Highlights of the Week
This week proved to be a slow start to the legislative session with many lawmakers, legislative staff, and lobbyists home with COVID. Several days in the House saw 25%+ of legislators participating remotely. As a result, bills haven’t been scheduled in committee until the first week of February. Representative Mandy Lindsay was officially sworn into office on Tuesday, after a COVID related delay. This week’s schedule included 2021-22 supplemental decisions by the Joint Budget Committee and a full slate of SMART Act hearings.
On Tuesday following Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Democrats in the House introduced a resolution and Democrats in the Senate introduced a memorial to reassert the validity of the 2020 election and urge the United States Senate to pass comprehensive voting rights legislation. Partisan divides led to a contentious floor debate, with the resolutions being adopted on a party line vote. Republicans in the House proposed numerous amendments showing the divisions within their own caucus.
Lots of bills were introduced this week, and a total of 222 bills are now pending. Of note, three bills related to teacher evaluations were introduced. Since the passage of SB-191 in 2010, teacher evaluations have been a continued point of discussion under the dome. SB22-044, Use of Student Growth In Educator Evaluations, sponsored by Sen. Story (D) and Reps. Froelich (D) and Kipp (D) would remove the currently required percentage (50%) of student academic growth scores to be included in teacher evaluations and allows student academic growth scores to be included through a collective measure by grade level or by school. SB22-069 Learning Disruption Effect on Teacher Evaluation, sponsored by Sen. Story (D) and Reps. Froelich (D) and McLachlan (D) prohibits a school district from considering student growth measures or other student performance measures in teacher evaluations for two consecutive school years following a disaster emergency disrupting student instruction. Lastly, SB22-070, Kindergarten Through Twelfth Grade Licensed Personnel Performance Evaluations, sponsored by Sen. Bridges, requires the Department of Education to create a modified teacher evaluation rubric for personnel consistently rated highly effective, specialized rubrics for specific teachers and principals, and provide free training to school districts on best practices. The bill would reduce the percentage of student academic growth scores from 50% to 30% allowing up to 10% be based on collective measures by grade or school for inclusion in a teacher or principal’s evaluation. First year teachers would not be able to include collective measures. SB22-044 and SB22-070 both direct action through the State Board of Education rule making process to go into effect for the 2023-24 school year, therefore both pieces of legislation couldn’t become law as they conflict.
Similarly, three bills originating from the Sales and Use Simplification Task Force have been introduced with bi-partisan sponsorship – Reps. Kipp (D) and Van Winkle (R) and Sens. Bridges (D) and Woodward (R) – and are not expected to be controversial. HB22-1027, Sales Tax Destination Sourcing Rules Exception, would extend the current sales tax exception from February 1, 2022 to October 1, 2022 for small retailers under $100,000 to source their sales to the business’s location rather than the buyer’s location. Due to the upcoming expiration, this is the first bill moving through the process, having passed its first committee hearing and second reading in the House. SB22-032, Simplify Local Sales and Use Tax Administration, after July 1, 2022 would prohibit local jurisdictions from charging a fee for a local general business license to a retailer that has a state standard retail license and by 2023 wouldn’t require additional applications to local jurisdictions in an effort to streamline local sales and use tax administration. HB22-1039, Sales and Use Tax Exemption Form Simplification, requires the department of revenue to simplify the forms related to state sales and use tax exemptions.
This week, over 75 business owners, trade associations, and other entities across Colorado signed onto a letter urging lawmakers to putting at least $600 million toward a trust fund benefiting unemployed workers. Governor Polis included a request for $600 million for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in his budget request released Nov. 1st and Colorado businesses are strongly advocating for the request to be realized.
We anticipate next week to continue to focus on SMART Act hearings including the Department of Insurance, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, and Joint Budget Committee work to finalize the supplemental package. The Joint Budget Committee released their figure setting schedule, aiming to finalize the long bill on March 18th, immediately following the March 17th Quarterly Forecast.