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Ed bills bob in sea of legislation

A handful of education-related bills moved Friday, small bits of the torrent of legislation being pushed through the House and Senate as lawmakers race toward their May 8 adjournment date.

And one new education measure even got added to the flow, a bill that would require new school buildings to be “designed and constructed to the highest energy efficiency standards practicable.”

The measure, Senate Bill 13-279, is sponsored by Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood. He introduced several unsuccessful school energy efficiency measure while serving in the House.

Kerr had talked before the 2013 session even started about introducing such a bill. He explained Friday that discussions with interest groups and the press of other legislative business delayed the bill. Kerr has an interesting cosponsor in the House – Republican Rep. Cheri Gerou of Evergreen, who’s an architect and a member of the Joint Budget Committee.

School district lobbyists have opposed such bills in the past because of cost, but this year the lack of time left in the session may also be a big hurdle.

Friday was the 101st of 120 legislative days. The House had dozens of bills on its calendar and was planning to meet over the weekend. The Senate got a fair amount of work done but knocked off early Friday afternoon.

One legislative tracking service, Colorado Capitol Watch, estimated late Thursday that about 300 bills remain to be decided in both chambers. “For Dems to move agenda forward, they need more hours – or fewer bills. The session runs for 14 more days. At ten hours/day, that’s 140 hours left to do 310 bills. That’s roughly 30 minutes per bill, total.” (Capitol Watch is run by Paula Noonan, who’s also a member of the Jeffco school board.)

Here’s an update of floor action on education bills over the last two days:

House final approval

House Bill 13-1299 – This rewrite of the state’s SMART Government Act doesn’t seem related to education, expect that it would create seven permanent between-sessions committees to replace the short-term “interim” committees that have a fixture of the legislature for decades. One of those bills would be responsible for education issues.

House Bill 13-1257 – This measure would clarify the Department of Education’s oversight powers over local school district teacher evaluation systems, if those districts don’t use the state’s model system.

Senate final approval

Senate Bill 13-217 – The bill would give the State Board of Education flexibility in how it applies student performance at alternative education campuses to the accreditation ratings of school districts. This is an issue of some importance to low-rated districts with alternative schools. See this story for background.

Senate Bill 13-218 – This seemingly innocuous measure creates a state fund that could be used colleges to match corporate grants for training programs that a business has asked a college to establish. But the bill is of interest because it’s entangled in the politics and bad feelings around the recent defeat of Senate Bill 13-165, the proposal that would have allowed community colleges to offer a limited number of bachelor’s degrees in technical fields. See this story for background on that, and this summary of SB 13-218.