Colorado 2016 Legislative Session Update

The Colorado General Assembly is back in session! As of January 13th, legislators from around the state will be meeting at the Capitol to learn about the critical issues facing our state, debate and vote on legislation, and create and balance the Colorado state budget. Clayton Early Learning follows the legislative session closely and advocates for state statutory changes that will improve the early childhood system in our state. Below is the list of legislation Clayton is currently tracking with an explanation of how each bill could potentially impact our young children, their caregivers, and the field of early childhood.

HB16-1002: Employee Leave Attend Child's Academic Activities  (Representative Buckner and Senator Kerr)
This bill would re-enact the repealed K-12 Parental Involvement Act which required employers to provide its employees up to 18 hours per academic year of unpaid leave from work to attend a child’s academic activities. This bill would expand both the types of activities that were permitted for the employee leave, such as parent teacher conferences, as well as expand the law to include parents of preschoolers. Parent engagement is crucial to a child’s success and providing opportunities for parents to play an active role in their child’s educational journey helps to support quality early learning and development.

  • Status:   HB16-1002 made it through the House of Representatives and is waiting to be heard in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee.

HB16-1022: Funding for Full Day Kindergarten (Representative Wilson)
This bill would increase the amount of funding school districts receive to more comprehensively fund full day kindergarten.  According to this bill, if a school district does not currently provide a full-day kindergarten program during the 2016-17 year they must use these new funds to expand its kindergarten facilities. This bill creates a state supported revenue stream for learning in the early years that would lend to a more sustainable early childhood system for Colorado kids.

  • Status: HB16-1022 passed out of the House Education Committee and is waiting to be heard in the House Appropriations Committee.

HB16-1045: Starting the Child Tax Credit  (Representative Singer and Senators Merrifield & Kefalas)
In 2013, the general assembly created a child tax credit but the credit, which is a percentage of the federal child tax credit based on the taxpayer's income, is only allowed after the United States congress enacts a version of the "Marketplace Fairness Act". This bill repeals the contingent start of the tax credit and instead allows the credit to be claimed for any income tax year beginning with the 2016 income tax year, helping support families with young children in our state.

  • Status: HB16-1045 has been assigned to be heard in the House Finance Committee.

HB16-1050: Low-income Parents Education and Child Care (Representative Pettersen and Senator Merrifield)
This bill creates a task force to address the child care needs of low-income parents of young children as the parents seek to advance their education. The task force must identify and reduce, if possible, barriers to obtaining child care from the range of available federal, state, and private child care sources, determine whether the parents' child care needs can be met through existing sources, review and streamline the processes for providing child care for parents while they obtain education or training, communicate the availability of child care from public and private sources to parents who are seeking education or training, and recommend legislative changes.

  • Status: HB16-1050 passed out of the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee and is now waiting to be heard in House Appropriations Committee.

HB16-1183: Aligning Federal Changes To Child Care Assistance Program (Representative Buckner)
The bill aligns state law with changes in federal law related to the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP). The state law would be modified to specify that a child receiving CCCAP supports continues to be eligible for those supports for an entire 12-month period before eligibility is redetermined, as long as the child's family income remains below 85% of the state median income for that family size, as required by federal law. This correction to state law would also support the CCCAP reforms that have been occurring since the passage of HB14-1317 in 2014 that Clayton Early learning has played an active role in implementing. 

  • Status: HB16-1183 passed out of the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee and is now waiting to be heard in the House of Representatives as a whole. 

HB16-1196: Aspire To College Colorado Pilot Program (Representatives Pettersen & Rankin and Senator Johnston)
The bill creates the aspire to college Colorado pilot program in the department of human services to provide college savings accounts to preschool-aged children served in an early childhood program. With existing funding, the state department will make an initial $50 contribution to a college savings account administered by CollegeInvest as part of the college savings program on behalf of an eligible child. The pilot program may serve up to 2,000 eligible children per year for up to 3 years. Through private donations, the pilot program may provide matching dollars for family savings, bonuses to encourage regular savings, family financial education, and an evaluation of the long-term impact of the pilot program.

  • Status: HB16-1196 passed out of the House Education Committee and is waiting to be heard in the House Appropriations Committee.

HB16-1227: Exemptions for Child Support Requirements Child Care Assistance (Representatives Kagan & DelGrosso and Senators Hill & Crowder)
The bill exempts a CCCAP applicant who is a teen parent from the current prerequisite child support cooperation as a condition of receiving child care assistance. The bill also exempts an applicant who is a victim of domestic violence, a sexual offense, harassment, or stalking from child support cooperation requirements or from establishing good cause for not cooperating as a condition of receiving child care assistance. This bill would eliminate one of the key barriers for teen parents and domestic violence survivors seeking to access child care.

  • Status: HB16-1227 has been assigned to be heard in the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee.

HB16-1242: Supplemental Appropriations for the Department Of Human Services (Representative Hamner and Senator Lambert)
This supplemental appropriation bill for the Colorado Department of Human Services includes a reassignment of funding to go to doubling the amount of Early Childhood Mental Health Intervention Specialists employed by the state from 17 to 34. This means more readily available help and resources to organizations like Clayton to support positive mental health of our children, families, and staff.

  • Status: HB16-1242 has passed through both the House of Representatives and the Senate and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

SB16-022: Child Care Assistance Cliff Effect Pilot Program (Senator Martinez Humenick and Representative Pettersen)
This bill would remove the 10-county limit in the “cliff effect” pilot program for CCCAP to allow additional counties to participate in the pilot program. The pilot program addresses the “cliff effect” that occurs when working parents receive a minor increase in their income that makes them ineligible for child care assistance, which is often not enough of an increase to cover child care costs completely. The pilot allows for a more gradual phase out of assistance to help families transition.

  • Status: SB16-022 has passed through both the House of Representatives and the Senate and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

SB16-023: Funding For Full-day Kindergarten (Senator Kerr)
Under current law, students who are enrolled in kindergarten are counted as half-day students for purposes of school finance. Beginning with FY 2016-17, this bill increases that factor and aims to increase funding for full day kindergarten annually. This bill would refer a measure to the state ballot authorizing the state to retain and spend all additional excess revenue over the constitutionally allowed limit. If the voters approve, the General Assembly is required to appropriate the additional revenue first to pay for full day K, and second to fund school districts’ total programs under the School Finance Act. As mentioned with HB16-1022, this bill helps to support more sustainable public funding for quality learning opportunities for our young children.

  • Status: SB16-023 failed to pass out of the Senate Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee and has been postponed indefinitely.

We will highlight updates on these bills and new introductions on our website and through Clayton Early Learning social media accounts. If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Lauren Heintz, Policy Specialist for Clayton Early Learning: lheintz @ claytonearlylearning.org.