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Unwritten Rules for Freshman Legislators:

Want to know the 9 unwritten rules for freshman legislators? Check out my father's latest column for the Colorado Statesman, based on his 22 years of service in the Colorado House of Representatives. For example:

Rule No. 1: Don't go to the front to speak and merely state "I'm going to vote for this bill." Go to the front to speak for the first time when you have studied the bill being debated, can explain its merits and defects, and can produce some suggestions that the other legislators might find useful.
His website has lots of other articles with advice for legislators, such as how a legislature is like a small town:
In a very small town, people are close. That doesn't mean they are all friends. But when you are close, it's hard to hide a true personality, actual ability, or lack of ability, behind a facade. For better or worse, halfway through a legislator's first year, he or she is pegged at a certain level, and it may take years before original perceptions are discarded.
There are also Eight Rules for Lobbyists to Live By, such as:
Rule No. 5. Never surprise a legislator by making your objections known for the first time at a committee hearing. I have seen legislators almost apoplectic when that happens and you have made an enemy for life. Former Sen. Vince Massari of Pueblo kept a little black book. When he felt wronged, the name and event went into the book. If he had a chance for revenge he took it even if he would otherwise have supported the issue because it helped his constituents. For some legislators, revenge is the sweetest dessert.
There's also a column warning about the dangers of falling in love with your own bills. That column concludes with this anecdote:
[Former legislator] Steve Durham and I entered a capitol elevator the other day while the Democrat and Republican House legislators were in caucus discussing the long bill.
Durham: "What's the difference between a cactus and a caucus?"
Kopel: "I don't know, what is the difference?"
Durham: "With a cactus, the pricks are on the outside."

dba dba:
You know, I'm only an occasional reader of this site, but I have to say that David Kopel's posts are irritating to me in the following way: 60% of them are simply links to content elsewhere created by himself or his father. It just strikes me as extremely self-serving. The other posters on this site make a pretty good effort to provide original content for VC, and whether I agree with them or not I appreciate it. I always have the sense that Kopel is just using this as a platform to draw more hits to his other homes on the internet. Linking to other interesting material is fine, and all the posters do it. Linking almost exclusively to your own stuff and your father grows tiresome.
1.23.2007 12:50pm
hugh:

Rule No. 5. Never surprise a legislator by making your objections known for the first time at a committee hearing. I have seen legislators almost apoplectic when that happens and you have made an enemy for life.
Oh, like Senator George Voinovich of Ohio when he decided, IN a committee hearing, to vote against the nomination of John Bolton to be Ambassador to the UN. Surprised everyone. I gave a blistering call to his office that day (well, actually I was very polite to the staffer who answered the phone...but I TOLD him to mark it down as a furious constituent).
1.24.2007 6:22am
Dan Greenberg (mail) (www):
As a state legislator, I must say that Kopel's dad's writing on legislative culture has been both quite insightful and extremely unpretentious. (As a state senator once said to me when we were trying to figure out how to get a bill passed through committees in both houses, "This ain't politics, it's anthropology!") Kopel's dad's writing has more content than a first-blush reading reveals, and I appreciate Kopel the Younger's references to his dad's work.
1.24.2007 6:39am