Legislative aide sees process up close

Keywords: Durango Herald,

With session quickly coming to an end, I thought I would write the weekly column to inform you how the legislature has been for me this year. Perhaps some of you know, I worked for Sen. Roberts in the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions. I graduated from the University of Colorado at Denver in the summer of 2012 with a degree in political science.

I planned after graduating to do international volunteer work of some kind. I began searching my options and, last year, decided to go to Honduras and teach in a small, bilingual school outside the city of San Pedro Sula. This opportunity was truly a life-changing experience.

Living in such an impoverished nation like Honduras really made me understand what I have here as an American. Seeing the crime and corruption up close and personal was very sad. I spent nearly the entire year there, as I had planned, and returned home to Southern Colorado in time for the holidays this past year.

I was very excited when Sen. Roberts asked me to return to work for her this year. I returned to Denver in December and also returned working at an Italian restaurant downtown where I was previously employed. The legislative session started in early January and began rather quietly, but as the months went by, more controversial bills came up for votes.

I appreciate the constituents calling, writing or emailing with their concerns over legislation. It is great to see people involved in the process and knowing what changes are being made at the Capitol that can potentially have an impact on their lives. Hearing from people helps the senator know what the district is feeling about certain legislation and can have an impact on her voting decisions.

Politics is often thought of in a very negative light. Working in the Capitol, I get the privilege of seeing the process up close. So much positive legislation passes unanimously and rarely makes media headlines. The controversial or emotional bills always make the news, but do not represent the majority of work done in the Capitol on behalf of Colorado.

I had the opportunity to work with the Colorado Youth Advisory Council this past week and hear the students present their legislation recommendations to the Legislature. I was amazed at how thoughtful and prepared the students were. They spoke on issues that are important to youth, as well as the entire state. Water conservation was a common theme with the students, as well as with the legislators this year.

Growing up in the San Luis Valley, I learned from an early age the importance of water conservation. I truly believe this is the most pressing issue of our time and hope to see the Legislature continue to work toward a sustainable future for the state. Sen. Roberts has spearheaded that effort and I’ve really enjoyed getting to be a part of that this year.

I currently do not have any major plans after session ends, but I do hope to travel some, continue working at the restaurant, and begin doing campaign work for this fall.

It has been a great pleasure working and getting to know many of you over the past few years and I look forward to what the future has to offer.

Ezra Riggs is the legislative aide for Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango. Reach him at (303)866-4884.