Legislature approves interim committee bills for introduction

Written by: Riley Kitts
Date Posted: November 15, 2019

Earlier today, the Colorado General Assembly’s Legislative Council approved numerous bills impacting children and families from interim committees to be introduced when the 2020 Legislative Session starts in January. This year, the legislature approved 17 interim committees to meet when the General Assembly is not in session between the months of June and November. The Children’s Campaign followed a handful of the committees that had a focus on child and family issues. Each one of these committees advanced legislation that was ultimately approved by the legislative leadership on Legislative Council.

The Early Childhood and School Readiness Legislative Commission advanced four bills, all unanimously, that address the early care and education workforce, strategies to increase access to information on school readiness and becoming a licensed provider, investments in improving quality, and supporting early childhood mental health. The Children’s Campaign testified in front of the committee twice and provided data on the challenges facing the early care and education workforce and the importance of investments in early childhood mental health.

The Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee moved forward five comprehensive bills to tackle various aspects of the opioid epidemic. Bills were approved that concern substance use prevention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery, and the criminal justice system. We have been monitoring the recovery bill closely as it may improve the state’s child welfare system.

The School Safety Committee also pushed forward five bills. The bills include requiring mental health sick days for students, expanding behavioral health training for educators, and enhancing the Safe2Tell tip line. Two other bills would create working groups to look at the unmet need for juvenile behavioral health treatment and to study how schools and districts can share best practices and better coordinate when it comes to school safety. The Children’s Campaign testified before the committee in July and provided research on school safety practices and how to best promote a positive school climate.

Legislative Council approved all the interim bills that came from these committees. Legislative Council is a year-round committee tasked with the oversight of nonpartisan legislative staff as well as reviewing legislation created by committees that meet during the legislative interim.

Lastly, there is still one interim committee that has one meeting to go. The Legislative Interim Committee on School Finance does not follow the same timeline as the other interim committees and will hold their final meeting in December. At their last meeting in November, the committee approved the drafting of two bills that would alter the school finance formula for how dollars are allocated to schools and districts. We are hopeful that the committee can develop a modernized, equitable and adequate school finance formula that targets investments to meet the needs of all students, while accounting for the unique challenges posed by geography and poverty, among other factors.

We will be sure to keep you updated on the outcome of the School Finance Interim Committee as well as how all the above-mentioned bills will fare once the 2020 Legislative Session kicks off in January.