State Session Updates

February 21, 2014

Below are highlights on action that took place at the state capitol over the past two weeks of interest to CU.

Legislation:

HB 14-1124 In-state Tuition American Indian Tribes Ties To CO: HB 1124 would provide in-state tuition status for American Indian students who are enrolled in one of the 48 tribes that have historical ties to Colorado. The bill passed out of the House Education committee on a 9-4 vote. CU supports this bill and had many testifiers at the committee hearing, including Directors of CU Boulder's American Indian Law and Upward Bound Programs, CU Denver's American Indian Student Services, and individual professors citing the desire to be able to attract and retain more American Indian students in their programs. Additionally many of the proponents testifying were alumni of the University of Colorado. The bill goes next to the House Appropriations committee.

HB 14-1193 Research Retrieval Fees Public Records Under CORA: As introduced, the bill prohibits custodians of public records from charging an hourly fee for the research and retrieval of the records (“CORA requests”) that exceeds three times the state minimum wage, regardless the time spent meeting request- essentially capping the fee at $24 an hour in 2014. CU receives hundreds of CORA requests a year and this cap would result in the inability to charge actual costs for complying with requests, creating a negative fiscal impact on the University. We worked with stakeholder groups on an amendment to increase the cap to four times the state minimum wage and remove the legally problematic term "nominal" which was put on the bill during the House Local Government hearing this week. The bill passed second reading with the amendment intact this morning. 

SB 14-099 Provisional Physical Therapy License: There is currently a time gap physical therapy students encounter between graduation from a physical therapist program and receipt of licensure via successful passage of the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), that prevents them from working due to the dates the NPTE is offered. This CU initiated bill would allow the physical therapy board to issue a provisional license to students who have successfully completed a physical therapy program, that will allow them to practice under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist during that gap. The bill passed unanimously out of the House Health and Human Services Committee and is scheduled for House Finance on March 6.

SB 14-114  Student Access To CSU Global Campus:  This bill would expand the Colorado State University Global Campus’ mission to allow the offering of comprehensive online bachelor's degree programs. Under the bill, an online degree from the school will not require that students transfer some amount of previously earned credits from other postsecondary studies to complete their degree with CSU Global, as is currently required.  The bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee yesterday with an amendment negotiated with the community college system that limits the type of comprehensive bachelor degrees CSU Global can offer and adds age and admission standard limits.

Capital:

The Capital Development Committee voted to forward its FY 2014-15 capital budget recommendations to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC).  The recommended list includes the Anschutz Medical Campus and higher Ed COP payments, funding for levels 1 and 2 controlled maintenance, and three new CU projects: the Ketchum renovation (CU-Boulder), Auraria Library renovation, and Visual and Performing Arts building (UCCS). The next step is working with the Joint Budget Committee on securing the appropriation to cover this list.

Events:

We hosted the Excellence in Leadership group on February 7th, for a great day at the capitol. They heard from Tanya Kelly-Bowry and Kirsten about the climate at the capitol and from Senator Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and Representative Joseph Salazar (D-Denver) about their legislative priorities. Natalie Mullis, Legislative Council Chief Economist, also gave a state budget overview.
Chair of the Board of Regents, Michael Carrigan along with Jeff Thompson, Government and Corporate Relations Director for University of Colorado Health participated in a panel discussion at the Aurora Delegation town hall on February 20th. The topic of the discussion was the importance of higher education and the benefits Senate Bill 14-001, which includes a $100M increase in funding for higher education, has for Colorado students and workforce development in the state. The town hall was sponsored by Senate President Carroll, and Representatives Buckner, Fields, Melton, and Ryden and other panelists included Betsy Oudenhoven, CCA President and Nigel Daniels, CSU Student Body President. Around 40 members from the community were in attendance.

CU Boulder Athletic Director Rick George and Men’s Basketball Coach Tad Boyle were the special guests at a reception for state legislators at Benson Mineral Group last week. President and Marcy Benson graciously donated the space for the evening and it was a great success. We had over 25 legislators in attendance and they were able to hear first-hand about the athletic program and the dedication and drive of our student athletes. Also in attendance were Regents Carrigan, Sharkey, Bosley, and Hybl along with several vice presidents.

January 31, 2014

Below are the highlights from this week at the state capitol.

