Colorado lawmakers target expensive college textbooks
DENVER, Colorado Rep. John Kefalas said he knows firsthand why college students are tired of paying hundreds of dollars for textbooks that change every year, along with requirements that they buy CDs and other add-ons that arent used in class.The Democrat from Fort Collins has a son in college at Colorado State University and he wondered why textbooks cost so much. Hes sponsoring a bill that would require publishers to disclose the price of the textbooks, the history of substantive revisions to the textbooks, and estimated length of time the publisher intends to keep the textbooks on the market.The College Textbook Affordability Act (Senate Bill 73) would also require publishers of a bundled textbook package, such as CDs, remote controls and other devices to offer the option of purchasing the textbook and each of the individual products separately.The idea is catching on across the country, with laws already passed in Oregon, Washington and Connecticut. Supporters say publishers can charge higher prices because they have a monopoly and because the professors, not the students, decide which books students must buy.Kefalas said its difficult to hold down the rising cost of a college education, but he believes requiring publishers to disclose pricing will help.We believe we can do something to keep a lid on the costs, Kefalas said.Jason Hopfer, a lobbyist who represents about 200 publishers, said there are many reasons for the high cost of textbooks. He said even the best-selling textbooks only sell 30,000 copies, which is far below the number even paperback books would rack up on best seller lists. He said they are also expensive to produce and require special distribution.He said every publisher has different issues and theyre working on a compromise with lawmakers.Were not against transparency, Hopfer said.Abe Scarr, spokesman for Associated Students of Colorado representing student governments across the state, said its not about students griping about costs. He said studies show students are spending $700 to $1,000 a year just for their textbooks.Its actually an access issue for education. It can be a barrier for students, he said.The bill will be heard Thursday in the House Education Committee.Other bills coming up this week include: The House Judiciary Committee will act on a proposal Wednesday to remove the statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits (House Bill 1011). A similar proposal failed two years ago. The committee heard testimony from people who said they were sexually abused as children, including former Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur. The Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee will begin hearings Monday on a bill (Senate Bill 189) to conduct this years elections mainly by paper ballot even though most counties still dont know whether theyll be able to use their optical scanners to count the ballots. Colorado is one of five states considering a return to all-paper elections after having problems changing to electronic systems, according to a report released last week by Electionline, a project of The Pew Center on the States.
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