Sep 242003
Authors: Carl McCutchen

The Associated Students of CSU is negotiating to give students a face and a voice at the Colorado Capitol in Denver.

Last year, ASCSU contracted Jennifer Leech, a legislative liaison, to work for CSU and lobby on higher education issues.

It was the first year that CSU had a lobbyist in the state’s Capitol.

This year they are working on doing the same.

ASCSU is currently negotiating a contract with Leech to bring her back for another round of politics.

Ryan Miccio, director of legislative affairs for ASCSU, said Leech’s salary is primarily paid by money allocated to a legislative liaison position through the ASCSU budget. ASCSU paid Leech $6,000 last year and have budgeted the same into her pending contract this year.

Leech, a CSU alumna with a degree in political science and a lobbyist at the capitol, said she enjoyed working for CSU last year and would be happy to do it again.

“I had a great time and really enjoyed it,” she said. “It was awesome.”

As the legislative liaison for CSU, Leech was involved with several tasks. She worked closely with ASCSU to keep them informed on educational issues and also organized a student voice to testify on important issues.

“We were very impressed with her work last year,” Miccio said. “She had very good communication with us.”

Leech said her biggest issue last year was the voucher bill that would have given individual students vouchers instead of giving state funding to universities.

“Our biggest battle was the voucher bill. We worked closely on it and talked to the legislature about our concerns, and then organized students to testify,” she said.

Leech said she did not do much with the budget situation, but she did look at what areas of higher education were being targeted.

Phuong Le, a senior biology student, thinks that the idea of having a person representing CSU at the Capitol is a nice idea, but it might not work.

“It’s a nice theory but I don’t know how well ASCSU really represents the student body,” she said. “It could work if ASCSU got students involved in more issues and CSU politics.”

Ethan Norris, a graduate student in biochemistry, thinks having a liaison at the Capitol is a step in the right direction for CSU.

“As one of the major institutions in Colorado, we need to work on getting more legislation for higher education institutions, especially in a time where schools are in danger of losing money because of budget cuts,” Norris said. “You have to crawl before you can walk,” Norris added.

Leech said that CSU was able to gain influence by having a successful term in Denver last year.

“It was beneficial to have a lobbyist because it kept personal contact and also kept people up-to-date with the news,” she said.

Leech also credited her success last year to having great communication and cooperation with the people involved.

“Part of the reason we were so successful last year was that we worked as a team,” she said. “We had some really different times but it turned out positive.”

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