Category Archives: Uncategorized

Upgrading Colorado’s Education System

Upgrading Colorado’s Education System

April 17, 2017

(April 17) – The House voted 53-11 today to approve a bipartisan bill by Reps. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, and Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, to establish a legislative steering committee to create a strategic plan for the future of education in Colorado.

“I’m so pleased with today’s vote because it indicates that the vast majority of the House sees education as a top priority,” said Rep. Hamner. “It shows a bipartisan commitment to the future of our students and I hope is indicative of ongoing cooperation to improve our K-12 schools.”

HB17-1287 creates a legislative steering committee tasked with establishing a vision for the future of education in Colorado and developing a strategic plan to achieve that vision. The bill also creates an advisory board with representatives from the department of education, department of higher education, governor’s office and early childhood leadership commission. A second advisory board would consist of representatives from various education stakeholder groups from across the state.

The plan would involve:

  • Researching high-performing education systems in other states and countries to compare with Colorado’s current system
  • Collecting public input from teachers, parents and any groups wanting to be involved across the state
  • Analyzing information collected and creating the vision and strategic plan to achieve it
  • Adopting and implementing the plan

 

The bill continues to the Senate.

Here is a link to the article:

http://www.cohousedems.com/archives/11007

Achieving a Vision for Education in Colorado

Achieving a Vision for Education in Colorado

April 10, 2017

(March 30) – The House Education Committee this afternoon approved a bipartisan bill sponsored by Reps. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, and Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, to establish a legislative steering committee to create a strategic plan for the future of education in Colorado.

“We need to make sure we’re doing everything for the children of Colorado to be prepared, to be successful, and to get a good job,” said Rep. Hamner. “This plan will unite the energy, excitement and ideas about education throughout the state to create a plan that reflects what we really want for our children.”

“Colorado can and should do better,” Rep. Hamner continued. “We are well-positioned to succeed— we have great educators and great schools. We just need to make sure we engage every citizen and stakeholder in this state.”

HB17-1287 creates a legislative steering committee tasked with establishing a vision for the future of education in Colorado and developing a strategic plan to achieve that vision. The bill also creates an advisory board with representatives from the department of education, department of higher education, governor’s office and early childhood leadership commission. A second advisory board would consist of representatives from various education stakeholder groups from across the state.

The plan would undergo four phases:

  • Researching high-performing education systems in other states and countries to compare with Colorado’s current system
  • Collecting public input from teachers, parents and any groups wanting to be involved across the state
  • Analyzing information collected and creating the vision and strategic plan to achieve it
  • Adopting and implementing the plan

The bipartisan 9-4 vote sends the bill to the House Appropriations Committee.

 

March Newsletter

We have crossed the halfway point of the 2017 Legislative Session. Although work at the Capitol keeps me quite busy, I have had some wonderful opportunities to visit with my constituents in district and in Denver.

Talking with constituents in Aspen during a town hall on March 4th
Photo by Anna Stonehouse, Aspen Times

Visiting with Mai Ly, a student from Summit County, in the Joint Budget Committee room during her visit to the Capitol.

Budget Update

My colleagues on the Joint Budget Committee and I will be introducing the “Long Bill”, which will become the annual state budget. However, before the Long Bill can be drafted and introduced, the JBC will be forced to make some difficult decisions to ensure that we are able to balance the state budget, as our constitution requires.

Since Governor Hickenlooper presented his initial budget request back in November, we have been working very hard to navigate our constitutional budgetary constraints and develop a balanced budget that addresses the growing needs of our growing state. However, our March 17th revenue forecast projected us to be several hundred million dollars short of the level needed to meet our constitutional obligations and address critical state priorities like roads, schools, and hospitals. The forecast also projected that we will go over our TABOR cap this year, which could trigger a tax refund of up to $260 million.

Hamner Legislation Update:

HB17-1235: Financial Relief Defray Individual Health Plan Cost

  • This bill creates a relief program to provide financial assistance to individuals who spend more than fifteen percent of income on health insurance premiums for individual health insurance purchased through the Colorado health benefit exchange.
  • Status: Being heard by the House Committee on Health Insurance and Environment on March 30th.

