Sine Die. 2019 Session Wrap Up.

The people of Colorado may breathe a sigh of relief. The legislature has adjourned!

May 3rd we adjourned the First Regular Session of the Seventy-Second General Assembly. The latin phrase for the final adjournment is: Sine Die.  Here is a quick look at the bills we sponsored in the past 120 days.

We got some solid wins. Breaking down decades old barriers to open up paths for ALL Colorado students to earn college or career and technical education credit while still in high school was one of our big wins.

We also brought some ideas that have shaped the policy making conversation and may support future legislation. We can't do the work well without your input and are very grateful to the many of you who communicate with us routinely. Thank you for your engagement this session.

SB19-101 -- Limitations on CDOT to Designate Toll Lanes

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The bill would prevent the Colorado Department of Transportation or its enterprises from designating new highway capacity as a managed or tolled lane without first proving no other alternative exists.  

Status- Senate Committee on Transportation & Energy--Postponed Indefinitely

SB19-176 -- Expanding Concurrent Enrollment Opportunities


Many students in Colorado enjoy access to concurrent enrollment and career and technical education classes, but access to these programs was not universal across the state. This bill fixes that problem. It simplifies the process of applying to and taking these classes, and requires that these programs be available to all of Colorado’s best and brightest students and future leaders.

Status- Sent to Governor for signature

SB19-185 -- Protections For Minor Human Trafficking Victims


Protecting our children from the sex trafficking industry should be a top priority for us all. We have brought bills to improve our state laws or give law enforcement new tools every session we have served. Because of this bill, children put into these circumstances will now be regarded legally as victims and survivors not criminals. This will lead to an important cultural change within our law enforcement system and on “the street.”

Status- On the desk of the Governor

SB19-022 -- Bonuses for Highly Effective Teachers


The bill creates the highly effective teacher bonus program to provide $56 million dollars to Local Education Providers to reward hard working “Highly Effective Teachers” with an average $2,000 yearly bonus.

Status- Senate Committee on Education - Postponed Indefinitely


HB19-1155 -- Additions To Definition Of Sexual Contact

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This bill adds certain conduct to the definition of sexual contact. The bill closes a legal loophole in the criminal statutes. It arose out of a terrible criminal case where horrific behaviors that any sane individual would have described as sexual child abuse were not chargeable offenses. The statue will now include releasing bodily fluids onto an individual as a form of sexual contact and punishable by law.

Status- Signed by the Governor.

HB19-1206 -- Higher Education Supplemental Academic Instruction

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The bill directs the Higher Education Commission to create policies to help students that require remedial courses in college better ways to finish their degree without extending their time at the institution. For example, students not reading on grade level will be able to get additional help like tutoring classes while they take college level courses.  Instead of the student taking 5 years to graduate with a year of remedial courses, they may graduate in 4 years and with less debt.

Status- Signed by the Governor

SB19-069 -- Nonpublic School Teacher Development Programs


Under existing law, school districts and charter schools are permitted to provide introductory programs for teachers, administrators, and other significant school employees who may not have gone through a conventional licensure program. This bill clarifies that other nonpublic schools can also operate such programs.

Status- Signed by the Governor.
HB19-1225 -- No Monetary Bail For Certain Low-level Offenses

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In certain low-level and non violent criminal offenses (like traffic violations), some lower income individuals cannot afford to pay the bail that may be required, sometimes as little as $100. This bill puts a prohibition on such bails, so people will not be sent to jail just because they can’t afford to pay the bail. Studies have show in these cases a personal recognizance requirement may be as effective as a cash bond. The bill also reverses a practice that has proven expense to counties.

Status- Signed by the Governor

HB19-1100 -- Prohibit Use Restriction On School District Property


This bill specifies that a board of education may only include a use restriction on the sale, conveyance, lease, or rental of any district property that restricts the property from being used as a public or nonpublic school for any grade from preschool through the 12th grade after providing public notice of its intent to include such restriction and after discussing the issue in public at a regularly scheduled meeting of the board of education. It's a common sense bill that says a school building up for sale would obviously be useful as a school to a new buyer.  

Status- Signed by the Governor. 

HB19-1008 -- Include Career And Technical Education In Building Excellent Schools Today Program


Amends the "Building Excellent Schools Today Act" to allow the public school capital construction assistance board to provide grants to support career and technical education capital construction.

