State Rep. Millie Hamner speaks in Aspen at informal town hall
Hectic government sessions since the presidential election delayed state Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, from coming to Aspen, part of House District 61, which she represents. That delay came to an end Saturday when Hamner held an apres-style town hall meeting at Aspen Square Hotel, with about 30 people showing up to listen and ask questions.
“I’m sharing with you what I can have influence over as your state representative,” Hamner said to the audience.
Hamner, who is in her final term, has been a representative since December 2010. She also is the vice chair of the joint budget committee and formerly was the superintendent of schools for Summit County.
The informal Q&A on Saturday covered myriad topics, from the new administration in Washington to education and environment.
“I’ve spent most of my life as an educator, so I just can’t get enough of the education-related policy,” Hamner said. “I’m very involved in all of the education issues going on at the capitol. I’m working on some big-picture education policy.”
There was concern from members of the audience on President Donald Trump’s choice for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and how her policies could impact Colorado.
“So far we haven’t felt immediate effects of that,” Hamner said. “I think Colorado has been lifted up as a model for how to do education reform.”
As part of the budget committee, a lot of what Hamner chose to talk about were the Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment and the Gallagher amendment. The TABOR amendment places a cap on the amount of revenue the state government can retain, while the Gallagher amendment establishes “a ratio that dictates where our state’s total property revenue comes from.”
Hamner said she felt much of the state’s infrastructure is “choked” by tax policies such as these. She also feels there needs to be another dedicated source of tax revenue to help pay for needed infrastructure fixes.
Environment and marijuana questions both were popular, although Hamner admitted it’s too soon into the new administration to know how those areas will be impacted in Colorado.
“Colorado has done a great job working with the oil and gas industry, reaching compromise on the Thompson Divide, putting in place more inspectors,” Hamner said. “I don’t know what the impact is going to be of our new administration.”
Update: This story has been changed to reflect that Hamner is no longer the chairwoman of the House Education Committee.
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