April 30, 2017

SB 17-062: Prohibiting Institutions of Higher Education from Limiting Students’ Free Speech

On January 13, 2017, Sen. Tim Neville and Rep. Stephen Humphrey introduced SB 17-062, “Concerning the Right to Free Speech on Campuses of Public Institutions of Higher Education.”

The bill prohibits public institutions of higher education (public institution) from limiting or restricting student expression in a student forum. ‘Expression’ is defined to mean any lawful verbal or written means by which individuals communicate ideas to one another, including all forms of peaceful assembly, protests, speaking verbally, holding signs, circulating petitions, and disstributing written materials. ‘Expression’ also includes voter registration activities but does not include speech that is primarily for a commercial purpose.

A public institution shall not subject a student to disciplinary action as a result of his or her expression. A public institution shall not designate any area on campus as a free speech zone or otherwise create policies that imply that its students’ expressive activities are restricted to a particular area of campus. Additionally, a public institution shall not impose restrictions on the time, place, and manner of student speech unless such restrictions are reasonable, justified without reference to the speech’s content, are narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest, and leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information or message.

The bill states that it does not grant other members of the college or university community the right to disrupt previously scheduled or reserved activities in a portion or section of the student forum at that scheduled time. Additionally, the bill clarifies that it is not to be interpreted as preventing the public institution from prohibiting, limiting, or restricting expression that is not protected under the 1st Amendment.

A student who has been denied access to a student forum for expressive purposes may bring a court action to recover reasonable court costs and attorney fees.

The bill was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Education Committee. It was amended in committee, and was again amended on Second and Third Reading in the Senate. It passed the Senate and was introduced in the House and assigned to the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee.

SB 14-174: Creating the Prosecution Fellowship Program

On March 31, 2014, Sen. Rollie Heath introduced SB 14-174 – Concerning the Creation of the Prosecution Fellowship Program. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill creates the prosecution fellowship program (program) in the department of higher education. The program will provide money to the Colorado district attorneys’ council to fund six fellows at rural district attorneys’ offices in the state. The fellows will receive a five-day training prior to beginning work.

The bill creates the prosecution fellowship committee, which will select the fellowships and district attorneys’ office locations and match the fellows with a district attorney’s office.

The bill is assigned to the Judiciary Committee.

SB 14-001: Limiting Tuition Increases at State Institutions of Higher Education

On Wednesday, January 8, 2014, Sen. Cheri Jahn and Rep. Leroy Garcia introduced SB 14-001 – Concerning Making College Education More Affordable by Imposing Further Restrictions on Tuition Increases, Increasing Financial Aid, and Increasing Operating Support for Each Governing Board of a State-Supported Institution of Higher Education by Eleven Percent, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

For fiscal years 2014–15 through 2015–16, the bill reduces from 9 to 6 percent the amount by which a governing board of a state institution of higher education may increase undergraduate, resident tuition; except that the Colorado school of mines may increase its tuition by the greater of 6 percent or twice the inflation rate. If a governing board wants to increase tuition by more than 6 percent, it must first receive authorization from the Colorado commission on higher education by submitting a financial and accountability plan.

The bill appropriates additional moneys to the department of higher education for financial aid, the college opportunity fund program, and the state institutions of higher education. The bill is assigned to the Education Committee.