Status - Signed by the Governor

SB19-189 -- Extend Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Board

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The bill implements the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies' sunset review by continuing the concurrent enrollment advisory board indefinitely. Concurrent enrollment is great for students and this bill will help it continue to flourish.

Status- Sent to the Governor

SB19-074 -- Support for Literacy Enrichment for Young Students

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The bill Creates the Literacy Enrichment program.  The Program creates a $500 per student per year scholarship to low income students in grades kindergarten, through 3rd grade who may not be able afford to pay for a tutor or other literacy services. The scholarship is limited to students classified as under grade level in reading.

Status- Senate Committee on Education - Postponed Indefinitely

 SB19-094 -- Extend School Finance Interim Committee


The bill extends the work of the legislative interim committee on school finance for one year for the purposes of redesigning the funding formula for Colorado K-12 public education. This is a really wonky, really important bill.  We spend almost $13 billion per year in  public K-12 education in Colorado. And the formula for how we do it has not been seriously evaluated since 1994. It is time for an update and a new model that is about students and looking forward instead of institutions and protecting "the way we have always done it."

Status- Enrolled into an Act

 HB19-1252 -- College Credit For Work Experience


The bill would enable students to earn high school credit for certain work-related experiences. The bill requires state institutions of higher education to develop plans to evaluate whether postsecondary education was acquired by work experience and to accept and transfer academic credit awarded for work-related experience as courses with guaranteed-transfer designation.

Status- Appropriations Postponed Indefinitely

SB19-246 -- Public School Finance

This bill funds the public schools of Colorado. It was our honor to carry the bill this session. It increases the statewide base per pupil funding for the 2019-20 budget year by $182.76 per student (and we have more than 900,000 of them) to account for inflation. The new statewide base per pupil funding--a large portion of, but only part of the total dollars spent on K-12 education--will be set at $6,951.53 per student.

Status- Enrolled into an Act

HB19-1323 -- Occasional Sales By Charitable Organizations

This bill is about making bake sales and silent auctions offered by our community non-profit organizations a little bit more manageable and productive. Under current law, up to $25,000 of the funds raised by a charitable organization through occasional sales are exempt from state sales tax. The bill increases that amount to $45,000. The bill also removes the requirement that occasional sales by charitable organizations take place for no more than 12 days, whether consecutive or not, during any calendar year.

Status- Sent to Governor

SCR19-002 -- Shorten the Legislative Session

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Mark Twain said it best: "No one's life liberty or property are safe when the legislature is in session. This Resolution is one of my favorite bills. It would shorten the session from the current 120 days each year. We would have a 90 day budget and policy session in the even-numbered years and a 60 day policy only session in the odd numbered years. The less time the legislature is in session the less mischief we can create!

Posted on May 16, 2019 .

Five Days Left. Key Stops and Important Wins.

We have five days left in the 2019 legislative session. Our strategy of robust debate in the Colorado Senate has won some key stops. We've blocked several initiatives that would have expanded BIG Government over-reach. At the same time we have pushed several initiatives over the finish line that expand freedom and promote opportunity.

Posted on April 28, 2019 .

Put That Gavel Down Madam Chair, I'm Here To Represent The People of Colorado

You may find our interview this week with Ross Kaminsky on KHOW interesting.  We discussed the FAMLI Act, a proposed new billion dollar tax on every employee in Colorado. The research arm of the National Federation of Independent Business reports that the bill would kill 14,000 jobs in Colorado and sop up $1.8 billion of working capital over the next ten years that would have been available to create new jobs. Click the picture below to hear the dialog with Ross.

Posted on April 14, 2019 .

Three Weeks Left in the Session

This week the session accelerated. We are racing to the finish line of mandatory adjournment on May 3, 2019. And the redistribution of power over your ability to live your life as you see fit--from your hands to government--has accelerated as well.

Posted on April 14, 2019 .

Bill To Unnecessarily Tighten Regulations on Energy Production Threatens Colorado Economy and Jobs

In response to a resounding defeat at the ballot box last November, the Green Agenda Faction of the Democrat party brought SB19-181 and pushed it swiftly through both chambers of the Colorado General Assembly. The bill is designed to curtail the development and production of oil and gas in Colorado. It was in its first Senate committee on March 5th and passed out of The House on March 29th. It is now on the Governor’s desk where it is expected to be signed. See my comments on this job threatening big government over-reach here.

Posted on March 30, 2019 .