Legislation:

  • SB 14-001 College Affordability Act: As reported, this bill appropriates $100M in additional one-time general funds to higher education and caps tuition increases to 6% for two years. President Benson along with students Paige Wilson of UCCS and Ali Skewes-Cox of CU-Boulder testified in support during the Senate Education hearing this week. The committee heard testimony only, and will be calendared again for another hearing in Senate Education for discussion of potential amendments and a vote.
     
  • SB 14-004 Community College Four Year Degree Programs: This bill passed its final reading in the Senate this week with unanimous support. The negotiated language that ensures a thorough process by which any such degrees would be approved has remained intact. The bill will now move over to the House, and we will continue to monitor it.
     
  • SB 14-011 Colorado Energy Research Authority:  This bill changes the name of the Colorado Renewable Research Authority to the Colorado Energy Research Authority (CERA). The bill creates a new cash fund to support CERA, the continuously appropriated Energy Research Cash Fund (ERCF). Starting July 1, 2014, and on July 1 for the four subsequent fiscal years, the bill requires an annual transfer of $2 million to the ERCF. CU supports this bill and Patricia Rankin, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at CU Boulder gave testimony on our behalf. The bill passed unanimously and will now go to Senate Finance.

Other Items:

  • Brian Argrow, CU-Boulder Professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, joined other aerospace industry leaders throughout the state for a presentation in front of the Senate Transportation Committee. Brian’s testimony showcased how CU is not only delivering the highly educated workforce that drives industry companies, but we are the actual leaders of many of the projects that the industry representatives were touting. His comments were well received by committee members, especially the chair, Nancy Todd. The aerospace industry will be hosting a day at the capitol on March 23 and we look forward the opportunity to showcase CU’s endeavors at that event.
     
  • The same day, CU’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) hosted General Jay Lindell, Colorado’s Aerospace and Defense Industry Champion, for a tour and discussion with the campus’s Aerospace research and education experts. Lindell was very impressed with the work done at CU and pledged to advocate on our behalf.

January 17, 2014

It has been a busy first couple of weeks at the capitol as hundreds of bills have already been introduced.  Below are a few highlights from this week, and major legislation coming up next week. We will keep you updated as the bills make their way through the legislative process.

Capital:

The Capital Development Committee this week approved CU Boulder's request for cash approval for the new athletics facility. The campus is now able to move forward with fundraising and planning on the project. They will not have to ask the legislature for further approval.

Legislation of Interest Scheduled:

New Legislation of Interest:

  • SB 14-028 Expand Electric Vehicle Charging Station Grants: SB 28 expands eligibility for grant funds for the installation of charging stations for electric vehicles to private non-profit or for-profit corporations. The Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund is funded through DOE funds left over from ARRA, and a $20 annual electric vehicle decal fee, so it has no impact on the general fund. The bill sponsors plan to offer an amendment to further expand the eligibility to include public universities. The bill is scheduled for its first hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee next Tuesday, January 21. David Lieb from CU Boulder Parking and Transportation will testify in support of the bill on behalf of CU, as it will allow CU to apply for grants if additional electric vehicle charging stations are installed at our campuses in the future.
  • HB 14-1124 In-state Tuition American Indian Tribes Ties To CO: would classify a member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe with historical ties to Colorado as an in-state student for tuition purposes. The bill is not yet calendared.

For more information on other bills of interest, check the Current State Legislation page on our website.

January 10, 2014

The 2014 session of the Colorado General Assembly convened on Wednesday, January 8. Below are some highlights from the first week at the state capitol:

Capital:

The Capital Development Committee (CDC) this week voted to add two critical items at CU and CSU's request to an omnibus "fix-it" bill the committee will be running this year. The first item will protect CU Boulder and AMC's current practice of running their own plumbing and electrical inspections by codifying the authority in law. The second item changes several administrative requirements in the capital process so that institutions of higher education and state agencies can run construction projects more nimbly and at less cost. The bill will be introduced in the next several weeks and we will report its progress through the legislature. Thanks to Steve Thweatt at CU Boulder and Teresa Osborne in CU System for their presentations to the committee.

