The 2014 legislative session wrapped up on Wednesday, May 7, when Speaker Mark Ferrandino adjourned the House until Jan. 7, 2015. This session I have been incredibly busy, but I have worked with my colleagues, Democratic and Republican alike, to continue to move Colorado forward. In fact this session was notable for its bipartisanship. While not every bill had bipartisan support, 96 percent of bills that passed the House did so with bipartisan votes.
As chairwoman of the education committee I was involved in some great bipartisan work to increase funding for both K-12 and higher education. Much of my session was devoted to HB 1292, the Student Success Act, which I sponsored with Rep. Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock, and HB 1298, the School Finance Act, which I sponsored with Rep. John Buckner, D-Aurora. These two bills invest nearly $500 million in K-12 education and make important investments in early reading proficiency programs and programs for English language learners. There are also measures to increase school transparency so that parents can go online and see where schools are spending money, and we added 5,000 new slots for at-risk pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students.
The bills make the largest increase in funding for K-12 in Colorado’s history and will help every school district in the state. After our education system suffered significant budget cuts during the recession, these bills are critical to ensuring we are investing in our kids and giving every district the resources they need to provide every child with a great education.
While education was a main focus of mine this session, I also sponsored many other bills. As anyone who has driven over Independence Pass knows, it is one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the entire state. Unfortunately many oversize commercial vehicles break current law and drive over the pass to save time and gas, endangering other drivers, hikers and bikers using Highway 82. HB 1021 increases the fines for drivers of vehicles over 35 feet in length who drive on the pass. This bill will discourage drivers from breaking the law and increase safety on the pass.
HB 1089 clarifies that a portion of the money raised from 10th Mountain Division license plates will go to charities and programs that support our veterans. The bill also distinguishes that there are different license plates for veterans and supporters of the 10th Mountain Division.
Colorado has suffered devastating wildfires the last few years and the threat of wildfire is constant, especially in our mountain communities. As vice-chairwoman of the interim Wildfire Matters Review Committee I was involved in legislative efforts to help communities recover from past fires and to mitigate the threat of future fires. HB 1008, which I sponsored, allows the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority to make loans to individuals or private businesses for projects that will improve forest health and reduce the risk of wildfires.
Previously the authority was able to make loans only to government agencies. HB 1010, which I also sponsored, clarifies who may oversee a prescribed burn and the actions that will be taken to contain a burn that gets out of control. I am looking forward to my work on this committee this summer and fall to continue protecting Colorado from wildfires.
I also want to take this opportunity to encourage you to attend the upcoming town halls that I’ll be hosting in each county of HD 61. The dates and locations will be posted on my website, www.milliehamner.com, so please check there for the most up-to-date information.
Millie Hamner represents House District 61 in Colorado’s House of Representatives. The district encompasses Summit, Lake, Pitkin and parts of Delta and Gunnison counties. Contact Hamner at (303) 866-2952 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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