Latest News – February 17

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This report is from Lake County’s State Rep. Millie Hamner

The 2013 legislative session is in full swing here at the Capitol. I have been very busy as Chair of the House Education Committee examining many bills that would significantly impact opportunities for our kids. I have also introduced five bills of my own, and we will all be debating the most significant issues facing our state, including job creation and economic development, K-12 education funding and gun safety and gun violence prevention. 

My Five Bills

The first of my bills to come up this year was House Bill 1035, which will add two new district judgeships and support staff in the Fifth and Ninth Judicial districts. These districts include Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek, Lake, Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. The judges currently have extremely heavy caseloads and the wait time for people in the process can be long. This bill will ensure that our judges can give proper time and attention to each case. The bill passed  the House by a vote of 62-2 and will soon be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  

 My next bill House Bill 1011 eliminates the $15 fee for veterans and active duty to add a military identifier on their drivers’ licenses or state ID card. Many businesses provide benefits to those that can show this identifier. Our veterans and active-duty military have sacrificed so much for all of us, and  repealing this fee is the least we can do for them.The bill passed  the House unanimously and will soon be heard in the Senate. 

 In Colorado, we have many child development programs supporting early learning, child health, child mental health and family support. Because these programs were added at different times, they all reside in different departments—a confusing system for parents and an inefficient way of running government. House Bill 1117 puts all of these programs in the same place, under the Department of Human Services.., This will simplify the process for parents and children and make our government more efficient and effective.  The bill passed out of the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee with bipartisan support and will next be heard this week in the House Appropriations Committee. 

 I have also learned that sometimes we only need to make little changes in the law to make our systems work better, and my next two bills are good examples. House Bill 1158 modifies legislation passed last year concerning people selling food products produced at home by providing these vendors with more options for the required food safety courses. 

 House Bill 1219 is what we call a “clean-up bill,” to remove obsolete provisions in the law related to the Department of Education.  Both of these bills will be heard in House committees soon. 

Jobs and Accelerating Our Economic Recovery

There are five big economic development bills that have been introduced so far by the House Majority, and all of them are designed to support Colorado workers and businesses. 

 HB 1001– This bill will promote the growth and sustainability of Colorado’s advanced industries.  Advanced industries are a primary and rapidly growing industry in Colorado, and include companies ranging from aerospace and medical devices to industrial and energy equipment. This bill passed with significant bipartisan support in the House this week. 

 HB 1002– In 2011, Colorado’s network of Small Business Development Centers served over 5,000 businesses and created 1,700 jobs by helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas into successful businesses.  This bill will provide additional funding for Small Business Development Centers, allowing them to expand their support for start-ups all across Colorado.   This bill passed out of the House Business Committee and will be heading to the House Appropriations committee. 

 HB 1003– This bill creates the Economic Gardening Pilot Program.  The program will train and certify staff for our Small Business Development Centers to provide a year of assistance to 20 second-stage Colorado Companies to foster growth and job development.  This bill passed out of the House Business Committee and will be heading to the House Appropriations Committee. 

 HB 1004 is the Colorado Careers Act, which will match career training with the jobs that are available now.  The bill creates grants for targeted populations to acquire necessary job skills. This bill expands the career programs already in place in Colorado, and will introduce programs by approved non-profit organizations.   This bill passed out of the House Business Committee and will be heading to the House Appropriations Committee. 

 HB 1005– The Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program will blend education and skills programs to help the under-employed and the unemployed fill Colorado’s workforce needs.  Colorado is facing a shortfall of middle-skill jobs and this pilot program will collaborate with community colleges to help adults get the skills they need to compete in today’s economy.  This bill will work with the Community College System to create 20 pilot programs for career and technical education certificate courses.  The bill combines basic education with skills training classes, and adults who learn both sets of skills can earn certificates in specific fields more quickly. This bill passed out of the House Education Committee and will be heading to the House Appropriations Committee. 

I-70 Corridor

The Twin Tunnel project is moving forward.  The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) created the I-70 Twin Tunnels Design and Construction Project to improve travel times, enhance safety and mobility in the I-70 Mountain Corridor, and preserve the area’s history and environment.  A detour will be in place during this construction that will be available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.  The detour will start April 2013 and extend to late fall.  For more information about this project and construction issues, CDOT has created a project website where you can sign up for email updates:http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/i70twintunnels 

Town Halls

I will be hosting a series of town hall meetings in the months ahead, and I hope you can make it to one or more to share your thoughts on what I can be doing to represent you! I’m hosting two events this weekend with Sen. Gail Schwartz and speakers from Year of the Student, and organization dedicated to advocating for our kids’ education. 

Lake County Town Hall

When: Saturday, Feb. 23, 10 a.m.

Where: Colorado Mountain College—Leadville Campus, 901 South Hwy 24Leadville, CO 80461 

 I look forward to continuing my work for the people of Colorado over the next few months of the 2013 legislative session.  Please feel free to contact me with ideas, questions or concerns.  I can be reached by emailRepHamner@gmail.com or by phone at the State Capitol 303-866-2952.

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