How a group of Girl Scouts got a law passed in Colorado

person adminfolder_openUncategorizedaccess_time March 13, 2018

Starting Saturday in Aurora, Colorado, if drivers are caught smoking with a child 18 years old or under in the same vehicle, they can be cited. But it’s not city officials who are behind the new ordinance – it’s a group of young girls. It started as a Girl Scout project: create a city ordinance, then take it to the city council. Nancy Rodgers, Aurora’s senior assistant city attorney, helped them craft the legal language.

"I like that young girls were interested in legislative process," Rogers told CBS News’ Barry Petersen. "There’s not many women that are in local government at the elected level." There was homework like researching similar laws in other states. Only eight states and Puerto Rico have such measures in place and there are no such laws in Colorado. Then came their night to advocate for their law.

When 13-year-old Julianna Martin handed the ordinance to the mayor, she was very nervous. Now, those nerves are nowhere to be seen. "Now, I’ve learned that it just takes a little bit of courage and knowledge and perseverance," Julianna said. It was close – some council members thought it was too much government intervention. The vote was a nail-biter with a five-five tie, until the mayor cast the deciding vote in favor. Amelia Malchow wasn’t surprised that they won.

"We’re all strong women. We’re a good group and we know each other really well," Amelia said. The law is what is called a secondary violation. If the police stop you for something else and then see that you’re smoking in a car with a child underage, that’s when they give you the citation. For doing this, they each earned the Silver Star, the highest Girl Scout honor for their age group. And while they learned a good lesson, they also taught the grownups a lesson. "I feel like sometimes we’re looked down upon because we’re just kids and we don’t know anything but we do," Amelia said.

Added Julianna, "Not to be rude to our parents, but I think we accomplished more at our age than they did, in like their first 20 years." They just might be right.

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