A democracy is run by those who show up. Below is some information on how to be involved in public policy decisions made at the state, county, and city level.
Town Hall Meetings – Throughout the year, some of Arapahoe County’s state legislators hold regular town hall meetings in and near Aurora to give updates on what the House and Senate are doing and to take questions. These town halls are open to all comers.
Colorado Legislature – Fortunately Colorado’s legislative process affords better deliberation of bills on their merits than the process in Washington.
In Colorado, our state Constitution requires that every bill introduced by any legislator of either the majority or minority party gets a hearing in committee. (In Washington, a committee chair can single-handedly kill even a relatively popular idea simply by refusing to bring the bill up for a hearing). Coloradans have the right to testify and comment on any bill being debated in committee in the Colorado House or Colorado Senate.
You can track down details about bills and committee hearings at the state legislature’s web site at leg.colorado.gov – you can also listen to live audio feeds of any committee or the entire House or Senate. You can also see live video of the House and Senate when they are in session on the floor at www.coloradochannel.net or on channel 165 on TV.
Rulemaking Hearings – Even when the state legislature is not in session (by law, the legislature is only allowed to be in session for a maximum of 120 days from January to May), many state agencies hold periodic meetings to take input from Coloradans on proposed rules. This is because sometimes the legislature passes a law and directs professional staff in a particular agency to develop details in accordance with the law. For example, a law addressing clean water might direct the state’s Water Quality Control Commission to scientifically determine the maximum permissible amount of dissolved nitrogen in some river. (This is just one of many, many examples of state agency rules).
Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies maintains many email lists that anyone can sign up for to get updates about rulemakings on whatever subject is interesting to them.
State Boards and Commissions – The Governor’s Office of Boards and Commissions is responsible for seeking candidates for and making appointments to various state committees and commissions, some of which have significant responsibilities. Learn more here.
Arapahoe County – Our 5 elected county commissioners generally meet in public session every Tuesday evening. You can see details at http://www.arapahoegov.com/AgendaCenter/. You can see archived video of past meetings on the county’s Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/arapahoecountygov.
The county also has an Open Space and Trails Advisory Board that meets monthly to decide how to invest Arapahoe County’s voter-approved sales tax for open space. You can see the board’s schedule here.
Arapahoe County has numerous citizen boards and commissions that often have vacancies. Volunteering on one of these boards is a good way to get involved in an issue you care about.
City of Aurora – Most, but not all, of District 36 is part of the City of Aurora. Aurora’s city council consists of a mayor and 10 council members, 6 of whom represent a particular ward in Aurora and 4 of whom are elected by all voters in the city (at-large).
The city council generally meets every Monday evening at the city building at Alameda & Chambers, and these meetings are open to the public. You can see agendas, minutes and video archives here.
Councilors who represent a specific ward usually hold Ward Town Meetings – you can look up the details here.
Like Arapahoe County, the City of Aurora also has numerous citizen boards and commissions that offer a way to get involved in the city’s decision-making. Find out more here.