10 bills of interest to education.
Measures that passed included the charter schools facilities bill, the “recess” measure, a bill increasing state stipends for some private college students and a bill proposing to change the membership of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association board.
The liveliest debate of the day came over Senate Bill 11-040, the concussion bill. House sponsors had to fight off an attempt to kill the bill by rural lawmakers, who argued its requirements would be too onerous on small-town sports leagues.
The bill requires youth sports coaches to take annual training in recognition of concussion symptoms and sets standards for removing athletes from play or practice and for letting them return. The measure covers competitive sports for children aged 11 to 18.
The House adopted an amendment that adds chiropractors with specialized training to the list of medical professionals that can authorize an athlete to return to play. An amendment opening it up to all chiropractors was killed. The chiropractor issue was raised earlier in committee but not proposed as an amendment. That idea was opposed by some groups backing the bill.
The measure got preliminary approval on a voice vote, and the House later defeated the attempt to kill it on a 20-41 vote.
House works into early afternoon
Here’s what else the House did:
Gave final 36-27 approval for House Bill 11-1055, which gives charter schools somewhat expanded powers to request use of vacant district buildings and appeal to the state if denied. While significantly watered down in committee, the bill drew a lot of opposition from Democrats and may have problems in the Senate. Democrats who voted yes were Reps. Ed Casso of Adams County, Rhonda Fields of Aurora and Cherilyn Peniston of Westminster.
Voted preliminary approval of House Bill 11-1168, which would double the amount of College Opportunity Fund stipends for low-income students at private colleges. This also prompted lively debate, in this case on higher education finances and giving public money to religious colleges. Colorado Christian University wants the bill; the University of Denver and Regis University are formally neutral. (They’re the only three schools covered by the bill.) Pell-eligible students at the three schools currently receive 50 percent of the stipend assigned to students at public colleges. If it passes the House the bill has little chance in the Senate because of the loss it would create for public colleges.
Approved preliminary passage of House Bill 11-1248, which would reduce elected employee and retiree representation on the Public Employees’ Retirement Association Board and add members appointed by the governor. There was lots of partisan debate over whether the bill would politicize the board or give it needed expertise, with a few Republicans giving broader warnings about the unsustainability of public employee pension plans. Again, look for problems in the Senate if it squeaks out of the House.
Gave preliminary OK to House Bill 11-1121, which changes state law on employment of felons by school districts. The bill contains some retroactive provisions, although much reduced from the original draft, and adds some drug offenses.
Voted preliminary approval of Senate Bill 11-012, the bill that would allow school districts to adopt their own policies on student self-administration of prescription drugs instead of using the detailed procedures now required in state law.
Senate has shorter day
The Senate took these actions:
Approved preliminary passage of House Bill 11-1069, which require minimum levels of physical activity per month in elementary schools. The bill contains a broad definition of physical activity and reportedly mirrors what most elementary schools already are doing.
Voted final approval of House Bill 11-1053, urging school districts to exhaust other alternatives before taking students and parents to court for truancy. This bill was watered down early and retains court action as an option for district.
Gave final approval to House Bill 11-1089, which gives charters schools expanded powers to apply for some state and federal grants without district approval. Amendments added a consultation process for districts and charters.
Endorsed preliminary approval of Senate Bill 11-069, which asks the charter schools standards commission to also study educational management organizations. The original version of the bill proposed a detailed regulatory scheme for such organizations, but that was amended out earlier.
The big bill on the Senate agenda, Senate Bill 11-126, was delayed until March 18. It’s the measure that would make undocumented students eligible for resident tuition rates at state colleges.
Use the Education Bill Tracker for links to bill texts and status information