Jerry Kopel

See? I told you so! The Denver City Attorney's office issued a nine page report in March stating councilmen and women are limited to two consecutive terms totaling eight years, and cannot run for the succeeding term of council. This column stated the same thing on June 18th, 1999 when I urged then City Attorney Dan Muse to retract his "off-the-cuff" remarks that led to the controversy.

Muse had responded to a question by Peter Blake of the Denver Rocky Mountain News who had asked "If you are already serving at-large (on council) could you not run from the district in which you live?" Muse replied "He hadn't researched the issue, but his first impression is that it would be legal. After all, you'd be running for a different office and representing a different constituency."

The Statesman column in June used thirteen words to describe how term limits work. "It doesn't matter how you get there. What matters is where you go." And that applies to all unicameral-type legislators. Term limit laws don't apply to the district, the laws apply to the elected official.

A RMN editorial summing up the report (written under supervision of City Atty. J. Wallace Wortham Jr.) stating: "All members take the same oath and have the same duties, and no member's vote is more important than another's." That same ruling applies to the Denver School Board, some of whose members will soon reach the two term limit.

City Councilwoman Sue Casey told the Denver Post that council will take another stab this spring at providing for staggered terms. Eleven of the 13 council members will be out in 2003. Can a charter amendment on the ballot extend the term of half of the 11 members for another two years (until 2005) and not violate the two term restriction in the constitution? I don't know.

If that doesn't work, suggest that some of those presently on city council run for the state legislature in November of 2002. After a successful election, they could resign from council, and their replacements would have five months experience in office before running for council in May, 2003. And the new members would still have the right to two consecutive elective terms in office.

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Well, it turned out money wasn't a good enough reason to license addiction counselors presently certified. SB 205 was introduced by Rep. Bob Hagedorn, D-Aurora, and Sen. Gigi Dennis, R-Pueblo West. It passed the House 65 to 0 even though the bill was amended to include not only 1,200 Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors with a master's degree, but also 600 persons with only bachelor's degrees.

Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) wasn't enthusiastic about the Sunrise application. As reported on Dec. 10th, DORA stated: "The applicant argues that the state should establish a licensing program because addiction professionals deserve, and should be granted parity with other licensed mental health professionals".

They were referring to psychologists, social workers, professional counselors and family and marriage therapists. And, proponents argued, licensure is the only accepted "credential" of the health care industry to provide (direct) reimbursable services.

The bill passed out of Senate State Affairs, and into Finance Committee, which killed it on March 20th. Of course, the measure could still come back as an amendment to another bill, but as the Sunrise report concluded, the present certification system works effectively to establish entry requirements, investigate complaints and discipline certificants.

The applicant, states DORA, "does not adequately address the question of how licensure would enhance public protection." It was all about money.

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"....we should admit we may have a problem -- the statute is apparently ambiguous in part. When the General Assembly leaves a statute subject to several different interpretations, we have not done our job well enough..."

That's a quote from House Speaker Russ George and Senate President Ray Powers writing in the Statesman last year about my columns on CRS 24-34-104.1 (6) which law provides: "The general assembly shall not consider the regulation of more than five occupations or professions in any one session of the general assembly."

My opinion is that once a committee heard a measure dealing with a new occupation, the term "consider" had been met. Legal Services attorney Bart Miller, in a memorandum to Sen. Powers, suggested a bill to provide "that in any given session the general assembly may not enact more than five bills dealing with the regulation of new professions and occupations."

Well, so far this year, there is HB 1183 dealing with regulation of boxing, for which Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) suggests "boxers, promoters, judges, and referees should be formally licensed." There is HB 1294 dealing with respiratory therapists, who are not presently regulated. HB 1246 requires regulation of Body Arts Facilities (although not the tattooists employed). HB 1345 registers manufactured housing installers (presently there is no statutory regulation of installers).

The letter from Rep. George and Sen. Powers to the Statesman did promise a bill to clear up the ambiguity. None has surfaced thus far although there could still be a late bill. To date I count seven new occupations to be regulated under Colorado law.

Jerry Kopel writes a column for the Statesman based on 22 years past experience as a state legislator.

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