HB17-1237: State Employee Group Benefit Plans for Local Government

  • This bill allows for local governments to provide health benefits to their employees through the group benefit plans offered to state employees.
  • Status: Being heard by the House Committee on Health Insurance and Environment on March 30th.

HB17-1116: Continue Low Income Housing Energy Assistance

  • This bill reauthorizes a series of programs that help low income families and individuals pay their energy bills and heat and insulate their homes.
  • Status: Passed the House and introduced in the Senate. It is currently waiting to be heard by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy, which is scheduled for March 23rd.

HB17-1160: Kindergarten Through Third Grade English Learner Reading Assessment Language

  • This bill authorizes a local education provider to determine the language in which a student who is an English language learner takes reading assessments in kindergarten through third grade.
  • Status: Passed the House and introduced in the Senate. It is currently waiting to be heard by the Senate Education Committee, which is scheduled for March 23rd.

HB17-1128: Salary Adjustment For Lake County Officials

  • This bill, requested by Lake County, addresses a technical correction in the salary categorization of locally elected officials in Lake County and will save taxpayer dollars.
  • Status: Passed both the House and Senate. It has been sent to Governor Hickenlooper for his signature.

SB17-123: Seal of Biliteracy For High School Diplomas

  • This bill authorizes a school district, BOCES, or institute charter high school to grant a diploma endorsement in biliteracy to a student who demonstrates proficiency in English and at least one foreign language.
  • Status: Passed both the House and Senate. It has been sent to Governor Hickenlooper for his signature.

SB17-126: Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board

  • This bill would create the Colorado Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, which would be tasked with examining data collected by review teams during the preceding year, identifying measures to help prevent domestic violence fatalities and near-death incidents, establishing uniform methods for collecting, analyzing, and storing data, and making annual reports and policy recommendations concerning domestic violence to the General Assembly.
  • Status: Introduced in the Senate; referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SJM17-001: Memorialize Congress To Fund Wildfire Response

  • This joint memorial calls on Congress to fund catastrophic wildfire response costs outside of federal forest management agencies’ normal budgets to ensure that we fund wildfire mitigation and prevention adequately in Colorado.
  • Status: Passed the House and Senate.

Upcoming Events

Community Town Hall: Women and Politics in 2017
Saturday, March 25th from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Please join Rep. Millie Hamner, County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier, and Karen Middleton from NARAL for a community town hall discussion on the recent political environment, what it means for women in Colorado, and how we can make our voices heard.

WHO:
Millie Hamner- State Representative for House District 61
Karn Stiegelmeier- Summit County Commissioner
Karen Middleton- Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado

WHERE:
Summit County Community and Senior Center
83 Nancy’s Place, Frisco, CO 80443

WHEN:
Saturday, March 25th; 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Contact Phil at phil.robinson.house@gmail.com or (970) 315-2610 with any questions.

I hope to see you there!

I70 Update

Click here to read the Department of Transportation’s monthly Interchange Newsletter.

I hope you have a wonderful month!

Unanimous Approval for Hamner-Wilson Education Bill

Colorado House Democrats

(March 3) – With a 61-0 vote, the House today gave final approval to a bill sponsored by Reps. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, and Jim Wilson, R-Salida, to allow students from kindergarten through third grade who are English language learners to take their annual required reading test in their language of instruction, rather than being double-tested.

“This test is meant to demonstrate how well a student can read, and when it’s given to students in their language of instruction, it gives us better indicators of reading ability and gives teachers the information they need to help their students improve,” said Rep. Hamner. “This bill cuts testing time and increases instructional time for the very students who need it.”

“It was great to work with Rep. Hamner on this bill,” said Rep. Wilson. “It simplifies the process to answer two critical questions: one, can you read? And two, how well?”

