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November 01, 2023 Column

Parting Message from Section 2022–23 Chair

Jennifer Bragar

What a bar year! SLGS’s members spent the past few years busier than many of us have ever been, whether advising local and state governments in public health and safety or advising and leading the dialogue about our community’s daily lives to ensure equitable access to public services and a path to more equitable outcomes. We used this year’s annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, to continue this great substantive work in person for the third time this year. We had a full slate of topics covering the wide umbrella of state and local government.

We covered natural resource matters from a water rights perspective along the Colorado River to wildfire resiliency. In addition, we had a presentation on the 100th anniversary of Pennsylvania Coal v. Mahon, where we explored the current land use concerns in the context of regulatory takings that we can connect to the earlier panels that explore the changing landscape in a world with rising temperatures.

We turned to societal outcomes in our programming, specifically to the next generations. One panel explored the disproportionate school brutality on Black children and contrasted it with a separate panel that reported on the strength of the Indian Child Welfare Act. We capped our programming with an excellent panel on gun safety policy in 2023. Marilyn Harbur and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum were integral in bringing together an amazing panel of experts to discuss what we can do to ensure safer communities. Elizabeth Yang also coordinated a tour with the Denver City/County elections department, continuing our Defending Democracy project.

My favorite part of the Annual Meeting is our Jefferson Fordham Awards, celebrating the best of our members, from lifetime achievers to up-and-comers. Our Section gave the first, newly renamed Anita Miller P. Miller Advocacy Award. The theme that came through the award presentations is that SLGS provides a home for our members. As we celebrated Michael Berger for his lifetime achievement, Professor of Law Emeritus John Nolon for his advocacy, and up-and-comer Makenna Johnson, the common ground in the presentation was mentorship and the welcome that our members have received every step of the way in their ABA participation and development of their careers in law. If you have not had a chance to join us in person or virtually, please attend a committee and join our SLGS family.

Finally, it is bittersweet for me to pass the gavel as the experience of being your Section Chair has been valuable, thought-provoking, and exciting. In all ways, I feel like we are just beginning. At the same time, the gavel pass to Professor Jessica Bacher places us in the best hands to expand our reach to law professors, law students, and young lawyers.

Please look forward to our substantive programming coming soon – affordable housing in New Orleans, virtual programming on special districts with a look to the Florida/Disney disputes, and our midyear diversity presentations. Much more will be done around our newest book, “Constitutional Policing: Striving for a More Perfect Union” – podcasts, webinars, and in-person CLE. Lastly, our committee work will continue as members gather to present, draft resolutions, publish, and network.

Thank you all for the opportunity to serve.
Jennifer Bragar

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