Magazine article State Legislatures

Rules for State Legislators: Jerry Kopel's Guide

Magazine article State Legislatures

Rules for State Legislators: Jerry Kopel's Guide

Article excerpt

Rules for State Legislators: Jerry Kopel's Guide

By Jerry Kopel and David Kopel

Kindle edition, $14.95

The late Gerald H. "Jerry" Kopel was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1964, after careers in law and journalism. During his 22 years at the Capitol, he proved himself to be a master of legislative rules and procedures, an advocate for civil rights and a partisan statesman unafraid to reach across the aisle.

"Jerry Kopel was a legislator's legislator," former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb said at a House memorial after Kopel's death in 2012.

Kopel, a Democrat, served as assistant minority leader, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and, after he retired in 1992, as a volunteer analyzing pending legislation. For many years, he wrote a column for the weekly Colorado Statesman.

In the new book "Rules for State Legislators," Kopel's son David, a lawyer and research director at the Independence Institute, lays out his father's advice on what to do after getting elected--"Tips for Winners"--where to sit in the chamber and how to pass bills when you're in the minority party. The "rules" are derived from the elder Kopel's Statesman columns, and the book preserves his plain-spoken, sometimes colorful newspaperman's tone. His counsel comes across best when you read it for yourself, in his own words.

Do your homework. When it comes to voting, there are legislators, especially new ones, who will follow the lead of legislators who have been in office for a few years. …

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