Legislators passed many great bills this session, and I am proud to add several from my own list of accomplishments to that lineup, all of which passed with bipartisan support.
Some of these bills have already been signed into law and others will be soon.
HB19-1262 – State Funding for Full-Day KindergartenFull-day kindergarten for Colorado’s youngest learners is now in sight, optional for both districts and parents. Many districts already offer full-day kindergarten but at a great expense to either the district or the parents. This bill frees up money for both, while also offering 5,000 more preschool slots for at-risk children.
HB19-1113 – Protect Water Quality Adverse Mining ImpactsWe all remember the 2015 Gold King Mine spill, so I led a bill to help prevent water pollution from future hardrock mining operations in Colorado. This is good for our environment and precious water, while keeping a thriving mining industry moving forward. Taxpayers will no longer have to pay when a mine files for bankruptcy.
HB19-1006 – Wildfire Mitigation Wildland-Urban Interface AreasWildfire season is fast approaching. This bill won bipartisan approval in the Legislature and adds funding to the already existing Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program to address the needs of mitigation in the Wildland-Urban Interface Areas. The funding will help homeowners prepare their property for fire suppression. The Colorado Forest Service says these areas are the most likely to burn during the next fire season; helping them now will help all of Colorado later.
SB19-009 – Financial Incentives for Rural EducatorsThis bill modifies and expands a current law offering stipends to educators who agree to teach in a rural school for at least two years. It now offers $4,000 stipends for those educators, and $6,000 for those seeking certification as a National Board Certified Teacher, a concurrent enrollment teacher or for those completing an alternative licensure program that leads to employment in a rural area.
HB19-1002 Leadership Professional Development for School PrincipalsThis bill represents the latest effort by lawmakers to implement the state’s blueprint to reduce our teacher shortage, building upon a bill I sponsored in 2017. This bill creates the School Leadership Pilot Program to provide training for school principals. The program identifies high-quality school principals who will act as mentors for principals across the state who ask for assistance. The mentors will provide professional development in school leadership. Many teachers leave the teaching profession because they want better leadership.
HB19-1202 – Food Systems Advisory CouncilThe bill moves the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council from the Department of Agriculture to Colorado State University and modifies its membership, purpose and duties. The council will match food producers with consumers so that producers have access to new markets and consumers have ready access to fresh, affordable and healthy foods. The council will also research food and nutrition assistance, market development, farm-to-school programs and institutional procurement.
SB19-020 – Wildland Fire Airspace Patrol SystemThis will help ensure airspace is clear above wildfires and give our firefighters the tools they need to keep our homes, communities and firefighters safe. This creates a study on methods to monitor the airspace above wildfires to ensure they are cleared of drones and other civilian aircraft. Current monitoring is limited by line of sight and many aerial firefighting methods have had to stop working or are delayed due to the presence of drones above wildfires.
SB19-246 – Public School FundingThis bill sets funding levels for Colorado’s 178 PK-12 school districts. It pays down the budget stabilization factor by $100 million; funds rural schools an extra $20 million; increases by $20 million the funds given to schools for Tier B special education students; and changes the method of funding for English-learning students, focusing on those who need it most.
SB19-190 – Teacher Preparation Program SupportThe bill has the Colorado Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education adopt guidelines and best practices for teacher preparation programs, providing stipends for the supervising teachers, extending student teaching to one year and requiring that all educators be trained to teach reading.
SB19-010 – Professional Behavioral Health Services for SchoolsUnder current law, the Behavioral Health Care Professional Matching Grant Program provides grants to local educators to increase the presence of school health professionals in schools, provides training for school staff on implementation of substance abuse prevention education and connects students at risk for substance abuse with available services. This bill adds services for mental health to the list, funded with money from the marijuana cash fund.
SB19-007 – Prevent Sexual Misconduct at Higher Ed CampusesEach Colorado institution of higher education will now adopt, review and update a policy on sexual misconduct. The bill establishes minimum requirements for the policies, including reporting options, procedures for investigations and protections for involved persons. Institutions will promote the policy by posting information on their websites, annually distributing policy information and providing training on awareness and prevention of sexual misconduct. This bill will align state law with federal law.
SB19-003 – Educator Loan Forgiveness ProgramThis bill establishes the Educator Loan Forgiveness Program to help principals, educators and special services providers pay their college loans. They must contract to work in a rural school or in an area of high need content, such as math, science, special education or foreign languages. Educators may receive up to $5,000 for each year of employment for up to five years.
HB19-1051 – Colorado Dept. of Public Safety Human Trafficking-Related TrainingThis bill is particularly important for rural areas. It requires the Division of Criminal Justice to provide human trafficking training to law enforcement agencies, organizations that provide services to human trafficking victims, school personnel and parents, and any other entity that may benefit. The training may be done through direct, online or train-the-trainer sessions.
HB19-1186 – School Employment Background Check ClarificationCurrently, applicants for employment in school districts are required to submit a copy of their fingerprints for background checks. In many areas, only private firms offer these checks; this bill allows them to be offered at a qualified law enforcement agency, an authorized employee or any third-party vendor approved by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. The site must be within 20 miles of a school.
SB19-018 – Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver AgeThis bill decreases the age to obtain a commercial driver’s license from 21 to 18, if authorized under federal law. This offers good-paying jobs for high school graduates and helps with the drastic truck driver shortage in Colorado.
HB19-1254 – Notice Requirements Employees Sharing GratuitiesThis bill clarifies that if a business requires its employees to share gratuities with other employees, each patron be notified of this in writing. It expands the notice from being on a sign on the door to being on the menu, receipt or table tent. Customers will have clearer notice of where their money is going.
We stepped up and delivered real results this legislative session and it’s an honor to serve this district.
Barbara McLachlan represents State House District 59. Reach her at email@example.com.