Why do the lawmakers get all the fun stuff in Colorado? Ok, to be a little more serious, I know it is the Legislature’s job to write the Colorado Revised Statutes, but some of this stuff could be very helpful to citizens either trying to understand the law, or perhaps write their own ballot initiative.
The Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS) provides all sorts of legal aid. In addition to copyrighting state law, the office is the legal research department for the Colorado General Assembly. They help Legislators write the law, organize and compile the law before it is published, and have teams of experts on common legislative topics to provide any help that they may need.
On the OLLS homepage (which consists of a grand total of six sentences, so you don’t think I am cherry-picking any ideas) they state their mission as a resource to the Legislature, but also the public. “As the embodiment of the idea of political self-determination, the Colorado legislative process needs to be accessible and understandable to citizens. Similarly, those of us whose job it is to facilitate that process should strive to keep it as open, courteous, and business-like as possible while serving the needs of legislators and the public.” See http://tornado.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/olls/index.htm.
From my interactions with OLLS, they are very sharp, and very professional. They just do not happen to be the most accessible part of the government to citizens. Since they have some really cool resources that can be very beneficial to citizens as well as Legislators, I am here to help them out with their public interactions — kind of as an OLLS Ambassador.
One really cool resource is their public/private website: Legisource.net (what is it with OLLS and these public/private websites?). This is a blog type of website, similar in structure to cocommonlaw.com, and it is updated often with helpful topics. No registration is required. It is a public website that does not appear to be restricted in any way. It just seems to be written and marketed to the Colorado General Assembly. It is too bad they don’t market it also to the public, I think it could be really useful to the average citizen in Colorado trying to understand the law better.
For example, one of their recent articles, “Statutory Construction: Singular v. Plural, Gender and Time” is a really good primer that citizens can use to help them better understand the meaning of state law. Published on Aug. 21, a little more than a week ago, it is the third in a series of articles that strive to help in understanding state law. Citizens can benefit from that sort of article just as much as Legislators. This is probably not something you will cite to in court, but if you want to think like the Colorado General Assembly, this is a great place to start.
Another example is they analyze how OLLS analyzes the recent case, Benefield et al. v. Colorado Republican Party, No. 11SC935 (Colo. June 30, 2014). The case primarily deals with what are public and private records when constituents contact their legislators, and how attorneys fees are apportioned. The analysis performed by OLLS is really quite good, as it traces the history of the case all the way to the beginning. While beneficial to legislators on their legal duties, the case summary also provides citizens with what they should expect with privacy when contacting his or her legislator.
If you want a deeper dive into the Colorado Revised Statutes check out: Legisource.net. It is chalk full of information about Colorado law.