Currently, although the purpose is to evaluate reading ability and not language proficiency, some students are required to take their annual reading assessment in both Spanish and English. Double testing these students unnecessarily overburdens a specific subgroup of students, risks misidentifying of English learners as having significant reading deficiencies, and is not aligned with other state assessment policies.

HB17-1160 now proceeds to the Senate.

 Here is the link to the article:

 

http://cohousedems.com/index.php/2017/03/03/unanimous-approval-for-hamner-wilson-education-bill/

 

Improving Education for Bilingual Students/Mejorando la educación de los estudiantes bilingües

Colorado House Democrats

“This test is meant to indicate how well a student knows how to read and when it’s given to students in their language of instruction, it gives us better indicators of reading ability and gives teachers the information they need to help their students improve,” said State Rep. Millie Hamner. “This bill would cut testing time and increase instructional time for the very students who need it.”

(Feb. 27) – The House Education Committee approved two bipartisan bills  this afternoon sponsored by Reps. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, and Jim Wilson,  R-Salida. The first, HB17-1160, allows students from kindergarten through
third grade who are English language learners to take their annual  required reading test in their language of instruction, rather than being  double-tested.

Currently, although the purpose is to evaluate reading ability and not language proficiency, some students are required to take their annual reading assessment in both Spanish and English. Double testing these students unnecessarily over-burdens a specific subgroup of students, risks over-identification of English learners as having significant reading deficiencies, and is not aligned with other state assessment policies.

“This test is meant to indicate how well a student knows how to read and
when it’s given to students in their language of instruction, it gives us
better indicators of reading ability and gives teachers the information
they need to help their students improve,” said Rep. Hamner. “This bill
would cut testing time and increase instructional time for the very
students who need it.”

The second, SB17-123, allows school districts to offer a Seal of
Biliteracy to graduating high school seniors who have attained proficiency
in two or more languages. This gives students a way to demonstrate their
biliteracy skills to employers and universities. Fourteen states and the
District of Columbia have approved the Seal of Biliteracy and it is under
formal consideration in at least eight other states.

“We should recognize the hard work of our students in achieving this
designation,” said Rep. Hamner. “Biliteracy is a huge asset when seeking
employment or higher education.”

HB17-1160 passed with a 13-0 vote and SB17-123 passed with an 11-2 vote.
Both bills head to the House floor.

En Español:

Mejorando la educación de los estudiantes bilingües
 El Comité de Educación en la Cámara de Representantes aprueba dos
 proyectos de ley para mejorar los resultados de los estudiantes bilingües

(Feb. 27) – El Comité de Educación de la Cámara de Representantes aprobó
dos proyectos de ley, con apoyo de ambos partidos políticos, esta tarde
que eran patrocinados por los representantes Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, y
Jim Wilson, R-Salida. El primero, HB17-1160, permite a los estudiantes del
kindergarten al tercer nivel que son estudiantes aprendiendo el inglés a
tomar su prueba de lectura anual en su idioma de instrucción, en vez de
tomar la prueba doz veces.

Actualmente, algunos estudiantes deben tomar su evaluación anual de
lectura en español e inglés, aunque el propósito es evaluar la habilidad
de lectura y no la competencia lingüística. La doble prueba de estos
estudiantes sobrecarga innecesariamente un subgrupo específico de
estudiantes, da riesgo de identificar a estos estudiantes de tener
deficiencias significativas en lectura, y no está alineado con otras
políticas de evaluación del estado.

“Esta prueba es para indicar que bien el estudiante sabe leer y cuándo se
administra este examen en su idioma de instrucción, nos da mejores
indicadores de capacidad en la lectura del estudiante y da a los maestros
la información que necesitan para ayudar a sus estudiantes a mejorar”,
dijo Representante Hamner. “Este proyecto de ley reduciría el tiempo que
están los niños en exámenes y aumentará el tiempo de instrucción para los
estudiantes que lo necesitan”.

El segundo, SB17-123, permite a los distritos escolares tener un sello en
su diploma para estudiantes que se gradúan siendo bilingüe en dos o más
idiomas. Con este sello, los estudiantes tienen una manera de demostrar
oficialmente sus habilidades a los empleadores y a las universidades.
Catorce estados y el Distrito de Columbia han aprobado este sello de
alfabetización bilingüe y está bajo consideración en al menos ocho estados
más.

