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Legislative session preview: Representative Meghan Lukens

State Representative Meghan Lukens
Courtesy photo
State Representative Meghan Lukens

With the 2024 legislative session beginning tomorrow, January 10th, KDNK decided to reach out to legislators that serve where our listeners live. News Director Hattison Rensberry asked about their main priorities for this session. Here is Colorado House Representative Meghan Lukens of the 26th District.

" Lukens: Bills that I'm working on can, for the most part, fall into three categories. One, it would be economic prosperity, two would be education, and three would be mental health.
So two of the bills that I'm working on related to economic prosperity, in relation to the rural jumpsuit. start program, which will really support Western slope small businesses.

So this bill will extend a program that is already very successful, but provides financial incentives to small businesses to open in rural areas and will create support and retain jobs. And so this program has, and will continue to uplift. Our rural communities, our small businesses, and our workers. Our businesses need as much help as they can get and the Rural Jumpstart Program will certainly be supportive in that.

And then the second bill that I'm working on in relation to economic prosperity is known as Opportunity Now. So, Opportunity Now is a program that boosts Colorado's workforce, and this bill will do so by reinvesting in Opportunity Now grants, and so this is another successful program that seeks innovative solutions to meet Colorado's workforce needs through industry and education collaboration, and this bill will allocate money towards Opportunity Now grant program and establishing Opportunity Now refundable tax credit.

So, another bill that I'm working on in relation to education is an advisory committee. So, this advisory committee will be focused on the safety and well being of students and teachers in our schools. Sadly, we've seen a rise in safety related issues at our schools. And so, this advisory committee will review, investigate, and make recommendations to improve the safety of our schools for everyone.

And then the next The next bill that I'm working on kind of bridges the, the education and mental health issues. It's a bill that will be an interstate mobility compact for school psychologists. So, last year I passed legislation that will be interstate teacher mobility compact, and so this is the exact same bill.

same concept, however, it's for school psychologists, so this bill will ensure high quality school psychologists will not have as many barriers when moving to the state of Colorado through the Mobility Compact process, and so one of the major barriers as far as time and money is having to get re licensure when moving, and that can create an additional barrier for school psychologists when they're wanting to move into our schools, and so this Mobility Compact will support People that are in other states, and as far as easily being able to transfer their licensure program, their licensure to the state of Colorado.

Um, and this especially helps our military families, because our military families have to move so much. And, and obviously, anything we can do to support getting more school psychologists into our schools. And then, another bill that I'm working on as far as mental health. is a bill that will establish an agricultural liaison position within the Behavioral Health Administration.

We know that one of the most pervasive issues within our rural communities is the increase of mental health issues, um, especially in our agricultural communities. So, um, farmers, ranchers, other industry workers, we need to make sure they're not forgotten by the broader mental health industry, and that's why I'm working on this bill as well.

Rensberry: Who is it in the legislature that you are the most excited to collaborate with in this new legislative session?

 Lukens: It is essential to me to work in a bipartisan manner. That means working on bills that are sponsored by both a Democrat and a Republican. I have heard loud and clear from my constituents that they want bipartisan policy
And so I am looking forward to working with all of my colleagues across the aisle. I genuinely believe that bipartisan policy is better policy. So always happy to work in a bipartisan manner. But if I were to choose one person, I'd probably say, uh, Senator Dylan Roberts, because he and I do most of our, our bills together.

A lot of my bills are what he carries in the, in the Senate. Um, I, I represent four counties, so Moffat, Rio Blanco, most of Eagle, and then all of route counties and all four of those counties are within, uh, Senator Roberts. Senate district. And so, um, uh, it's imperative that we, we, we work on a lot of bills together so that we can maximize the help that we're giving to our constituents in either route Moffat and Rio Blanco counties."

Each of the legislators encouraged constituents to contact their offices with questions or needs. It should be noted that the audio quality on this phone interview clip is somewhat rough, and a full transcript to assist with clarity is available on our website, KDNK dot org, along with other interviews from this series.

Hattison Rensberry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Drawing, but has worked for newsrooms in various capacities since 2019.
She also provides Editorial Design for the Sopris Sun.