In order to engage feedback from Colorado youth, the State Legislature established this Advisory Council to have a voice in influencing legislation.
Purpose of Council
To provide the legislature with feedback, information, and input on policy issues affecting Colorado's youth.
Structure and Function
The Council is comprised of 40 young people between the ages of 14 and 19, and two nonvoting members from the legislature. Members represent the diversity of Colorado's youth, with one member selected from each of the 35 Senate district and five at large members selected to ensure adequate rural representation. The Council meets four times per year, with two meetings occurring during the legislative session. Members serve a two-year term, and may apply for a second term. The Council elects a youth member and legislator as co-chairs.
In addition to attending the four annual meetings, Council member duties include gathering the input of other youth in their districts, carrying out committee work related to Council business, and communicating with legislators to help track bills moving through the legislature. The Council completes an annual report to update the legislature on Council accomplishments.
Colorado is one of ten states that have created legislative youth advisory councils. Maine was the first state to do so, in 2002. The goal of these groups is to give young people a voice in the policymaking process in their states, and to enhance and encourage civic engagement and education among young people. Colorado passed HB 1157 in 2008 to establish the Council, and then HB 1097 in 2009 to update the statute based on the Council’s first year of experience.
Support for the Council
While the enabling legislation included limited state funds to reimburse Council members for travel expenses, the majority of support has come from private sources. Lead sponsors include the El Pomar Foundation, BP America, Children’s Hospital, and the La Plata Electric Association. Other partners include Xcel Energy, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, Aponte & Busam, and the League of Women Voters. The Council also has a finance committee that assists members to investigate other local sources of funds at the local level.