The legislative session may be over, but the work continues at the Capitol

Written by: Riley Kitts
Date Posted: July 17, 2019

Even though the 2019 legislative session ended in early May, that doesn’t mean that the work stops at the State Capitol.  Each year, the legislature approves a number of interim committees to look at specific issues over the summer and fall and make recommendations for legislation to be tackled in the next session. This year the legislature approved 17 interim committees to meet over the next several months to address a wide range of state issues. Some of these committees have been in existence for several years, while others will be meeting for the first time in 2019. The Children’s Campaign will be actively monitoring and participating in several interim committees that pertain to child well-being.

The Early Childhood and School Readiness Legislative Commission was established in 2010, and work this year will be led by first-year chair Senator Tammy Story; the commission will study health care, mental health, parental involvement, family support, child care, and early learning. A bill that came out of this committee’s work last year was the Early Childhood Educator Tax Credit, which will help the state address one of the biggest early childhood workforce issues: low wages. The Children’s Campaign has been involved with this committee from its inception and will continue to push for policies that help young children and families.

In its third year, the Legislative Interim Committee on School Finance is again charged with studying issues related to school funding and to consider alternative funding formulas. Colorado’s school funding formula is now 25 years old and in need of a serious update. We will be working with another first-year chair, Representative Julie McCluskie, to develop a modernized, equitable and adequate school finance formula that targets investments to meet the needs of all students, and accounts for the unique challenges posed by geography and poverty, among other factors.

Also meeting for the third year in a row is the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee. The committee has Senator Brittany Pettersen at the helm again this interim and is focused on studying and addressing the opioid epidemic in our state. We were proud to see a bill come out of this committee last year that establishes pilot programs to improve the integration of prenatal care and behavioral health services.

The last interim committee that the Children’s Campaign will be actively watching and participating in is the School Safety Committee. This committee was formed after the tragic school shooting at STEM High School in Arapahoe County and will be chaired by Representative Michaelson Jenet. The committee will be focused on studying laws and policies governing school safety, emergency response planning, prevention of threats, and methods for identifying and helping students in crisis. Our goal is to help this committee work towards policies that promote positive school environments and student social-emotional well-being. Our own Erica Manoatl and Sarah Barnes presented at the committee’s first hearing on July 11th.

The Children’s Campaign will be sure to keep you updated as the work of these interim committees continues.