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Final days of session have arrived

Police oversight, school accountability and standardized testing on docket

DENVER – Colorado lawmakers face a chaotic three-day stretch of work before adjourning for the year Wednesday with substantial legislation still pending, including more oversight on law enforcement, allowing school-violence victims to sue and reducing statewide standardized testing for kids.

The hectic final days are a contrast to what was a slow beginning to the session in January as both parties struggled to pass anything major. With little time left, the fate of many remaining bills remains uncertain, and lawmakers may have to broker last-minute deals for proposals to survive the Legislature’s split-party rule.

Democrats control the House and Republicans the Senate.

One dominant topic of the session has been increasing oversight on law enforcement in the aftermath of allegations of police misconduct around the nation. Some of the bills have already failed, including a measure to encourage the use of officer-worn body cameras. A bill aimed at preventing police interference in residents’ recordings of law-enforcement activity is still alive, as well as a measure to collect demographic information on officer-involved shootings.

Another bill still making its way through the process would allow lawsuits against schools in some cases of when there’s violence that results in death or serious injury. The bill is named for Claire Davis, who was killed at Arapahoe High School in 2013. She was shot by a fellow student who then turned the gun on himself.

Lawmakers must also resolve disagreements on how to reduce the number of standardized tests used in public schools. The House and Senate have approved rival versions, with major differences including whether to require tests in 9th grade even though the federal government doesn’t require them.

State finances are another major sticking point. A major bill introduced Wednesday could prevent surplus budget refunds to taxpayers in three years, so the state could keep the money for schools, transportation and other services.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Scheffel said pending legislation would get proper consideration, even if few days remain.

“There’s gonna be a lot of late nights. There’s a lot of bills still coming over from the House. We’re going to do our dead-level best to make sure everything get a fair hearing and fair consideration,” he said.

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