Department of Legislative Relations
One of the primary goals of the CBA is to promote improvements in the administration of justice and advancements in jurisprudence. The CBA's legislative program is a major part of its effort to satisfy this goal.
The CBA regularly takes positions on bills pending before the State legislature. The CBA publishes the e-Legislative report weekly during the legislative session, showing the current status of selected legislation and legal issues before the legislature. A legislative action report is also featured in The Colorado Lawyer, and a topical synopsis called the Legislative Update is published in the July and August issues of The Colorado Lawyer.
In order to appreciate the amount of effort expended on the CBA's legislative program it is necessary to realize that 700 or more bills and 500 resolutions are likely to be introduced in the Colorado House and Senate in a typical session of the General Assembly. A single bill may range in length from a simple one-paragraph amendment to a 200-page code revision.
Adding to the difficulty of monitoring legislation is the uncertain course it may follow. A bill may be introduced, rushed through committee hearings and onto the floor of the House or Senate and sent to the other chamber in a matter of days. Or it may be introduced, assigned to a committee and remain there for the balance of the session. The agenda for the committee hearings is often announced less than a week in advance, and sometimes interested parties are given only a few hours notice in which to prepare their testimony. Keeping track of the status of the volume of bills, some of which may be in an almost constant state of amendment, can in itself be a full-time job. The process of analyzing each bill in terms of its effect upon present law, public policy considerations, and its possible impact upon the administration of justice and the legal profession in Colorado add still other dimensions to the problem. For these reasons, the CBA employs a director of legislative relations to monitor the introduction and progress of bills of interest to the bar and to assist in making our voice more effective in the legislative process. This person prepares written and oral reports to the Board of Governors (Board) and Executive Council, listing both the statuses of bills upon which the CBA has already taken a position as well as recently introduced legislation of potential interest.
LEGISLATIVE POLICY COMMITTEE: MISSION STATEMENT
The “core values” of the legislative policy committee (LPC) are those values that the LPC should always consider when deciding whether to take a position on an issue. Those core values are:
Accuracy and Precision in Drafting
The LPC is not a drafting office, but should point out drafting errors and help improve the clarity of proposed legislation. The LPC may do so even when it disagrees with the substance of proposed legislation, although there may be times when the LPC refuses to help clarify a bill that the LPC considers fundamentally bad. The LPC must help ensure clarity in any legislation that it supports.
The Practice of Law
The LPC should generally get involved in legislation that affects the practice of law, the business of lawyering, the court system, and lawyers’ fees and lawyer-client relations.
The Wishes of the Membership
The LPC should, as much as possible, reflect the wishes of our constituents, i.e., the members of the CBA. To do this, the LPC should make sure:
- That CBA committees and sections are involved in the process as early and as consistently as possible;
- That relevant committees and sections review legislation before the LPC adopts a position;
- That the LPC provides information and feedback to committees and sections to help them in their duties; and
- That the LPC seeks input from members in other reasonable ways.
The Constitution of the United States and the State of Colorado
The LPC should generally get involved in legislation, referenda and initiatives that affect issues of constitutional dimension, including the doctrine of separation of powers.
Access to Justice
The LPC should generally support legislation that supports and improves access to the justice system by all persons.
Independence of the Judiciary
Believing that an independent judiciary is a fundamental component of our democracy, the LPC should generally support legislation that supports and improves the independence of the judiciary.
Believing that the right to a jury is a fundamental component of our justice system, the LPC should generally support legislation that supports and improves the right to a jury trial.
Since good relations with the legislature are critical aspects of any effort to influence legislation, the LPC must strive to maintain professional and harmonious relations with legislators and the legislature. The most important way the LPC can achieve this goal is by consistently providing accurate and objective information to the legislators and the legislature.
LPC OPERATIONS, GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES
It is the function of the director of legislative relations to promote or oppose the passage of legislation previously reviewed by the Board, the Executive Council, or the Legislative Policy Committee.
