The JLD Public Policy Council is the liaison to our membership, the community, and elected officials. The group researches issues affecting the JLD, keeps the League informed on areas of interest, and advises when action is appropriate.
The JLD has a proud history of public policy and advocacy. In 1987, it was the first League in the United States to hire a government affairs specialist Since then the Public Policy Council has worked closely with its government affairs specialist, Aponte & Busam, to monitor, advocate, and support various important pieces of legislation at the State Capitol.
The council focuses efforts on Early Childhood Education issues to support the League-wide focus on literacy, and in recent years supported a variety of legislation addressing: literacy/childhood education, children and women’s health, women’s self-sufficiency and affordable childcare.
The League historically focused on supporting issues affecting women and children at the State Capitol. Such issues include access to education and healthcare, as well as workforce development and strategies to move towards self-sufficiency. In 2017, the Public Policy Council added affordable childcare to its wheelhouse. As a result, the council has made bold steps to engage community partners to learn more about the issues surrounding affordable childcare and has joined forces with like-minded organizations to promote policies that aim to tackle the problem.
2020 Legislative Agenda
As such, the JLD Public Policy Council will focus efforts for the 2020 Legislative Session on emerging issues in this space, while allowing for flexibility to determine other priorities related to the focus of advancing literacy and early childhood education. In the past, JLD has also supported broader efforts to advance the health and wellness of Colorado’s children and families, including human trafficking reform, and family and medical leave issues, among others.
This session the JLD Public Policy Council is supporting:
House Bill 1007: Diverse Kindergarten Through 12th Grade Educator Workforce Report
This bill directs the department of higher education and the department of education to convene a work group on diversity in the educator workforce. This work group will investigate barriers to the preparation, retention and recruitment of a diverse educator workforce and shall consider strategies to increase diversity in the educator workforce. Currently, the bill is awaiting consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1011: Helping Others Manage Early Childhood (HOME) Act
This bill creates a public awareness campaign that will target persons connected with early childhood in some fashion and develops a series of workshops for current and interested early childhood providers to provide information and resources. Currently, this bill is awaiting consideration by the House Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1131: Menstrual Hygiene Products in Schools Program
This bill creates a grant program to provide awards to public schools or school districts in order to provide menstrual hygiene products at no expense to students. Currently, this bill is awaiting consideration by the House Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1324: Increased Support for Domestic Abuse Programs
This bill extends indefinitely the voluntary income tax return check-off for contributions to the Colorado domestic abuse program fund and authorizes the department of human services to seek gifts, grants and donations for the fund and to expend such money for domestic abuse programs. Currently, this bill is awaiting consideration by the House Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1347: Licensure Exemption For Family Child Care Homes
This bill clarifies language and requirements related to the child care license exemption for family child care homes and extends the licensure exemption from September 1, 2020, to September 1, 2026. Currently, this bill is awaiting consideration by the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee.
Senate Bill 009: Expand Adult Education Grant Program
The bill expands an existing grant program to provide grants to adult education providers that enter into an education attainment partnership with elementary and secondary education providers or higher education provider. The training is aimed to assist adults in attaining basic literacy and numeracy skills that lead to additional skill acquisition, which may lead to post-secondary credentials and employment, and that assist adults in providing academic support to their own children or to children for whom they provide care. Currently, the bill is awaiting consideration by the Senate Committee of the Whole.
Senate Bill 163: School Entry Immunization
This bill updates a definition of “non-medical exemption” to mean an immunization exemption based upon a religious belief whose teachings are opposed to immunizations or a personal belief that is opposed to immunizations. The bill requires the department of public health and environment to develop standardized forms and a process for persons who want to claim a non-medical exemption for immunization. Currently, this bill is awaiting consideration by the House Health & Insurance Committee.
Senate Bill 185: The Colorado Imagination Library Program
This bill requires the state librarian in the department of education to contract with a Colorado nonprofit organization for the creation and operation of the Colorado Imagination Library program. Currently, this bill is awaiting consideration by the Senate Committee of the Whole.
Full-Day Kindergarten Update
According to the Colorado Department of Education, a total of 61,989 kindergartners enrolled in full-day classes in Colorado’s public schools this fall. It amounts to 11,913 more than the previous year, an increase that can be attributed to legislation that went into effect for the 2019-2020 school year.
House Bill 19-1262 passed last year, providing 100% funding for full-day kindergarten. In previous years, the state only paid 58% funding for full-day kindergarten.
Overall, the total increase in preschool through 12th-grade enrollment for Colorado’s public schools grew by only 0.2% from the previous year with 913,223 students being counted this fall, 1,687 more than in 2018-2019. Colorado’s student population has continued to grow over the past 30 years. The last time the state saw a decrease in pupil enrollment was the fall of 1988.
We will continue to keep you up-to-date on full-day kindergarten implementation in Colorado.
We welcome input from the community and all League members. Together we can make an impact on important legislative issues that help improve our Denver metro community.
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