Jeffco’s state legislators look forward to 2017 session
By Christy Steadman
Jefferson County’s senators and representatives are looking forward to working hard in the Legislature and in their assigned committees this upcoming legislative year.
Opening day of the 2017 session is Jan. 11.
Rep. Jessie Danielson
“There is a lot to work on this year,” said Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-24, which is Wheat Ridge and Golden. “With the election behind us, it is time to get things done that will make life better for individual Coloradans who are working hard and playing by the rules.”
Selected by Speaker-designate Crisanta Duran, Danielson will serve as the new Speaker Pro Tem. In this role, Danielson will preside over the House when Duran is not present and help ensure that the chamber runs efficiently and fairly, she said.
“Making sure that rules are followed will be critical to ensuring that the interests of Coloradans are being heard in their Legislature,” Danielson said.
This session, Danielson also plans on continuing to fight elder abuse, work for equal pay for women and prioritize policies that support families, such as finding solutions that make housing, health care, transportation and child care more affordable.
Sen. Cheri Jahn
One issue that Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-20, which includes Wheat Ridge, Arvada and Lakewood, is hoping to take care of is construction defects.
Different cities have different policies, Jahn said. “We really need a statewide policy for that.”
Jahn is assigned to the Business, Labor and Technology committee, which she served on for four years when she was in the House, and the past six years as a senator. She is a small business owner and said she will continue to work to make sure there is a good balance for consumers and business owners.
Businesses like certainty, she said.
“If our economy is doing great, it helps our job market,” Jahn said. And “if a business is doing well, then their employees are doing well.”
Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp
Similarly, Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D- 29, which consists of north and east Arvada and part of Westminster, believes she has a good grasp on the needs of the business community. She has owned a small business for 16 years, and has been vice chair of the Business Affairs and Labor Committee in the House for the past four years. She will chair it this year.
“Colorado has one of the top economic situations in the U.S.,” Kraft-Tharp said.
So along with having one of the fastest-growing economies, there are three important aspects, she said — making sure nobody is left behind, that everybody has an opportunity to obtain a good-quality job and working toward bringing back the middle class.
Although not on the Transportation committee this upcoming year — a committee she sat on for the past four years — Kraft-Tharp will stay informed on transportation issues, she said, including being involved with local committees and coalitions.
Rep. Chris Kennedy
“So much of the role of a legislator is about details,” said Chris Kennedy, the incoming representative in District 23, which covers northern and western Lakewood and some of unincorporated Jefferson County with Golden addresses. “Even if it’s not glamorous or big, there are a lot of little things we can do that add up.”
Kennedy is looking forward to serving on the Finance and Health, Insurance and Environment committees, he said. The committees will give him a “real opportunity to dig in.”
The Finance committee will review all existing tax credits, he said.
“We’ll be taking a close look and making sure all the tax credits are doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Kennedy said.
Although he doesn’t know what will happen on a federal level with healthcare, Kennedy will be paying close attention to it, he said. He hopes to determine what is driving healthcare premiums and focus on the cost and quality of healthcare that Coloradans receive.
Sen. Rachel Zen zinger
Along with serving on the Transportation and Education committees, Rachel Zenzinger, the incoming senator in D-19 in Arvada, will also serve on an interim committee called School Safety and Youth in Crisis. This committee will make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning potential bills to enhance school safety, and will work toward the prevention of threats to the safety of students, teachers, school employees, administrators and volunteers in public and private schools.
“Every family wants to ensure their children have the opportunity to get a world-class education, no matter their zip code,” Zenzinger said in a news release. “With my deep background in education, I believe I can be a strong advocate for fully funding our classrooms and leveling the playing field for kids from every part of the state.”