Child development bill, shot down last year, is back

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DENVER — A year ago, a bill to consolidate several child development programs under one state agency was killed in a House committee on a straight party-line vote.

It didn’t matter that the measure was introduced by a Republican and a Democrat, didn’t cost the state any money and didn’t expand the size of government.

The bill died because a group of people from Colorado Springs, citing a United Nations conspiracy to indoctrinate children, opposed the measure and no Republican on the House State Affairs Committee would support it as a result.

One of those sponsors, Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, couldn’t believe her ears when the then GOP-controlled committee killed the bill on a party-line vote.

But more importantly, she couldn’t believe why.

“There is an effort to circumvent not only US law, but the fundamental right of parents through the UN,” Wellsprings Church wrote in a March 2012 email to lawmakers in opposing last year’s bill, which had cleared the Democratic-controlled Senate on a near unanimous vote week earlier but died on a 4-3 party-line vote in the House committee.

“Why care about this?” the email continued. “If you are a parent, grandparent or just concerned about massive governmental over-reach, this bill is of great concern. This bill ... is intended to make the state responsible for child rearing at first by: sharing child rearing responsibilities or ‘co-parenting,’ as it is called in Canada, every child through regulation, then, eventually shifting the full responsibility to the state, stripping parental rights even in the home.”

Hamner said nothing could be further from the truth. She’s returned this year with House Bill 1117, a nearly exact copy of last year’s measure, and so far has heard nothing from U.N. conspiracy theorists.

“House Bill 1117 also clarifies that participation in these programs are completely voluntary, and it’s not intended to interfere with parental rights,” said Hamner, whose district includes the eastern half of Delta County. “(The bill) maintains the rights of parents to raise their children as they choose, and keeps family and child participation voluntary for any child development service.”

Under the measure, several child development programs in the Colorado Department of Human Services would be consolidated with several others currently operated by the Department of Public Health and Environment.

Some of those programs include the Nurse Home Visitation Program, the Colorado Student Dropout Prevention and Intervention Program and the Colorado Before-and-After School Project.

The bill calls for shrinking the size of the Early Childhood Leadership Council, taking it from 35 members to 20, and it transfers 10 state workers from the public health department to human services to help operate the programs.

The measure heads to the House Appropriations Committee for more debate.



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