This Week in Policy

Education Bills: Getting Students through School with Credits and Real-World Work Experience

This week the Chamber supported three education bills that will provide additional opportunities for educational attainment for our students. Education is among our pillars to build a strong economy – talent is the most valuable asset for employers and is what attracts great employers to our region.

Senate Bill 216 is a pilot program that will allow participating schools to create innovative learning plans for their students. These plans could include opportunities to participate in apprenticeships with local businesses, competency-based learning projects and capstone projects, among others. The “seat-time” requirement in today’s school funding laws is frequently cited as a barrier for some schools to participate in such programs, and this bill hopes to address that and, subsequently, increase participation.

Senate Bill 176 modernizes current concurrent enrollment opportunities and requires that they lead to guaranteed transferable credit across all Colorado institutions. Students need to know that the concurrent courses they take in high school will be accepted for credit when they move on to college. By 2020, 74 percent of jobs will require some type of education beyond high school. Colorado’s existing labor force has a credential attainment rate of only 57 percent beyond high school, and only 43 percent of Colorado’s ninth graders are attempting to obtain a college degree. We must get every child to and through some level of post-secondary education to maintain Colorado’s competitive advantage.

The Chamber also supported House Bill 1252, which allows students and members of the current workforce to receive postsecondary credit for demonstrating competencies gained through work-related experience, work-based learning and apprenticeships. A statewide plan will be implemented to accomplish this to ensure that these opportunities are captured across Colorado. This legislation is modeled after a 2017 college credit program for members of the military, which passed unanimously and established a framework for prior learning while in service to count for postsecondary credit.

Oil and Gas Bill Heads to the Governor’s Office for Signature

Senate Bill 181, the comprehensive oil and natural gas legislation that has flown through the legislature, now heads to the governor’s office for signature after the Senate accepted the amendments added in the House. While the Chamber and the industry are still in opposition to the bill, credit should be given to legislative leaders who opened up to conversations with industry experts and accepted a few critical amendments that provide a level of certainty to oil and gas developers. Amendments include ensuring that fines, fees, setback distances and other regulations are reasonable, a request our president and CEO, Kelly Brough, included in her testimony last week. Amendments also removed the authority of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s (COGCC) director to refuse issuing a permit and to make the COGCC a professional commission rather than the volunteer commission it is now. State officials have also committed to working with the industry during the regulatory rulemaking that will follow the bill.

Follow the Session

As always, Chamber staff will continue working on your behalf, analyzing and weighing in on legislation that can impact your business. We list all our bill positions online. Stay in touch with us by checking our website and sharing with us your concerns as the session progresses.