By Cliff Foster
Metro State’s legislative team actively tracked 57 bills during the 120-day session of the General Assembly that ended last Wednesday, May 9. The marquee measure was SB 12-148, which authorizes Metro State to change its name to Metropolitan State University of Denver. It was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper April 18.
Besides the name change, several other key bills emerged during the session, said Christine Staberg, Metro State’s lead lobbyist from The Capstone Group, a public affairs and government relations firm.
"The 2012 legislative session was a big success for Metro State," she says. "We saw significant progress on policy issues, eked out a small increase in funding despite early indications of significant cuts, and achieved unexpected gains on the controlled maintenance front. Our faculty and staff were frequently called in for expert advice and helped ensure that Metro State's interests were addressed."
Following are among the bills of interest to Metro State:
State budget (House Bill 12-1335): Last fall, the Hickenlooper administration initially proposed significant cuts to colleges and universities and student financial aid to help close a $500 million gap in the 2012-13 budget. But improved revenue forecasts resulted in the restoration of 80 percent of the support for institutions and allowed student aid money to stay level with last year. The restoration included a factor for enrollment, which led to a small increase over last year’s funding for Metro State. Signed into law
Skills for Jobs Act (HB 12-1061): The state departments of labor, higher education and regulatory agencies will produce an annual report projecting the number of degrees, certificates, etc. colleges and vocational schools expect to issue. The report also will identify any workforce needs that may not be met by existing education and training programs, and the institutions that may meet these needs by expanding programs or developing new ones. "It could…give people who already have degrees a better idea of the additional certificates or training they need to jump into emerging markets,” President Stephen Jordan said. Signed into law
Non-tenured faculty (HB 12-1144): Allows higher education institutions to offer renewable three-year employment contracts to an unlimited number of non-tenure line faculty, whose contracts are half-time or greater. Signed into law. Vicki Golich, provost and vice president of academic and student affairs, says the next step for Metro State will be to develop a process and assessment tool to evaluate the Category II faculty members affected by the law.
Reverse transfer: (SB 12-45): Allows students enrolled in a four-year institution to transfer credits back to a community college they attended to complete their associate's degree. This gives those students a chance to earn two degrees, increasing their employment prospects. Signed into law.
Improvement in college completion (HB12-1155): For Metro State, this bill includes important provisions for the First Year Success program. Currently a student needing improvement in basic skills has to take remedial classes at a community college. This measure would allow other institutions, including Metro State, to offer additional support to students who are admitted but need extra help. Awaiting action by the governor.
Auraria operations (HB12-1081): Gives the Auraria Higher Education Center the same flexibilities over purchasing, risk management, lease-purchase agreements, etc. that other higher education institutions have received through legislation passed over the last several years. Staberg said this legislation is expected to save time and money for AHEC and its institutions. Awaiting action by the governor.
Unspent money on construction projects (HB 12-1357): This bill would refund to AHEC and its institutions up to $1 million in unspent money on the Science Building project to be used to pay down debt on capital projects and/or controlled maintenance on the Auraria Campus. Awaiting action by the governor.
Field work for teacher candidates (HB 12-1135): Would have provided incentives and training for the best teachers to oversee student-teachers in the classroom. Pulled by sponsor for more research with stakeholders.
Undocumented students (Senate Bill 12-15): The ASSET bill would have granted undocumented high school graduates in-state tuition but without the state-funded College Opportunity Fund subsidy. These students would have to certify they are already seeking or would be seeking legal status. Metro State supported the bill and backed similar measures introduced in 2003, 2009, and 2011. Killed in House Finance Committee
Five of Metro State’s Board of Trustee members stood for confirmation during the 2012 session Newly appointed trustees Walter Isenberg and Jack Pogge and returning trustees Rob Cohen, Dawn Bookhardt and Melody Harris were all confirmed unanimously by the full Senate.
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