By Todd Engdahl, EDUCATION NEWS COLORADO
The Colorado legislature ended its 2010 regular session early Wednesday evening with the usual mix of chaos, frivolity, backslapping and hurried meetings, and with the usual dead bills.
There are always a few measures that die on the last day of the session because of House-Senate differences. Last year higher education flexibility legislation died on the last day; this year it was House Bill 10-1430, the CSAP bill.
What many thought in January would be a measure designed to clarify and expand on the testing changes mandated by the 2008 Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids turned out to be something quite different when introduced in the House on April 29.The version by Rep. Judy Solano, D-Brighton, proposed to phase out high school CSAP tests starting next year and replace them college-and-workforce readiness assessments. The bill also would have shifted the responsibility for writing tests from the state to school districts. Some legislators, agencies and interest groups privately felt Solano had sidestepped them to continue her years-long anti-CSAP crusade.
The House passed her bill overwhelmingly. The Senate Education Committee returned the bill to its original pre-introduction version, and senators passed that 21-14 and sent it back to the House on the session’s last afternoon Wednesday.
Solano and the House requested a conference committee; the Senate declined. So, late in the day, Solano called on the House to stick to its version. That killed the bill.
Debate on CAP4K delay bill takes lively turn
The Senate voted 22-13 final approval for a little-discussed bill that pushes back some CAP4K deadlines, but there still was some lively debate on House Bill 10-1013 Wednesday afternoon.
On preliminary consideration Tuesday Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, slipped on an amendment that requires a certain district budget report be posted on district websites. (The original purpose of the bill was to clean up various school finance details in state law.)
That budget report, which goes by the name of CDE-18, has been a minor point of contention because the only organization that reportedly uses it is the Colorado Education Association. School districts and the Colorado Department of Education wanted to eliminate it; conservative Republicans have used the issue as an excuse for a little union bashing.
After a fight, the CDE-18 report was eliminated in another bill.
Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, on Friday objected to Romer’s maneuver. But, his attempt to extract CDE-18 from the bill was defeated by Democrats, some of whom voted against the CEA on the much bigger issue of educator effectiveness.
The most important part of the bill, the CAP4K delays, have been little noticed or discussed. The bill slips the upcoming Dec. 15 for adoption of a new state testing system “until financially practicable.”
Scholarship bill passes
Both houses Wednesday also approved House Bill 10-1428, which will transfer $15 million from the pending sale of a CollegeInvest loan portfolio to state financial aid for college students.
News of the pending sale broke late in the legislative session and offered lawmakers a rare chunk of unclaimed money to plug into higher education.
Romer on Tuesday night tried to tap $5 million for teacher professional development – seen as a sop to the CEA – but the Senate turned that idea down.
There was a brief flap Wednesday over minor House-Senate differences, but House sponsor Rep. Karen Middleton, D-Aurora, and the House backed down to avoid the measure experiencing the same fate as the CSAP bill.
In other action
Two low-profile but important charter school bills are headed to the governor after the House accepted Senate amendments and re-passed House Bills 10-1345 and 1412 Wednesday morning. The first would create a method for the state to intervene with charter schools in emergencies; the second creates a commission that will develop and recommend operational standards for both charter schools and for authorizers. HB 10-1345 was re-passed 62-3, and the HB 10-1412 vote was 64-1.
The House also already has accepted Senate amendments and voted 65-0 the re-pass House Bill 10-1274, the two-years-in-the-making measure that requires notification of schools when students are to return from treatment centers.
In other coverage
The Denver Post: Colorado students hoping to avoid taking hours of comprehensive student tests every year are going to be disappointed.