By Jerry Kopel
What feast has the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) prepared for legislators in 2006?
Well, there are 17 Sunrise and Sunset reports totaling 631 pages.
What is Sunset? Colorado was the first state to adopt Sunset. The 30-year-old law (1976-2006) was then copied by more than a majority of the other 50 states. Sunset is the automatic repeal of separate occupation licensing statutes unless regulation is renewed by the legislature. A large number of occupational statutes were repealed in the early days of Sunset. Today, the process is mainly used to modernize occupational statutes based on recommendations by DORA researchers.
What is Sunrise? Sunrise was adopted in 1985. Applicants seek regulation of occupations not presently regulated at the state level. DORA issues recommendations as to regulation. Applicants have two years subsequent to the report issued to obtain regulatory status.
Eight of the 17 reports come from groups wanting to be regulated (not from consumers angry over lack of regulation). "Please", they ask , "regulate us."
In the majority of Sunrise reports DORA researchers determined no new regulations were needed.
Seven of the remaining reports deal with present occupational regulation or with statutes having jurisdiction over regulated occupations. Two Sunset reports have no relationship to occupations and could have been done through the State Auditor's office.
In addition, there are three Sunrise reports that could be dealt with in 2006, which already had a 2005 opportunity. They are Genetic Counselors, Surgical Assistants, and Pharmacy Benefit Managers.
The Sunset reports include an "executive summary." This is usually a one-page sheet listing key recommendations. Unfortunately too many legislators will only read a total of nine one-page summaries (Like the Cliff Notes in college) and not the 278 pages in the Sunset reports.
There are no one-page executive summaries in the Sunrise reports. Legislators will have to read 353 pagers dealing with the eight new applications, or read the conclusions at the end of the reports, or depend on someone else to ask the right kind of questions in committee hearings.
Here are the Sunrise titles and a brief comment of the DORA recommendation:
1. Fire and Burglar Alarm Systems (dealing with those who install them.) (No).
2. Landscape Architects (No)
3. Naturopathic Physicians (Yes)
4. Crane Operators (No)
5. Conveyances (basically those who install or repair elevators and escalators.) (No)
6. Mortgage Brokers (Yes)
7. School Psychologists (No. Already regulated while working in school and regulated as unlicensed mental health psycotherapists when working away from school)
8. Athletic Trainers (No. Already partially regulated by national requirements. Title protection possibly in future years.)
(Also Genetic Counselors, Surgical Assistants and Pharmacy Benefit Managers left over from 2005. "No" on all three)
There is a statute that limits the number of Sunrise bills to be "considered". CRS 24-34-101.1 (6). It states "The general assembly shall not consider the regulation of more than five occupations or professions in any one session of the general assembly."
The Legislative Services section by memo declared "consider" refers to "pass" but suggested the language be amended. It has not been amended. Certainly if more than five of the 11 applicants are approved, there would likely be a lawsuit challenging their legitimacy beginning with No. 6.
Sunset proposals on occupations. All except the Dental Advisory Board were recommended for continuance with suggested amendments:
1. Office of Consumer Counsel (appearing before the Public Utilities Commission which does regulate occupations)
2. Dental Advisory Committee
3. Colorado Coal Mine Board of Examiners
4. State Board of Examiners of Architects
5. Functions of the Division of Insurance Related to the Issuance of Certificates of Authority for Health and Life Insurance
6. Colorado Pesticide Applicators Act
7. Colorado Asbestos Control Act
The following two reports should be done in future years by the State Auditor's office.
1. Provisions governing the preparation of a cost-benefit analysis by state agencies under the state Administrative Procedures Act.
2. Colorado Motorist Insurance Indemnification Program Act.
Legislators sign up for hard work, not a fun tour of the state capitol,. The Sunset hearings will begin in the House. The Business Affairs Committee will review six reports at the state capitol on Nov. 17.
Legislators need to cast educated votes, so future columns will discuss some of these reports.
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House and was chief sponsor of the Sunrise and Sunset laws.)
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