Each year, during regular and special legislative sessions, law makers introduce thousands of bills and resolutions at the federal, state and local levels on variety of subject areas, ranging from health and immigration to education and environmental protection. While the majority are orphaned, postponed or reintroduced in a new session, a small number go on to become laws. 

Congress works in two-year legislative sessions, with the current session called the 118th Congress. The first session began on January 3, 2023. The first session of the Colorado 74th General Assembly convened on January 9, 2023 and ended on May 8, 2023.

Provided herein is a summary of legislation passed into law and that primarily concerns education related considerations during the 2022-2023 federal and state legislative sessions. The list is by no means exhaustive. For full accounting of the outcomes of the proposals, please visit the official U.S. federal website for federal legislative information and the Colorado General Assembly web page for Colorado legislative proposals.


  • Federal

    Affirmative Action

    On Thursday, June 29th, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, deeming them unlawful racial discrimination. The ruling gutted affirmative action programs at both public and private institutions across the country. In a ruling divided along ideological lines, the high court's six-justice conservative majority found that the universities discriminated against white and Asian American applicants by using race-conscious policies that benefited applicants from underrepresented backgrounds. Both cases — Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, No. 20-1199, and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, No. 21-707 — were brought by Students for Fair Admissions. The high court’s decision to end race-conscious admissions practices at Harvard University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill gives way to a number of legal targets and admissions hurdles that institutions will have to navigate as they aim to diversify campuses.

    Debt Relief

    In addition to the historic ruling, banning the use of race-conscious practices in college admissions, the Supreme Court in June, also struck down President Joe Biden’s effort to cancel about $400 billion in student debt. In a 6-3 decision, the court’s conservative majority ruled that Biden’s plan to forgive student debt was an illegal use of executive power. Approximately 26 million borrowers had applied or were automatically deemed eligible for student loan forgiveness before the court paused applications late last year. Borrowers would have been eligible for up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness if they met certain income requirements.

    After the Supreme Court’s June decision, the Department of Education released final regulations to lower the cost of income-driven repayment plans. That rule — known as the SAVE Plan — will officially take effect July 1, 2024, though some parts will be implemented later this summer (2023). In addition to reducing income-based repayments, the Biden administration’s plan will also eliminate monthly interest after a scheduled payment is made so loan balances won’t grow due to unpaid interest. Most federal student loans have had a temporary interest rate of zero percent since March 13, 2020, but will begin accruing interest in September. Payments will be due starting in October 2023.

    Title IX & Transgender Sports Ban

    In July 2022, the Education department unveiled a new Title IX rule boosting protections for transgender students and overhaul the Trump-era version of the rule that mandates how schools must respond to sexual misconduct complaints. The proposal would ban “all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation and gender identity.”

    The Education Department also proposed a new rule on athletics eligibility that bolsters transgender students' rights to play on sports teams — but includes some limitations. The proposal would bar schools from adopting or enforcing policies that categorically ban transgender students from participating on teams consistent with their gender identity. However, there are some limitations like “in some instances, particularly in competitive high school and college athletic environments, some schools may adopt policies that limit transgender students’ participation."

    Since then, the has Education Department has received more than 240,000 public comments on the proposed rule – nearly twice as many comments as the Department received during its last rulemaking on Title IX. The Department announced in May that it will be delaying the release of its final Title IX rule until at least October and plans to unveil its final athletics rule that month too.

    Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

    Congress passed a year end spending bill that among other provisions, provides $3B increase for the U.S. Department of Education. The bill included additional funding for low-income school districts and for students attending college.

    • The bill increased the maximum Pell Grant award by $500 or 7.2 percent to $7,395 for the 2023-24 school year. This is the largest increase in the maximum Pell grant award since the 2009-10 school year and further builds off the $400 increase provided last year. Each year, Pell Grants help approximately 7 million students pursue a postsecondary education and further their careers.
    • The bill includes $1.2 billion, an increase of $54 million or 5 percent for TRIO, which helps over 800,000 low-income first-generation students get into college and succeed when they’re there.
    • The bill includes $1 billion, an increase of $137 million or 15 percent for programs to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions, and other historically under-resourced institutions of higher education serving a high percentage of low- income students.
    • The bill includes $50 million for new program to promote transformational investments in research infrastructure at HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other MSIs.
    • The bill includes $75 million, an increase of $10 million or 15 percent, for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program to increase access to affordable and convenient childcare options for student parents.
    • Finally, the bill includes $285 million, an increase of $50 million or 21 percent, for the Registered Apprenticeship program to expand apprenticeship opportunities, including in traditionally underrepresented fields.

    College Athlete Economic Freedom Act [S. 238 (117) and H.R. 850 (117)

    This bill establishes name, image, likeness (NIL) and athletic reputation rights for college athletes.

