theMAC Impact in the 68th Legislative Session
By Mike Maday
theMAC supported the Joint Resolution designating October 2012 as Conflict Resolution Month in Colorado. This resolution passed both houses of the legislature unanimously. It was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Linda Newell and in the House by Representative Bob Gardner. Mary Zinn, Rita Hyland and other CR Month Synergizers were involved in getting the resolution through another year. MAC members now have the opportunity to work with local governments and groups of conflict resolution practitioners in their communities to hold CR Month activities throughout Colorado in October. Contact Mary and Rita to find out how to help.
Michael Petruzzi and Mike Maday testified last week at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on HB 11-1032, the Restorative Justice Bill sponsored by Representative Pete Lee and Senator Newell. The Bill encourages the use of Restorative Justice practices in a variety of ways in the criminal justice system and the use of RJ in schools. Members of theMAC Legislative Committee including Holly Gorman and Mike Maday testified earlier in the session in favor of this Bill in the House Judiciary Committee. HB11-1032 unanimously passed the House and passed the Senate and will go to the Governor for his signature.
Mike Maday testified in favor of SB 11-172, the Civil Unions Bill which would have extended Colorado dissolution law to cover civil union relationships involving gay or straight couples. This measure would have resulted in an estimated 300-500 civil union dissolution mediation cases annually in Colorado. With bipartisan support it easily passed the Senate but was killed on a straight party line vote in the House Judiciary Committee, six Republicans against and five Democrats in favor.
theMAC opposed SB 11-013 the Alternative Dispute Resolution-Restorative Mediation Bill sponsored by Senator Newell and Rep. Lee. theMAC members gave the Legislative Committee and Board extensive input on this Bill. The huge majority of members providing input expressed opposition to changing the Colorado Dispute Resolution Act to specifically include the terms “restorative mediation” or “restorative justice practices” and applying them to civil cases. We acted on that input and testified against the Bill. It passed the Senate but died in the House Judiciary Committee on a 5-5 vote, with four Republicans and one Democrat opposed.
It is important to acknowledge several theMACmembers who participated in Legislative Committee activities over the past several months. President Fonda Hamilton and Treasurer Kim Hulett, along with other members of the Board, spent considerable time examining legislative initiatives and carrying out our strategy regarding legislation. Mary Zinn, Rita Hyland, Mark Loye, Robin Rossenfeld, Holly Gorman, Dick Fullerton and Michael Petruzzi devoted considerable time to this cause as well and deserve the thanks of other theMACmembers.
It would be great if theMAC members could go to the Colorado General Assembly website, check the vote of your local Senator and Representative on these and other bills and thank them for their support of mediation and conflict resolution where they have done so.
On the federal front, Senator Bennet and Senator Udall’s staff has expressed interest in participating in a bipartisan informational session for theMAC members to address mediator concerns at the federal level, hopefully scheduled sometime late summer or early fall. Contact Mike Maday if you’d like help to get this going.