Sen. Irene AguilarSen. Irene AguilarMay 22, 20178min1420

Measures brought before the Colorado General Assembly in this legislative session have shown that the contentious national debate on immigration has been jolting our state’s politics as well. As the federal government has shifted its policies to penalize so-called sanctuary cities and aggressively deport immigrants, we’ve seen conflicting bills introduced here on whether our state and cities should cooperate with the government to enforce immigration laws.

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 5, 20173min600

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.

Garcia writes:

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.




Ernest LuningErnest LuningApril 7, 20174min640

Democrat Mike Johnston’s gubernatorial campaign is sponsoring the first of what organizers say will be a series of “Days of Service” on Saturday in Arvada. He’s teaming up with the Leadership Jefferson County group to rebuild and replant the community garden at Foster Elementary School in Arvada and is inviting supporters and acquaintances to help out.