The director of legislative relations is a registered lobbyist and vigorously advocates the CBA's position on proposed bills. The director monitors their status closely and the bar exercises every opportunity to testify on them. The director meets individually with legislators and with other interest groups that may be lobbying on these same bills. The CBA's ability to maintain an effective legislative program is directly dependent upon whether its members are willing to devote their time and effort to legislative analysis. Similarly, the credibility of the bar is proportional to the amount of expertise that the CBA is able to bring to bear on any given issue. The CBA's credibility also depends on the extent to which our views are perceived as not primarily self-serving, but as promoting the interests of both the legal profession and the public in improving the administration of justice and advancements in jurisprudence in this state.
BAR SPONSORED LEGISLATION
"Sponsorship" of legislation implies extensive study and review by the sections and committees of the CBA. The term also assumes that ultimate responsibility for the legislation rests with the CBA with regard to solicitation of legislators to carry the bill, scheduling of witnesses, and lobbying to ensure its passage.
The CBA will not "sponsor" any bill without debate and approval by the Board, the Executive Council, or the LPC. Legislation sponsored by the CBA should be fully and fairly debated, prioritized and approved by an informed Board, Executive Council or LPC before it can become a CBA-sponsored bill. Regarding the submission of proposed legislation to be considered by the Board, Executive Council, and LPC, committees and sections of the CBA will be governed by the following rules:
A bill that is a candidate for CBA sponsorship must be submitted in final form to the director of legislative relations no later than August 1 of the year preceding introduction into the legislature. In addition, a short summary of the intent of the legislation (what it will accomplish, what impact it will have in other substantive areas, supporting arguments) will serve to alert the Board, Executive Council or LPC to areas of potential controversy and to outline the preparatory work done on the bill.
Bills proposed for sponsorship will then be submitted to the Legislative Policy Committee ("LPC") prior to Board or Executive Council consideration. The deadline mentioned above may be waived by the LPC for good cause.
Each committee or section of the association which has submitted a bill to the Board, Executive Council, or LPC shall be represented by at least one of its members at both the LPC meeting and the Board or Executive Council meeting for the purpose of explaining the bill and answering questions.
"Final form" as used above means:
- Conflicts within the proposing committee or section concerning the bill have been resolved or identified.
- The committee or section, in accordance with that body’s internal legislative policy, has approved the proposal. In the absence of such a policy, a proposal from a section must receive a 2/3 vote of the section membership or council.
- The proposing committee or section has given full information on the bill to, and requested action from, any other sections, committees and third parties that may have an interest in the bill. The director of legislative relations can assist in this effort.
- The proposed bill has been drafted in a form that will comply with the requirements of the Colorado General Assembly.
LEGISLATION GENERATED OUTSIDE OF THE CBA
The LPC shall have the authority to direct the director of legislative relations to support or oppose any legislation not previously considered at a meeting of the Board or Executive Council, but such authority shall be exercised with reservation. The authority shall generally apply, however, to bills submitted to the legislature by outside parties not subject to these rules, and shall apply to bills of interest to the CBA that were not available for discussion at a prior Board or Executive Council meeting. The authority shall also apply to amendments submitted during the course of a legislative session to a bill on which the CBA has previously taken a position.
"Support" or “Oppose” implies a less extensive review process given the time constraints of the legislative process. It also assumes that affected sections and committees have been notified and given the opportunity to respond. The term implies CBA involvement that is limited to scheduling of witnesses and lobbying, but not to ultimate responsibility for the bill.
Bill Routing Procedures. When bills are made available from the legislature, they are reviewed for policy or legal impact on the CBA. The bills are then sorted and promptly faxed or e-mailed that same day to the affected sections and committees.
The substantive analysis of proposed legislation is primarily the responsibility of committees and sections. There are three positions which they may take in this analysis: active support or active opposition; a position of monitoring the bill; or no position if a bill is not sufficiently important to the Bar to warrant the taking of a public position.
