Legislators set priorities

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The first post-election town hall for Lakewood legislators was a chance for constituents to let the officials know what issues are key for them in the coming session.

Reps. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, and Max Tyler, D-Lakewood; Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge; Jefferson County Commissioner Casey Tighe; and Jefferson County Board of Education Director Lesley Dahlkemper were all on hand to discuss constituents’ concerns.

“I really think this is one of the most educated citizens groups in Colorado,” Tyler told the group before the meeting started.

The officials noted that at this early stage they do not have their legislation put together yet, which is why constituents getting in touch with their legislators is so important.

The most-discussed issue was education, particularly funding, which Dahlkemper said is an issue all schools districts are addressing because of cuts at the state level.

“We need to be looking at a long-term, sustainable fix,” she said. “We’re looking at how do we revamp K-12 funding.”

Jahn said that while the state definitely has a role to play in some decisions, others should be decided by various school boards, without the state interfering.

One resident suggested using better markers then standardized tests to see how prepared students are to enter the workforce. Dahlkemper said the district needs to not only look at the priorities for students, but also do its best to ensure students have access to “enrichment activities” including sports, music and after-school clubs to help them prepare.

Another topic that drew a lot of discussion was fracking — drilling and injecting water into the ground at high pressure to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas — an issue Tyler said people can expect to hear about during the session.

Many of those who attended the meeting where in favor of more local control on fracking, but the major consensus was that a lot more information — especially about long-term environmental effects — needs to be considered before the process goes into widespread use.

The legislative town halls will be held throughout the legislative session at 9:30 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway.

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