Jerry Kopel

March 24, 2007


Rummaging through dusty files the third week in March, I found a full page advertisement in the Denver Post of Nov. 17, 1967 directed to President Lyndon Johnson. The ad was approved by more than a thousand registered Democrats from Colorado and Wyoming, many of whom I recognized as old friends.

The subject was Vietnam, and it wasn't too long afterward that Johnson declared he would not seek re-election in 1968.

Physical protests against the war were mounting in 1967. Others took the approach of using freedom of speech in writing their concerns. The main part of the ad stated:

"This is to respectfully advise you, Mr. President, that as of this date we registered Democrats who helped elect you in 1964, are disassociating ourselves from you and your administration because of your conduct of the war in Vietnam. 

"We voted for you because you gave us hope of peace when in your election campaign you said: We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles way from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.

"This was a pledge Mr. President. Since then over 10,000 Americans and countless Vietnamese have been killed in this war. Your administration threatens us daily with the prospect of an all-out confrontation with China and inevitably with the Soviet Union, leading us inexorably towards a thermonuclear holocaust.

"Mr. President, we dissenting Democrats want a cessation of bombing and an end to escalation. We want an immediate beginning of meaningful negotiations with all forces involved in this conflict. We want out of the war in Vietnam."

The ad also included the following quote from Rep. Morris Udall of Arizona: "I believe this nation of ours has the brains, the know-how, the courage, the imagination to extricate itself from a war we never should have blundered into."

 * * *

Which song applies? (1) "First you say you do and then you don't. Then you say you will and then you won't," or (2) "Time Heals Everything."

Look at the back pages of the first 34 bills that passed the legislature and been signed into law by March 16th. There are the signatures of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.

Below are the signatures of the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the House. Below that is the date the bill was approved and below that is the signature of Governor Bill Ritter.

So what is missing in 20 of the 34 bills? The time of day.

For the purpose of counting the number of days involved for the governor's actions on the bill (within 10 days or 30 days) fractions of a day count as a full day.

But for the purpose of rights of Coloradans, bills don't take effect just by the date. Article 4, Section 11 of the state constitution: "Every bill passed by the general assembly shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the governor. If he approve (sic), he shall sign it and thereupon it shall become a law.."

"Thereupon" is defined in Black's Law Dictionary as "following on, in consequence of".

The time may determine whether someone has committed a misdemeanor or a felony. At least that has been the position of previous governors. Be a thief at 10 a.m. and if the governor doesn't sign the bill until 11 a.m., you get a break.

In my tenure in the legislature and up until now, the "act" has always included the time.

At first I thought, well the governor isn't going to put down the time for bills that don't taker effect until many months in the future.

But he has not put down the time on bills that take effect immediately, and he has put down the time on bills that do take effect many months in the future (5 of 14 ).

So what is an attorney in litigation to do? Something you never expected. You must contact the "secretary" or "chief clerk" depending on whether the original bill was from the House or Senate and in their file will be a letter from the governor listing the time the bill was signed on a document that can be authenticated.

Thus far, there has been no logic on when the governor puts down the time he signed the bill. He will have the opportunity to sign about 300 to 400 bills, maybe more, before the date for signing expires.

I hope he will avoid putting an extra burden on the House and Senate staff by putting the time on ALL the bills signed.

* * *

Daylight savings time started early this year in Colorado, or did it? Colorado has a law dealing with standard and daylight savings time. It is CRS 2-4-109. According to the statute, daylight savings time still starts "at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of April until 2 a.m. the last Sunday of October."

It probably doesn't matter unless contracts to be performed in this state are dependent on both date and time (just as in the situation with criminal statutes).

If the law on the state books benefits your client you will argue the statute is substantive and until revised, remains the law. If your client is harmed by the statute, you cite Title 15, Chapter 6, Subsection 9 by Congress as superseding the state statute.

Chances are good that someone will change Colorado's CRS 2-4-109 before the session ends in May.


(Jerry Kopel served 22 years as a state legislator in the Colorado House.)

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