MAC Blog – Mediating Like A Star

By Dr. Louis L. Fletcher, Board Member and Professional MAC Member 

Introduction

The STAR mediation model is a five-stage tool that diagrams a systematic approach to mediation. The acronym STAR spells out Stage, Tasks, Actions, and Results, which are the taxonomic headings that frame the process. The five stages of STAR are Convening, Opening, Communicating, Negotiating, and Closing. The headings and the stages interact to constitute a 5 by 4 matrix (Figure 1) where “Results” have desired notional end states. The five desired results of STAR are Willingness, Safety and Hope, Expression, Flexibility and Innovation, and Informed Decision. 

The stages and results are dependent variables in the matrix, so “Tasks” and “Actions” are quasi-independent variables that operate within a range of degrees of freedom in the STAR mediation model. The “Tasks” represent what will be done during each stage and “Actions” represent how it will be done during each stage respectively.

Convening

The first stage of STAR mediation is convening and the desired result for this stage is fostering a willingness in all parties to begin the process of mediation. Building the client’s trust in the prospective mediator and the mediation process are key objectives. There may be an aspect of marketing involved in this step, but when clients reach the evaluation phase, the highest priority is to establish rapport. The mediator will make phone calls, or alternatively engage in video teleconferencing, with the parties to establish why mediation might be a better option than other alternatives like arbitration or litigation.

Arbitration requires each party to give up the control they would have in mediation because the arbitrator has decision authority after hearing each party. The arbitration could be either binding or non-binding, which means that the parties could ignore the decision when the non-binding option is chosen. If lawyers or parties have hit an impasse in negotiations, there may not be an appetite to hand over control to an arbitrator so quickly. Litigation is another option, but it is even more restrictive than arbitration and there is no option to simply ignore the decision. If arbitration seemed overly controlling to the parties, then litigation would feel like a straightjacket.

Tasks & Actions 

Once the mediation is established as the appropriate course of action, the mediator will facilitate the logistics of the pending mediation with a pre-mediation conference call or teleconference. The purpose of the activity is to create an environment of mutual understanding about the purpose of the mediation, have a discussion about related details and phenomenology, establish the mediator’s compensation, and other terms of the mediation agreement. Ostensibly, the convening step lays the foundation for an orderly mediation process.

Opening

The second stage of STAR mediation is opening and the desired result of this stage is fostering a feeling of safety and hope in the parties so that they will be more transparent about the issues to be resolved. Prior to the opening, the mediator may arrange the room based on information gathered during the pre-mediation conference. For example, if the parties are very contentious, then the seats will not be situated next to each other. In the opening stage, each party gets to make an opening statement, which sets the tone for progress and civility. The mediator listens to the opening issues and establishes the rules of engagement for the process. 

Tasks & Actions

The purpose of the opening is to engage the parties in an active negotiation process where they are active participants, not passive observers. The mediator facilitates introductions between the parties and reaffirms their willingness to participate from the convening stage. The mediator ensures the parties are comfortable (e.g., room temperature, seating, options, knowledge of bathroom locations, etc.) in the physical environment of the mediation. The mediator should explain and establish their neutrality in the mediation process. The mediator should discuss the limitations on mediation confidentiality during this stage as well. The mediator should also give an overview of the mediation’s process steps and articulate the social contract that constitutes the ground rules for the mediation. 

The mediator couches all of the aforementioned in their opening remarks, then they invite the parties’ opening statements. Once the parties make their opening statements, the mediator summarizes each party’s statement. The mediator reframes emotional or threatening statements into productive neutral statements. This is where the mediator starts to determine their approach to reach an eventual resolution. The mediator must define the core issues that are within their power to mediate and mitigate attempts to attack or derail the mediation. Once the rules of engagement are accepted in the opening, it increases the probability of a mediated outcome.

Communicating

The third stage of STAR mediation is communicating and the desired result of this stage is fostering expression. Once the mediator facilitates a successful opening, the rules of engagement that are the outcome of the opening will guide all follow-on communication. The mediator keeps the dialogue moving by actively listening, summarizing the conversation, and reframing expectations. The mediator paves the path from problem to solution by promoting the parties’ desire to clarify their positions and interests. The goal of the mediator is to gain an understanding of each party’s issues as they relate to the dispute.

