Checking In on the 2013 Legislative Interim Committees

by Kate Meyer

At this point in the summer, the 2013 legislative interim committees are well underway. So far, the committees have spent much of their time getting organized and gathering information through meetings and tours that they have conducted both in the Capitol and around the state.

You may have noticed that the Legislative Council Staff and the Office of Legislative Legal Services assign staff members, based on their expertise, to assist each of these committees.  See the listing below for the staff assignments for each committee.

In the early phases of each summer’s interim committees, the staff’s responsibilities vary according to each committee’s needs.  LCS staff work with the committee chairs to schedule the meetings and tours, organize the meeting agendas, and schedule speakers. After the meetings, the LCS staff are responsible for preparing summaries and, at the conclusion of the meeting schedule, the LCS staff prepare the final committee reports.  Additional staff responsibilities that LCS staff and the OLLS share may include briefing committees on their charges, attending hearings and tours, updating committees on relevant legislation or litigation, and apprising committees regarding other discrete areas of interest.

As the interim winds down and committees begin to review their findings and entertain legislative recommendations, the OLLS staff, as the bill-drafters for the General Assembly, assume a more prominent role in committee proceedings. While a committee may not recommend  every bill that is drafted ( a committee must vote on each bill draft  , and, absent a waiver, may not recommend more than eight bills to the Legislative Council), the OLLS staff must draft each bill request so that the committees can consider each concept. This year, the committees must take action to recommend proposed legislation by Oct. 31. (Note:  Pursuant to Joint Rule 24(b)(1)(D),  interim committee bills are exempt from a sponsoring member’s five-bill limit.)   The Legislative Council, pursuant to section 2-3-303 (1) (f), C.R.S., will meet on Nov. 14, to vote whether to approve  the recommended bills.

The following interim committees are active currently. Please note: the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice and the Legislative Digital Policy Advisory Committee have been omitted from the list  because these entities do not recommend bills.  Year-round committees that meet during the interim are also excluded.

Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force. (LCS staff: Larson Silbaugh, Rachel Kurtz-Phelan, Ron Kirk, and Keshia Duncan; OLLS staff: Brita Darling.)
This task force, which is comprised of 10 legislators, was established to “develop a strategic, integrated, and comprehensive plan that, once implemented, will expand economic opportunities in Colorado and, by 2019, reduce by at least fifty percent the number of Coloradans, including children and families, living in poverty.”  The task force is holding six meetings at the Capitol and taking one tour. There are also several subcommittees that are meeting at the Capitol.

Juvenile Defense Attorney Interim Committee. (LCS staff: Hillary Smith, Dave DeNovellis, and Kerry White; OLLS staff: Richard Sweetman.)
One of two brand-new interim committees this year, the Juvenile Defense Attorney Interim Committee was formed to study and address matters relating to juvenile criminal defense, including current laws, procedures, and practices for the appointment of counsel, advisement of rights, and waivers of counsel, for children in juvenile delinquency court; how determinations of juvenile indigence are made for the purpose of appointing court-appointed counsel; and methods for improving professionalism in the practice of juvenile defense. The committee consists of 20 members: 10 legislator-members and 10 nonvoting members with expertise in various aspects of juvenile defense. The committee has scheduled six meetings at the Capitol

Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension Reform Commission. (LCS staff: Damion Pechota and Alex Schatz; OLLS staff: Nicole Myers.)
Created in 1996, this commission is directed to “study and develop proposed legislation relating to funding of police officers’ and firefighters’ pensions in this state and benefit designs of such pension plans.” The 15-legislator commission is scheduled to meet on Sept. 30.

Transportation Legislation Review Committee.  (LCS staff: Kelli Kelty, Kristen Johnson, and Jon Senft; OLLS staff: Jason Gelender, Jery Payne, and Chuck Brackney.)
The TLRC has existed in some form or another since 1953 (when the entity was denominated the “Highway Legislation Review Committee”).  With three field tours planned from July through September to Northern Colorado, Southern Colorado, and the Western Slope, the TLRC has perhaps the most geographically ambitious schedule of the interim committees. The TLRC also has three meetings scheduled at the Capitol in October.  The TLRC consists of 18 legislators (five senators and 13 representatives).

Water Resources Review Committee.  (LCS staff: David Beaujon, Brooke Maddaford, and Clare Pramuk; OLLS staff: Tom Morris and Jennifer Berman.)
The 10-member WRRC is tasked with reviewing water issues and proposing legislation related to the conservation, use, development, and financing of Colorado’s water resources. In fulfilling this charge, the committee is required to consult with experts in the field of water conservation, quality, use, finance, and development. This year, the WRRC is conducting  seven hearings at the Capitol and two field trips.

Wildfire Matters Review Committee. (LCS staff: Bo Pogue, Brooke Maddaford, and Alex Schatz; OLLS staff: Bob Lackner, Kate Meyer, and Tom Morris.)
In 2012, the Lower North Fork Wildfire Commission recommended a bill to create a permanent interim committee as a forum through which the General Assembly would review state policies and resources addressing wildfire prevention and mitigation and the successful implementation and execution of  these policies. The resulting Wildfire Matters Review Committee is a 10-legislator body that addresses wildfire prevention and mitigation and reviews and proposes legislation relating to  these matters. The WMRC next meets on Sept. 6.

Early Childhood and School Readiness Legislative Commission.  In the 2013 legislative session, the General Assembly recreated the ECSRC  to study issues and recommend legislation concerning early childhood and school readiness, including health care, mental health, parental involvement, family support, child care, and early learning. The ECSRC was not prioritized to receive funding, so it is not staffed by either the LCS or the OLLS. The commission is authorized to recommend interim committee bills, and it is meeting in the Capitol Sept. 17 and Oct. 16.

For more information, including the organic statute, composition, current and past agendas, and meeting summaries for each committee, please click here.

And, stay tuned to LegiSource in the next few months for articles summarizing the legislative interim committees’ work and recommendations