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Rep. Mike Coffman briefs Brighton City Council, reads to Pennock students

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, made a couple of stops in Brighton this week to meet with constituents.

On Tuesday, April 23,, the congressman updated Brighton City Council on legislation pertinent to the state. On Wednesday, he read to students at Pennock Elementary School.

Among the items addressed by Coffman at council was a bill he's co-sponsoring with U.S. Rep Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, that would amend federal banking regulations to allow banks in Colorado to handle funds from marijuana sales. Coffman said he believes the existing regulations are a problem for the new industry because it's an all-cash business.

“ I think that in being an all-cash business, it lends itself to criminality, it lends itself to organized crime, and I think on a revenue collection standpoint, I think it makes enforcement difficult because where is the audit trail that you would have from a banking relationship,” he said.

Coffman believes it's going to be a difficult bill to pass because representatives from states that have not decriminalized marijuana think it's the state's problem. He said he's been meeting with Republican leadership to get them to schedule the bill for a vote.

He also discussed the issue of the under-construction Veterans Affairs hospital in north Aurora being over budget and well behind schedule. He said although the clinic is not in Brighton, “it's certainly important to veterans in this community.”

According to Coffman, the mismanagement of the Aurora clinic project fits with the pattern of other major medical facilities the VA is building in New Orleans and Orlando. He anticipates the case will come before a court in May as part of the appeals process and that a decision would be made by the end of the year; however, he believes it's likely they'll run out of money before the end of the year.

“It makes my role somewhat difficult, because I believe I'm going to have to go before the Congress and ask for a lot more money to complete the project,” he said “I think there's a legislative fix here and that is to insert the Army Corps of Engineers into the project.”

Coffman let council know he would be supporting The Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow sales tax from internet retailers to be remitted to the Department of Revenue to be remitted to the city. He also would like to set up a roundtable between U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, of Pennsylvania, and representatives of cities in his congressional district.