“Debemos reconocer el duro trabajo de nuestros estudiantes en lograr esta
designación”, dijo el Representante Hamner. “Ser bilingüe es un gran
beneficio cuando se busca empleo o educación superior”.

HB17-1160 fue aprobado con un voto de 13 a 0 y SB17-123 fue aprobado con
un voto de 11 a 2. Ambos proyectos de ley se dirigen a la cámara entera
para su segunda lectura.

Here is the link to the article:

http://cohousedems.com/index.php/2017/02/28/improving-education-for-bilingual-studentsmejorando-la-educacion-de-los-estudiantes-bilingues/

Denver Post Guest Commentary

Here is the link to article in the Denver Post:

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/24/five-critical-state-needs-that-tabor-hinders/

Five critical state needs that TABOR hinders

TABOR refunds will come, despite these needs

The Colorado House of Representatives meeting in 2016.
The Colorado House of Representatives meeting in 2016.
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

The amount of money collected by our state government in taxes and fees is directly tied to the economic health of Colorado. Because our economy is relatively strong, so is the state’s revenue stream. But rather than being able to invest in critical needs and rebuild our rainy day reserves in economic upturns, we are likely to issue hundreds of millions of dollars in TABOR refunds. By restricting the state’s ability to save and invest the revenue the state collects during strong economic times, TABOR hinders our long-term economic stability and leads to perverse outcomes, like having to dip into our education reserves to keep from cutting our schools while the economy is strong.

Here are the critical state needs at the top of my list:

1.  Investing in our public schools. Our kids are Colorado’s most precious resource, and they’re depending on us. And yet when it comes to state spending on K-12 education, we’re more than $830 million short of where they would have been had we not had to cut them during the last recession, and under the current budget proposal we would fall even farther behind.

2.  Fixing our roads and potholes. The Colorado Department of Transportation estimates we have a staggering $9 billion backlog in maintenance and construction to fix our overburdened infrastructure, support our growth and prosperity and increase the safety and efficiency of travel throughout the state. Interstate 25 and Interstate 70 are of special concern, but every area of the state — every county and municipality — has projects begging for attention. From safer routes to school for our kids to more mobility for our seniors, we have a lot of needs.

3.  College affordability. Unfortunately, college remains out of reach for too many Coloradans. It’s simply too expensive, and our investments aren’t keeping up. We need to invest in our colleges and universities so they can keep tuition low enough that any Coloradan who has a dream of obtaining a college education can afford one.

4. Supporting our most vulnerable. We can measure the moral fiber of our society by how well we take care of our elderly, our disabled, our at-risk kids and our underprivileged. We can do a better job.

5.  Protecting our forests and mountain towns. Investing in efforts to mitigate the risk of catastrophic wildfires and increase safety precautions for our firefighters will help protect our beautiful landscape, our mountain communities and the water supplies we all depend on.

The people expect us to figure this out – and soon.

State Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, is the vice chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee.

To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by e-mail or mail.

February Newsletter

It is just over a month into the 2017 Legislative Session and things are picking up here at the Capitol. Despite the hectic pace of work this past month, I was able to get back to the district and visit with constituents in Leadville and Gunnison. 

 Taking Part in the Inside Scoop: Conservation Priorities in 2017 Panel in Gunnison

Meeting with my constituents, Ramón & Patrice Reed, in the deep snow of Crested Butte

  I was honored to be the keynote speaker for the annual Alliance Day at the Capitol

Meeting with the Lake County Family and Intercultural Resource Center during their visit to the Capitol

Rep. Hamner Bill Update:
I am a primary sponsor of the following bills that have been introduced so far this session. 

 
HB17-1116: Continue Low Income Housing Energy Assistance

  • This bill reauthorizes a series of programs that help low income families and individuals pay their energy bills and heat and insulate their homes.
  • Status: Passed through the House Committee on Transportation and Energy and referred to the House Appropriations Committee. 

