Jerry Kopel

How would you like to confront 24 bills in the legislature asking for regulations for various unregulated occupations?

And the only research available to help you decide what to do will come from lobbyists pushing the particular bills. That's what Colorado legislators faced in the 1980's.

The Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) badly wanted the House  and Senate to allow everyone to get a better handle on the licensing proposals. Consumers were not marching around the capitol building demanding more regulation.

In 1983 the legislature had to deal with 24 bills asking for 22 businesses and occupations to be licensed. In 1984, there were 17 bills seeking 15 new occupational and business licenses.

DORA's boss, Wellington Webb, asked the legislature in 1985 to adopt a "Sunrise" law to have DORA study various occupations and businesses seeking regulation; see if any of them made sense before hearing bills in legislative committees. Many other states were already using "Sunrise".

In 1976, Colorado was the first state to deal with "Sunset", the potential repeal of occupational licenses already on the statute books. That law came about in answer to a Rocky Mountain News study of corrupt practices within trade associations.

Associations had pushed legislation giving themselves the authority to force the governor to pick from the association choices for occupational board members. They had the state regulatory boards sharing their trade association offices. They kept consumers off the boards or few in number, and protected licensees from action brought by consumers. Sunset got rid of unneeded regulation and reformed discipline and review of those licensed occupations remaining.

Sunrise became law in 1985. You will find it in CRS 24-34-104.4 There is no charge for seeking review for unregulated occupations. The application basically asks for (1) a definition of the problem and why regulation is needed (2) the benefit to the public that would result (3) the cost of regulation (4) what group is seeking regulation (5) how many practititioners would be covered, and (6) why alternatives other than regulation would not work.

Response by DORA to those issues is in written reports and in the hearings on the proposed new licensing bill. Is there a clear and present danger to the public from lack of regulation? Would regulation ensure competence? Is there a less expensive way to protect the public? If the bill is turned down, the applicants can use the same report the next session. In other words, two bites of the apple.

The Sunrise bill was carried by me and then-Sen. Steve Durham (R). Some were puzzled by two political opposites joining to push the issue. But deregulation is populist and knows no political fences.

Since 1985, there have only been two bills in my recollection that failed to go through the Sunrise process. In 1999, then-Rep. Ron Tupa (D) decided persons who tattoo other persons for money should be licensed under the Health Dept. and introduced a bill to do so.

Tupa then learned of "Sunrise'". He obeyed the law and filed his application. DORA reviewed the proposal and body art facilities came under jurisdiction of the Health Dept. in 2000.

This year, Sen. Deanna Hanna (D) has introduced SB 167 to license private security officers. It did not go through a Sunrise review before introduction, but it is listed in the daily status sheet as "Sunrise Private Security Officers."

There are three other requests for regulation that did go through the Sunrise process for consideration in 2005: Pharmacy Benefit Managers, Genetic Counselors and Surgical Assistants. Of the three DORA suggests using the Colorado Consumer Protection Act for pharmacy benefit managers.

Sunrise will only continue to work if all new regulation goes through the process as required by the statute.

In my opinion, regulation that does not go through the process and is challenged by someone "newly regulated" will be held invalid by the courts.

(Jerry Kopel served  22 years in the Colorado House.).

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