‘Challenging session’ at Capitol brings good outcomes for CU

Funding for operations, capital construction among many positives
By Staff

Last week brought the end of the 2014 state legislative session, a stretch that produced a long-awaited boost in state funding for CU and other higher education institutions, as well as a slate of CU-initiated bills that await the governor’s signature.

Tanya Kelly-Bowry, vice president of government relations, and the state relations team of Kirsten Schuchman, Vice President for Budget and Finance and CFO Todd Saliman, Jerry Johnson, Heather Fields and Connie Johnson worked on many bills, relating to capital construction, facilities, tuition rates, marijuana and four-year degree programs at community colleges. The team tracked more than 100 bills, actively working on those and others of interest to CU stakeholders, including health care bills of interest to the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and University of Colorado Hospital.

“It was another challenging session,” Kelly-Bowry said. “It was a steep agenda for CU and we’re pleased with the results.”

For details on key legislation Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1319, click here.

Details on other key legislation from the session, provided by Government Relations:

CU-Initiated Legislation:

SB 14-099 Provisional Physical Therapy License (May/Hodge)

  • Allows the physical therapy board to issue a provisional license to student applicants who have successfully completed a physical therapy program and met the educational requirements. It will allow our physical therapy students to practice under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist during the time period between graduation and taking the exam.

SB 14-211 Alzheimer’s Disease Center (Hullinghorst & Waller/Balmer & Johnston)

  • In June, the CU Alzheimer's Disease Research and Clinical Center will submit an application seeking funding and designation as a national Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC.)  The bill will dedicate $250,000 to the Center to demonstrate a state commitment to helping achieve the federal designation.

HB 14-1256 Higher Ed Employment Contracts for Librarians (Fischer/Kerr)

  • Under current law, each system of higher education and each of its’ campuses may enter into an unlimited number of term employment contracts of up to 3 years for certain adjunct faculty. The bill allows an institution to also enter into these types of employment contracts with librarians.

HB 14-1391 Authority of Public Treasurer to Pay by Check (Becker & Priola/ Kerr & Hill)

  • This bill is a housekeeping measure to align statuary warrant language with modern banking practices.  It will help ensure that the State and University have access to the highest levels of security. The State Treasury and University Treasury are soon entering into 5-year contract negotiation with the banks, and this language would align the language in the contracts with statute.

SJM 14-006 Congress Authorize Medical Marijuana Clinic Trials (Lambert/Joshi)

  • Along with CU University Counsel, we worked with Senator Lambert to draft this memorial to urge Congress to provide statutory relief to grant Colorado research institutions the authority to conduct controlled clinical and objective medical research trials regarding marijuana’s medical efficacy. This authority would allow CU researchers to access tax revenues to conduct research without violating federal laws.

Major Legislation:

SB 14-011 Colorado Energy Research Authority (Heath/Hullinghorst)

  • The bill changes the name of the Colorado Renewable Research Authority to the Colorado Energy Research Authority (CERA). It also creates a new cash fund to support CERA, the continuously appropriated Energy Research Cash Fund and appropriates $1M per year for two years to the fund. The Governor is planning a bill signing at the CU-Boulder campus.

HB 14-1319 Outcomes-based Funding For Higher Education (Ferrandino/Lambert)

  • This bill creates a new mechanism for allocating state funds to institutions of higher education.  Based on initial figures, some colleges and universities would benefit from such changes; others, including CU, would stand to lose funding. CU lobbied for several important changes to the bill and were mostly successful. Fortunately, the amendments we were able to secure ensure that some of our programs will be protected and put us in a better position to fairly negotiate over the summer.

Budget and Capital:

SB 14-001 College Affordability Act (Jahn/Garcia)

  • The bill appropriates $100 million General Fund to the Department of Higher Education. Of this amount, about $40M is for various financial aid programs and the remaining $60M is appropriated to institutions of higher education via the College Opportunity Fund and fee-for-service contracts with the schools.

HB 14-1336 Long Appropriations Bill (Duran/Steadman)

  • This bill sets the FY2014-15 General Fund Budget.

HB 14-1342 Transfers Of Money Related To Capital Construction (Duran/Steadman)

  • The bill makes three FY 2014-15 transfers to the Capital Construction Fund (CCF) from several sources. Most importantly for CU, we were able to amend it to make additional transfers to the CCF in the event that there is a FY 2013-14 General Fund surplus and that this surplus is sufficient to first pay certain other statutory transfers. If revenues prove sufficient in September, this additional transfer will fund the capital construction projects that were removed from the original CDC list including an additional $5M for the Auraria Library and the CU-Boulder Ketchum project.

HB 14-1387 Revision Of All Capital Related Statutes (Szabo/Schwartz)

  • This is the Capital Development Committee statute clean-up bill. We were able to get issues important to CU included in the bill. This includes modifying the existing thresholds governing notice and bonding requirements and the procurement of various services associated with construction projects and codifies existing practices with our plumbing and electric inspections on the CU-Boulder campus.

For more on all bills that CU tracked and worked on this year, go here:

Kelly-Bowry thanked CU President Bruce Benson and campus leadership for working closely with government relations and the budget office to successfully work CU’s side of the legislation, and thanked lawmakers and the governor’s office – as well as CU Advocates – for their work on behalf of the university.

As for next year, Kelly-Bowry said she expects marijuana tax revenue to prompt much discussion over how to divide up the money. After this fall’s elections, a new slate of lawmakers will be in place for the next session, too. The Government Relations team plans outreach to current and potential future elected officials this summer.