Tasks & Actions

The mediator gives each side an opportunity to state their issues as well as the opportunity to listen to the other party’s issues. The mediator keeps the dialogue moving by asking overhead questions. The mediator asks questions that build understanding, but the secondary objective is inspiring empathy in the parties with respect to their counterpart’s issues. The mediator’s active listening skills become crucial during this stage because their accuracy when summarizing issues and positions builds trust with the parties.

This is the stage when the mediator decides if the parties are able to communicate in the same room or need to caucus separately to achieve more effective communication. The caucus provides an opportunity for private conversations with the mediator. It is also an effective tool when parties get heated or bring unresolved negative emotions to the table. The mediator usually gives the party that is not caucusing a task to complete while they caucus with the other party. The purpose of the task is to advance the mediation; therefore, it will be discussed when the mediator returns to that party. The mediator holds information gained caucus confidential unless the caucusing party expressly gives permission to share the information.

Negotiating

The fourth stage of STAR mediation is negotiating and the desired result of this stage is fostering flexibility and innovation. Once the mediator facilitated an effective communication process, the process of negotiation could begin. The focus of negation is reaching settlement as an outcome. The mediator initiates the negotiation to get the parties energized to participate in the process. The mediator also coaches parties the parties through the negotiation with the goal of fostering resolution. The mediator tries to get the parties to surface their interests and hidden agendas. The mediator gets the parties to look at their desired negotiated outcomes realistically. 

Tasks & Actions

The mediator endeavors to be perceived as neutral, but negotiation requires some outwardly directive behaviors. The function of coaching is to get the parties to begin bargaining with respect to their issues. The mediator promotes moving beyond active listening to a place where they can begin brainstorming solutions. The mediator participates in reframing and summarizing to help the parties see the viability of their hypothetical outcomes. The mediator asks validating questions to mitigate the effect of cognitive biases. The mediator will practice “shuttle diplomacy” with each caucus by carrying offers between the parties with the goal of shrinking the zone of possible agreement (ZOPA). The mediator will help the parties to do reality testing on the strength of their best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) and the severity of their worst alternative to a negotiated agreement (WATNA).

The mediator is embroiled in the heart of the dance during the negotiating stage, which may require near-seismic shifts from caucuses to joint sessions. The mediator may hit an impasse while negotiating, so the mediator must remain fleet of foot to get derailed negotiations back on track. This is where a mediator may ask if they could present a “mediator’s proposal” to both parties or propose “hypothetical offers”. The negotiating stage is where a mediation could die due to a failure of the parties to reach resolution, but a good mediator preserves the artifacts just in case the process can be resurrected at a later date. Hence, the ashes of a failed negotiation could become an attraction on the way to convening a revived mediation.

Closing

The fifth stage of STAR mediation is closing and the desired result of this stage is reaching an informed decision. The mediator is trying to reach a point of culmination in the closing stage, but it will be all for naught if the mediation outcomes are not accurately captured in a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The parties may be exhausted by this point, so it is important to keep them engaged with good summaries of understanding achieved during the negotiation process. Clearly, it would be an unfulfilling experience to plant the seeds, and nurture the growth, but neglect to gather the harvest.

Tasks & Actions

The mediator should produce a durable agreement and a MOU to outline the action steps of the settlement. The agreement should be technically sound, substantively sufficient, and psychologically pleasing to all parties to create satisfaction. The mediator may assist the parties in writing the agreement or may allow a lawyer or lawyers to complete the task. It may be productive to have all parties in a joint session review and affirm their understanding of the document before execution. The document should include background information and implementation steps. Finally, the parties need to countersign the document to make it a legally binding vehicle that gets them to their mediated destination.

Conclusion

The STAR mediation model represents a bona fide systematic approach to mediation, which can be used by any mediator to bring order to the mediation process. The stages build on each other logically, and the tasks and actions plausibly lead to the desired results. The STAR mediation model is not a laundry list for a mediator to work through perfunctorily. It requires the mediator to actively listen and make tactical moves at appropriate junctures. I believe that mediators could arrive at a similar modus operandi after years of practice without the STAR mediation model; however, it makes professional sense to arm novice mediators with The STAR mediation model from the start. I did not invent The STAR mediation model, but I have found it to be a valuable tool to both serve clients and maintain my sanity throughout the mediation process.

