States like Colorado make much of the fact that their elected lawmakers are really only part-timers; the pay is $30,000 plus per diem and mileage reimbursement. That’s for the four months the legislature is in session plus service on year-round committees and other responsibilities. It’s known as a “citizen legislature.”
Some say the members are overworked and underpaid while others say they’re lucky to get paid at all.
And then there are Elaine Menardi and Jess Buller. She is education program coordinator for Wings Aerospace Academy in Denver, and he is principal of West Grand Elementary and Middle School in Kremmling. As profiled this week by Chalkbeat Colorado’s Nicholas Garcia, the full-time educators spent countless hours, mostly after hours, drafting this session’s House Bill 1201.
And they didn’t even get a per diem, much less a lawmaker’s part-time pay.
The bill creates a special high school diploma that shows colleges and employers that graduates are proficient in a blend of coursework that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. The legislation is the byproduct of a year-long policy fellowship run by the national education reform nonprofit America Achieves.
The bill passed the legislature and is expected to be signed this month by Gov. John Hickenlooper. All thanks to the sweat equity of a couple of true citizen legislators.
As Menardi told Garcia: “In the thick of things, between November and February, we were easily putting in a couple of hours every night.”
Ladies and gentlemen of the General Assembly, you’ve met your match — and maybe then some.
Thanks to Garcia for this uplifting take on the lawmaking process. Read his full story; here’s the link again.