Feb 142006
Authors: James Baetke

Denver – Colorado lawmakers welcomed nearly 50 CSU students Monday who took a local government class in the course of one day.

About 35 students of the Associated Students of CSU and about 14 CSU graduates made the trip to Denver to better understand the process of making laws and building and following policy.

Katie DeVisser, a CSU graduate living in Denver working on her capstone in student affairs in higher education, was largely surprised of how similar the legislative process is to other bodies of government, such as ASCSU.

"It is not as highly structured as I thought it would be," DeVisser said.

DeVisser said all students should have at least a low-level interest in the government because higher education is often affected by legislature.

"There are always things popping up with education in our legislature," she said.

The CSU group watched the State House of Representatives argue over House Bill 1175, the proposed bill eliminating smoking in all indoor spaces. Just prior to the debate, Rep. Angie Paccione of Larimer County recognized three ASCSU members, including President Courtney Healey, Vice President Jonathan Muller and legislative affairs guru Alec Jeffries, on the chamber's floor.

Kristen Harrell, another CSU graduate in the capstone, said going on the elementary school tour of a Capitol is much different than what she saw in Monday's experience watching a floor vote and getting to understand the legislative process on a broader level.

"We have been talking about it for two years and it is nice to see how it works," Harrell said.

Harrell's instructor Jody Donovan said it is important for graduates to see the legislative process.

Jeffries said the event was intended to put a "face behind the voice."

"We wanted to show not only are we advocates, but we voice our opinions," he said.

Jeffries helped orchestrate ASCSU's day at the Capitol, including a lunch between students and lawmakers, such as Fort Collins Sens. Steve Johnson and Bob Bacon, plus a 20-minute personal question and answer session with Paccione.

Paccione tried to provide inspiration to those unsure of their career goals.

"My nickname (in college) was 'the mayor,' but I never had an ambition in politics," Paccione said. "If you move in the direction of your dreams…you will end up where you are supposed to be."

James Baetke can be reached at regional@collegian.com

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