The viewpoints, analyses, and opinions expressed within this blog are solely those of the author(s) and do not represent, nor are they intended to reflect, the official stance, policies, or positions of the MAC either in a formal or professional context. The content herein is presented for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as an endorsement or official communication of the MAC.

Call for Proposals! 18th Annual Alternative Dispute Resolution Conference 

Location: CBA-CLE Classrooms, 1290 Broadway, Suite 1700, Denver, CO 80203

Date: Friday, October 25, 2024
Format: Hybrid 

Join us for the 18th Annual Alternative Dispute Resolution Conference, an established gathering for those interested in innovative and effective methods of dispute resolution. This year, as we continue to explore practical and forward-thinking approaches, we invite you to submit proposals that offer fresh perspectives on dispute resolution, prioritize equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), and enhance practical skills. 

We are looking for: 

Innovative topics: We are seeking proposals on new or emerging issues in dispute resolution, as well as exploring fields newly adaptable to structured dispute resolution processes. 

Dynamic presenters: Individuals who bring unique perspectives and engaging delivery.

Interactive formats: Workshops, panels, debates, or other engaging session formats. 

You will be asked to include the following information with your submission on the online application. 

  • Your name, organization, and contact information for presenters.
  • Title of the proposed session.
  • Preferred presentation duration: 50, 60, or 90 minutes
  • A brief outline of your presentation, including the format of your presentation (lecture,
    panel, etc.).
  • Description of handout materials or resources provided to the audience.
  • Whether any part of the presentation may be eligible for specialized continuing legal
    education credits (e.g., Ethics/Professionalism, EDI).
  • If previously presented, include references or feedback received.
    Important Dates:

Submission Deadline: June 21, 2024
Notification of Acceptance: June 28, 2024.
Course Materials Due: September 27, 2024
Conference Date: Friday, October 25, 2024

We look forward to reviewing your submissions via the online application. For more information or assistance, please contact CBA-CLE program attorney, Jody Davis.

Colorado General Assembly 2024 End of Session Report

The Colorado General Assembly adjourned the 2024 session on Wednesday, May 8th. After considering over 700 individual bills and resolutions from January to May, legislators wrapped up a session focused on housing, taxes, the environment, and public services. TheMAC was extremely active again this year and scored several important wins. 

The most significant accomplishment was working in collaboration with the Colorado Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Section to add a “right to mediation” before a lawsuit is filed by a homeowners association to foreclose on a homeowner. HB24-1337 (passed and awaiting the Governor’s signature) requires a 30-day advance notice by the HOA to the homeowner stating that there is a statutory right to mediation with a knowledgeable mediator before a foreclosure suit can be filed. This is the second legislative session in a row that the General Assembly has agreed to add mandatory mediation in State law. We believe there may be many opportunities in future sessions to add similar language in a variety of conflicts. Thank you to our colleagues at the CBA and all MAC members who contacted legislators asking for their support.

It is always worth noting that our first priority is to comprehensively monitor and prevent any legislation adversely affecting the mediation profession. This goal was also accomplished.  

Another major goal is to ensure that any legislation that might affect mediation is drafted to support and accommodate the profession. TheMAC proposed and was successful in amending SB24-064 (passed and awaiting the Governor’s signature) regarding the collection of data in eviction cases. The original bill failed to recognize stipulated settlements as an important data point. These stipulated settlements almost always are a result of successful mediation.  

TheMAC strongly supported HB24-1291 (passed and signed by the Governor) creating a new category of licensed legal paraprofessionals (LLPs) allowed to represent litigants in domestic relation cases. This legislation implements a Colorado Supreme Court rule that recognizes the importance of mediation in resolving family law cases by specifically allowing these new paraprofessionals to represent clients in mediation. TheMAC is also working with the Supreme Court to provide training and assistance to newly licensed LLPs. 

TheMAC also supported HB24-1286 (passed and awaiting the Governor’s signature), an initiative of the Colorado Access to Justice (ATJ) Commission. This legislation will create a fund to support otherwise unrepresented civil litigants. The ATJ Commission has been a strong advocate for mediation and TheMAC works in coalition with the Commission on many issues. 