    Specifically, the bill:

    • Establishes a federal right for college athletes to market the use of their nil or athletic reputation by prohibiting colleges and intercollegiate athletic associations from setting or enforcing rules that restrict this right or coordinating to limit how athletes can use their nil;
    • Prohibits colleges or such athletic associations from regulating athlete representation;
    • Authorizes grants for analyzing nil and athletic reputation monetization;
    • Provides for enforcement by the federal trade commission and through a private cause of action against violators; and
    • Preempts more restrictive state laws relating to college athletes' NIL and athletic reputation rights.
  • State

    HB23-1001|Expanding Assistance for Educator Programs
    Sponsors:  Sen. Zenzinger (D); Rep. McLachlan (D); Rep. Kipp (D)

    Concerning educator preparation stipend programs, this bill amended the definition of “eligible student” to mean a student who is eligible for financial assistance because the student’s expected family contribution does not exceed 250% of the maximum federal Pell-eligible expected family contribution. The new law allows a student to be placed as a student educator in a school or community-based setting in Colorado or within 100 miles of the Colorado state border and creates an exception to the student educator stipend program and the educator test stipend program for funds appropriated to the department of higher education from the economic recovery and relief cash fund. Now, the Colorado commission on higher education is authorized to approve criteria for students who qualify for the student educator stipend program and the educator test stipend program. Under previous law, eligible applicants for the temporary educator loan forgiveness program were required to be educators licensed as teachers or school counselors. The new law broadens the program requirements to allow eligible applicants to be educators licensed as principals or special service providers. The new law broadens the requirements of the forgiveness program by requiring the commission to first consider applicants who hold educator licenses and prioritize the approval of those applications based on the length of time each applicant has been employed under the license, beginning with those who have been employed the shortest length of time. It removes the forgiveness program requirement that the commission approves applicants who have contracted for a qualified position in a rural school or a rural school district or in a content shortage area whose percentage of at-risk pupils exceeded 60% in the 2021-22 budget year.

    HB23-1007| Higher Education Crisis and Suicide Prevention
    Sponsors:  Sen. Roberts (D); Sen. Pelton (R); Rep. Catlin (R); Rep. Amabile (D)

    The law requires public and private higher education institutions to print Colorado and national crises and suicide prevention contact information on student identification cards. If an institution does not use student identification cards, the law requires the school to distribute Colorado and national crisis and suicide prevention contact information to the student body each semester or trimester.

    HB23-1047| Joint Filing Deduction Qualified Tuition Program
    Sponsors: Rep. Wilson (R); Rep. Snyder (D)

    The law increases to $40,000 the maximum deduction for married taxpayers who file a joint income tax return for payments made under a qualified state tuition program. Colorado’s previous law allowed a state income tax deduction for payments made under a qualified state tuition program equal to a maximum of $20,000 for a taxpayer who filed an individual income tax return and $30,000 for 2 married taxpayers who filed a joint income tax return.

    HB23-1093| Higher Education Staff Sabbaticals
    Sponsors: Rep. McLachlan (D); Rep. Martinez (D); Sen. Rich (R); Sen. Marchman (D)

    The law extends sabbatical opportunities to the staff of a state supported institution of higher education. Previous law allowed for higher education faculty to take a sabbatical if the governing board of the state supported institution where the faculty members worked approved the sabbatical. 

    HB23-1246| Support In-Demand Career Workforce
    Sponsors: Rep. McCluskie (D); Rep. Puglise (R); Sen. Buckner (D); Sen. Will (R)

    The law directs the state board of community colleges and occupational education to administer the in-demand short-term credentials program in order to support the expansion of the number of available and qualified professionals who are able to meet Colorado’s in-demand workforce needs. The law appropriates $38.6M from the general fund for the program and the occupational education Board is required to allocate funds to community and technical colleges, area technical colleges, local district colleges, and Colorado Mesa university to provide assistance to students for eligible expenses that support their enrollment in eligible programs. Under the law, if unexpended resources exist, the funds must be used for a student’s housing, transportation, or food expenses. The law requires the office of future work to provide grants to registered apprenticeship programs that provide training in the building and construction trade at no cost to apprentices and provides $1.4M from the general fund for this grant program. The law appropriates $5M from the general fund to create 2 new short-term degree nursing programs at community or technical colleges.

    SB23-004| Employment of School Mental Health Professionals
    Sponsors: Sen. Marchman (D); Sen. Lewis (D); Rep. Michaelson-Jenet (D); Rep. Young (D)

    The law authorizes a school or a school district, the state charter school institute, a Board of Cooperative services that operates a school, or the division of youth services to employ certain school-based therapists who are not licensed by the department of education but who hold a Colorado license for their profession to work in coordination with licensed special service providers coordinating mental health support for students. Before being employed, the school-based therapist must satisfy other requirements for non-licensed school employees, including a fingerprint-based criminal background check. Under the law, any school-based therapists employed may be supervised by a mentor special services provider in the field in which the person is employed or a licensed administrator.

