Lobbying

Current Statewide Urgent Action

Contact your Colorado legislators and the committee members before Feb 16th and ask them to vote against this bill that is so destructive of local rights of representation and removes the urgently needed regulatory input of other Colorado agencies (Colorado Dept of Health and Environment,  Wildlife, Water, Air Quality)
And/or come to the Capitol in Denver, on Feb 16th at 9 am, to testify to the Committee: Capitol Building, Senate Committee, Room 353; Est. time 9:15 and 9:45

Important to counter with:

-Local rights (vs. federal and state rights)

-Inalienable rights

-The plain old common sense of “sustainable” meaning, “can we keep this up and pay for it, have the resources for it…etc?

-And here in CO, point out that China has bought 1/2 interest in Chesapeake energy AND has purchased large holdings for active oil and gas lease development in the Colorado Niobrara shale beds .

So, when the right wing argues that COGCC should have all preemptive rights (as in SB 12 088), removing rights reserved by current law to municipalities, need to assert that:

-It just ain’t natural to cede local rights, inalienable rights of residents, rights to be represented, rights of each local government to decide land use however it sees fit (not according to the dictates of a Big Brother state), that states shouldn’t be meddling in local affairs to determine the character of their towns/counties.

That sustainable development features these common sense questions:

Can we keep this up long-term? Will it come back to bite us? Can we afford all the costs that go with it, including resource costs, other impact costs? Is this in the general interest of our community? Will the level of development planned screw up our water supplies for the future in our semi- arid, increasingly water scarce state? Does it match our master development vision of what kind of city/county we want? These sorts of questions are not linked to any particular political party or organization or agenda- they are “reality check ” questions that have been asked during the thousands of years that people have lived together in large groups.

That Coloradans are not about to trash the vision of the Founding Fathers of our nation, which included inalienable rights to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and don’t want to have some bureaucrat in Denver telling them how their town should look, run, what kind of traffic it should allow, what level of industrialization, etc.

 That the SB 12 088 rule, would extinguish local govt. ability to run their towns and counties as their residents desire, would permit oil companies to take over their towns with 24/7 tanker truck convoys, lights, sound, toxic emissions and toxic spills and accidents of the heavy industrial process of horizontal fracking. Some of those companies are going to be Chinese or Chinese owned. Are they really ready to cede local govt. rule on land use to CHINA? The rest of us, in the reality based community, say Hell No. What do they say?

 Senate Local Government Committee Members:

 JOYCE FOSTER, Chair Capitol Phone: 303-866-4875 

E-Mail:joyce.foster.senate@state.co.us

JEANNE NICHOLSON, Vice Chair Capitol Phone: 303-866-4873

E-Mail: jeanne.nicholson.senate@state.co.us

 IRENE AGUILAR, MD Capitol Phone: 303-866-4852

E-Mail: irene.aguilar.senate@state.co.us

TIM NEVILLE Capitol Phone: 303-866-4859

E-Mail: tim@nevilleforcolorado.com

ELLEN ROBERTS Capitol Phone: 303-866-4884

E-Mail: ellen.roberts.senate@state.co.us

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How To Get /Be Involved In The State Legislature – Make A Difference!

How do I know what bills are pending before the legislature?
There is a grid tracking all introduced bills and where they are in the process called a Status Sheet which is updated daily. Go to http://www.leg.state.co.us/ and click on Status.

How do I know when a bill will be heard in hearing or scheduled for a floor vote?

There is a calendar for the House and for the Senate which is updated daily during session. Go to http://www.leg.state.co.us/ and click on Calendar.

How can I observe or monitor actual legislative proceedings?
You can go to the capitol in person. All are welcome. You can listen to audio broadcast by going to http://www.leg.state.co.us/ and clicking on Audio Broadcast. For proceedings on the House floor you can go to http://www.coloradochannel.net/.

When is the best time to weigh in on legislation?
The earlier the better. If you can weigh in prior to introduction of a bill that has the best window for impact. Otherwise, try to weigh in prior to committee hearing, if possible. If you miss that window you can weigh in at hearing on the floor or as it heads to the 2nd chamber.

