Before heading off on a trade mission to Panama, Gov. John Hickenlooper this week signed a big stack of bills passed by the 2013 legislature, including several of interest to education.

The measure of most note is House Bill 13-1081, which creates a new grant fund for district programs in comprehensive human sexuality education. The measure also sets requirements for such programs, including instruction relevant to gay students and different ethnic groups. Critics say the law slights abstinence education and also object to the law’s requirement that parents opt out rather than opt in. Supporters say the program is necessary to reduce teen pregnancy and incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.

Other new laws include:

House Bill 13-1005 – Allows the community college system to create new programs that combine adult basic education and vocational training.

House Bill 13-1021 – Limits jailing of truant students for no more than five days at a stretch and encourages school districts to improve their services for “chronically absent” students so that they don’t end up in court for truancy.

House Bill 13-1165 – Provides $474,000 for higher education institutions to create a “career pathway” for students seeking jobs in manufacturing industries.

House Bill 13-1171 – Allows schools to stock epinephrine injectors for use on students experiencing allergic reactions. Prior law allowed only students with known allergies to have injectors on hand at school.

House Bill 13-1194 – Makes certain military dependents eligible for resident tuition rates.

Senate Bill 13-193 – Requires school accountability committees to better promote parent involvement and to be more involved in school turnaround and priority improvement plans, requires each district to designate one staff member as a parent contact person, expands the role of the State Advisory Council for Parent Involvement in Education and allocates $150,000 for the Department of Education to hire a parent engagement specialist.

Senate Bill 13-217 – Gives the State Board of Education flexibility in how it applies student performance at alternative education campuses to the accreditation ratings of school districts. This is an issue of some importance to low-rated districts with alternative schools. Districts are concerned that alternative school performance distorts their ratings.

Get links to bill texts in the EdNews Education Bill Tracker.