Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Loitering at the State Capitol, without Getting Thrown Out

Location: 1313 Sherman Street, Denver, CO 80203, USA
Lobbying at the Colorado State Capitol. From left:
Meghan Storrie, CML Legislative & Policy Advocate,
Christina Rinderle, Durango City Councilwoman,
Joe Gierlach, Nederland Mayor
photo by: Joe Baker, Dacono Mayor Pro Tem

Lobbying has been going on longer than Colorado has been a state, and there are very specific rules associated with the process. For example, lobbyists are not allowed on the Senate floor, or even touch anything in the chamber for that matter. Over time, customs have been established to address the rules. Continuing our example, the lobbyist can write a message on a slip of paper, and have it delivered to a senator on the floor. The senator can come out into the lobby and speak to the person.

So, the term "lobbying" derives its name from hanging out in the lobby outside the Senate Chambers or the House of Representatives.

Paid corporate lobbying has given the profession a bad reputation, but lobbying can also provide a vehicle for protecting the interests of minority groups (small municipalities in my case) against being oppressed by the majority rule – the tyranny of the majority.

This year's legislative session has been a bit arduous for our state legislators, with last Friday's session lasting past midnight, and most other days until eight or nine in the evening ... even during snow storms. I'm grateful that they are taking the time, to work through the issues.

I am closely following about twenty bills that effect Nederland – A wide range of topics including education, transportation, waste water, healthy forests, emergency preparedness, state finance reform, The Marketplace Fairness Act (internet sales tax), sustainability, economic development, special districts, dogs, and of course three bills on marijuana. I'm also following several other bills that effect the region but may not impact Nederland specifically.

Most of my efforts are in the form of phone calls or participating in policy committee meetings, but I did have a chance for Meghan Storrie (Legislative & Policy Advocate for CML) to take me under her wing, and show me the the most coveted locations in the lobby. I seized opportunities to talk to a few legislators, including our own State Representative, Claire Levy. I was able to witness the 'good lobbyists' in action, from CML and Boulder County, looking out for small towns like Nederland.

I've gained a far greater appreciation, for the true art form, of loitering in the lobby.

All things considered, state legislative issues are mostly aligning in my favor, which is good for our town. It's far easier to swim with the current, and the wind at our back.

[Here is a Video Valediction] This is Celtic pop-rock band, The Corrs covering Jimi Hendrix - Little Wing. [What is a Video Valediction?]
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