Jerry Kopel

Gone with the wind. The following bills passed the legislature but received little or no publicity. So this may be your first notice of what they contain.

Pawnbrokers will get a raise in interest charged consumers. It has been at least 20 years since the last raise. The law doesn't go into effect until August 4th. Presently a pawn contract means a period not to exceed 90 days. Now it will mean a period no less than 30 days, with no maximum time. The interest rate charged is presently 10 percent per month on amounts of $50 or more and 20 percent per month on amounts under $50.

Under SB 109 by Sen. Ken Kester (R) and Rep. Joe Stengel (R), the interest pawn broker rate per month is 20 percent regardless of the amount of the contract. So get ready to dig up some additional cash to recover your pawned items.

Want to give testimony on a legislative bill? Under present law, if you did it more than three times before any committee in a calendar year, you could be accused of being a lobbyist. Under SB 157 sponsored by Sen. John Andrews (R) and Rep. Lola Spradley (R), lobbying won't include persons who testify or provide information to legislative committees, who clearly identify themselves and the interest for whom they testify or provide information.

Living in school dormitories usually means the possibility of exposure to infection from other dorm residents. SB 57 by Sen. Steve Johnson (R) and Rep. Ramey Johnson (R) requires the school to provide each student's parents or the student with information as to the dangers of a meningococcal infection which affects fluid surrounding the brain.

That's fine. But there's no requirement that students or parents be told of the possible danger from inoculation. The bill immunizes the school from liability regarding the information required to be provided. Since no mention of the danger from inoculation is included, the school may be liable for that omission.

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It could be mere coincidence. But if you believe black helicopters are dropping Russian soldiers in vacant western states, then this column is for you. Of the House and Senate bills killed at the two-thirds mark in this legislative session, 57 percent were Democratic bills and 43 percent were Republican bills in both the House and the Senate.

Perhaps there is someone sitting in a small room with a computer who watches the daily runs and remarks "oh, oh, two more Republican bills were killed. I had better call upstairs and tell them to kill three Democratic bills." But I doubt it.

As of Friday, March 26th, in the House, three Democrats each had five bills killed. One was Rep. Merrifield who told the press early on that this would happen. The other two are in districts that will never vote Republican, so were their bills that bad? Two other Democrats each had four bills killed, but again they are in solid Democratic districts. On the other hand, six Democrats only had one of their bills killed, and two Democrats had no bills killed.

Of the House Republicans, six had 20 bills killed, nine Republicans each lost one bill, and 11 Republicans have had no bills killed.

In the Senate 57-43 kill ratio, six Democrats had 20 bills killed, and four Democrats each lost one bill. One Democrat had no bills killed. Of the Senate Republicans four had 13 bills killed, three Republicans each lost one bill. Five Republicans had no bills killed.

So far, based on the status sheet which lists "lost, deemed lost and postponed indefinitely" there are 179 such measures. The percentage of Republican bills killed in both Houses has increased probably due to the substantive content of the measures. In what I would call a "normal" year, the percentage of bills passed (as opposed to killed) will be 55 to 45 in favor of the majority party.

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

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