Colorado Senator Michael Merrifield

The Peoples Voice


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cropped-dg8_0077small2.jpgOnce again, we are faced with an outrageous act of violence meant to terrorize the innocent. This was not only an attack on Planned Parenthood, nor on the City of Colorado Springs, but was an attack on all of us, on our freedoms, our shared humanity, and on the values we cherish as Americans. And those values cannot be tarnished by any act of terrorism or by the hateful motives of the person who perpetrated this horrendous crime today.

While it is not yet clear if this was a purposeful attack on Planned Parenthood, this much we do know- domestic terrorism can not and will not be tolerated or endured. I stand firmly with the staff and clients of Planned Parenthood, and will always champion women’s healthcare rights.

My heart is broken for the families and loved ones of the victims of today’s horrific act of violence. Over the past several weeks, Colorado Springs has suffered through two mass shootings. And as they have before, the people of this community will again come together to support one another in the wake of this tragedy.

We should all be grateful for the bravery and sacrifice of local law enforcement officers and first responders and the Planned Parenthood staff who showed tremendous courage over the course of this incident.

This is a heartbreaking and mindless act of violence, and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims


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Senator Merrifield to Host Town Hall in Colorado Springs with Rep. Pete Lee

2015-MerrifieldCO SPRINGS —  Senator Michael Merrifield and Representative Pete Lee will host a town hall in Colorado Springs this weekend to provide an update on what actions the legislature took during the 2015 session, and to share ideas on how they can best represent their areas in the 2016 session:

Sen. Merrifield + Rep. Lee Town Hall
July 18, 2015
10:00AM – 11:30AM
Penrose Library, Carnegie Room
20 N. Cascade Ave. Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Senator Merrifield hosts regular town halls as a way to update constituents on the work of the legislature, as well as hear their thoughts about how to move Colorado forward. All town halls are nonpartisan, open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to ask questions, make comments, and engage in a robust dialogue with their elected officials.

ABOUT SEN. MERRIFIELD: Senator Merrifield is a retired teacher, former state representative, entrepreneur, and bicyclist. He serves on the Senate Education Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Merrifield began his first term in the Colorado State Senate in 2015.


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Senate approves new balance of more schooling, less testing in K-12 education

2015-MerrifieldDENVER — Protests over standardized testing in K-12 education have led to calls for change in the system, but some of the proposals to date have been too extreme for the mainstream.  This evening, the Senate approved a balanced, bipartisan, and comprehensive fix through the Educational Standards and Assessments and Flexibility Pilot Program (SB 15-257).

The bill, as approved today, is the product of the original version, a number of substantial amendments, and a lengthy hearing in the Senate Education Committee.  The bill that reduces the quantity of testing, enhances fairness for all involved, and increases involvement in the process, includes:

  • English Language Arts and Mathematics state testing being administered yearly from grades 3-8, and only once in grades 10-12 with the local education provider (LEP) selecting the single high school year of testing.
  • Science statewide testing only occurring once in elementary school and once in middle school, with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) selecting the year.  There would be one test in high school, with the local education provider selecting the year that test is administered.
  • Reducing some required early education literacy testing.  If a student is reading at grade level at the start of a school year, the student is not required to take additional tests, as current policy dictates.
  • Allowing local education providers to design and implement alternative accountability and testing systems, in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education, and in compliance with federal law or a waiver.
  • Moving the deadline forward for the State Board of Education to review and revise the state’s academic standards, from 2018 to 2016.
  • Allowing computerized tests to be completed using pencil and paper.  Also, the bill allows the state to administer tests in languages other than English, if the student has not participated in an English language proficiency program for more than three years.
  • Parents having access to the testing schedule – including the specific hours of the day that testing will take place – and whether each test is required under federal or state law.

“Testing is important, and we need it to understand the effectiveness of our schools, but we are over-testing our kids and not focusing on learning,” said Sen. Michael Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, sponsor of SB 15-257.  “This bill reduces the overwhelming amount of time we spend on testing, which is what teachers, students, and parents of all stripes are telling us they want.  We heard their concern, and I am pleased that we came to strong bipartisan agreement in passing this piece of legislation.”

The bill passed the Senate this evening on a second reading voice vote, and could go to a third and final reading as soon as this week.  If it passes third reading, it would go to the House of Representatives for its first committee hearing.

-Jessica Bralish, Communications Director