The State Capital hosted about 60 CSU students who traveled to Denver Monday to talk to their respective legislators and ask them questions.
The group was composed of students from the Associated Students of CSU and graduate students in the student affairs graduate program. The students visited the state Senate and House of Representatives floors and observed Senate and House committee hearings. A presentation on the state budget was presented to students too.
"The fact that students were present shows that they care," said Maria Bennett, director of Legislative Affairs for ASCSU and a senior political science and economics major. "By traveling down here, students are showing that they care about what goes on underneath the big dome."
The day started around 7:45 a.m. as students began to board the bus to Denver and around 9:30 a.m. the bus arrived in front of the State Capital. After a rundown of the day's events, students traveled to the House of Representatives where they were introduced to the entire House by Angie Paccione D-Fort Collins.
After all the introductions of various visitors, students witnessed the passing of House Bill 1077. The bill, which now moves on to the Senate, states that upon the sale of a keg containing an alcoholic beverage, the seller must record the purchaser's identification and attach a recyclable tag bearing an identification number so the purchaser can be traced. If the keg is not returned in two weeks after it is sold the seller must report it to the appropriate authorities and the seller can keep the deposit.
Following this, Eric Kurtz, a Joint Budget Committee Higher Education analyst, talked to the students about the state budget and the status of funding for higher education.
"The picture is not very good for higher education right now," Kurtz said. "The reality is increasing tuition probably will happen."
Kurtz went on talk about TABOR and Amendment 23 and what needs to be done in the future so higher education does not continue to be cut.
"The legislature is very concerned," Kurtz said. "They don't have a solution now but are working very hard."
A brief intermission followed and then a luncheon followed where students asked their respective legislators, over deli sandwiches and canned sodas, about issues they thought were important and other things pertaining to politics.
Senators Bob Bacon, Steve Johnson, Abel Tapia and Sue Windels and Representatives Angie Paccione, Bob McCluskey, Mike Merrifield and Liane McFadyen made up the panel. Each Senator and Representative introduced himself or herself and then took questions.
The issue surrounding the keg registration legislation was asked and Paccione and Merrifield said they voted for it while Rep. McCluskey did not.
Paccione said the registration is a great tool for police to track down people who are providing alcohol to underage people. Merrifield said the bill will not be the all-time-No.-1 solution but it will do something positive.
"I don't think the legislation will do much at all," McCluskey said. "If people think we're going to solve this problem tomorrow that is not going to happen."
In the closing discussion on keg registration, Johnson said college students could be a lot more effective in helping to stop underage drinking more than legislators can.
The next question to be asked was "how do party lines affect the issue of higher education?"
Tapia responded by saying that it is not a party issue but an economic issue. McCluskey said people in the House are ready to act and do something about higher education.
"If we have a full, thorough discussion, I am hopeful and optimistic that we will pass something this year," McCluskey said.
After the lunchtime discussion, Bacon said he was very pleased with the student's questions and thoughts. Bacon said it was great that students have recognized the problem with higher education in this state.
"Too many people think university students do not care about what is going on but this whole trip to the legislature shows that there is tremendous concern for higher education in this state," Bacon said. "Students want to be part of the solution."
The last part of the day at the Capital involved students hearing a Senate committee discuss a bill proposed that would let liquor stores in Colorado sell alcohol on Sundays.
Students that participated in the day at the Capital thought it to be a success.
"Around 60 people came this year compared to 20 last year," Bennett said. "It's great to see the increase in student involvement."
Mark Settle, a sophomore economics, political science and philosophy major, thought it was a productive and informative day.
"It's great to talk to the legislators," Settle said. "It gave a depth of understanding to a tangible problem that we can work towards fixing."