By Katherine Boyce
NCSL welcomed 19 German and Austrian legislators from the Partnership of Parliaments to Denver earlier this month.
During the gathering, they met with a number of Colorado officials and representatives from the Republican and Democratic parties, and witnessed the historic U.S. elections.
The delegation was greeted by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and found it very helpful to hear about the structure of city governance and how Denver is coping with rapid population growth.
Several members of the Colorado General Assembly spoke with the delegation.
The opportunity to speak with counterparts in the Colorado General Assembly was a highlight for the group. Over the course of the week, they met with Speaker Dickey Hullinghorst, Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel, Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg, Senator Kevin Grantham, Senator Rollie Heath, Senator Vicki Marble, Senator Beth Martinez-Humenik, Senator Pat Steadman, Representative Janak Joshi, and Representative Angela Williams.
The Denver Elections Division welcomed the delegation members as election observers at a voting center, where officials showed the delegation voter registration, mail-in ballot processing, and how bipartisan teams decipher unclear ballots.
The German and Austrian delegates had a vibrant discussion over lunch with Boulder County Republican Party members, including Colorado GOP Vice Chairman Derrick Williams, Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg, Senator Vicki Marble, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, candidate for County Commissioner Paul Danish, and Committee Director Peg Cage.
The Boulder County Republicans spoke with the delegates at length.
Delegates were pleased to learn about campaign financing and grassroots efforts from Alex Gano at the Boulder County Democratic Headquarters.
Several NCSL staff members briefed the delegation on topics ranging from ballot initiatives to autonomous vehicles, drones, and the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use.
On Election Night, delegates watched the results come in at both the Colorado Democratic and GOP parties.
All participants reported that they had found the meeting useful in improving their knowledge of the U.S. elections processes and building relationships with American legislators, and said they were likely to use what they learned during the study tour in their government position.
NCSL looks forward to continuing the close relationship with the Partnership of Parliaments.
Katherine Boyce is a policy associate in NCSL’s International Programs Department.