What the Sixty-eighth General Assembly Did on its Summer Vacation: Interim Committees Ready to Introduce Bills

Chuck Brackney, Jason Gelender, Tom Morris, John Kilgour, Richard Sweetman, Brita Darling, and Julie Pelegrin contributed to this article

After interim committees were suspended during the 2010 interim for budget reasons, the statutory interim committees — transportation, water, police and firefighters’ pension reform, and early childhood and school readiness — and a few newcomers came roaring back for the 2011 interim. Here’s a brief summary of the committee bills that each of the interim committees will introduce during the 2012 regular legislative session.

Transportation Legislative Review Committee
The Transportation Legislation Review Committee (TLRC) will be introducing seven bills during the 2012 regular legislative session. These include bills to:
●    Create a multi-year motor vehicle registration for interstate trailers registered in Colorado.
●    Transfer control over ports of entry from the Motor Carrier Services Division of the Department of Revenue to the Colorado State Patrol.
●    Standardize procedures for creating group special license plates.
●    Repeal the fee for military branch of service identifiers on Colorado drivers’ licenses.
●    Allow operation of low-speed electric vehicles on more roads and highways within the state.
●    Repeal certain transportation-related reporting requirements.
●    Extend the fund that encourages the recycling of waste tires.
For more information on any of these bills, contact Chuck Brackney, Jason Gelender, or Jery Payne.

Water Resources Review Committee
The Water Resources Review Committee toured the Colorado river from Grand Lake all the way to Palisade and met in Steamboat at the Colorado Water Congress’ annual summer conference. The committee met six times and heard extensive testimony about:  1) Impending water quality standards governing the discharge of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous); 2) the status of various water infrastructure construction and planning projects; and 3) the funding challenges confronting water infrastructure construction projects. The committee adopted a letter in support of federal legislation to extend Colorado’s “good neighbor” authority that allows Colorado to conduct forest health projects in the national forests. The committee adopted a joint resolution concerning the use of severance tax revenues for water infrastructure construction projects rather than budget balancing. Finally, the committee considered eight bills and will be introducing five. These include bills that will:
●    Not require certificates of designation for the disposal of drinking water treatment facilities’ solid wastes.
●    Reduce water augmentation requirements for certain permitted mined lands.
●    Extend the implementation dates for Denver basin aquifer augmentation requirements.
●    Combine various cash funds within the division of water resources in the Department of Natural Resources.
●    Eliminate a three-year waiting period for the reissuance of lost mutual ditch company share certificates.
The committee did not adopt bills regarding a medication take-back program, high-efficiency toilets, and gray water reuse. For more information on any of these bills, contact Tom Morris.

Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension Reform Commission
The Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension Reform Commission will be introducing three bills during the 2012 regular legislative session. These bills will:
●    Authorize the board of the Fire and Police Pension Association (FPPA) to amend benefit plans as long as the board considers the amendments prudent and necessary and the amendments do not result in actuarial cost to the plans or modifications to the amount of a normal benefit.
●    Modify the Social Security supplemental plan to authorize a Social Security employer to elect affiliation with the FPPA only as to coverage under the statewide defined benefit plan; however, the employer may elect coverage under the statewide death and disability plan if it files a resolution to that effect adopted by its governing body.
●    Change terminology pertaining to investment confidentiality.
For more information on any of these bills, contact Esther van Mourik.

Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline
The Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline will be introducing one bill during the 2012 regular legislative session. The bill affects several changes to the school discipline statutes, including changes that will:
●    Amend the statutory grounds for suspension or expulsion of a student to increase the discretion of school administrators and school district boards of education.
●    Require each school district’s conduct and discipline code to include criteria distinguishing minor code violations from behavior that will result in the referral of an offending student to a law enforcement agency.
●    Require each local school board, in creating and enforcing a code, to limit, to the extent practicable, the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions to incidents that involve conduct that poses a serious and credible threat to the safety of pupils and staff.
●    Require each school principal, in reporting code violations as part of the safe school reporting requirements, to specifically identify each violation that resulted in referral to a law enforcement agency.
●    Require the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, on and after October 1, 2012, to create and provide a training curriculum to prepare peace officers to serve as school resource officers. On and after October 1, 2013, neither a school administrator nor a local school board shall accept the assignment of a peace officer acting as school resource officer in a public school unless the peace officer has successfully completed the school resource officer training program.
For more information on this bill, contact Richard Sweetman.

Educational Success Task Force
The Educational Success Task Force (“Task Force”) is charged with reviewing data and research concerning academic transition points for students and recommending strategies for identifying and providing developmental education services to students at significant transition points. The Task Force is focusing on K-12 education, the transition into higher education, and important points during a student’s postsecondary education career. The Task Force held several meetings and considered five bill drafts, four of which the legislative members of the Task Force will be introducing during the 2012 regular legislative session. These four bills will:
●    Address the use of individual career and academic plans and basic skills testing at the high-school level to help students graduate from high school without needing remedial education before they can continue into postsecondary education.
●    Require the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, after consulting with public institutions of higher education, to develop criteria and a process for awarding credit for a student’s prior learning through work experience, military service, community involvement, or independent study.
●    Direct school districts and institute charter schools to consider adopting procedures by which the public schools will use available data to identify and provide intervention services to students in grades six through nine who are exhibiting behaviors that indicate they are at increased risk of dropping out of school.
●    Create a process by which a student who transfers from a two-year institution to a four-year institution may receive an associate degree when the student accumulates a total of sixty credit hours, even if the student is planning to complete the bachelors degree program.
For more information on any of these bills, contact Brita Darling or Julie Pelegrin.

Early Childhood and School Readiness Commission
The Early Childhood and School Readiness Commission will be introducing one bill during the 2012 regular legislative session. The bill will:
●    Create a new Office of Early Childhood and Youth Development in the Department of Human Services.
●    Identify several early childhood and youth development programs that the new office will oversee, including some that are transferred from other state agencies.
●    Direct the new office to work with other state agencies that provide early childhood programs to create a state plan to standardize and provided statewide guidelines and expectations for the operation of early childhood programs.
For more information on this bill, contact Julie Pelegrin.