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Legislative Committee 2011 Summary

By Mike Maday

theMAC Legislative Committee was involved in a number of initiatives with the Colorado Legislature, the Governor’s Office and local governments in 2011.

In early January we sponsored a round table discussion for theMAC members with legislators from both sides of the aisle to get an overview of legislation that might affect mediation in the 2011 session of the Colorado General Assembly. Rep. Bob Gardner (R-El Paso County), Senator Linda Newell (D-Jefferson/Arapahoe Counties) and Rep. Pete Lee (D- El Paso County) gave their overview of pending legislation and some tips for members about how to effectively advocate for legislation effecting mediation. Rep. Gardner and Senator Newell sponsored legislation designating October as Conflict Resolution Month in Colorado which Mary Zinn and her CR Month synergizers put together again this year and which the MAC again strongly supported. The resolution passed unanimously in the General Assembly, a first for this resolution. Several members of theMAC were present on the floor of the legislature for the vote on the resolution. Members of theMAC were later involved in promoting Conflict Resolution Month proclamations by dozens of county and local governments across the state.

In addition to the Conflict Resolution Month Resolution, members of theMAC Legislative Committee, theMAC President, Fonda Hamilton, and other members testified on and participated in stakeholder meetings related to several pieces of legislation during the 2012 session. This legislation included restorative justice, restorative mediation and civil unions legislation. Our presence in the Golden Dome helped shape legislation in ways that benefited the mediation profession, reflected theMAC members wishes and helped promote mediation.

In November theMAC cosponsored, in conjunction with the ADR Conference, a Collaboration Summit with leaders in both houses of the Colorado General Assembly and top staff in the Governor’s office, facilitated by Stewart Levin the ADR Conference keynote. Governor Hickenlooper participated in part during this event and I was able to talk with him and other legislative leaders about theMAC’s activities and also promote the FIND-A-MEDIATOR feature of our website. As part of the discussion, I also raised the issue of the cost savings benefits that mediation has realized for state and local governments and the potential for additional savings if incentives to mediate are included in future legislation.

The involvement of members of theMAC and theMAC Board in 2011 in these legislative activities help ensure that a voice for mediation is being heard by our state and local elected officials.