What can I do to impact legislation?
You can call, email, write or meet with elected officials, draft letters to the editor or op ed pieces, blog or send information to your e-lists or phone trees to mobilize others to contacted elected officials. You can tell groups and other activists you are affiliated to try to grow a coalition to do the same thing. You can ask legislators to vote yes / no and tell them why and you canshape public opinion by getting education, information out to the press, blogs, or both. You can share research or expertise or prepare a fact sheet to on why to support or oppose a bill.

Who do I contact?
It is always a good idea to contact your own legislator who represents you and let them know you live in their district. You can find out who your elected officials are by contacting:http://www.votesmart.org/index.htm.
You also want to contact the people on the committee prior to a committee vote and the members of the chamber prior to a floor vote. All contact information for legislators can be found at: http://www.leg.state.co.us Click on Contact Information.

Tips for maximum impact on legislators:
Be brief, be polite, include a few reasons, and how to follow up with you for more information.

What if I want to suggest a new bill / law?
You only need to find one legislator willing to introduce your idea as a bill and it can be introduced. The legislative session runs January – May. Given our deadlines it is best to approach a lawmaker by the November prior to the legislative session because we have a limit on the # of bills we can carry.

How do I testify?
You have a constitutional right in Colorado to testify. Show up at the designated time and hearing room (see calendar) and sign in. There will be a witness sign-in sheet for every bill. When the Chairperson calls your name come forward, introduce yourself, who, if anyone you represent. Then prepare about 3 minutes of your comments on whether you support or oppose the bill and why. At that time the committee may have questions. Wait until the Chair calls on you by name to answer. (This creates a clear audio record of who is speaking). Then proceed to answer. If you cannot make it to testify in person, you can also prepare written comments, submit them to the Chair and ask that they be included in the record.

Who is lobbying for / against bills in Colorado?
You can look up information about who lobbies in Colorado, who they work for, how much they are paid, and which bills they are lobbying by going to: http://www.sos.state.co.us/ and click on Lobbyists.

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Legislative Dos and Don’ts (from the Sierra Club, Angela Medbery)

 As a private landowner, renter, interested person, organizational rep you may testify at any single committee hearing you wish.  You may also speak to, write (I prefer postal cards for short notes), telephone, e-mail your own legislators.  Never use an organizations name without their permission.  In fact, it may be more powerful to just represent yourself as an individual.

 

The committee meeting times are publicized.  About 5 minutes before the meeting starts the committee staffer enters the room and you can sign up to testify.  You give your name, address, bill number of interest and whether you support or oppose.  Testimony time is generally limited to a short time period.  I have seen 2-minute testimony times when we fill the room with 50 folks on our side (we lost).  I have seen the time at 5 minutes or at the will of the committee chair.  Sometimes questions are asked of the person giving testimony, sometimes not.

 

It is good to sit in on the committee hearings.  You hear a lot of strange stuff.  Yes, it is okay to testify if you have something to say.  You may want to have information on hard copy for the committee members. Keep it short and have and have one copy for each committee member and one for the staffer.  It is best to be positive in what you are saying, using conciliatory language instead of accusatory words.  Be friendly and smile.

 

You can register in the House minority office (2nd floor between the elevators) as a ‘volunteer lobbyist”.  This permits you to speak to legislators who are not your own.  It also permits you to testify in front of several different committees.  You can pick up the info on volunteer lobbyists in the House Minority office.  Perhaps it is on the Internet.  It is free to be a volunteer lobbyist.  You need only register.  Paid lobbyists have to file all sorts of reports with the Secretary of State.

 

Basically it is helpful if you comb your hair, do not talk to loudly, pause and let them make comments or ask questions or even disagree with you.  Sometimes a legislator will bait you to see how fanatical you are. Don’t take the bait.  The times I was naively successful, our group took around a one pager with the points we considered important and just said something like “We want a yes vote on HB….. and hope you will support the bill.”  That works as a short committee testimony as well.

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