By Suzanne Plaut, 350 Colorado Volunteer

Forge relationships. That was my key take-away as a first-time participant in 350 Colorado’s Climate Lobby Day at the State Capitol on February 10. Over 50 citizen lobbyists—teens, elders, from Pueblo to Denver, and from various racial and language backgrounds—supported by 350 Colorado’s stellar staff, held over 30 meetings with our state senators, representatives, and aides. 

Based on a show of hands, more than half of us were first timers, including Mario Reyes, who teaches at Colorado High School Charter GES in the Globeville-Elyria-Swansea area of Denver. He shared with me why he came: “I want to learn about this process so I can support my students in getting more involved in political activism and climate activism, but as well for my own heart and soul and what I believe we should do for our planet. This is one way I am trying to take action to do something about the climate crisis.” 

Constituents gather outside the State Capitol for Climate Lobby Day 2023


The day kicked off with a land acknowledgment and remarks from Senator Chris Hansen, Representative Judy Amabile, and 350 Colorado’s lobbyist, Mike Foote.

Senator Chris Hansen said “There is no substitute for constituents to be here to meet with their representatives. In a typical session, we are dealing with 800 bills, and constantly talking to paid hired lobbyists. But we don’t get to hear enough directly from constituents. There is a huge difference between the two. You being here today is going to have a big impact. It’s meaningful. It stands out.”

We went to urge legislators to support the bills 350 Colorado has identified as high priority.

High priority Colorado climate legislation in the 2023 legislative session include: 

Each of these bills represent a step forward for environmental legislation in the state. The 350 team offered training throughout January and early February, ensuring that constituents understood the bills and their key points. 

The author (Suzanne Plaut) and 350CO’s Giselle Herzfeld with Sen. Sonya Jaquez-Lewis at Climate Lobby Day, 2023

We fanned out in groups to meet with our legislators. As a first timer, I was fortunate to be accompanied by 350 staffer Giselle Herzfeld. We met with my representative’s aide (in week two on the job) who just needed information. He relished the fact sheets Giselle shared. And we met with my senator’s aide, Molly Stawinoga (Senior Legislative Aide to Sen. Jaquez Lewis), who mostly needed appreciation for her continuing work on environmental legislation. She told me “as an Aide who sees all of our efforts, we are so appreciative any time our constituents help push our agenda, your agenda. Because we know that we need to act now about the climate, but unfortunately a lot of times we don’t hear voices like you. It’s great to have you in person pushing all of the other legislators.” We got to shower love on our Senator, Sonia Jaquez Lewis, a key climate champion. And—as someone who wrestles with climate anxiety—I got to share my own “why,” urging her to help legislators see the link between the climate crisis and the growing mental health crisis (especially for youth). 

Other citizen lobbyists had harder conversations, but navigated skillfully. I overheard one constituent say, “My rep admitted he doesn’t know much about climate; I appreciated his humility.” Another said “We found some common ground. He doesn’t like mandates, but was open to the study bills.”

Sen. Chris Hansen speaks to constituents in preparation for Climate Lobby Day

As a first timer, I’ll admit that some parts of the day felt like insider baseball. I overheard 350 Colorado staff talking with more experienced citizen lobbyists about how to garner more bipartisan support using feedback on fine points of the biochar bill, and about the key role of the senate leader as a gate-keeper to introduce study bills. 

But—in our prep, and throughout the day—350 Colorado staff consistently reminded us that you don’t have to be an expert. They gave us priority talking points, fact sheets, training sessions, and coaching. I felt equipped to forge a real connection and have a real conversation.

The conversations we had with legislators offered them and their influential aides information and motivation. And, just as important, the listening we did in those conversations helped us understand our individual legislators’ needs and motivations. This, in turn, enabled us to identify strategic next steps and individual follow-up. 

Constituents prepare for legislative meetings

Mike Foote, former state Senator and current 350 Colorado lobbyist, told the group “Being here in person is by far the most influential thing you can do.” Please come join us for the next climate lobby day.

Meanwhile, learn more about the bills here.

And—most importantly—get to know your legislators. Write them. Call them. Listen to them. Thank them. Challenge them. Forge those relationships. It’s the only way we’ll move fast enough, far enough, together.

Want to take action this legislative session? Here’s how to get involved.
  1. Contact your legislators with support of strong climate legislation and action this session! Look up your state legislators here. Share this Climate Priorities Bills + Concepts Handout – a one stop shop for learning more about priority bills and concepts this session. Let your legislators know why you are in support. Share your personal story and perspective.
  2. Keep track of the important legislation during the session with our 2023 Bill Tracker.
  3. Join our Climate Legislation Committee, which meets every other Monday from 5-6pm and focuses on supporting climate legislation.
  4. Check out our Legislative Advocacy Tip Sheet for a list of ways to get involved, plus links to important resources. Our ‘Take Action at the Capitol” page also has ideas + resources for getting involved.

Constituents prepare for meetings with legislators