In order to most effectively participate in the legislative process, the sections and committees must be prepared to respond to a bill as soon as possible. A safe guideline is to respond to the CBA with a position noted no later than 5 days after the day the section or committee receives it. If the section or committee does not respond, the office assumes that the section or committee is neutral on the bill.
Taking a Position. After a section or committee requests a CBA position, the bill is scheduled for discussion at the next Legislative Policy Committee meeting. The LPC generally meets weekly during a legislative session at the CBA offices to review these requests. Representatives of the section or committee are required to attend the meetings to inform the LPC as to the pros and cons of the proposed position and any opposition, either known or potential. The LPC will then review the proposed position and take a position. After the LPC authorizes a position, the director of legislative relations will then coordinate testimony and lobbying with the section chair and/or legislative liaison.
Aside from the positions of support or opposition discussed above, the committee or section may suggest an alternative approach or amendments to the bill in question.
With regard to legislation introduced by persons not subject to these legislative guidelines and procedures, the LPC may take any of the following courses of action, as appropriate:
- If the legislation is not the subject of conflict among two or more sections or committees and if one or more sections or committees have taken a position of support or opposition with respect to the legislation, the LPC may either:
- Adopt that position as the position of the CBA, or
- Take on behalf of the CBA no position on the legislation, or
- Oppose the legislation.
- If the legislation is the subject of conflict among two or more sections or committees, the LPC may:
- If possible, reconcile the divergent views.
- Adopt one of the conflicting views as the CBA position.
- If consideration of the legislation by the general assembly is likely to be more fully informed and complete if the divergent positions of the interested sections and committees are presented, permit the individual sections and committees to advocate their own positions in the legislature, as long as the positions advocated are not contrary to a declared policy of the CBA. In that event, the committee or section must make it clear that it is speaking only for itself, and not on behalf of the CBA.
In order to effectuate the intention of this paragraph, the director of legislative relations will endeavor to disseminate to all interested sections and committees the agendas for all LPC meetings to allow divergent positions to be heard.
Upon prior approval of the LPC and in strict conformance with these guidelines, individual sections may be permitted to contract with outside lobbyists at the expense of the section to work on CBA sponsored or supported bills from time to time as may be directed by the LPC. In no event shall a section be permitted to contract with an outside lobbyist without prior LPC approval of the contract and the subject matter to be addressed by the contract lobbyist. In addition, any such contract lobbyist shall work directly with the CBA's director of legislative relations to coordinate efforts and identify possible conflicts within the CBA. In no case shall a section be permitted to contract with a lobbyist to work on legislation not previously considered and approved by the CBA in conformance with these guidelines.
No section or committee may take a position on legislation unless authorized by the LPC.
THE LPC PROCESS
The mechanics of how the LPC operates must remain flexible, but the following guidelines should inform and guide the way the LPC conducts business:
The President of the CBA is the LPC chair and shall run the LPC meetings. The president-elect of the CBA is the vice-chair of the LPC and shall run the LPC meetings in the absence of the chair. The chair may designate a person to act as chair as needed. When the legislature is in session, meetings shall be held each Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. The chair may cancel such meetings when there is no LPC business.
Sources of Requests
Requests that the LPC adopt a position on legislation may come from a variety of sources, including CBA committees and sections, the director of legislative relations, LPC or CBA members, legislators, lobbyists and others. Generally, all requests should be funneled through the director of legislative relations.
Processing of Requests
In order to ensure that LPC members have adequate time to consider a request prior to the LPC meeting, all requests should be made to the director of legislative relations by noon on the Wednesday before the meeting. The director of legislative relations will then transmit these requests to the LPC members as soon as practicable. A spokesperson for the group making the request should be invited to attend the LPC meeting.
