by Debbie Haskins
Legislators, especially those serving in their first legislative session, often comment that they wish they had more time to work on their bills. They sometimes learn the hard way that failure to engage in robust stakeholder processes leads to bills that are difficult to pass. Sometimes it takes multiple bill drafts before all sides feel that the concerns they represent are adequately addressed. While the interim is a good time for legislators to take a well-deserved break from the hectic pace of the previous legislative session, many also find that the interim is a great opportunity to prepare for the upcoming legislative session.
During the interim, legislative staff in the Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS) can assist legislators in the following ways:
- Researching what other states do to combat a particular problem the legislator is interested in addressing via legislation;
- Researching prior legislative efforts in Colorado to address a particular issue;
- Researching legal issues that arise in proposed legislation;
- Facilitating discussions or participating in stakeholder meetings that bring a wide variety of parties together to discuss how to address particular issues; and
- Drafting and redrafting bills.
Legislators may ask an OLLS attorney to attend drafting meetings or stakeholder meetings that are held at the State Capitol Building or in the Capitol Complex. While OLLS cannot attend meetings with or on behalf of a legislator outside of the Capitol Complex, OLLS attorneys can communicate by e-mail, telephone, or conference call with legislators who are not able to travel to the Capitol Complex.
In addition, OLLS staff provides legal research and bill drafting for interim committees and committees that meet year-round, such as the Capital Development Committee, Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws, Committee on Legal Services, Joint Technology Committee, and Statutory Revision Committee.
If you are a new legislator—or even if you have a couple of sessions under your belt—you may want to use the interim to brush up on the legislative procedures or learn more about a particular subject area. The OLLS staff are available to help in these areas, as well. Staff attorneys are happy to provide one-on-one review sessions of the legislative rules or to help you drill down in understanding Colorado’s laws on a particular subject. Also, each interim, the OLLS provides in-house continuing legal education (CLE) programs. Legislators, especially those who are attorneys, are welcome to attend. Contact Julie Pelegrin or Brita Darling to receive notice of these programs. For more information on all of the OLLS’s interim activities, click here.
Nonpartisan legislative staff at the OLLS are here to help legislators maximize their interim. Let us help you get a jump start on the 2018 legislative session.