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CU Student Government gave initial approval Thursday night to a referendum showing its support of a proposed state-level bill that would give millions of dollars to colleges in Colorado.
The representatives left the weekly meeting thinking they had passed a special order — speeding up the legislative process — expressing support for the College Affordability Act, introduced in the Colorado General Assembly on its opening day, Jan. 8. They were later informed that there had been a miscount.
“We didn’t miscount the votes; we miscounted the amount needed to pass on special order,” said Dylan Roberts, acting CUSG Legislative Council president on Thursday in the absence of Juedon Kebede, the elected council president. Roberts and Anna Henderson, acting vice president, took the roll-call vote.
To pass in one reading instead of two, CUSG bills require a vote of two-thirds of the people who show up. On Thursday, the referendum in support of the Act was just shy of the rarely used special order with 10 votes in favor, five opposed and one abstention. With a simple majority in favor, though, it automatically passed the regular process and will be heard at a second reading next Thursday.
“It was all so rushed,” Catherine Bogart, a journalism co-senator, said of the referendum discussion after learning of the miscount. “I’m glad it didn’t pass special because of that.”
Bogart was the first legislator to contest a special order because, she said, there had not been ample time to ask students about the College Affordability Act.
The legislators were emailed the bill at about noon on Thursday, which Bogart reminded the council was seven hours before its weekly meeting.
“It is the students’ best interest to support this, but we need to talk to them,” Bogart said.
Andrew Hemphill, a representative-at-large, said he was sure the student body would overwhelmingly encourage CUSG to endorse the bill as soon as possible.
He and two other representatives said CU students’ No. 1 concern is the increasing cost of attending school.
“That’s what we continue to hear, and this is clearly in support of moving tuition in the right direction,” Hemphill said of the College Affordability Act during the meeting. “We want to communicate a clear message to the Colorado legislature that we support this bill, so I don’t see why this has to wait.”
Antonio Bricca, an Arts and Sciences co-senator, and Ali Skewes-Cox, co-chair of CUSG’s Legislative Affairs Commission, said they plan to testify in favor of the bill at the Colorado Capitol on Wednesday, when it is heard in the Senate Education Committee.
An initial proposal of the bill says it would allocate just more than $100 million of state general funds to the Colorado Department of Higher Education for grants, work-study programs, stipends for students attending private colleges and the governing boards of specific state universities.
The University of Colorado Board of Regents would receive $16,560,551 in the current version of the bill.
It would also counteract tuition increases, which the bill says have averaged 10 percent for in-state students in Colorado since the 2008-2009 fiscal year, by capping increases at 6 percent for the next two fiscal years, ending in 2016.
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Alison Noon at Alison.firstname.lastname@example.org.