Documentary puts focus on legislative process

Former state senator hopes to educate public through film

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Linda Newell is hoping to stay busy after leaving the state Senate behind.

Newell, termed out of office this past year after eight years representing District 26, premiered a short documentary she produced on how a bill gets made at Littleton’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on March 18.

“The Last Bill: A Senator’s Story” follows the Littleton Democrat as she navigates the state Legislature with what would be her final bill to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 16-147, dubbed “Suicide Prevention Through Zero Suicide Model,” was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on June 10 of last year, on the final day that the governor could sign new laws. It aims to coordinate anti-suicide efforts throughout the state and encourage health care facilities to train staff to recognize warning signs.

“My first profession was in theater and television,” the Orange County, California, native said in a question-and-answer session after one of the two screenings. “So this was kind of bringing those two worlds together.”

The 27-minute movie follows Newell as she introduces the bill and works to get it through the Health and Human Services Committee with Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud.

The movie shows there is an art to finding common ground and getting bills through committees.

“You have to find your friends,” Lundberg says in the movie.

One theme of the movie is that many Colorado residents are not aware of the work being done in the Legislature, something Newell hopes to change in her post-Senate career.

Newell’s daughter, Brittany Wolfe, served as an executive producer on the film.

“My goal with this project was civic engagement,” Wolfe said.

“The Last Bill: A Senator’s Story” was directed by Aaron Koehler and edited by Matt Baxter through their company, Indie Denver Media Productions. Koehler said that he learned a lot about the legislative process while making the movie.

“I’m really proud of the end result,” he said.

Newell plans to make more short documentaries in the future to educate people on political topics. She hopes to pair them with printed curriculum guides for use in schools.

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