If you have any questions about these or other legislative issues, feel free to reach out to Mike Maday, Chair of the Legislative Committee (Resresco@att.net), or Kip Kolkmeier (KipKolkmeier@gmail.com).

Support HB 24-1337, Requiring HOAs to Offer Mediation Prior to Filing a Collection/Foreclosure Lawsuit

MAC Members, we need you to contact your local State Senator and urge them to support this important legislation. A full explanation of the legislation is below. This bill will be heard in theSenate Local Government and Housing Committee on Tuesday April 23rd at 2PM.

The Committee begins at 2pm in Room SCR 352 in the Capitol Building. If you can, come testify in person, or you can also testify virtually.
This link explains how to testify virtually and shows how to sign up.

https://www2.leg.state.co.us/CLICS/CLICS2024A/commsumm.nsf/signIn.xsp

Even if you are not able to testify, please contact your State Senator and urge them to Vote Yes on House Bill 24-1337.You can look up your legislator and get contact information at this link:


https://leg.colorado.gov/find-my-legislator

Why TheMAC Supports HB24-1337

The Mediation Association of Colorado (TheMAC) strongly supports House Bill 24-1337
sponsored by Representatives Jodeh and Bacon, and Senator Coleman. This legislation
modifies the process by which a common interest community association (HOA) seeks
collection of fees and fines from homeowners within the community. It improves notice, limits
attorney fees, and requires the association to offer mediation to the homeowner prior to
filing a collection/foreclosure lawsuit.

A home is almost always a family’s most valuable asset. More importantly, it is the literal roof over their heads. Every family deserves a fair process to resolve financial disputes with their HOA and this is the objective of HB 24-1337.


The Colorado Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Section (CBA/ADR) in coordination with TheMAC proposed language contained in House Amendment 008 that obligates HOAs to at least offer the opportunity to mediate the dispute prior to filing a lawsuit.

As MAC members know, there are many benefits to mediation in this situation. First and foremost, it allows resolution earlier in the legal process, and if settled at that point, always saves the HOA and the homeowner additional costs. It encourages dialog and resolution of the conflict among parties that, by definition, must find a way to live together in the community.

Mediation also empowers parties in conflict to resolve their own disputes rather than placing their fate in the hands of a judge. This leads to greater satisfaction by the parties and increases the likelihood of compliance. Mediation is voluntary so a homeowner is free to decline the offer
for early resolution. But experience demonstrates that when offered and accepted, the parties are very likely to settle their dispute in a mutually agreeable way. Please contact your local legislators and urge them to vote YES on House Bill 24-1337!

Please contact your local legislators and urge them to vote YES on House Bill 24-1337!

You can find contact information for legislators at:

https://leg.colorado.gov/legislators

On Behalf of theMAC and the Legislative Committee

Dated: April 17, 2024

 

MAC Blog

Iterative Mediation

By Simon Mole, MAC Professional Member

We all know that if you have a coach, this is a positive thing because you have been pro-active and taken charge of your life.  Conversely, if you are in mediation, we all know that you have real problems.  This article is about the value of multiple short mediation sessions in the age of Zoom.  It is a vision for mediation being more positive, more like coaching.  But first, let’s look back at where we have come from.

A decade ago, back in the dark ages of mediation, “mediation day” was a big thing.  You had to carefully choose a location, and people even considered the size and shape of the table.  All the key players had to be physically present, but not in such close quarters as to foment actual violence.  On occasion parties flew-in to my mediations.  Mounds of documents were produced and assembled by staff into heavy ring-binder exhibit books.  This cost money, lots of it.

Mediation day is almost dead.  The value of mediation day was to present such a trial like deadline as to make anything other than settlement unthinkable.  To come back another time was much harder when drive or flight time was an issue.  Even if rescheduling was possible, all those exhibit books would likely be out of date by then, costing more staff time.  Back in the dark ages attorneys begged to keep mediation hope alive by going long past midnight, even when client sanity became questionable.