Legislation:

Over 100 pieces of legislation were introduced and we have begun the process of disseminating them for campus feedback. Below are a few bills of interest to CU:

  • SB 14-001 College Affordability Act:
    The College Affordability Act appropriates $100M in additional one-time general funds to higher education. $60M of this funding will be allocated towards operating and $40M will go towards a variety of financial aid programs, such as merit, need-based, and work study. The bill also caps tuition increases to 6% for two years. We are supportive of this bill and are working to secure an additional general fund appropriation for that second year as well.
  • SB 14-004 the Community College Four Year Degree Programs:
    As expected, the community colleges introduced a bill this year that will allow them to offer select Bachelor of Applied Science degrees. We worked with the community colleges, four-year institutions and the Department of Higher Education throughout the interim on this bill, and negotiated language that ensures a thorough process by which any such degrees would be approved. With this language in the bill, we will no longer oppose it and will have the opportunity in the future to weigh in on the approval process.

Leadership Speeches:

Leadership in the House and Senate gave opening day speeches on their priorities for the session. Also, Governor Hickenlooper presented his State of the State speech on Thursday. Regents Carrigan and Neguse were in attendance. During his speech, the Governor addressed the importance of higher education and his commitment to investing an additional $100M into the institutions and financial aid programs this year.

Full Text of Speeches:

Governor Hickenlooper: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24878455/text-gov-john-hickenloopers-speech

Senator Morgan Carroll, President of the Senate: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24870062/text-sen-morgans-carrolls-speech?source=pkg

Senator Bill Cadman, Senate Minority Leader: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24870504/text-sen-bill-cadmans-speech?source=pkg

Representative Mark Ferrandino, Speaker of the House of Representatives: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24870325/text-rep-mark-ferrandinos-speech?source=pkg

Representative Brian DelGrosso, House Minority Leader: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24870817/text-rep-brian-delgrossos-speech?source=pkg

January 7, 2014

The 2014 session of the Colorado General Assembly begins on Wednesday and we want to share with you a preview of general issues during the session, what CU can expect and major legislation we are tracking and/or sponsoring. Additionally, we are streamlining our efforts to communicate with you on state and federal legislative issues. Please see the details under Communications below and feel free to provide feedback to Heather Fields at Heather.Fields@cu.edu.

Legislative Overview

Governor John Hickenlooper is requesting a $100 million increase for higher education ($60 million in operating, $40 million in financial aid). CU’s share would be approximately $16.5 million. The Senate will have a Democrat majority (18-17), as will the House (37-28). A complete list of legislators is available on our website. Major issues the Legislature is expected to address include K-12 finance, flood recovery and revisiting gun legislation passed in 2013.

CU Priority Highlights

  • Support Governor Hickenlooper’s budget request;
  • Support funding for CU’s top capital construction priorities;
  • The University of Colorado legislative agenda will include bills requested by the campuses. As the details of our initiatives are in flux, we will provide an update in the coming weeks.

Communications

In addition to detailed reports on our website, here is what you can expect to receive from the Office of Government Relations during the state session:

  • A session preview, mid-point status report and end-of-session summary;
  • Bi-weekly updates of major bills and issues;
  • Timely alerts when critical issues arise that are time sensitive, including budget, capital construction, major legislation and/or political issues;
  • Feedback request lists for bills that affect selected policy areas, campuses, units and/or departments. Heather Fields will send affected people/areas a link to the bill summary. They will work with campus liaisons (listed below) to provide feedback to Heather, who will provide ongoing bill updates.
  • Summaries of quarterly Revenue Forecasts (next update: mid-March)
  • Summaries of department hearings (requests to the Joint Budget Committee for funding changes (known as supplementals)
  • Summaries of discussions/negotiations on the Long Bill (annual state budget bill); funding decisions for the upcoming fiscal year are discussed in February and early March before the bill is introduced in late March;
  • Summaries of CU capital construction funding requests.

Campus Liaisons

Boulder: Kim Calomino kim.calomino@colorado.edu

Colorado Springs: Stephannie Finley and Tamara Cannafax tcannafa@uccs.edu

Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus: Jonathan Lurie ucdenver.legislation@ucdenver.edu

System: Heather Fields heather.fields@cu.edu

Website Resources:

  • Bill Tracker software with complete details of all proposed legislation;
  • Updates and in-depth looks at issues and legislation, including legislator engagement and activities of Government Relations staff;
  • CU lobbying policies and guidelines;
  • Government Relations staff contact information.