Jerry Kopel

DORA 2007

By Jerry Kopel

The early worm got the bird in 2001, but NOT in 2007.

Like a fat worm safely ensconced in a ripening apple, interior designers successfully burrowed into the law governing architects in 2001, captained by one of the top state legislative lobbyists.

Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) had suggested no regulation in a Sunrise report, but that was ignored by a majority of House and Senate members. There were some qualifications: six years of education/experience, professional liability insurance coverage, but no disciplinary action possible unless they attempted to practice architecture.

No one was "forced" to be embedded in the architect law. An interior designer could still be less educated and generally unregulated. The bill was not vetoed by Gov. Bill Owens.

This year, the worm had plans to become a cobra.

SB 84 began as a mild measure and turned into a full fledged "title protection act" with disciplinary and hearing standards (proclaimed as "registered" but really "licensed" ) with a Sunset review in 2013.

The measure passed both houses and was vetoed by Gov. Bill Ritter as being intrusive into architectural and engineering aptitudes. My opinion is that interior designers belong in the Deceptive Trade Practices Act as a "title protection " law and not under DORA. That could be accomplished in 2008.

Ritter also swatted into oblivion (for 2007) regulation of athletic trainers in SB 24. Owens had vetoed the same bill in 2006.

Cost was a major factor as well as actual harm being inflicted according to DORA , whose 2005 Sunrise report indicated small rural schools felt that they would be forced to cut their athletic programs "because they would not be able to afford to hire a licensed athletic trainer."

Another Ritter veto tossed HB 1122 out the window. It would have prohibited school districts with more than 1,500 enrolled students from hiring unlicensed physical education teachers. Owens vetoed the same measure in 2006.

Four other regulatory bills never reached Ritter's desk, all killed in House or Senate committees: HB 1231 licensing mortuary science practitioners; HB 1083 licensing private investigators; HB 1080 to license art therapists who are already regulated in the grievance board data base as unlicensed psychotherapists.

The fourth bill was one which DORA recommended regulation: Naturopathic physicians under HB 1192.

DORA's Sunrise report noted: "Naturopathic medicine has been practiced in the United States and Europe throughout history. Conventional medicine and naturopathy were at one time quite similar in their use of medicinal plants, diet therapies and hydrotherapy treatments. Only within the last 40-50 years has conventional medicine diverged from this path."

Two groups, the Colorado Medical Society and the persons using diploma mill certificates or non-accredited college courses to claim to be naturopaths, were major opponents to regulating graduates from accredited colleges. There are 13 states that regulate naturopaths, many of whose graduates practice in Colorado, despite laws to to the contrary.

This was their fourth try for regulation. Eventually, they will be regulated as are those who practice osteopathy, acupuncture and lay midwifery, despite opposition from the Medical Society.

Several regulatory bills did pass. HB 1215, the Uniform Debt Management Services Act, deals with regulating those aiding insolvent persons repaying part or all of their debts. A new federal bankruptcy law, passed by the then-Republican congress required regulation of those who assist such bankrupts.

After 30 years in the wilderness, SB 107 restored the Landscape Architects law and no, they don't plant grass. DORA wrote "do no regulate" in 1995, 2002, and 2005. Former Gov. Owens vetoed the 2006 measure. Gov. Ritter signed it into law in 2007. This was a business bill only. It neither helps nor hurts consumers.

In 2006, the legislature passed a weak mortgage broker regulation bill. That was not the fault of the sponsors. "Registration" just happened to be what could get by numerous lobbyists working to avoid strict regulation.

This year was different, thanks to nationwide fraud. SB 203 is a strict licensing law for mortgage brokers going into effect Jan. 1, 2008. My guess is the attorney general and DORA will be watching the brokers closely to make an example of the first violator.

HB 1131 is a law to assist those on dialysis or a kidney transplant. The technicians performing the services will need to be credentialed by a national credentialing program. The legislature might have been apprehensive as to the potential reduction in the number of technicians, plus greater compensation for the remainder. Thus, the law goes into operation Jan. 1, 2009 and will undergo a Sunset review in 2011.

Persons who maintain elevators and escalators and moving sidewalks, among other items, now will need a statewide license under SB 123 as a conveyance mechanic. Some are "grandfathered" in without the need by others to take courses and be tested under the division of public safety. Owens vetoed the bill in 2006.

As of Jan. 1, 2008. this is a "matter of statewide concern" although local jurisdictions can add additional regulation if they so desire.

Eight Sunset reviews resulted in bills passed and signed by the governor. Again, in contravention of the primary duty to review regulated occupations, three of the Sunset reviews were of matters that should be dealt with by the state auditor rather than the executive branch.

There were three new laws of two occupations not up for Sunset review this year.

HB 1262 took away the powers of the DORA director to approve rules promulgated by the plumbers board. SB 137 increases the scope of work done by plumbers and modernized disciplinary actions.

HB 1126 allowed physical therapists, subject to clearance by a licensed veterinarian, to perform their technique on animals.

All told, there were 23 bills, of which 20 dealt with regulation of occupations.

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

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