Former teacher and Summit School District superintendent Millie Hamner, of Dillon, will take on a new title next year - chair of the state House Education Committee.
Millie was named to lead the committee she served on during her first two years in office after Democrats won back control of the state House in November.
"I have worked in the Colorado educational system for over 30 years, and education has been one of my main priorities since becoming a legislator," Hamner stated in a news release from the Democratic Party on the appointment. "I am excited to tackle the issues that face our school systems and am confident that we can make real progress in improving our schools."
The education committee monitors issues involving K-12 public schools - such as educational accountability and school finance - as well as higher education, from administration and governance to tuition and financial aid.
Since she was appointed to represent Summit County and District 56 in 2010, Hamner has sponsored and passed multiple bills intended to streamline and enhance public education, including last year's bill targeting early childhood literacy.
"She has an extraordinary reputation for working with all parties and stakeholders involved, and she has been an asset to education policy in her time at the state Capitol," House Speaker-to-be Mark Ferrandino stated. "I have no doubt she will continue to be a pragmatic lawmaker and leader in this role crucial to Colorado's children."
Hamner has also been a vocal advocate for the controversial asset bill, legislation that has resurfaced repeatedly over the last few years proposing undocumented students who graduate from Colorado high schools be granted in-state tuition rates at state colleges. Versions of the bill have died on party-line votes several years running, but with Democrats in control of both chambers and Hamner at the helm of the education committee, it might have a better shot in the 2013 legislative session.
In 1978, Hamner started her career in public education as a teacher in the Eagle County School District, where she taught for 23 years. In 2001, she was recruited to the Summit School District, where she started as assistant superintendent. She was promoted to superintendent three years later and remained in the role for another six years until she was appointed to the state Legislature in 2010.
"She will do a tremendous job," Summit County Commissioner and former state lawmaker Dan Gibbs said. "For someone to have the experience of being a teacher and an administrator chairing that committee, she really brings perspectives that will be unique. I don't know if they've ever had that at the Capitol."
Hamner won her first election this year, keeping her seat out of the hands of four challengers including Democrat-turned-independent Kathleen Curry, a four-term veteran of the state House.
She will return to work in Denver in January.