You can actively participate in the legislative process by following some basic steps.
Know How the Process Works
For your individual participation to be most effective, a basic understanding of the whole legislative picture is essential. If there is something you do not understand about the process, ask someone who can provide an answer. Go to this link for more from these resources:
- Colorado General Assembly overview page
- How a bill becomes a law: Video and chart
- Learn how to read a bill.
- Watch a committee process video and read about the legislative process.
- Read the page on participating in legislative hearings. (This information may have changed because of COVID-19 restrictions.)
- How to listen to broadcasts of committee hearings to see how they are conducted.
- Read articles on Colorado Politics or LegiSource, An informational and educational resource by the Office of Legislative Legal Services.
Make yourself the expert
Before you address an issue, do some homework. Know the whole issue: who it affects, what others feel about it, how it will influence future trends, and any other information you are able to gather. Thorough research allows you to present your viewpoint with confidence and credibility, and, combined with your personal experience, is the most effective information you can provide.
Network with other citizens
Much of the information you need to be effective in the legislative process can be obtained from other concerned and active citizens. Most interest areas are represented by informal citizen groups, if not formal membership organizations.
Find out whether there are groups that share your concerns and establish a network. A group of concerned citizens can be much more effective working together, rather than as separate individuals trying to accomplish the same goal.
Key points to remember
Regardless of how frequently you contact your legislators, you will be far more effective if you follow these points:
- Be well prepared for your discussions.
- Provide a written statement with all verbal presentations.
- Make letters and e-mail formal, specific and concise.
- Don't berate or argue with your legislator when you disagree. Simply thank the legislator for the time spent with you and express a desire for further discussion.
Whatever position you represent, remember that participation makes a difference. The legislative process is one way to contribute to the quality of life we experience in our state. Your willingness to be a responsible, involved participant is crucial to the decision-making process.