How Kimberly Jewell took on the Colorado legislature Email

"I didn’t have a clue what I was getting into. I never did anything like this,” says Kimberly Jewell, general manager, Snow Management Services/GroundMasters Landscape Services, Inc., Denver. She was referring to her in-the-trenches efforts along with others in the industry to convince legislators to vote for the Snow Removal Service Liability Limitation Act.

Though a newbie to the legislative and lobbying process, Jewell is an almost 20-year veteran in managing snow and ice operations. She saw the bill as “building a hedge of protection” that would bring relief to her firm and other snow and ice management companies being forced by contract requirements to accept undue liability. Through her affiliation with Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA), Jewell was asked by executive director Kevin Gilbride to help pursue legislation in Colorado that would indemnify snow/ice management firms. Gilbride and ASCA had been involved with a two-year and successful effort in Illinois.

“I’ve always felt I didn’t have a voice and my vote didn’t count,” says Jewell. But the desired outcome pushed her to be the point person mobilizing competitors and other companies to bring the cause of snow companies to the statehouse.

While Gilbride recommended reaching out to legislators in her own district, Jewell says, “I went after anyone I could reach.” The grassroots effort by Jewell and others to meet with every legislator possible was underway during the 2017 legislative session and by fall, Senator Dominick Moreno had agreed to introduce the bill in the 2018 session.

John McMahon, ALCC’s executive director, contacted Jewell, whose firm is also an ALCC member, to offer support. McMahon, members and ALCC’s lobbyist joined the effort.

The 2018 session was intense for the group. Alternately, they pushed hard for appointments to persuade legislators and then held their breath hoping the bill would get through committees and out for vote. Tactically, they focused on senators knowing if the bill passed the Senate it would likely pass the house—which it did.

Jewell and others have expressed surprise and relief at how quickly the bill moved through the process. Other states such as Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Ohio have not been successful. She believes getting Colorado on board along with Illinois will help leverage other states.

Then and now
Prior to this legislation, says Jewell, “Liability was shifted for everything to the snow contractor. I felt that was wrong.” That is why she became an advocate for change. Snow companies have often done work without being paid just to limit their liability, she says. “The new legislation means contract specs that say ‘two inches’ mean two inches. Now, property owners will live with the consequences of their choices.”

This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Colorado Green

ALCC and ASCA will present Understanding the Snow Removal Liability Limitations Act on Tuesday, August 2018.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Safety measures can reduce work site fire danger
Surge in rabbit population could be a health risk
Teach your crew to steer clear of unknown animals--and rabies exposure
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