Communications with Sections and Committees
In order to ensure the best possible communication between the LPC and other CBA committees and sections, each committee and section should designate a legislative liaison(s). The LPC must also strive to alert committees and sections about legislation affecting their areas of interest, and to notify them of actions taken by the LPC and the status of the legislation in which the committee or section has shown an interest.
The LPC should make full use of e-mail and other electronic forms of communication to ensure that all needed information is distributed as quickly and efficiently as possible to all members. The director of legislative relations will ensure that the LPC members are kept current on the status of legislation in which the LPC has expressed an interest.
The LPC needs to remain active during the period between legislative sessions, as more and more legislative work is now taking place during this period. The inter-session meetings can better address overall process and ‘big picture’ issues as the LPC will not be faced with the press of deciding about pending legislation.
When the legislature is not in session, the LPC will meet monthly, generally on the second Friday of each month at 7:30 a.m. The chair may cancel such meetings if there is no LPC business to attend to. The chair will set the agenda for such meetings, but should be guided by the following goals:
- Addressing any legislation that has been brought to the attention of the LPC.
- Anticipating issues that are likely to arise in the next session and formulating a response.
- Monitoring the progress of, and seeking input into, the work of interim committees established by the legislature.
- Reviewing the procedures employed by the LPC to perform its function, in order to ensure that the best and most efficient procedures are being used.
- Engaging in a variety of contacts with legislators, including identifying CBA members who are appropriate contacts, facilitating meetings between legislators and constituents and between legislators and CBA members, and otherwise providing information to legislators.
- Reviewing the core values of the LPC and CBA to ensure that the core values continue to reflect what the LPC should be doing.
Agenda items that should be covered during the inter-session include:
June. Review the successes and failures of the preceding legislative session; discuss the factors that led to those successes and failures, and design ways to improve the success rate. Learning from our ‘losses’ is critical to improving our ability to affect legislation. Make note of those issues and bills that will likely recur in the next session in order to help prepare for that session.
July. This will be the first meeting for new members, and should include a training and information component so that new members understand how the LPC operates. Articulate the goals the LPC hopes to achieve before the next session. We should begin planning our efforts to educate legislators: “the Colorado justice system”.
August. The chair can exercise his or her authority and cancel this meeting unless there is some pressing issue.
September. Invite those legislators who may be most important to the CBA in the legislative process (e.g., the leadership and the members of the judiciary committees of both houses) so that good communications are established. (This may need to be deferred in election years.) Invite members of other organizations (such as the state court administrator’s office, the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, the Colorado Defense Lawyers Association, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, the Colorado District Attorneys’ Association, etc.) who are also involved in legislative efforts that may be related to the efforts being made by the CBA.
October. Meet with those persons who have been designated the legislative liaisons of the various CBA committees and sections. The liaisons should be educated about LPC processes so that the process runs as smoothly as possible once the legislature is back in session. Legislative proposals from CBA sections and committees should be presented by this meeting.
November. In election years, this may be the meeting at which designated elected officials are invited. We may have some bills to begin considering as well. Planning for “the Colorado Justice System” should be complete.
December. By this time, we should have a good idea about a significant amount of the legislation that will be offered, and need to ensure that the various committees and sections have the information they need and are beginning the process of formulating recommendations. Absent good cause, legislative proposals from CBA sections and committees should be in final form by this meeting. “The Colorado Justice System” will generally be held this month, at least in election years, hopefully in coordination with the training now given to new legislators. In off years, it may be held earlier.
Grass Roots Lobbying
In order to communicate more effectively with the legislature as a state bar association, the CBA's goal is to implement a statewide "legislative contacts network." The nucleus of this network is the local bar associations. It is crucial to the success of the network for the local bar associations to participate.
- Initiate contact with local legislators, inviting them to bar association social events and meetings when appropriate.
- Increase contact with local bar members and communities to inform them of bar activities and volunteer programs that may benefit the state as well as the community.