 
HB17-1160: Kindergarten Through Third Grade English Learner Reading Assessment Language

  • This bill authorizes a local education provider to determine the language in which a student who is an English language learner takes reading assessments in kindergarten through third grade.
  • Status: Introduced in the House and assigned to the House Education Committee. It is scheduled to be heard on February 27th.

 
HB17-1128: Salary Adjustment For Lake County Officials

  • This bill, requested by Lake County addresses a technical correction in the salary categorization of locally elected officials in Lake County and will save taxpayer dollars.
  • Status: Passed through the House and up for final passage in the Senate.

 
SB17-123: Seal of Biliteracy For High School Diplomas

  • This bill authorizes a school district, BOCES, or institute charter high school to grant a diploma endorsement in biliteracy to a student who demonstrates proficiency in English and at least one foreign language.
  • Status: Introduced in the House and assigned to the House Education Committee. It is scheduled to be heard on February 27th.

 
SB17-126: Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board

  • To help reduce domestic violence in Colorado, this bill creates a statewide Domestic Violence Review Board which will:
    • Coordinate with local and regional domestic violence review teams (review teams) to collect data;
    • Review and analyze the data; and
    • Prepare recommendations for the General Assembly.
    • For a more detailed description, a summary of the bill can be found here.
  • Status: Passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and referred amended to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

 
SJM17-001: Memorialize Congress To Fund Wildfire Response

  • This joint memorial calls on Congress to fund catastrophic wildfire response costs outside of federal forest management agencies’ normal budgets in order to ensure we fund mitigation and prevention.
  • Status: Passed both the House and Senate.

Upcoming Events:

Saturday, March 4, 2017; 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  
Après-Ski with Millie

WHAT: 
Please join State Representative Millie Hamner for an après-ski event with friends and constituents on March 4th at the Aspen Square Hotel. Rep. Hamner will give a brief update on the legislative session and answer your questions. The event is open to the public. Please contact Phil at phil.robinson.house@gmail.com or 303-866-2952 with any questions.

WHO: 
Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon

WHERE: 
Aspen Square Condominium Hotel
Conference Room
617 E Cooper Ave
Aspen, CO 81611

WHEN: Saturday, March 4 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

We are currently working on scheduling upcoming town halls in Delta and Summit counties.

I70 Update: 
Click here to read the Department of Transportation’s monthly Interchange Newsletter.

I hope you have a wonderful month!

Hamner to Congress: Act on Wildfires

(Feb. 8) – This morning, the House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved a bipartisan memorial by Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillion, calling on Congress to fund wildfire mitigation in Colorado. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service borrows from funds for mitigation efforts in order to fight active fires, which means mitigation efforts have less and less funding as more fires spread and are more expensive to manage.

“Our responsibility is to protect our firefighters and our valuable natural resources: from our water sheds, to our outdoor recreation, to our beautiful Colorado forests,” said Rep. Hamner. “And we can’t do that without federal funding. We heard today that each dollar invested in mitigation efforts has four times the impact in preventing catastrophic fires and it’s time we dedicate funding specifically for mitigation.”

The memorial comes out of the Wildfire Matters Review Committee, which discussed the current management practice of suppressing wildfires instead of mitigating risks. Without dedicated funding for mitigation efforts, Colorado faces increased forest density and greater frequency of catastrophic wildfires.

This funding is especially important to Colorado, which has the second highest percentage of households that are at high or extreme risk from wildfires of any state in the nation. And as the memorial states: “Colorado’s forests are increasingly susceptible to forest fires, with an average of about 40,000 acres burned per year from 2004 through 2007 but an average of more than 140,000 acres burned per year from 2008 through 2014.”

Here is the link to the article:

http://cohousedems.com/index.php/2017/02/08/hamner-to-congress-act-on-wildfires/?platform=hootsuite

January Newsletter

Happy New Year!
 
