Our legislators have been incredibly busy creating and discussing new laws in Colorado this year! Did you know that partner Meagan Moodie is involved in the Colorado Women’s Bar Association’s Public Policy Committee? This week, we interviewed Meagan to learn more about the incredible work that she does with the CWBA to change and make new law in Colorado.
Q: You are on the public policy committee for the Colorado Women’s Bar Association. What does the Public Policy committee do exactly?
A: The Public Policy Committee works to promote and protect the interests of women and children. The committee monitors legislation and case law for issues that impact women/children, and the legal profession generally. We coordinate with our lobbyists and make recommendations to the Board of Directors as to what legislation we should support or oppose. We organize advocacy, such as if we need CWBA members to contact legislators, write letters, testify before a committee, or actually draft legislation. We also coordinate with our amicus subcommittee.
Q: How long have you been involved?
A: I have been involved with the CWBA since I was sworn into the Colorado Bar. I have been on 3 different committees during that time. This is my second year as a Board Member and my second year as a Co-Chair to this committee.
Q: What does it look like to be involved in the drafting of legislation? How much time does it take, how many people does it involve?
A: The general process looks like this: We receive requests to be involved in legislation through our lobbyists, and/or the lobbyists bring legislation to our attention if they believe it will interest us. We don’t necessarily draft legislation. Typically, once a bill is on our radar, we discuss it with our committee and take a position. We tell that position to the Board of Directors and they agree or disagree with our position (they typically agree).
We then tell our lobbyists our official position, whether that be support, support with amendments, or oppose. The lobbyists then let the bill sponsors know our position and ask the bill sponsors what they need from our committee. We then ask our committee members for what the legislator asks for which can include emails/letters to other legislators, phone calls to them letting them know our position or concerns, and even testimony down at the capitol. I have met with senators at the capitol to discuss our concerns on bills. I have also testified in favor of a bill.
While we don’t typically draft legislation, we did for Equal Pay which was before I was a co-chair. Drafting and passing that legislation was very time consuming. Our equal pay subcommittee had about 10 ladies on it and they spent a great deal of time on it.
Q: What is some of the legislation that you have been involved in as part of the public policy committee of the CWBA?
A: This year we were involved in the Race Trait Bill (discrimination against people of color based off of things like their hair); Misuse of Human Reproductive Material; the Insurance Cover Infertility Diagnosis and Treatment; several Anti LGBTQ bills, the Law Enforcement Integrity Act, the Prohibition of Courthouse Civil Arrests bill, and a Sick Leave for Employees bill, among several others. It was a weird year due to the pandemic and many of our other bills got pushed to next year. However, we definitely had some big wins and made great progress on some important issues.
Q: What would you consider your greatest accomplishment on the committee?
A: This is a hard question because the committee does such amazing work. I think getting the fertility access bill and police accountability bill passed have been really exciting.
Q: You were recently involved in The Law Enforcement Integrity Act (SB217). What contribution did the CWBA make to this legislation?
A: The Public Policy Committee and the CWBA Board of Directors supported The Law Enforcement Integrity Act. We pushed for an amendment that removed a portion of the bill that we thought could be used against victims. Specifically, the bill said that turning off a police body camera would result in a presumption in regard to prosecution of the case. The CWBA pushed to make sure that presumption would not be used against the victim in the case.
Q: Any new legislation on the horizon that we should be looking out for?
A: The session actually ended this week! There will be ballot measures that are extremely important in November, including one on paid family leave, and then there will be new legislation between January and May next year.
Q: If we are not involved in a committee like yours, but if we believe that a particular piece of legislation is important, what can a person do to support the passage of or to express opposition to a piece of legislation?
A: Call or write to your legislators! People highly underestimate how much legislators in your community WANT to hear from you. You can have a big impact. You can also participate by testifying if it is really important issue to you and you have something unique to add to the conversation. I’d be happy to try and facilitate that if someone needs help getting plugged in.