If you sat through a hearing on a bill during the last legislative session, it's likely that some of the testimony you heard came from Meghan Dollar.
The Colorado Municipal League's legislative advocacy manager is a fixture at the Colorado state Capitol. During the legislative session, it was easy to find her weighing in to give lawmakers perspective from local governments on legislation ranging from reforming the criminal justice system (see measures like House Bill 1250 and Senate Bill 273) to the environment (House Bill 1162), and nearly everything in between.
Colorado Politics caught up with her to find out how she gathers feedback from 270 of Colorado’s 272 cities and towns, what she made of the legislative session and what her organization has its eye on for next year.
Colorado Politics: Let's start with a little bit about you. Can you talk about the path that led you to your current position?
Meghan Dollar: After I graduated college from Florida State, I took a job at the clerk’s office in the Florida House of Representatives. There I learned the ins and outs of the legislative process. When I moved to Colorado I took a job with the Apartment Association and learned about housing. That lead me to the Colorado Municipal League where I started as a legislative and policy advocate. I took over managing the advocacy team in February 2020. Just in time for the pandemic.
CP: At what point did it dawn on you that you wanted this career?
MD: I don’t think there was a lightbulb moment. A lot of events led me on this path. Ultimately, I’ve always wanted to be a part of the legislative process.
CP: How do you go about representing such a broad coalition?
MD: That’s what makes working at CML so interesting! Our membership is diverse with different needs and expectations. They all have one thing in common though, which is they want the best for their communities and their constituents. I always remember that when representing our members' interests.
CP: It seems that it would be difficult to consistently gather input on legislation from so many members.
MD: CML has a comprehensive policy development process with a policy statement guiding our positions, and a policy committee made up of members from all over the state which makes recommendations to our Executive Board. Our process allows staff to gather lots of input from our membership.
CP: What happens when your members split fairly evenly on an issue?
MD: The good news is that rarely happens. When it does, CML usually does not take a position on the issue.
CP: Looking back on the 2021 legislative session with the benefit of hindsight, what did you make of it?
MD: That was my 10th session, and I would count it as one of the more difficult sessions. COVID still loomed heavy for a lot of it. In the end, I am really proud of CML’s advocacy team for what they accomplished.
CP: Is there a piece of legislation you’re particularly proud of?
MD: House Bill 1117, Local Government Authority to Promote Affordable Housing. It’s a new tool for local governments to increase the affordable housing supply and it took two years to pass. The work of our bill sponsors and our coalition was amazing. I’m very proud of that bill.
CP: Looking ahead to next session, what’s on CML’s legislative agenda?
MD: CML has not set our official agenda for 2022 yet. I can already tell that housing will still be a priority. As always, CML will advocate to protect local control and home rule.
How old are you? How dare you! Also, 40.
Where did you grow up? Fort Myers, Florida
Favorite non-work-related activity? I’m going to say Peloton bike rides, but my real answer is probably brunch.
First job out of high school? Server in a retirement home.
Favorite takeout spot during the pandemic? Poppies