How to Influence Colorado State Pending Legislation – A Checklist

Selina Baschiera, Updated February 5, 2024

A bill that you are interested in is pending. What can a concerned citizen do?

Community Engagement

  • Do independent research by reading the text of the proposed bill as compared to the current law. Compile information from reputable sources to confirm its impacts. Understand the perspectives of the bill’s supporters and opposers.
  • Determine if you desire to support the bill as drafted, seek to have it amended, or want it “killed” – a bill is “killed” when it is postponed indefinitely (“PI’d”). It will no longer be reviewed for approval during the current legislative session.
  • Seek to build support for your position with colleagues, business associates, friends, and neighbors. Be open to conversations with others who may not share your position initially. If you are comfortable, present those who are indifferent or opposed with compelling information supporting your perspective.
  • Identify special interest groups who share your perspective to review their commentary and engage in active dialogue about the legislation’s potential impacts. Enlist the support of any professional, social, or community organizations that might concur with your position.
  • Give your own reasons why the bill is either good, bad, or should be amended. Be clear on your objection or support and why you are invested in a certain outcome for the bill.
  • Consider the constituency for the pending bill. Who are they? What is their motivation? How big or small are they? Be careful about engaging with them before knowing their background.

Legislature Engagement

  • Learn about the process in Colorado for how a bill becomes a law. This flowchart may be helpful.
  • Initially, focus on contacting just those committee members of the first committee who will hear the bill.
  • Be ready to present your point of view to your legislator and those on the first committee to hear the bill in writing before the bill goes to its first hearing. Prepare in advance by educating yourself on relevant facts and talking points and be specific in your communication.
  • Attend a Town Hall meeting to speak to your position and hear the perspective of others. This may be a good opportunity to meet your legislator and speak to your position in an informal setting.
  • Send emails – not one, but several – and/or call your legislator and each committee member to speak to them, to their aid or intern, or leave a message.
    • Emails, phone calls, and messages should be brief, clear, and formal. Include your name and contact information if you would like legislators to respond.
    • If you are comfortable with an in-person or virtual meeting, call the legislator’s office to see if they can coordinate an opportunity to meet.
  • Plan to attend the hearing and testify. If the bill has drawn a lot of attention, the hearing may be moved to a room that allows for greater attendance.
    • Be patient with legislative scheduling as committees may change the order of bills under review and testimony may be a time-consuming process.
    • Ultimately, many committee members will have made up their minds before hearing testimony. The best way to influence, amend, or kill a bill is not with testimony at the hearing – it’s with emails and phone calls from you, your colleagues, business associates, friends, neighbors, and more before the hearing in the first committee.
    • If you are more comfortable listening to or watching the committee, you may do so here:
  • If the bill passes the initial committee, then you may decide to contact the entire state chamber that the bill will go to next – either the State House of Representatives or the State Senate.
  • If the bill passes the first chamber, then start the process over with your legislator in that chamber and the assigned committee.
  • After the bill passes the second chamber and before it goes to the Governor, reach out directly to the Governor’s office with your input on the bill.
    • Contact the Majority Leader’s/Speaker’s and Minority Leader’s offices for both chambers/parties to reiterate your support or objections.
  • Remember to be courteous and respectful to your opposition throughout this process. You may be looking to change minds, but individuals have different life experiences that may ultimately determine their decision.
    • There are inevitably more changes coming to the law year over year. Maintaining relationships over time may help you in the future if and when you find yourselves more aligned.
  • Participation in this process makes a difference. Willingness to be involved and encouraging others to take an active role in the development of state law is impactful.
  • Play fair – even though some say, “All is fair in love, war, and politics!”

Good luck!

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