News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Colorado Bar on Land Board Change Lifted

A federal judge has removed a legal roadblock from a Colorado constitutional amendment that changes the mission of the State Land Board from raising money for public schools to preserving open spaces.

The amendment, approved by voters last November, was challenged by three school districts, which argue that they stand to lose money generated by the 3 million acres of trust lands managed by the board.

U.S. District Judge Lewis T. Babcock briefly barred the amendment from taking effect, but he lifted most of the order last month. The new five-member land board established by the voter initiative must conduct business in the best interest of the trust until the merits of the lawsuit are resolved, the judge ruled.

The Branson, Pritchett, and Springfield school districts challenged the amendment. They argue that the change in mission for the trust lands violates an 1876 act of Congress that gave the land to the state.

Utah Measure Seeks Statewide Career Tests

A Utah House panel has approved a bill that would set up a program to give career tests to 9th and 10th graders.

Proponents say the results of the tests could help students decide which electives to take in 11th and 12th grades. The bill would authorize some $250,000 for standardized career tests, which backers said are available for about $5 per student.

Some educators argue that the money would be better spent on other priorities, and that the tests would result in another layer of paperwork for school counselors.

The House education committee approved the proposal on a 6-3 vote last month.

N.D. House Approves Sign Language Elective

A bill that would make sign language a sanctioned elective in North Dakota high schools and colleges has cleared the House.

The bill would not require high schools to offer the course, but states that college students could use sign language credit to meet a foreign language requirement. Some critics warned that lawmakers might not be wise to codify high school or university electives, but sponsors said state officials should show their regard for the needs of deaf residents.

The House approved the bill on a 68-24 vote late last month. The measure will now be referred to the Senate.

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