Today, my typical mediation lasts for only a single session of two to four hours.  Sure, some mediations do crash and burn, but many cases settle quickly and easily.  However, many cases also fall into a middle ground.  Parties who disagree on substance can often agree on a route to a resolution, such as hiring an expert, but then further progress is stalled until the expert’s report comes in.  Often a case is revealed to be more complex than one or both parties thought.  In these cases, time is needed to gather information or make a legal or emotional reassessment.  These are the cases that need to come back for a second or even a third session.  In post-decree family cases you may see a case again and again over many years.

Back in the dark ages, mediation day was scheduled by the parties, and was usually timed to take place far out into the future.  Time was needed to allow for the full discovery of all information necessary to settlement. This made sense when mediation day was an expensive one-time-only deal.   Circumstances have changed.  In today’s climate of mandatory mediation orders, the courts require mediation early and often, even when parties have imperfect information available.

With Zoom and its screenshare facility, parties can now go online and show each other financial and other information in real time (R.I.P the ring binder of outdated hard copy exhibits).  Early mediations can go further toward settlement than they used to.  Mediators can coach the attorneys and clients to manage their case through the mediated appointments of valuation experts, or child and family investigators etc.  Even case management orders can be mediated and stipulated under CRCP Rule 16.2(c)(1)(C).

As mediators, if we can speed the demise of mediation day, we can become more like coaches, stepping in when needed.  When expert reports arrive, some cases will settle without us because the writing is on the wall, but in others the skill of a mediator may be necessary to help manage fall out from bad news.

To get from where we were a decade ago, to where we could be in the future, we mediators need to adjust our business model. I do try to look for deals on case management when substantive deals seem elusive.  But I also make it inexpensive for parties to come back by never charging a cancellation fee.  I never take money up-front either, so I never have to give re-funds.  Yes, I do get frequent cancellations, but I also get much more new business because lawyers like this model because it is hassle free and it saves money for clients who settle.  I do a two-hour minimum fee each time I start a session, so that recoups some of the loss from cancellations because final sessions are often short when they occur.

Those excruciating all-day and into the evening sessions were very lucrative, but I don’t miss them.  By using Zoom and not wasting time driving to my frequent short sessions I maintain both income and sanity.

Simon Mole, February 2024.

The viewpoints, analyses, and opinions expressed within this blog are solely those of the author(s) and do not represent, nor are they intended to reflect, the official stance, policies, or positions of the MAC either in a formal or professional context. The content herein is presented for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as an endorsement or official communication of the MAC.

2023 Colorado General Assembly 

The 2023 Colorado General Assembly session ended on May 9th. Legislators introduced 617 individual bills and 474 of these bills ultimately became law. This session was an especially active year for the MAC. The MAC Legislative Committee, Chaired by Mike Maday, successfully lobbied and testified on a number of important bills. 

There were two bills introduced that ultimately became law that specifically required mediation. A basic principle of the MAC’s legislative program is to support legislation that encourages or requires the use of mediation. House Bill 23-1120 requires landlords with more than five properties to engage in mediation prior to filing an eviction suit against a tenant receiving certain types of government assistance. We believe this is the first time ever that mediation would be required by state law prior to filing a lawsuit. Required mediations will be compensated and scheduled through the Office of Dispute Resolution.

Senate Bill 23-105 orders the Colorado Department of Labor to establish a complaint and mediation process for alleged violations of the equal pay statute. The previous law simply allowed the Department to establish a mediation program, but when they failed to do so, this legislation was introduced to require the Department to set up a program. 

There were several bills that dealt with judicial officer training regarding domestic and child abuse in family law cases. House Bill 23-1108 creates a task force to study and develop training requirements for judicial officers, and House Bill 23-1178 requires training. Originally, both bills incorrectly included mediators as judicial officers and the MAC successfully got amendments to correctly reflect the independent role of mediators. At the same time, the MAC was able to explain the crucial role mediators play in resolving family law cases. While we were not able to get a specific requirement to appoint a mediator to the training task force created by HB 23-1108, the MAC will be able to provide testimony once the task force convenes. 

Under House Bill 23-1178, mediators in family law cases will not be subject to a training requirement. However, mediators will be required to provide information on what training they have received. This legislation is a first step toward formal state regulation of mediators, and the MAC believes it is vital that professional mediators take the lead in this process rather than waiting for requirements to be imposed on our profession.