- Inform the constituency of the legislators on legal issues so they can communicate with their legislators (this enables them to hear from the people who put them in office basically the same message as they hear from the CBA). Letters to the editor and guest editorials are good ways to do this.
- Improve the local bar’s relationship with the media. The public is often misinformed and has many misconceptions on legal controversies that occur in their community. Let the media know the facts so they can communicate fairly. Also, let them know about the good things the legal profession gets involved in. Take a reporter to lunch!
Legislative Contacts Network:
The CBA encourages local bar presidents to find out who has the ear of their local legislator. Most legislators have an attorney who they trust and will call for advice on legal issues. The CBA would like to know about this contact when we need help with a legislator or when a legislator needs special assistance.
Set up a committee for your local, county or district. Suggested members are the local bar president, a judge, a practicing attorney and any close personal friends or associates of the legislator. The charge of the committee is four-fold:
- Plan a social event for the legislators in the local area. The chairperson of the committee would coordinate with the CBA director of legislative relations for feedback, agenda information and requests for assistance.
- Hold a discussion with the legislators on their agenda for the upcoming session, whether the legislator may need help with drafting or additional support from the CBA, the CBA agenda, and their reactions to the CBA’s proposed legislation.
- Discuss the legislator's voting record on issues of concern to the CBA.
- Present an especially deserving legislator with a contribution that has been collected from personal donations of attorneys.
Taking Positions on Federal Legislation
No section or committee may take positions on federal legislation or issues unless the position has been approved as a Colorado Bar Association position. In order to become a CBA position, the LPC, the Executive Council or Board must approve the position. In emergency situations, the president, acting with the advice of the immediate past president and president-elect, may authorize a CBA position. Sections and committees may serve as a resource or provide technical information on either state or federal issues only if they have approval of the president or the executive director, and they make it clear that they are not advocating a CBA position
Testimony before Legislative Committees
Section and committee chairpersons or their representatives are often asked to represent a CBA position on legislation that has been approved by the LPC, Executive Council and/or the Board. The LPC recommends the following guidelines for testifiers:
- Do not testify on behalf of the CBA on any matter unless it has been arranged and cleared with the CBA's legislative director.
- If you are testifying at the Capitol as an attorney on behalf of a client or for other reasons, please specify to that legislative committee that you are not there representing a position of the CBA. If you don't, more often than not, you are perceived as representing the CBA.
- If you are testifying on behalf of the CBA, you should limit your testimony to CBA positions only. Do not express personal opinions or the positions of other organizations.
Be prepared to address the pros and cons of the issue. Do the necessary research so you can comment on both sides of the issue. It is important that CBA testifiers be viewed as reliable resources.
SUE BURCH LEGISLATIVE AWARD
The CBA awards committee may present the sue Burch legislative award in recognition of contributions to the CBA’s legislative efforts in written and oral advocacy.
Sue Burch was a CBA volunteer extraordinaire. Sue served on the legislative policy committee and political education committee for many years and offered her expertise in legislative matters. In 2000, sue lost her battle with cancer. In that same year the CBA honored her memory by creating an award to show its appreciation for all her hard work in the legislative arena. Sue was the first recipient of the award, which was given to her posthumously.
- The CBA awards committee shall determine the recipient of the Sue Burch legislative award
- The award shall be presented when the CBA awards committee deems that it is merited.
- All CBA members shall be eligible
Timetable for Selection Process
June 1 – Announce that nominations will be accepted thru July 31
- Nominations will be received by the CBA awards committee
- Send via CBA weekly e-mail – with nomination form
- Post nomination form on CBA website
- Publish in the Colorado Lawyer Bar news
- LPC may make recommendations to the CBA awards committee
August 1 – Close of nominations
October 1 - Selection of recipient
- Deciding entity has 2 months to consider nominees and determine winner
- Winner is notified
November – Board of governors meeting or other appropriate venue