Guest column

Legislature’s not in session, but work doesn’t take break

By Linda Newell
Posted 7/7/15

I’d love to say that my world is full of free time and vacations right now, but … many of us legislators work even when we’re not in session at the Capitol. Colorado was originally designed to have a “citizen legislature,” in session …

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Guest column

Legislature’s not in session, but work doesn’t take break

Posted

I’d love to say that my world is full of free time and vacations right now, but … many of us legislators work even when we’re not in session at the Capitol. Colorado was originally designed to have a “citizen legislature,” in session January to May, and then legislators would go back to our “citizen” jobs in the interim.

However, now we are called a “hybrid legislature” since our legislative commitments have increased due to more complicated policy issues and larger populations with more constituent needs. Now, some of us serve on policy committees, task forces, and commissions all year long.

Since I’m often asked, I thought you might want to know what your state senator is doing during the 2015 interim and year-round. This year, I serve on:

• Colorado Workforce Development Council: Creating policies and methods to assist businesses find talent; connecting candidates to job skills training and job placement assistance in order to transition back into the workplace or transfer skills into another industry.

• School Safety and Youth in Crisis Committee: Established from SB15-214, resulting from the Claire Davis shooting at Arapahoe High School. We’ll be studying ways to better manage the mental health needs of youths within the school environment and how to implement SB15-213 that allows people to sue schools after acts of violence.

• Joint Technology Committee: This is a joint legislative committee that oversees our state information technology (IT) investments. This year, we’re improving the IT procurement process as we utilize best practices from the private sector into state IT projects and hardware/software acquisitions.

• Office of Dispute Resolution Advisory Council: Makes recommendations to the Office of Dispute Resolution and judicial branch regarding court-appointed mediators. Due to some consistency issues affecting citizens, we’re currently looking at requiring minimum qualifications and training standards for the court mediators who now may be paid or volunteer.

• Conflict Resolution Month: This “synergizers” group coordinates activities throughout the state during Conflict Resolution Month in October. Year-round, we work to educate and influence elected officials and communities about the high costs of conflict and the tools and techniques of managing conflict. Our goal is to be the most civil state in the union.

• Suicide Prevention Commission: With Colorado having one of the highest suicide rates in the country, my 2014 bill established this commission to collaborate statewide for evidence-based research and ways to reduce suicides in our state. Stay tuned. I’ll be writing more about this soon.

• Ethics Board: This only meets when there is an ethics complaint that needs to be addressed. I’ve served on this since 2012, yet we’ve never needed to meet.

Year-round, I also work on my twice-monthly town halls throughout my district, constituent needs, community projects, and preparation for legislation. So, Colorado citizens are definitely getting their money’s worth with our legislative annual salary of $30,000!

Any questions, feel free to contact me or come to one of my town halls each month.

Linda Newell is the state senator of Senate District 26, covering Littleton, Englewood, Sheridan, Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village, west Centennial and parts of Aurora. She can be reached at 303-866-4846 or linda.newell.senate@gmail.com or SenLindaNewell.com.

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