Another example of the MAC promoting mediation was an opportunity presented by House Bill 23-1026. This legislation involved the issue of family time for grandparents. The MAC requested and got an amendment that specifically referenced CDRA in this legislation.

The MAC also supported House Bill 23-1280 that codified the statewide Access to Justice Commission. The Access to Justice Commission has consistently supported mediation as a means of assisting litigants in more efficiently and fairly resolving litigation. The Commission understands and promotes the value of mediation, especially when parties do not have legal representation. 

The MAC would like to build on our successes in 2023 and be even more engaged in legislation in the future. We urge our members to look for further updates and actively add your voice to the legislative process. Your involvement will ensure mediation is understood as a valuable and growing profession!

In order to prepare for the 2023-24 Legislative Session the MAC is holding three working sessions in conjunction with the CBA’s ADR Section to discuss our profession in the Legislative arena for next year. We look forward to having open discussions about what we can prepare for and what to expect as our relative organizations work towards promoting, upholding and growing mediation into the best profession it can be. Those dates/times are: 

  • Tuesday, July 25th at 12PM MST
  • Tuesday, August 22th at 12PM MST
  • Tuesday, October 3rd at 12PM MST

We will provide more details around how to attend these discussions in the coming weeks.

All the best, 

The MAC Legislative Committee

End of Session Report

President’s Message

Dear MAC members and esteemed colleagues,

I am delighted and honored to be nominated as the MAC President. I look forward to getting to know the members and organization so as to better serve you all. I would not be in this position without the incredible efforts and work that has been completed before, and all of the MAC members continued commitment to our organization. Thank you all.

I want to thank Michele Clark for her diligent and hard work in the years prior – in leading the MAC’s engagement with our membership to create and foster a diverse, welcoming and supportive community for professional mediators and for those who want to become professional mediators. I also want to thank our tenured Board Members: Vice President, Toni Ozeroff; Chair of the Legislative Committee, Mike Maday; Membership Chair, Miguel Martinez; and Carolena Steen. I also want to thank Lori Dieckman for her continued support of the MAC.

For those that don’t know me, I am a native Coloradan, and also a mother, attorney, mediator and entrepreneur. Most of all, I am an ardent mediation proponent. I believe that the process of mediation should be more prolific and easy to access for all. I hope that in my time as president I can help increase awareness of our incredible profession, add new members from across demographics and geographies, and perhaps most importantly, expand member benefits. I look forward to working on these goals, and sharing some exciting new benefits soon. Please do not hesitate to reach out. My zoom is open! 

Welcome New Board Members!  We are pleased to introduce Kip Kolkmeier and Chuck Woodward who joined us in early 2022, and Jean Stewart and William Mangrun who joined us earlier this year. We are all excited to be on the board and are already hard at work on some exciting MAC projects. 

Chuck was nominated to be our Treasurer of the Board, and we feel honored to have his business expertise. He is also leading the charge in building a MAC mentorship program. Kip is Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee and his experience and knowledge of the legislative session helped guide us in an exciting and active 2022/23 legislative session. We look forward to working with William on connecting us to the mediation community in southwest Colorado.

A bit more about our newer board members:

Chuck’s background is primarily in the business world, where he dealt with inter-company disagreements, numerous negotiations with US and European labor unions, international commercial issues, as well as both local and national political matters. His mediation practice is focused on non-family disputes, with a special interest in mediating contract cases involving diverse nationalities.
 
Kip is a retired attorney who dedicates the majority of his time to volunteering as a mediator in the 1st Judicial District and for the City of Lakewood. His legal career was primarily focused on legislative research, drafting, negotiation, and advocacy. In addition to mediation, Kip is an appointed public board member for both Jefferson County and the City of Lakewood.

Jean brings to her mediations decades of experience as a practicing attorney, trial judge, teacher/mentor and leader at the local and national level. She generally focuses her neutral practice on resolving disputes around wealth transfer and fiduciary liability, frequently involving families in transitions caused by death or disability.

William has practiced mediation in a family business, as a pastor, a professor, and as an independent professional. He has trained with Mennonites, Lawyers, Conflict Professionals, Academics, and Zen Priests. He is trained in Family Systems Mediation, Evaluative Mediation, Interest-Based Mediation, and Transformative Mediation.

