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New members for budget panel, big vacancy on House Education

Two key Democratic members of the House Education Committee, including the chair, have been named to the Joint Budget Committee, opening the way for big changes on the education panel.

Reps. Millie Hamner of Dillon and Dave Young of Greeley were named to the budget committee Wednesday by Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst of Boulder, who will be speaker of the House next year.

Hamner, retired superintendent of the Summit County Schools, has been chair of House Education for the last two sessions. She was at the center of negotiations and decisions on school funding during the 2014 session. In 2013 she was the prime House sponsor of Senate Bill 13-213, the proposed school finance overhaul that didn’t go into effect because voters rejected the income tax increase needed to pay for it.

Because of their workload, JBC members don’t serve on other committees, so the departure of Hamner and Young leaves a couple of big gaps on the education committee, which already has lost several members because of term limits.

Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon / File photo
Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon / File photo

Hullinghorst didn’t announce any other committee assignments Wednesday. Budget committee appointments had to be made now because the JBC already is holding briefings and hearings on 2015-16 budgets for state agencies.

The Nov. 4 election gave Republicans an 18-17 majority in the Senate and Democrats continued control of the House. That shift required reshuffling JBC membership, which is split 3-3 between senators and representatives. The changes mean that four legislators will be new and facing the steep learning curve for first-time JBC members.

Veteran committee member Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, will be chair. Other Senate members are Sens. Pat Steadman, D-Denver and one of the legislature’s top budget experts, and Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City and a newcomer.

Joining Hamner and Young from the House will be Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, who started sitting in on JBC sessions at the very end of the 2014 session.

Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, is leaving the JBC to become majority leader. Rep. Jenise May, D-Aurora, lost her bid for reelection so won’t be returning to the committee.

With Hamner and Young leaving House Education, only four of the seven Democrats who served on the panel last session remain in the House for possible reappointment to the 2014 panel. They are Reps. John Buckner of Aurora, Lois Court of Denver, Rhonda Fields of Aurora and Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood. The chair presumably will be one of those four.

Republican members of the 2014 committee who won reelection to the House are Reps. Justin Everett of Lakewood, Kevin Priola of Henderson and Jim Wilson of Salida.

One Democratic and two Republican members of the committee were term-limited, and Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, is moving to the Senate.

Senate Republicans already have made their committee assignments, and the new education committee leaders are Sens. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs as chair and Vicki Marble of Fort Collins as vice chair. They will be joined by newcomers Holbert, Tim Neville and Laura Woods, both of Lakewood.

Senate Democrats haven’t yet received committee assignments. Three 2014 members – Sens. Mike Johnston of Denver, Andy Kerr of Lakewood (chair last session) and Nancy Todd of Aurora – remain in the Senate.

House Republicans also haven’t yet made committee assignments.

Read Hullinghorst’s release on the JBC appointments here.

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