The May 14, 2012 hearing of the Colorado House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on the Civil Unions Bill, HB12-1006 gave theMAC an opportunity to have a seat at the table as the legislature addressed
the Civil Unions Bill, the legislation that caused the shut down of the legislature and the Governor’s call for an unprecedented special session. Representing theMAC, I was included in the very limited testimony on sponsor Rep. Mark Ferrandino’s list to represent organizations supporting Civil Unions. The hearing took place before a huge overflow crowd in the largest hearing room in the capital. (See link at end of this article for more on my testimony).
The opportunity to testify at this hearing represents an important achievement in the goal of having the mediation community meaningfully represented in discussions of legislation affecting our members.
The point here is not on which side of this particular piece of legislation we weighed-in as much as the fact that mediators were represented at this historic hearing. Over the past three years representing theMAC at the legislature, I have noticed that members of the general assembly and the Governor now know the Mediation Association of Colorado and who we represent. I believe this can be traced back to our voice being heard as we weighed-in to support (or oppose) several pieces of legislation: e.g. the civil unions, restorative justice and restorative mediation bills in 2011 and our support over the past several years for the Conflict Resolution Month resolution.
Also, last fall I gave a presentation to members of the legislature and Governor Hickenlooper at the Conflict Resolution Summit for legislative leaders that theMAC co-sponsored in conjunction with the ADR conference. The Governor said “Oh sure, I know who you guys are”. This session, for the first time, I was asked by a state legislator, Senator Linda Newell, to draft a mediation clause for a piece of legislation she was sponsoring regarding reforming landlord tenant law.
This isn’t the first time mediators have been heard by our lawmakers. In years past, CCMO (the precursor to theMAC) was involved in the initial drafting of the Colorado Dispute Resolution Act (CDRA), HOA mediation legislation and in other areas. It is important that mediators keep our presence felt every year under the Golden Dome.
Next year, there promises to be plenty of legislation afoot that may impact mediators. In addition to the Conflict Resolution month resolution and civil unions bill, HOA reform and possibly a revision of CDRA are in the offing. There may be other areas where well-drafted legislation could enhance the environment for mediators in Colorado. If you have any ideas in that regard, please contact me and we can discuss ways to get the ear of potential sponsors. theMAC Legislative committee will also need your help beginning next fall as the 2013 session approaches in January, so please contact me if you wish to get involved. No lobbying experience is necessary. And by far the best way for mediators to influence legislators is to talk, write and email your local members of the legislature directly with your ideas about mediation related legislation. They listen to their constituents more than anyone. And in this election year you also have an opportunity to educate candidates about mediation and support those candidates who will advocate for mediation when elected.
- Mike Maday, theMAC Legislative Committee Chair