Last month, we talked about why it is important to go beyond voting to be an engaged citizen of our State of Colorado. You’ll remember that we elect “our neighbors” to represent us at the Capitol, and that they need our help to be their most effective. Here we offer some tips on how to make those contacts and give that help. Remember that the 2019 session begins on January 4, 2019.
- Bills are drafted over the summer or fall and must be in the hands of Legislative Legal Services (LLS) by November. LLS writes the bills, which requires knowledge of existing statutes, experience, and legal skills.
- Leadership of each house assigns legislators to committees. Legislators typically request certain committees.
- Understand that legislators are very busy. They have many demands on their time. They often have long hearings and sessions in the Capitol along with community events to attend.
- Be respectful of your legislator’s time, both in informal meetings and in committee meetings.
- If you send your legislator an email or letter, identify yourself as living in the district they represent and make your message short and to the point. Legislators always tend to pay more attention to opinions and comments coming from citizens living in their district.
- In your message, get to the point and keep it simple with a few key points. If you have statistics or facts about an issue, these can be very valuable to the legislator in forming an opinion about your issue.
- During the legislative session legislators are very busy particularly when the long bill is reviewed in late March and during the last few weeks of the session.
- In general, each legislator may introduce five bills in each session, and oftentimes more. There are 100 legislators in Colorado, so this works out to 500+ bills that are reviewed each legislative session (last session it was nearly 800, for a variety of reasons).
Each legislator has a part-time aide who is restricted to 800 paid hours per session. Remember that these people are typically young and eager to be of service and come to their job with a strong interest in politics and public service. They are paid relatively little, work long hours, with very full days, and no doubt some of those hours are unpaid. When you call in treat them with respect: they are there to help their legislator, and in turn, to help Colorado citizens.
The Colorado Senior Lobby website has more tips about contacting legislators and is available to help you figure out who to contact about your issue. Explore our website. You can always contact us by phone as well: 303 832 4535.
As a reminder, the Colorado Senior Lobby website has a link on the home page to the “Find My Legislator” webpage on the Colorado General Assembly website. Each of us should know who is representing us both in the Colorado House of Representatives and the Colorado Senate. With this knowledge, you will start noticing more about what is going on in the legislature.
The Colorado Senior Lobby website also provides information, starting after the General Assembly convenes in January, regarding legislative proposals which may impact Colorado’s older adults. Access to that page is for members only. Join today; it’s easy and only requires a small contribution.
And save the date for Senior Day at the Capitol 2019. This year the event is on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. – LEARN MORE
Article by Robert Brocker
President of Colorado Senior Lobby
Email – CLICK HERE
Bob is on the board of a A Little Help, member of the DRCOG Advisory Committee on Aging, and an active Citizen Senior Advocate