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Corporal punishment bill goes down in Colorado Senate committee

Alan Petersime

A Republican-controlled state Senate committee Monday killed a bill that would have prohibited corporal punishment in Colorado’s public schools and day care centers that receive state funding.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party-line vote, defeated House Bill 1038, sponsored by state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, an Arvada Democrat.

Republican members didn’t explain their vote. However, during witness testimony, state Sen. Bob Gardner, a Colorado Springs Republican, suggested school districts were already in front of the issue.

“I’m disappointed, to say the least,” Zenzinger said in a statement. “This practice has no place in a modern nation that prides itself on decades of advancement in the areas of human rights and racial equality. It’s a black mark on our reputation and really defies logic.”

Sponsors of the bill could not point to a single occurrence of corporal punishment happening in Colorado schools or publicly-funded day care centers today.

During Monday’s committee hearing, State Sen. Daniel Kangan, an Englewood Democrat, recounted his own experience of being beaten at a boarding school in England.

“It remains one of my nightmarish experiences of my youth,” he said. “I can’t imagine how this could be positive in anyway.”

The bill had a rocky roll out in the House. Data that was used as justification for the bill was discredited, and Democrats rejected an amendment that would have acknowledged school district level policy on the matter.

While the bill earned bipartisan support from the House Education Committee, only one Republican voted for the bill on the House floor.

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