Date: 01/22/2009

BILL SUMMARY for HB09-1009


Votes: View--> Action Taken:
On page 7, Moved to strike lines 3 - 11. The motioPASS

03:11 PM -- Call to Order

Representative Merrifield, the chair, called the House Education Committee to order.

03:11 PM -- House Bill 09-1009

Representative King, sponsor of House Bill 09-1009, concerning requiring public schools to conduct emergency safety drills, presented his bill to the committee.

03:12 PM

The following people testified on the bill:

03:12 PM --
John Suthers, the Colorado State Attorney General, testified in support of the bill, and shared a handout with committee members (Attachment A). He noted the importance of practice drills and reviewing safety procedures.


03:18 PM

Mr. Suthers continued his remarks and noted that the safety study committee recommends that higher education institutions conduct drills, because students at such schools do not know what to do in an emergency.

03:19 PM

Representative Todd asked if there is information in Colorado at the higher education level to survey what individual schools have in place for safety plans. Mr. Suthers explained that he was not aware of a survey. Representative King explained each institution's planning is different, and there is no standardization of safety plans.

03:22 PM --
Mr. Tom Wiens, former state senator, representing himself, testified in support of the bill and shared handouts with committee members regarding federal grant money for school safety programs and safety drill procedures (Attachment B).


03:28 PM

Representative Peniston asked who would be responsible at schools to determine which grants would be appropriate, and who would write the grants. Mr. Wiens stated that the grant writing process is not onerous.

03:30 PM

Representative Schafer asked about the different types of drills, and asked if there could be an electronic notification system on higher education campus. Mr. Wiens acknowledged that there are these systems available, but he noted that after notifying students of an emergency, people on campus do not know where to go or what to do.

03:33 PM

Representative Merrifield asked about evacuation drills in the case that a student is shooting other students, and knows where the safe place is the appointed evacuation place. Representative Todd stated that when she was a teacher, there were school safety plans in place, and asked if the state knows what is already in place before passing more legislation on safety plans and practice drills. Representative King concurred that it is important to know what is out there.

03:37 PM

Representative Massey asked if Mr. Wiens thinks that this preempts the directives of the school safety resource center established in the 2008 legislative session. Mr. Wiens stated that he believes the bill is an extension of what was established last year. Representative Benefield presented the funding challenge for the bill, in consideration of the current budget climate, and asked where the money for the bill comes from. Representative King stated that he would continue to work on the fiscal note for the bill.

03:41 PM

Representative Merrifield asked if this is not something that is already being done by districts. Representative King stated that he believes it is not getting done right now. Representative Solano explained that St. Vrain Valley schools did extensive drills on a regular basis, as mandated by the school district, when she was a teacher in that district. Representative Solano asked about the National Incident Management System (NIMS) requirement passed last year which requires drills and other safety readiness plans. Mr. Wiens explained that while House Bill 09-1009 and the NIMS requirement are interconnected, the training for the NIMS provides a shared language to discuss emergencies.

03:47 PM

Mr. Wiens continued explaining the differences between Senate Bill 08-181and the bill being considered by the committee. Mr. Wiens stressed the importance of seeking grant money from the federal government as a way to address the funding needs. Representative King explained that he understands that some school districts in the state have detailed plans, but he expressed concern that there may not be consistency across all school districts.

03:52 PM

Representative Benefield stated if Representative King in interested in promoting school safety, funding should be focused on school resource officers. Representative Benefield raised concerns about the fiscal impact, and where the money is coming from. Representative King noted that he was a school resource officer, and agreed with her statement. Representative Middleton also discussed the fiscal impact of the bill, and that if there are federal resources, it might be better to try for federal funding, then return to state legislation. She also expressed concern about asking educators to take time to go to classes in a strained resources environment, and that the solutions offered in the bill are not the best practices for higher education institutions.

03:57 PM

Representative King disagreed that this bill does not represent best practices, and that faculty could take time on the first day of class to show students what to do in an emergency. Representative Massey discussed the purpose of NIMS compliance, which is to put responders on the same page, and to be federally compliant and be able to draw down federal dollars from Homeland Security.

04:02 PM

Representative Schafer stated that before she could vote for the bill, she would need to know what each higher education institution is doing, because she expressed concern that the bill in current form is too broad. Representative Solano asked for higher education or the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) to express their concerns on the bill.

TIME: 04:09:30 PM
MOTION:On page 7, Moved to strike lines 3 - 11. The motion passed on a 8-5 vote.
Schafer S.

04:13 PM

Representative Solano expressed concern about the higher education piece, and because of this, it would be not possible for her to vote.

04:14 PM

Representative Merrifield laid over the bill.