I look forward to getting to know the amazing mediation community of Colorado and serving this organization. 

Morgan Tregenza
President, theMAC

RECAP OF 2022 COLORADO LEGISLATIVE SESSION

May 12, 2022

By Kip Kolkmeier

The Colorado General Assembly wrapped up its regular 2022 session on May 11th. Legislators considered over 650 individual bills, and this update summarizes mediation bills and other bills of note that passed.

Three bills passed that referred to mediation services (more description provided below): 

  • Senate Bill 230 requires mediation if county employees reach an impasse in collective bargaining.
  • Senate Bill 19 allows an attorney to review a suppressed court record for mediation.
  • Senate Bill 77 requires disputes under the Interstate Compact for Licensed Professional Counselors to be resolved through mediation or binding dispute resolution.

Other bills of note that passed include:

  • Senate Bill 233 will deliver cash to Colorado taxpayers of at least $400 for single tax filers, and at least $800 to those filing jointly. 
  • Senate Bill 238 will reduce property taxes by $700 million between 2023 and 2024 by limiting property tax assessments. 
  • House Bill 1329 contains the State’s $36 billion budget. The budget increases funding for K-12 education and gives state employees a 3% raise. It also expands efforts to improve public safety and monitor air quality.
  • House Bill 1279 puts in statute the right to abortion and contraception services regardless of how the United States Supreme Court may rule regarding abortion rights. 

There were also bills passed to address water conservation, wildfire mitigation, manufacturer responsibility for recycling, expansion of mental and behavioral health services, and naming Juneteenth as an official State Holiday.

More Detail about the Mediation Bills:

Senate Bill 230 allows county employees to bargain collectively. The bill comprehensively describes the dispute resolution process that the employees’ representative and a county must follow if an impasse arises during the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement. The Division of Labor Standards and Statistics must partner with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to offer training in interest-based bargaining upon the mutual request of an employee organization and the county. If the parties reach a bargaining impasse, either may request mediation. Mediation may continue for up to sixty days unless the mediator determines that mediation is no longer necessary or useful. Mediators must be chosen from those registered with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Senate Bill 19 allows an attorney, with the approval of a person named in a suppressed court record, to review the record for specific purposes. One identified purpose is to evaluate whether the matter is suitable for mediation, or in preparation for mediation between the parties included in the court record.

Senate Bill 77 adds Colorado to an Interstate Compact allowing Licensed Professional Counselors to practice in any state joining the compact. The legislation includes the obligation of the governing Commission to promulgate rules to resolve disputes between states through mediation or binding dispute resolution.

As a service to our members, the MAC regularly monitors state legislation affecting the profession. The MAC provides expert testimony before legislative committees, and advises legislators and legislative staff regarding the value of mediation. The MAC encourages legislators to require mediation where appropriate and seeks to expand opportunities for qualified mediation professionals.

Voices of Ukrainian Mediators

Please join us April 14th at 8:30 AM MDT (4:30 PM CET) to hear personal stories and engage in dialogue with mediator colleagues from Ukraine. Svitlana Stadnyk, President of the Association for Family Mediators of Ukraine, and Tatyana Bilyik, co-founder of League of Mediators of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Association of Family Mediators, and other Ukrainian mediators will be our guests.

Register here.

MAC Board Member, Mike Maday, met Svitlana, Anna Zubachova and other mediators from Ukraine through his involvement with MiKK Mediators, a world leader in cross-border mediation and training. Due to that relationship, theMAC has conducted joint Zoom seminars, and MAC members have developed connections with Ukrainian mediators over the past two years.

The brutal war in Ukraine creates challenges difficult to imagine and anticipate. One of our guests, Tatyana Bilyik, tells her story about the struggles she faces and what sustains her.  Read about her here. Our other guest, Svitlana Stadnyk has reached safety in Germany. Colleague Anna Zubachova and her baby are in Poland, and thanks to a fundraiser conducted by MiKK Mediators, Anna’s mother who was gravely injured has  reached safety and is receiving the medical care that she needs.

These colleagues, and many others still in Ukraine, have urgent needs for assistance.  MiKK Mediators has set up a fundraiser for these individual families through betterplace.org.  A link to the fundraiser is here. Please consider making a donation.