Last week, as most of House District 61 was enjoying the recent flurry of snowfall, members of the 71st Colorado General Assembly met in Denver for our first day of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Inside the crowded House Chamber, members of the Colorado House of Representatives were sworn in by Chief Justice Nancy Rice

Being sworn in alongside my Joint Budget Committee colleague Rep. Dave Young

My husband Rich joined us in the House Chamber for the ceremony

Celebrating with former legislators Dan Gibbs and Christine Scanlan

After being sworn in by Chief Justice Rice, leadership from both parties addressed the chamber and established their priorities, which will set this year’s legislative agenda.
 
House Speaker Crisanta Duran’s compelling speech highlighted the need for construction defects reform, a comprehensive statewide plan to upgrade Colorado’s overburdened transportation system, a need to address mounting issues in education funding, and a long term solution to the state’s budgeting problems. Her speech ended with an appeal to the chamber and all Coloradans to help ensure that Colorado remains an inclusive state, where the bullying of people because of their gender, race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation is not tolerated.
 
Some of my legislative priorities for 2017 include addressing the cost of health insurance in the western areas of Colorado, increasing equity and adequacy in the way we fund our public schools, protecting our environment and public lands, and ensuring that the state can continue to balance the budget in years to come by addressing some of the constraints we currently face.
 
As always, please contact my office with any suggestions or input regarding any issues you wish to discuss.

Upcoming Events:

Inside Scoop: Conservation Priorities in 2017 
Hosted by Conservation Colorado, Rep. Millie Hamner, Rep. Barbara McLachlan, Sen. Kerry Donovan, Gunnison County Commissioner Jonathan Houck
  • When: Saturday, February 4th from 1:00p to 3:00pm
  • Where: Quigley Hall, Western State Colorado University (600 N. Adams Street, Gunnison, CO 81231)
  • Event Partners: High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA), Gunnison Public Lands Initiative (GPLI), Western State Colorado University, Masters in Environmental Management (MEM)
  • Contact Brien at brien@conservationco.org or 719-322-7050 with any questions.
Community Coffee with Mayor Greg Labbe and Rep. Millie Hamner
  • When: Saturday, January 28th from 9:00am to 10:00am 
  • Where: City on a Hill Coffee and Espresso (508 Harrison Ave #3, Leadville, CO 80461) 
  • Contact Phil at phil.robinson.house@gmail.com or 303-866-2952 with any questions.  

I hope you have a wonderful month!

November Newsletter

With election season now behind us, we are looking forward to the 2017 Legislative Session. The recent election resulted in a slight shift in the makeup of the General Assembly. The Democrats now hold a 37-28 seat majority in the House, with the Republicans holding the Senate by 18 seats to 17. 

I am already back to work with my colleagues on the Joint Budget Committee as we begin the process of crafting the 2017 state budget. Governor Hickenlooper’s initial budget request highlighted some indicators that it will be a challenging budget year. There is a large discrepancy between the pressure on the General Fund and the funds available. Because that difference sits at $500 million, he has proposed a series of ideas to help us balance the budget. Consideration of these strategies will likely result in debates over the coming months that will require us to be diligent in our ability to work across the aisle and come up with solutions that work for the entire state. 

2017 Legislative Agenda: 

I am currently in the process of drafting my 2017 Legislative Agenda. This coming session, I will continue to focus on addressing health insurance costs in the western region of Colorado, increasing equity and adequacy in the way we fund our public schools, protecting our environment, and ensuring that the state can continue to balance the budget in years to come by addressing some of the constraints we currently face. Please feel free to contact my office with any suggestions or input on the coming 2017 legislative session.

I70/CDOT Update: 
Click here for the latest Interchange Newsletter from CDOT. 

  • Independence Pass will close on Thursday, November 17th. 
  • CDOT will be repairing several bridge columns on the I-70 underpass at mile point 180 in East Vail. The project is expected to last until Friday
  • For additional information, visit their website.

Events:
I will be scheduling legislative town halls in each county of HD61 this spring. Stay tuned for updates on when I will be visiting your area! 

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!