Legislative Committee Report – March2011
By David Holland
Since the start up of the 2011 Legislative Session in January theMAC Legislative Committee been involved in several activities:
In January we sponsored a lunch meeting of the Legislative Committee near the capital, snowed out once, but finally attended by about fifteen MAC members and others. Speaking at this luncheon were Senator Linda Newell, Representative Pete Lee and Represenative Bob Gardner who offered their perspectives on upcoming legislation, the 2011 legislative session and how to best influence legislation. One of the really good take aways from that discussion was Rep. Gardner’s comment about how much more attention he pays to input from voters who live in and near his district than from other people who offer their input on legislation. So voting, writing, emailing, talking to your own Senator or State Representative is probably the best way to influence legislation.
Members of the Legislative Committee and other MAC members as well as mediators not currently MAC members (time to join folks!) weighed in on two pieces of legislation, Senator Newell’s SB 11- 013 and Representative Lee’s HB11-1032 Restorative Justice Bill. We participated in stakeholder meetings, hearings and extensive discussions with legislators and other stakeholders regarding these bills. We also solicited (and received!) plenty of input from MAC members on these Bills and sought to shape theMAC’s positions on these issues to be consistent with the wishes of members. I was reaffirmed in my knowledge that all mediators don’t necessarily think alike on any one piece of legislation, as is the case with most things that matter to us. And while we are really good at maintaining a calm neutrality with our clients and not offering advice, get us out of the mediation room and we have no problem expressing our opinions, with passion! In this regard I would like to thank several members of theMAC Legislative Committee who worked very hard on our efforts with this legislation, including Pres. Fonda Hamilton, Kim Hulett and Mark Loye. I would also like to thank theMAC Board for staying informed on this legislation and providing swift guidance as this legislation evolved.
I just received word that SB11-013 will not proceed further in the House after having passed the Senate. It was opposed by theMAC Board because we felt the impact of this legislation was unclear. MAC member feedback we received was nearly unanimous against this Bill as it proceeded through the stakeholder, drafting and hearing process. Some members felt it would have a negative impact on the number of cases coming to mediation and others were not certain of what impact the various versions of this bill might have on mediation and the Colorado Dispute Resolution Act. Those were the reasons for our oppostion.
TheMAC Board also unanimously voted to support HB11-1032, Rep. Lee’s Restorative Justice Bill and we will continue to support it as currently drafted. This Bill passed the Judiciary Committee in the House and is now in Appropriations where Rep. Lee just informed me it is likely to be voted on in early April. I will keep you posted on this legislation. We welcome any input from members on this bill as it progresses. I’d also like to ask you to support this bill any way you can until it passes through the General Assembly.
TheMAC is also supporting Mary Zinn and her many cynergizers (I won’t attempt to name them all, lest I forget someone) in their efforts to pass another Joint Resolution this year declaring October as Conflict Resolution Month in Colorado. This resolution will be sponsored by Senator Newell and Representative Gardner. Please contact Mary if you wish to spread this declaration to elected officials in the town you live and work in.
We are also hoping to find additional opportunities this session to include provisions in legislation currently in process that might make mediation more available and affordable to Coloradans. Senator Newell has indicated she would like to help in this regard. If you know of any legislation possibilities, please let me know.
I have also had preliminary discussions with Senator Michael Bennet’s staff about pulling together a session for MAC members with representatives of members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to discuss federal legislation, in process or that could be proposed, that impacts mediation. Look for something at the federal level this summer.