(Above) Mile High JACL board member Justin Valas makes a presentation at the AAPI Legislative Training Workshop.

By P.C. Staff

The Mile High chapter of the JACL, along with the Asian Pacific Development Center, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum of Colorado and the National Federation of Filipino American Assn. hosted an AAPI legislative training session on Feb. 22, followed by the first-ever Lobby Day at the Colorado State Capitol on Feb. 24.

More than 20 community leaders attended the inaugural event, where participants learned valuable advocacy skills such as writing a strong testimony, conducting an effective legislative visit and learning how to influence elected representatives.

In addition, participants talked about various issues that are affecting AAPI communities, such as health care for the elderly, the application for Temporary Protected Status for Filipinos in the wake of November 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan, suicide among refugee communities and the lake of affordable housing for indigent people.

Finally, discussions were held regarding various bills that are pending before the Colorado state legislature, including health equity, wage theft and the recruitment of minority teachers.

“It is important for AAPI communities to become active in the legislative process,” said Mile High JACL President Harry Budisidharta. “There are a lot of AAPI voters in several swing districts throughout Colorado, and our votes can determine the outcome of several federal and state elections. We are very happy with the turnout. All of the participating organizations now regularly communicate with each other, and we are more knowledgeable about various issues that are impacting the AAPI communities in Colorado.”

Following the training session, the community leaders gathered at the State Capitol Building on Feb. 24 for Colorado’s first-ever AAPI Lobby Day, where they were officially recognized by State Rep. Crisanta Duran, who stood on the House floor and announced their presence in the building. The leaders then met with Colorado Senators Lucía Guzman and Jessie Ulibarri, as well as Representatives Dan Pabon and Joe Salazar to further talk about various issues affecting AAPI communities.

With the success of this year’s event, the Mile High Chapter is hoping to turn it into an annual occurrence. For more information, email Harry Budisidharta at President@MileHighJACL.org.

Originally published on April 4, 2014