Colorado Senior Lobby was quite active this year. We increased our presence at the Capitol; testifying on 25 bills, some multiple times; training 17 CSL members on the legislative process and enrolling them as volunteer senior lobbyists with the House and the Secretary of State; and, writing many letters to legislators to support or oppose pending legislation.
We provided training on “How to Read the Long Bill,” staffed a core group of three to six members at the Capitol two to three times a week and invested more than 600 hours of volunteer lobbying during the 2017 session. This does not include the many hours spent at our weekly Monday meetings where our positions on bills are debated by our Legislative Committee.
We would like to give a BIG THANK YOU to our core group of volunteer lobbyists: Diane Robinson, Peter Wein, Christina Johnson, Bob Broker, Sharon Sloane, Fran Maes, Ed Shackelford, and Jeanette Hensley. We met at the Capitol twice a week for 17 weeks, sometimes for only two hours a day; but, we averaged about four hours a day. Some weeks, we were there three to four days a week; and, the latest we stayed was until 10:40 p.m. to testify on a bill. This does not include the successful “Senior Day at the Capitol” event; which is our signature event involving hundreds of CSL members.
Was our lobbying successful? Of the 25 bills we testified on behalf of CSL, 14 have either been signed by the Governor or are on his desk for signature, and 9 were Postponed Indefinitely – or killed. We testified 47 different times in the committees; and, Fran Maes, Diane Robinson, Jeanette Hensley and Ed Shackelford sat in on hearings in the Appropriation Committee and the Joint Budget Committee letting the members know that CSL is concerned about the funding of programs. We made it a point to sit in the front rows of every committee so the members could see our Colorado Senior Lobby name tags. We believe this really helped to drive home the point that seniors matter and seniors care.
By the end of the session, our relationships matured and many of the legislators began to know us and recognize we represented CSL. We would have the legislators request that we testify on their bill as they knew that our testimony was heartfelt and represented over 550 members state-wide.
CSL has been asked to sit in on some meetings throughout the summer and fall to help discuss different issues that may impact seniors. One specific topic is the Homestead Exemption, with others including affordable housing, Medicaid notices, helping people save for retirement and mobile homes.
Jeanette Hensley is Treasurer of the Colorado Senior Lobby Board. She worked for the state of Colorado for more than 30 years and is a former director of Colorado’s Aging and Adult Services.