Jerry Kopel

By Jerry Kopel

Weather notice for January, 2004: Not much sunrise, but lots of sunsets.

For any reader who just landed from Mars, an application by an occupation to the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DOA) seeking licensing or registration goes through a Sunrise review. DORA writes "yes" or "no", but the legislature makes the decision.

For the first time since the Sunrise law passed in 1985 there are no new Sunrise reports. That means no NEW occupational licensing bills can be heard except for three that were killed or not heard in 2003: Landscape Architects, Animal Chiropractors and Expanded Functions of Dental Assistants. They are still possible (although unlikely) because a 2003 application gets another shot in 2004.

However we do have Sunset. The legislative will review DORA reports regarding 11 agencies that presently regulate occupations. Should all of them continue or some be repealed? What amendments should be made to present laws?

This year all Sunset reviews begin in the House. The first preliminary review will be in House Business Affairs on Dec. 4th, beginning at 9 a.m. in Room 112 of the State Capitol. The committee will consider five reports: Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, Colorado Securities Board, Division of Banking, Money Order Act, and Division of Financial Services.

Chair Tambor Williams plans to hear limited testimony on all five measures on Dec. 4th in order to prepare bills for introduction once the legislature convenes in January. The Dec. 4th hearing is obviously a "starting point" that should not detract from greater discussion or participation after the legislature convenes.

At least two of the measures may suggest controversial changes: Engineers, and Financial Services. One change exempts state employees who perform engineering work from being regulated by the Engineers and Surveyors Board.

The reasoning given is: "By not specifically exempting state agencies from the engineering practice act, unnecesary costs are incurred by the state. Regarding engineering projects, state agencies can readily assess the competency of their staff to perform any necessary tasks, and can make competent decisions as to when to use professional engineers instead of their own staff.

"Requiring that a professional engineer be on staff or contract raises the cost of work traditionally in the direct control of state agencies, such as the Colorado Dept. of Transportation..."

The Division of Financial Services regulates credit unions, finances of life care institutions, savings and loan associations, and the Public Deposit Protection Act. Among the suggested changes are (1) taking away some discretion as to eligibility by the credit union board of directors originating a loan, and (2) ending the power of the commissioner to suspend or remove any credit union director, officer, or employee based on "opinion" rather than "determination".

In addition, DORA amendments would allow information regarding condition of a credit union to be shared with "a federal home loan bank, federal reserve bank, division of banking, and the executive director of DORA." As to life care institutions, the DORA change ensures the Financial Division would regulate financial aspects of life care institutions.

The other DORA Sunset reports deal with bail bonding regulation, mental health occupations, water and wastewater facility operators certification board, river outfitter licensing and land outfitter licensing. The Colorado Natural Areas Advisory Council is also being reviewed.

None of those are presently scheduled for review before the legislature convenes in January. The land outfitter licensing was originally heard in 2003, but was extended by a statute to another first review in 2004.

The licensing board regulating dentists was repealed in 2003 which means it's spending time "winding up" unless a new statute is introduced and passed in the 2004 legislature.

Don't worry. The chance of a high school dropout drilling your teeth is unlikely.

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

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