    SB23-007| Adult Education in Colorado
    Sponsors: Sen. Zenzinger (D); Sen. Kirkmeyer (R); Rep. Kipp (D); Rep. Catlin (R)

    The law adds “digital literacy” to the basic education offered to eligible adults and describes services that adult education providers may offer to eligible adults. It amends the reporting requirements for providers of the program. The law permits the office within the department that is responsible for adult education to use data matching with relevant state agencies to determine post-program participation outcomes. It allows community colleges, area technical colleges, and local district colleges to develop minimum graduation requirements for a high school diploma based on the high school graduation requirements of a school district within the geographic area of the colleges. Colleges are required to award a high school diploma to a student who successfully completes the high school graduation requirements implemented by the colleges.

    SB23-048| Non-Tenure Track Faculty
    Sponsors: Sen. Baisley (R); Sen. Bridges (D); Rep. Amabile (D); Rep. Hamrick (D)

    The law extends the maximum length of an employment contract between a state system of higher education, or a campus of a state institution of higher education, and an individual who has a Non-tenure track classroom teaching or librarian appointment from 3 years to 5 years.

    SB23-149| Higher Education Student Financial Aid for Youth Mentors
    Sponsors: Sen. Coleman (D); Sen. Exum (D); Rep. Bacon (D)

    The law creates the youth mentorship stipend pilot program in the department of higher Education and provides money for higher education tuition and fees to students who provide mentorship services to an approved youth mentorship organization. 

    SB23-172| Protecting Opportunities and Workers Rights
    Sponsors:  Sen. Winter (D); Sen. Gonzales (D); Rep. Weissman (D); Rep. Bacon (D)

    The law enacts the “Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights (POWR) Act. The Act Addresses discriminatory or unfair employment practices pursuant to Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws and directs the Colorado civil rights division to include “harassment” as a basis or description of discrimination on any charge form or charge intake mechanism. The law repeals the current definition of harass that requires creation of a hostile work environment and adds protections from discriminatory or unfair employment practices for individuals based on their marital status. The law provides that in harassment claims, the alleged conduct need not be severe or pervasive to constitute a discriminatory or unfair employment practice. It eliminates the ability for an employer to assert that an individual’s disability has a significant impact on the job as a rationale for the employment practice (in instances where an employer is unable to accommodate an individual with a disability who is otherwise qualified for the job). The law specifies the requirements for an employer to assert an affirmative defense to an employee’s proven claim of unlawful harassment by a supervisor and specifies the requirements that must be satisfied for a nondisclosure provision in an agreement between an employer and an employee or a prospective employee to be enforceable. The law requires an employer to maintain personnel and employment records for at least 5 years and, with regard to complaints of discriminatory or unfair employment practices, to maintain those records in a designated repository.

    SB23-205| Universal High School Scholarship Program
    Sponsors: Sen. Bridges (D); Sen. Lundeen (R); Rep. Martinez (D); Rep. Wilson (R)

    The law establishes the universal high school scholarship program in the office of economic Development to provide scholarships for the 2024-2025 academic year to students who pursue an in-demand or high-priority postsecondary pathway, including degrees, certificates, and registered apprenticeships, with a provider on the eligible training provider lists provided by the department of labor and employment, a provider in the Colorado state apprenticeship resource directory, a public or private institution of higher education operating in Colorado, or an organization approved by the office. Per the law, a student is eligible for the program if the student graduated from a Colorado high school or was awarded a high school equivalency credential during the 2023-2024 academic year; completes the free application for federal student aid or the Colorado application for state financial aid; and did not receive a grant from the Colorado opportunity scholarship initiative. Each scholarship award is for up to $1,500 and is to be distributed to the service provider for use by the student for tuition, fees, and books. The law requires the office to contract with vendors to provide postsecondary and career advising at schools identified by the office.

    SB23-293| Use of Student Athlete’s Name, Image, or Likeness
    Sponsors: Sen. Coleman (D); Sen. Fields (D); Rep. Herod (D); Rep. Epps (D)

    The law provides that a public or private institution of higher education may identify, create, solicit, facilitate, and otherwise enable opportunities for a student athlete to earn compensation for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness so long as the Institution first acquires the consent of the student athlete. An institution that solicits such an opportunity for a student athlete must inform the student athlete of the solicitation within 72 hours after the solicitation. Under the new law, a charitable organization is not an Institution and that is exempt from taxation under federal law may compensate a student athlete for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness.

    SB21-190| Protect Personal Data Privacy (Colorado Privacy Act)
    Sponsors: Sen. Rodriguez (D); Sen. Lundeen (R); Rep. Duran (D); Rep. Carver (R)

    The Colorado Privacy Act was signed into law by Governor Polis on July 7, 2021. In sum, the Act provides consumers with the right to opt out of a controller’s processing of their personal data; access, correct, or delete the data; or obtain from a controller a portable copy of the data. The Act specifies how  controllers must fulfill duties regarding consumers’ assertion of their rights, transparency, purpose specification, data minimization, avoiding secondary use, care, avoiding unlawful discrimination, and sensitive data. It requires controllers to conduct a data protection assessment for each of their processing activities involving personal data that present a heightened risk of harm to consumers, such as processing for purpose of targeted advertising, profiling, selling personal data, or processing sensitive data and specifies that a violation of its requirements is a deceptive trade practice for purposes of enforcement. The act may be enforced only by the attorney general or district attorneys.