DENVER, CO — The House today took overwhelmingly bipartisan votes to pass two bills sponsored by Representative Bri Buentello that would give educators the tools they need to serve special education students and allow disabled veterans to more easily access State Parks free of charge. 

“Passing these bills today represents one of my proudest accomplishments in the state legislature so far,” said Rep. Bri Buentello, D-Pueblo. “These simple proposals will make an important and lasting impact on veterans, servicemembers, and their families — not to mention special ed students and Colorado’s educators. Teachers, police officers, veterans, and military families are communities that are near and dear to my heart, and I’m glad we were able to deliver big wins for them today.”

HB20-1128, which is sponsored by Representatives Buentello and James Wilson, R- Salida, would require that educators (teachers, principals, administrators, etc.) complete ten hours of special education related professional developments before renewing their licenses.  The bill would also require educator preparation programs to include coursework on inclusive teaching practices relating to the education of students with disabilities, individualised education programs, behavioral concerns, and effective special education classroom practices. It was passed by a vote of 51-8.

Currently, Colorado veterans who display a disabled license plate receive free access to Colorado’s state parks or recreation areas. Veterans who cannot, or do not, drive are unable to take advantage of free state park access. Under SB20-069, disabled veterans will be able to enjoy free access to Colorado’s state parks without having to first acquire a license plate. It was passed unanimously on third reading by a vote of 60-0. 

The House also gave preliminary approval to two of Rep. Buentello’s other bills to make it easier for veterans, servicemembers, and their families to receive in-state tuition at Colorado community colleges, and to provide scholarships for rural law enforcement agencies to pay for the cost of sending potential officers to training academies. 

HB20-1275, which passed on second reading, allows an active or honorably discharged member of the United States armed forces or one of their dependents to be eligible for in-state tuition status at a community college regardless of whether the person satisfies Colorado domicile or residency status.

HB20-1229, also passed on second reading, would establish a scholarship fund for rural and small communities to assist in paying for the cost of potential police officers to attend an approved basic law enforcement training academy. The cost of basic training that satisfies the peace officers’ standards and training (P.O.S.T.) requirements can cost thousands of dollars, which is especially prohibitive to potential candidates in rural areas where funds can be scarce. 

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