Padres & Jóvenes Unidos Wraps Up 2017
at the State Capitol
The 71st Colorado General Assembly is now closed. As we celebrate the signing of House Bill 1211, we are also reflecting on the 2017 legislative session in Colorado. We worked together to fiercely defend and advance our rights at the Capitol. When individuals attempt to write hatred and discrimination into law, it is our duty to fight back and stand up for what is right. The following bills were a priority for our work in the community this year:
Education and School Discipline
HB 1211: We must change the way discipline is approached in schools. HB 1211 promotes evidence-based discipline strategies and school environments that reflect the culture and background of the children they serve. This bill is intended to help reduce the rate of expulsion and suspension for children under age 8 by working to eliminate racial bias in our discipline policies. HB 1211 has been signed into law!
HB 1210: Our struggle to end harsh discipline for our littlest learners continues! We engaged hundreds of parents, built a diverse coalition, and leveraged bi-partisan support. In March, the bill was killed by the Senate Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs. We are incredibly disappointed that some legislators do not see the significant harm and disproportionate impact with regards to race that comes with suspending and expelling babies, but we will return next year.
HB 1276: This bill bans face-down restraints of children in schools, and passed both chambers! While it may be shocking that this practice was even legal in Colorado, our legislators agreed that our school districts should be aligned with Colorado Department of Human Services and the U.S. Dept. of Education by restricting face-down restraints.
HB 1038: Our battle to end corporal punishment in Colorado schools was hard fought, however, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted NO. They did not agree that any person entrusted with the care of our children should be prohibited from using corporal punishment as a form of discipline. The failure of this bill shows us that we must continue to shift the priority in the classroom from adults to students.
SB 61: We worked very hard to protect equity in school funding by blocking the passage of SB 61. This bill would have given additional tax dollars to Charter schools without any increase in accountability. We believe that Charter schools should play by the same rules as traditional public schools if they receive the same amount of public funds. In the end, a compromise bill did pass.
HB 1375: This bill will allow Charters to take in up to 95% of the local per pupil share of funding. By working with other education advocates we were able to build some accountability into the bill: Charter schools will be required to post financial reports and additional tax documents online. They will have to post the waivers they receive from the state department of education as well as their replacement plans. Charters will also lose two automatic waivers including one that allows them to forgo competitive bidding for services. This bill opened up a conversation about school funding that is far from over. Padres & Jóvenes Unidos will continue to work with parents, teachers, and legislators to ensure that every student in Colorado is prepared for college!
HB 1306: This bill created a grant program that will help schools test for lead in their water. Since it is older schools that may still have lead service lines, pipes, and fittings, this bill will have the most impact on rural students and urban students of color. Students of color are disproportionately burdened by exposure to harmful environmental toxins. This bill did pass. We are glad to see our leaders take a step toward ensuring safe drinking water for all children.
SB 281 & HB 1134 - In an effort to push anti-immigrant policy and hate these bills would have would have allowed crime victims to sue local government if they were deemed to be a sanctuary city and allowed police chiefs, sheriffs, and other public officials to be arrested if they were deemed to be a sanctuary city, respectively. We have to take a closer look at the elected officials who prioritized these types of policies. The immigrant community came together to resist and both were defeated in the House Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs.
HB 1206 - This bill would have expanded the driver’s license program by accepting a valid social security number and improving the renewal process. It did not pass the Senate Transportation Committee. Despite continuous lobbying by the community, the driver’s license program will continue as is. This bill did not pass.
A Better Colorado
HB 1326: The Justice Reinvestment Act - will ensure that more money is spent on economic development in communities rather than spending it keeping our communities behind bars! Last fall, Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, along with allies from across the nation, released The $3.4 Trillion Mistake: The Cost of Mass Incarceration and Criminalization, and How Justice Reinvestment Can Build a Better Future for All. We are excited to have helped pass HB 1326. It will create $6 million in savings through parole reform which can be used to build stronger communities.
HB 1230 - Protect Colorado Residents from Federal Government Overreach Act - This bill would have prohibited state and municipal governments from creating registries based on race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation, and would have prevented the state from assisting the federal government in the creation of internment camps. We appreciate the work of good legislators working to expand and protect the rights of our communities during these trying times. We will be standing with them again next year to keep pushing back!
We went through many highs and lows during the 2017 Colorado legislative session. While we moved forward in some ways, it has become extremely clear that we will have to continue challenge institutional racism and hateful worldviews. We will keep resisting and refuse to accept the status quo. Thank you for standing up for the Colorado we all deserve.