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Licensing bill passes Senate Ed

The Senate Education Committee voted 8-0 Wednesday to pass House Bill 11-1201, the measure designed to reduce the Department of Education’s educator licensing backlog by streamlining the amount of verification CDE needs to do in some cases and giving it more flexibility in spending of license fee revenues.

Specifically, the department wouldn’t have to independently verify completion of continuing education and wouldn’t have to re-verify legal residency after the initial application. The bill also would give CDE a three-year period in which it could spend license fee money without annual legislative approval. However, the department could only hire contract workers, not permanent state employees, to help with license applications.

The bill may get some additions later in the process. Chair Sen. Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins, expressed interest in a possible amendment to ensure that teachers who are waiting for license renewals can keep their jobs. CDE considers such teachers to be licensed, but some school districts don’t, and it’s a district’s call.

Bacon and other legislators said they’ve received complaints from teachers who lost jobs or whose hiring was delayed because of slow renewals.

As the hearing opened, Bacon greeted co-sponsor Sen. Jean White, R-Hayden and a freshman, saying, “Welcome to Senate Education, where we can make a five-minute bill last two hours.” The panel spent nearly an hour on the five-and-a-half page measure. (Learn more about the backlog in this EdNews article.)

Senate passes “recess” bill again

The full Senate voted 20-14 Wednesday to re-pass House Bill 11-1069, the measure that will mandate minimum levels of physical activity for elementary school students. The vote came after members agreed to a conference committee report that stripped an earlier Senate amendment.

That amendment was a paragraph in the legislative declaration (which has no force of law) that said increasing the opportunity for physical activity may decrease the likelihood that boys will be erroneously identified as needing special education services.

The amendment was proposed by Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, who has a long-standing concern about that issue. Some members of the House didn’t like the amendment.

King and fellow Republican Sen. Nancy Spence of Centennial had a little back and forth at the microphone. King said, “Facts are facts,” saying he couldn’t see how anyone could object to the statement.

Spence argued, “It’s an important bill that needs to pass.” King’s amendment “wasn’t going to make a difference anyway.”

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