These are all of the Higher Education bills proposed in the 2019 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about the bill.  If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

House

Click on the House bill title to jump to its section:

MAJOR

MEDIUM

MINOR

HB19-1016: Basic Skills Placement Tests for High School

HB19-1016 Basic Skills Placement Tests for High School [Geitner]

Short Description:

Prohibits an institution of higher learning from using basic skills placement or assessment tests in English and math to incoming students that are not available for use by school districts and high schools (including early colleges).

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

These are about the tests higher education institutions must use for incoming students (think SAT or ACT). Obviously we need to make sure that any test a higher education institution is using is available for our high school and early college students.

Arguments Against:

Higher education institutions are already required to use tests approved by a state commission, it isn't necessary to tell the commission what to do.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1016

SB19-002 Regulate Student Education Loan Servicers (Winter, Fenberg)

Short Description:

Requires any entity that services student education loans to be licensed by the administrator of the state’s uniform consumer credit code under a new license created for the category. Annual fees of $1,000 and an investigation fee to be determined by the administrator. Also creates an ombudsman to help student loan borrowers.

Long Description:

Requires any entity that services student education loans to be licensed by the administrator of the state’s uniform consumer credit code under a new license created for the category. The license requires a certified financial statement and criminal history of applicant, as well as all partners and board members and officers (if applicable). Annual fees of $1,000 and an investigation fee to be determined by the administrator. Also creates an ombudsman to help student loan borrowers. The ombudsman is tasked with receiving and reviewing complaints from borrowers, compiling and analyzing data, providing assistance and information to borrowers, analyzing all federal and state laws, educating potential borrowers, and reviewing student education loan history for any borrower who requests it.

Arguments For:

53% of Colorado’s students graduate with student debt, which averages $26,250. There are approximately 761,000 student loan borrowers in the state. And there are no federal standards for student loan servicing. Borrowers can encounter servicers that discourage borrower-friendly alternative payment plans, fail to respond to questions and payment processing errors, and fail to provide sufficient information to borrowers regarding payments, benefits, interest rates, and other charges. A report in March of 2017 found 124 complaints to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in just those few weeks of 2017. Student loans are frequently sold to other companies, so it’s not like this is an area where the free market and consumer choice can make a big difference. It is a posterchild for an industry that needs licensure. Letting this industry run unlicensed is not working and this bill resets the balance in favor of the borrowers, who make up a significant chunk of the state’s population. Similar bills have already become law in other states.

Arguments Against:

This is an unreasonably intrusive move to insert government into an industry that does not need it. The fact that many state residents have student debt does not automatically mean that we need to greatly increase the burden of operating a student loan servicing company in Colorado and hundreds of complaints is a small number of the total number of borrowers. It may have unknown consequences, as this is a recent trend and we do not yet know what the impacts have been in states that have passed similar laws.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-002

SB19-007 Prevent Sexual Misconduct at Higher Ed Campuses (Pettersen, Winter) [McLachlan, Buckner]

Short Description:

Requires each institute of higher education to adopt, periodically review, and update a policy on sexual misconduct with minimum reporting, investigating, adjudication, and protection requirements. Training must be provided on awareness and prevention of sexual misconduct and the institution’s policies. The department will also host biannual summits on sexual misconduct and report findings to the legislature.

Long Description:

Requires each institute of higher education to adopt, periodically review, and update a policy on sexual misconduct. The policy must include, at a minimum, definitions of actions consistent with federal law, confidential and non-confidential reporting options, an explanation of the role of the institution in response to a report and a violation, procedures for investigating claims that meet set criteria, prohibitions on retaliation or consideration of prior, irrelevant sexual conduct, protection from disciplinary action against a complainant or witness for policy violations that must be revealed to make the complaint, an appeal process for both the complainant and the accused. The evidence standard to be used is the preponderance of evidence. Training must be provided on awareness and prevention of sexual misconduct and the institution’s policies. All policies and trainings must be reported to the state’s department of higher education and will be posted on its website. The department will also host biannual summits on sexual misconduct and report findings to the legislature.

Arguments For:

Sexual misconduct is of course a problem throughout our society, but it is a particularly large problem on college campuses. There is no mandated standard right now in the state, institutions are free to create their own, and we cannot leave a problem like this up to every single institution to decide for itself. The bill provides protections for the accused and witnesses to encourage more reporting, as far too many cases are not reported at all. It also requires training and awareness, so that everyone on campus knows what is and is not acceptable and how to make a report if something happens. It is also clear that this is not a criminal case, which is a matter for the police to decide. Many of the standards required in criminal cases are high barriers in sexual misconduct cases and led to the massive underreporting problem we have now. This is about institutional standards and penalties. Many of the things that apply in a criminal case, including the evidence standards, should not apply here because no one is being charged with a crime.

Arguments Against:

The bill not only applies a one-size fits all approach to every institution in the state, whether public or private, but it also stacks the deck against the defendant, which runs contrary to our established legal principles of innocent before proven guilty. Preponderance of evidence is the standard, rather than reasonable doubt. Complainants can remain confidential, denying the victim the right to confront their accuser. There is no requirement for a neutral third party arbiter (neutral to both the institution, which has an incentive to look tough on the issue, and both parties).

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-007

SB19-057 Employee Information Student Loan Repayment Programs (Story, Fenberg) [McCluskie]

Short Description:

Requires the department of personnel to annually distribute information materials on federal student loan forgiveness programs to state employees, the department of education (for distribution to schools), the department of higher education (for distribution to higher ed employees), the secretary of state (for distribution to nonprofit public service organizations), and the division of local government (for distribution to local governments).

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Many Coloradans have federal student loan debt but may qualify for loan repayment programs and/or loan forgiveness programs for working in the public sector, as a teacher, or for a nonprofit public service organization. The state can help make sure these individuals know about all of their options, which is what this bill does. Will help lower debt which will help our citizens obtain more stable economic situations.

Arguments Against:

It is not the state’s job to do the work for its citizens. The state should not have to expend resources or the time of its employees. These are public programs, there is no mystery or person you have to know. People just need to be willing to put in a little bit of work to do the research.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-057