Tribute, Resolution, or Memorial – Making the Right Choice

By Patti Dahlberg

When legislators wish to show support for individuals or groups, make public statements about issues or concerns, or ask Congress to take action on a matter, they can request a tribute, resolution, or memorial to get the job done. Legislators decide what they wish to do, and the legislative rules direct them how to get it done.

This handy guide sums up these rules for making the right choice. For example, if a legislator wants to congratulate someone, a tribute is the way to go. It is an appropriate and efficient way to send congratulations to people or organizations or to recognize service to the state. In fact, whenever a legislator wishes to “officially” congratulate, recognize, express appreciation, commemorate, or even create a day of recognition, the rules pretty much scream “tribute”.

Tributes

Tributes are non-legislative actions and DO NOT require introduction, calendaring, or floor action.

Tributes are a very efficient and effective way for legislators to show support for individuals or groups. Legislators are not limited in the number of tributes they may request, but

House Tribute

they do need permission from the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate (depending on the house of origin) before the tribute can be issued. The tribute’s content is unique to each request and is designed to fit the needs of each requestor — it can be short and created fairly quickly, or it can be longer and more detailed (based on information provided by the legislator). Tributes are easier to present to an individual or a group as they can be scheduled around the recipient’s and legislator’s calendars rather than the legislative calendar.  In addition, they can go on the road—the legislator can conveniently award them anywhere and any time.

Tributes are personalized and look special. They are printed in a special font, on special paper, and placed in a special folder or, if preferred (and at a slight cost), in a frame for display. Tributes are signed by the Speaker or the President or, in the case of joint tributes, both.

House Tributes:

  • The House will not issue a tribute unless the Speaker of the House has given her permission;
  • The Chief Clerk of the House maintains copies of each tribute issued for two years.

Under House Rule 26A, a request should be a tribute if it pertains to any of the following:

  • Offering congratulations for significant public achievement;
  • Recognizing meritorious individual achievement;
  • Expressing appreciation for service to the state or the General Assembly;
  • Recognizing an individual’s service in the military (except in the case of recognizing an individual who died while serving, which can be done by House Resolution or Joint Resolution, see House Rule 26 (a)(2)(C));
  • Extending greetings to prominent visitors to the state;
  • Recognizing or commemorating any individual, organization, or group for a significant event or accomplishment;
  • Congratulating the members of an academic or athletic organization for achieving a specific historical, scientific, educational, or athletic goal, such as winning a league, state, or national title, competition, or championship; or
  • Designating a specified day for observing any of the achievements, events, service, or accomplishments set forth above.

Senate Tributes:

  • The Senate will not issue a tribute unless the President of the Senate has given his permission;
  • Tributes are printed in the journal by title on the day following the issuance;
  • A list of all tributes requested in the Senate is available for inspection in the office of the Secretary of the Senate.

Under Senate Rule 30A, a request should be a tribute if it pertains to any of the following:

  • Offering congratulations for significant public achievements;
  • Recognizing meritorious individual achievement;
  • Expressing appreciation for service to the state or the General Assembly;
  • Recognizing an individual’s service in the military; or
  • Extending greetings to prominent visitors to the state.

The House and the Senate Rules state that a request should be a Memorial Tribute or a Joint Memorial Tribute if it expresses sentiment on the death of a person who has not served as a member of the General Assembly (except for the House exceptions listed above regarding military, law enforcement, and firefighting personnel who died while serving) or, in the Senate, meets the exceptions allowed under the rules for Senate Memorials and Joint Memorials. (Senate Rule 30 (d).)

All requests for tributes must be made to the staff designated by the Chief Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Senate.

Resolutions

Resolutions are non-statutory actions but DO require introduction, calendaring, and floor action.

House Resolutions:

  • Representatives are limited to a total of two resolutions or joint resolutions, unless they receive special permission.
  • Resolutions and joint resolutions must be introduced prior to the last thirty legislative days as required in Joint Rule 23 (g).
  • Upon introduction, they are read into the record by title only and copies are printed.
  • At the discretion of the Speaker, they can either be laid over for one day before being acted on or referred to a committee of reference.
  • No action is taken on the resolution or joint until it is printed.

Under House Rule 26, a request can be a House Joint Resolution if it pertains to:

  • Transacting the business of both the House and the Senate;
  • Establishing committees comprised of members of both houses;
  • Recognizing an individual member of the armed forces of this country who has died while serving in the armed forces or an individual member of a police, sheriff, or fire department who has died while performing duties for the department; or
  • Expressing the will of both houses on a matter not mentioned in House Rule 26A (i.e., not a tribute).

In addition, but only in the House, pursuant to House Rule 26 (a)(3.5)(A):

  • Up to six resolutions recognizing or commemorating an individual, organization, or group for a significant event or accomplishment (i.e., which would normally have to be addressed through tributes) may be approved by the Speaker after consultation with the Majority Leader; and
  • Up to four resolutions recognizing or commemorating an individual, organization, or group for a significant event or accomplishment (i.e., which normally would have to be addressed through tributes) may be approved by the Speaker after consultation with the Minority Leader.

Senate Resolutions:

  • Senators are limited to a total of three resolutions or joint resolutions, unless they receive special permission.
  • Resolutions and joint resolutions must be introduced prior to the last thirty legislative days as required in Joint Rule 23 (g).
  • Upon introduction, they are printed in the journal by title only and copies are printed.
  • At the discretion of the President, they can be acted on immediately, laid over, or referred to a committee of reference.
  • Resolutions and joint resolutions determined by the Majority Leader to be noncontroversial can be placed on the consent calendar.

Under Senate Rule 30, a request can be a Senate Joint Resolution if it pertains to:

  • Transacting the business of both the House and the Senate;
  • Establishing investigating committees comprised of members of both houses; or
  • Expressing the will of both houses on a matter not mentioned in Senate Rule 30A (i.e., not a tribute).

Any of the above can be a House Resolution or Senate Resolution if it pertains to similar matters as listed for the joint resolutions, but does not require concurrence of the other chamber or relates solely to the will of one chamber.

All requests for resolutions and memorials must be submitted to the Office of Legislative Legal Services. In 2018, the deadline for requesting resolutions and memorials is Friday, April 6, and the deadline for introducing resolutions is Monday, April 9.

Memorials

Memorials are non-statutory actions but DO require introduction, calendaring, and floor action.

House Memorials:

  • At the discretion of the Speaker, a former member of the House may be admitted to the House floor to address House members regarding the person being memorialized.
  • The House shall stand in recess to hear an address by a former member.

Under House Rule 26, the request is a House or House Joint Memorial ifit expresses sentiment on the death of a person who served as a member of the General Assembly.

Senate Memorials:

  • At the discretion of the President, a former member of the Senate may be admitted to the Senate floor to address Senate members regarding a memorial expressing sentiment on the death of a person who served as a member of the Senate.

Under Senate Rule 30, the request is a Senate or Senate Joint Memorial if:

  • It expresses sentiment on the death of a person or persons who served as members of the General Assembly, present or former elected State officials, present or former justices of the Colorado Supreme Court, members of Congress, elected officials of other states or of the United States, or foreign dignitaries; or
  • It memorializes the U.S. Congress on any matter.

All requests for resolutions and memorials must be submitted to the Office of Legislative Legal Services. In 2018, the deadline for requesting resolutions and memorials is Friday, April 6, and the deadline for introducing resolutions is Monday, April 9.