Jerry Kopel

by Jerry Kopel

The legislature isn't always "kind". Here are several bills that were thwarted in 2003, but will be back in 2004, plus one "good government" bill that made it.

There are two kinds of outfitters. There are outfitters that work on land, under jurisdiction of the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) since 1983. And there are river outfitters under the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (DPOR). Actually back in 1903, land outfitters were an occupation under the Wildlife Commission but reasonably stiff regulation didn't occur until 1967.

Both groups are up for Sunset repeal in 2004 unless continued by the legislature. Land outfitters were originally due for repeal in 2003. They and their board, and Sen. Lew Entz, and DORA all wanted to continue regulating outfitters. But they disagreed about "who was the boss". SB 37 by Sen. Entz was intended to turn power over to the board. DORA disapproved. In the final confrontation SB 37 was changed into a bill that just continued the fight into 2004.

The coming year just might see the green eyes of jealousy. Land outfitters are presently "registered" not licensed, and their board is only advisory. DORA's director has rule making and disciplinary powers. River outfitters are "licensed" and their board, not DPOR, has full rule making and disciplinary powers.

Getting passage in one House doesn't guarantee passage in the second. Rep. Betty Boyd and Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald introduced HB 1252. The bill began as a way for health care facilities to provide information about emergency contraception and provide such aid when sought by victims of sexual assault. It could be done by drug or device that prevented pregnancy from occuring. The bill penalized health care facilities that did not comply (which I think was a mistake).

In House committee the bill was rewritten to "encourage" health care facilities to provide information to sexual assault victims about availablity of emergency contraception without requiring the facility to actually perform such procedure, or punish them for not providing such information.

It passed the House 53 to 9, was sent to Senate State Affairs and was "deemed lost" when it did not come up for a vote on its merits. That vote would have put Senate committee members on record as having voted to "postpone indefinitely" and that could have been a campaign issue.

One "good government" bill by Sen. Dave Owens and Rep. Matt Smith, SB 2 made it through the legislature. It had no fiscal impact. It was procedural rather than substantive. There was a section of the Health Department powers and duties that was 14 pages long. If you have ever viewed the Colorado Revised Statutes, you know the type is small and the white margins have nearly vanished.

Between 1947 and 2002, that one section was amended 27 times. It was impossible for anyone, lawyers or lay persons, to be certain exactly what parts dealt with their subject. SB 2 separated the one section into many sections under a new article.

Each section concentrates on a health department power relating to items such as water, communicable diseases, mental health centers, food, detection of diseases and many other important concepts. Now you can read it and feel assured that you know what those health department powers are. There were no votes against SB 2.

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

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