By Jerry Kopel
Nov. 15, 2008
One consumer is losing her hair, another's son is just lost, and the
third is losing money due to poor solar electric installation.
At least, those are the issues raised by applicants who received Sunrise
reviews from the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) and who want the
2009 legislature to regulate Hair Braiders, Human Trackers, and Solar
* * *
Ouch! That hurts! If your hair is being constantly braided, you may be
suffering "traction alopecia", defined by DORA as "a hair loss condition
caused by damage to the dermal papilla and hair follicle by constant
pulling or tension over a long period".
One hair braiding isn't going to cause a problem, but doing it wrong a
number of times could. As used in this column "hair braiding" includes
"natural hair styling".
"Hair braiding", states DORA, is used overwhelmingly by persons of
African-American descent and "can be traced back over 4,000 years to the
Caribbean and ... Africa."
(However, I have a video of singer Tony Bennett's life when his head was
bald except for a "scalp braid" lying flat against the sides of his
Hair braiding is presently regulated by licensing under the Cosmetology
statutes. The problem is, it is given slight attention. As DORA states:
"Hair braiders ... must currently complete lengthy, expensive training
programs that focus on chemical services and hair cutting (and) offer
little or no training in African-style hair braiding."
The result is "a licensed hairstylist can legitimately provide services
... without having a single hour of training", while an unlicensed
person ... providing services for years is in violation of the law". The
applicant wants a separate licensing program.
After thoroughly discussing sanitation and infection concerns, DORA
suggests Colorado join Kansas, Minnesota, and Mississippi in exempting
hair braiders from the Cosmetology statute after they take a health and
sanitation seminar (I would instead suggest a course.)
I would also suggest a data-base under the Cosmetology statute to
identify hair braiders, similar to the unlicensed psychotherapists
data-base. Require them to provide consumers with written information
regarding sanitation and infection concerns.
* * *
Chances are slim to none that there will be a bill in 2009 to certify
The applicant is a father unhappy with the way a Larimer County
sheriff's office proceeded in a search for the applicant's son.
What do human trackers do? According to applicant, he or she "recognizes
and locates footprints, obtains pertinent incident information,
recognizes and resolves footprint contradiction or contamination.
In Colorado, the Joel Hardin Professional Tracking Services has courses
in the state. Introductory certification (novice - finding signs) which
is followed by more extensive education leading up to "master trackers".
DORA found all sheriffs are aware of their ability to call in human
trackers under CRS 24-32-2107 (10) (a), usually dealing through the
Colorado Search and Rescue Board (CSRB), a non-profit corporation that
coordinates search and rescue services.
CSRB in turn contacts the Rocky Mountain Trackers Association of which
30 of 42 members are located in Colorado. The Dept. of Local Affairs has
a $180,000 search and rescue fund (CRS 33-1-112.5).
DORA determined no state presently regulates human trackers, and that
the present Colorado system of delegation is effective without further
* * *
There are 300 installers of solar systems on homes and businesses, which
systems, states DORA "are typically mounted on roofs ... with a
reasonable amount of non-shaded, unobstructed roof space during the
day's key sun hours". The system not only provides electricity, it can
also send unused, excess power back to a utility for rebates to the
The applicant urging licensing is Colorado Solar Energy Industries
Association (SEIA) which has certified 29 Colorado installers.
Credentialing another 31 Colorado installers is North American Board of
Certified Energy Practitioners (BCEP).
Both groups have written testing and experience requirements for
installers to provide consumer protection, Presently eight states
license solar system installers.
A key question for DORA: Does potential financial or physical harm to
consumers justify state regulation? DORA reviewed complaints over the
past five years and found less than half a dozen possibilities of harm
from actual installations.
DORA opposed any regulations, quoting SEIA's admission that "Xcel Energy
has connected 1,000 solar systems to its power grid" over a recent 18
month period. The DORA review did not note any of those installations
appeared to have gone wrong.
There are permits and inspections provided at the local city or county
level in most instances during installation. While opposing any
regulatory bill at present, DORA recognized that "as demand increases
... market conditions are prime environments for fly-by-night
In other words, if conditions change, so might DORA's verdict.
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)