STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
|03:11 PM to 06:29 PM
|This Meeting was called to order by
|This Report was prepared by
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
|Amended, Laid Over
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
| 04:09:30 PM
|On page 7, Moved to strike lines 3 - 11. The motion passed on a 8-5 vote.
Not Final YES: 8 NO: 5 EXC: 0 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS
Representative Solano expressed concern about the higher education piece, and because of this, it would be not possible for her to vote.
Representative Merrifield laid over the bill.
04:22 PM -- House Bill 09-1057
Representative A. Kerr, sponsor of House Bill 09-1057, concerning parental involvement in kindergarten through twelfth grade education, presented his bill to the committee. He stated that research shows that students whose parents are more involved in their academic activities do better in school. He reviewed the leave provisions of the bill, specifically that leave is limited to 6 hours a month, and that the employee must give notice to an employer.
Representative A. Kerr continued his remarks on the bill, and explained that businesses that already have comparable leave policies do not need to change those policies. He explained that this bill is aimed at families that live at the margin, which he noted is especially important during this economic crisis. He reviewed statistics and research the show the correlation between parental involvement and student achievement.
Representative A. Kerr stated that the bill provides parents with a minimum standard to allow them to get involved in their children's schools. He also addressed some of the concerns that have been presented by opponents of the bill.
Representative Todd asked about referencing some of proposed changes in an amendment to be offered. Representative A. Kerr said that he would. Representative Summers asked for parents with more than one job, would the leave be allowed at both jobs. Representative Benefield asked about what "comparable" would be defined as.
Representative A. Kerr reviewed some of the amendments that would be offered with committee members, and how it changes the bill.
The following people testified on the bill:
04:50 PM -- Richard Garcia, representing the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition (CPSC), testified in support of the bill because he stated that in his community in Erie, they experience parental involvement issues.
04:52 PM -- Teresa Garcia, representing herself, testified in support of the bill, as a teacher who sees the difference when parents are involved with their children's education.
04:56 PM -- Christy Herron, representing herself, testified against the bill.
05:00 PM -- Tony Gagliardi, representing the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), testified against the bill because most employers already have leave policies that allow for parental involvement in school. He shared a handout with committee members (Attachment C).
Representative Massey asked Mr. Gagliardi to address how small business employers handle education leave issues now. Mr. Gagliardi explained that a small business is able to handle it better than a larger business because it can work it out on a case by case basis, instead of a one size fits all leave policy. He noted small businesses value the importance of an educated workforce. Representative Massey asked if this could limit an employer's ability to grant time off. Mr. Gagliardi believes the bill works against employees.
Representative Merrifield asked if the amendment discussed passed, would NFIB be able to support the bill. Mr. Gagliardi replied no.
05:10 PM -- Julie Bengtson, representing Sage Hospitality, testified against the bill because of the lost employee productivity. She stated that the bill is a solution in search of a problem.
In response to Ms. Bengtson's remarks, Representative A. Kerr referred to language in the bill that allows employees to take paid leave and make it up at another time.
05:18 PM -- Loren Furman, representing Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI), testified against the bill, and shared a handout of testimonials with the committee (Attachment D).
05:21 PM -- Becky Fuller, representing herself, testified against the bill.
05:26 PM -- Jim Noon, representing himself as a small business owner, testified against the bill.
Representative Merrifield asked Mr. Noon if he is doing this already, then how is the bill an imposition. Mr. Noon stated that he is concerned about possible lawsuits. Representative Solano asked Mr.Noon that if this bill was enacted, would he consider if an employee has children or not. Mr. Noon noted that employers are not allowed to ask such a question.
05:32 PM -- Dan Block, an attorney, presented two areas of concern in the bill: the definition of academic activity, and the matters pertaining to unpaid leave.
In response to Mr. Block's testimony, Representative Kerr explained that an amendment has a tighter definition of academic activity.
05:38 PM -- David Vessey, representing the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, testified against the bill because it would make it more difficult for businesses to conduct business.
05:40 PM -- Lorena Garcia, representing 9 to 5, testified in support of the bill, and shared testimonials from parents who are in support of the bill.
Representative Massey asked Ms. Garcia about parents who do not have the flexibility in taking time off to participate in school, and if they actually asked for time off, and were not granted the leave. Representative Massey asked if the parent could not ask the school to accommodate her schedule to hold the meeting. Representative Merrifield explained that he is familiar with one of the stories and can verify she was denied leave.
Representative A. Kerr shared his experience as a teacher and the difficulty some parents had with getting time off work to attend parent-teacher meetings.
05:54 PM -- Nancy Reichman, representing herself, testified for the bill.
05:59 PM -- Joanna Slanovich, representing American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Colorado, testified in support of the bill.
06:01 PM -- Vicki Newell, representing Colorado Parent Teacher Association (PTA), testified in support of the bill, and rejected the notion that the bill would result in lawsuits.
In response to Ms. Newell's testimony, Representative Summers stated that putting this kind of language in law that it is not possible to say no lawsuits would happen.
06:05 PM -- Maria Sanchez, representing herself, testified in support of the bill.
06:06 PM -- Dan Daly, representing the Colorado Education Association (CEA), testified in support of the bill, and addressed some of the opponent's points against the bill.
06:10 PM -- Ingrid Aleman, representing Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition (CPSC), testified in support of the bill.
06:14 PM -- Frank Queen, representing himself, testified in support of the bill.
06:17 PM -- Frank Waterous, representing the Bell Policy Center, testified in support of the bill, and shared a handout with committee members (Attachment E).
06:21 PM -- Tara Trujillo, representing Colorado Children's Campaign, testified in support of the bill.
06:23 PM -- Treon Goossen, representing Home Educators, testified in support of the bill, with the inclusion of an amendment that addresses home schooled students.
06:24 PM -- Larry Bush, representing himself, testified in support of the bill .
Representative Merrifield explained that the bill would be laid over for action, and the committee adjourned.