Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 10, 20172min408

A bipartisan effort to give Colorado’s vocational/technical school students greater access to state tuition assistance breezed through a Senate committee at the Capitol Thursday with unanimous support.

As noted on the state’s legislative website, the Department of Higher Education runs a tuition-assistance program for students enrolled in career and technical education certificate programs at trade schools and other institutions. That state program provides tuition assistance for students who meet income-eligibility requirements but do not qualify for a federal Pell grant because their certificate program does not happen to meet the Pell grant’s minimum credit-hour requirements.

House Bill 1180 fixes that, expanding eligibility for the tuition assistance program by including students who meet a state income eligibility standard — separate from the federal Pell standard — that is established by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

The bill’s sponsors in the upper chamber are Sens. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, and Tim Neville, R-Littleton. In a press statement issued by the Senate GOP, Neville says:

“Our current system is punishing our young people who dare to think outside the box…College is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that those folks shouldn’t receive the same assistance in pursuing the dream of a better future through opportunity. As long as this program exists, it should be available to all our students, not just those who fit the mold of ‘traditional education.'”

As noted in a press statement from the Senate Democrats:

House Bill 1180 would ensure that tuition assistance funds go to students who desperately need aid, and quickly, relieving some burden for paying tuition, course materials, and fees. For those interested in learning a trade, this move provides much-needed support in their future careers.

The bill previously passed the House with near-unanimous, bipartisan support.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 24, 20172min260

Going green can be pricey when installing solar panels on a home or business. And even though big-box, all-inclusive solar-system providers like SolarCity have developed innovative leasing options to incentivize customers, a host of local- and state-government fees on the installations don’t help matters. There are state, county and municipal fees for building permits, application reviews and plan reviews for solar systems.

Current law limits those fees, but the limits are set to expire next year. State Sen. Bob Gardner of Colorado Springs and Andy Kerr of Lakewood — who as members of the lower chamber in 2011 helped pass some of the original limits — now propose to extend them. Their Senate Bill 179, approved Thursday by the Senate Finance Committee, would extend to 2025 all existing laws that limit the amount of permit, plan review, or other fees that counties, municipalities, or the state may charge for installing solar energy devices or systems.

Said the Republican Gardner in a press statement released by the Senate GOP:

“I am always cautious about government subsidizing programs or technologies, however, in this instance, government is penalizing Coloradans and small businesses,” said Gardner. “That cannot continue. Removing fees and penalties for consumers, allowing the free market to flourish, and encouraging a truly all-of-the-above energy policy, is an example of the good economic stewardship with which the taxpayers have charged us as elected officials.”

SB 179 now moves to the Appropriations Committee.


Kara MasonKara MasonFebruary 23, 20166min441

Monday was another gun-policy day at the Colorado Capitol. At the center of a second-reading back-and-forth in the state Senate, U.S. Senate candidate Tim Neville, R-Littleton, defended his proposal to lift the requirement that Coloradans who wish to carry concealed firearms apply for a permit and take training classes. “Coloradans shouldn’t have to go begging to the government to exercise their God-given unalienable Second Amendment right,” Neville argued. His bill passed the Senate Tuesday morning on a party-line 17-18 vote and now heads to the House where Democrats are sure to defeat it.