Jerry Kopel

By Jerry Kopel
By golly, they did it!
The Second Regular Session of the 2006 General Assembly knocked House and Senate Resolutions out for a 10 count.
For the past several years, this column has berated the legislature for wasting valuable time notifying Congress what the legislature thought about national issues.
Other joint resolutions tell us about holidays that need celebration, or news events worthy of notice, or substitutes for bills killed. Some are actually needed for legislative work such as amending House and Senate rules or notifying the governor when work was about to begin or end.
Here are the number of joint resolutions introduced for the past eight years:
                                    Year               House                 Senate               Total
                                   1999                63                        52                     115
                                   2000                57                        32                       89
                                   2001                56                        33                       89
                                   2002                82                        48                     130
                                   2003                74                        50                     124
                                   2004                94                         59                    153
                                   2005                70                         49                    119
                                   2006                38                        54                       92
It could have been better. There are 65 House members and 35 Senators. For the past 21 years during which I have collected the data, the Senate has always introduced fewer joint resolutions than the House. But not this time. This time was also the second highest total of Senate joint resolutions in the past 21 years. But you have to go back to 1995 to find a smaller number of House joint resolutions.
                                                                   * * *
The House and Senate bill numbers show 2006 to be a reasonably decent year compared to the previous seven years. And every year the large number of supplemental appropriations bills start in one house and move to the other.
In the even numbered years the House gets the job of introducing the supplementals and in the odd numbered years the Senate gets the task. That explains why the numbers in the House jump every other year, but it doesn't explain why the same thing, except for 2003, did not happen in the Senate.  The total bill numbers are:
                                          Year              House         Senate         Total
                                          1999                385             239              624
                                          2000                493             232              725
                                          2001                409             243              652
                                          2002                478             236              714
                                          2003                382             354              736
                                          2004                465             261              726
                                          2005                353             249              602
                                          2006                412             239              651
Regardless of the numbers, the play always ends the same way, even though it could be changed. The legislature is inundated AT THE END with bills never previously heard, bills amended by the other house, conference committee reports that change the amendments, and resolutions not yet debated.
The time frame brings exhaustion, and exhaustion often brings uncaught error. Having served 22 years I can honestly say legislators faced the same problems in the 1970s that they do in the new century.
After awhile, you become numb and can't pick up another amended bill or (heaven forbid) a bill longer than 10 pages. Sometimes the stress is so great as to cause medical problems. Nine months after I retired, I had a major heart attack.
                                                                           * * *
SB 239 , the very last bill in the legislature to be introduced, passed the Senate and passed the House. It was the mortuary licensing bill which had earlier been introduced as HB 1348 by Rep. Debbie Stafford (R) on Feb. 21 and killed in House Appropriations March 31.
The very first Senate bill, 001, was introduced Jan. 11 and passed by the legislature May 3rd. SB 239 by Sen. Steve Johnson (R), was introduced May 1 and passed the House and Senate May 5. 
SB 239 was actually killed in House Business Affairs, but then suddenly resurrected and sent to House Appropriations. A credible witness told me that weeping had occurred and at least one legislator on the committee tape sounded alarmed by it.
Persons who have practiced as morticians for the past 22 years without producing any complaints regarding their practice will no longer be allowed to practice without having graduated with a degree in mortuary science from an accredited school of higher education, and  taken and passed the national mortuary science exam. In other words, no morticians without those credentials are "grandfathered" in.
Funeral directors, embalmers and cremators have to be certified after they are registered and practice between 500 to 4,000 hours as interns, depending on which occupation is sought.
As far as I could determine, no one in these categories was notified about the bill or appeared to give testimony.
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)

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