By Jerry Kopel
July 4, 2009
Recent news stories centered on claims by state
Republican legislators that Democrats are stealing their bills or
amendments. That usually happens when one political party controls both
the House and Senate. Nothing in the articles printed referred to the
name this was known as to retired legislators: Rustling.
Rustling applies to theft of cattle or horses, but it also described
taking a bill or amendment offered by another legislator, usually of the
other political party. Rustling actually can be beneficial if the bill's
author is no longer a legislator, or it can be detrimental if another
legislator has a title broad enough to swallow your work. As here:
State Sen. Barbara Holme, D-Denver, soon after being sworn in, began
working on creating an independent Office of Consumer Counsel to protect
consumers on issues being decided before the Public Utilities
Commission. None of her bills, and she tried many times, even got to the
Senate floor for debate. But her constant persistence and growing public
support for the concept culminated in a successful bill by Sen. Cliff
Dodge, R-Denver and Rep Bill Artist, R-Greeley in 1984, the final year
of legislative incumbency by Sen. Holme.
It was not be an independent agency, but one with less power, placed
under the state Attorney General Duane Woodard. He, in turn, delegated
more power to the newly created OCC, such having the OCC report directly
Every one in the legislature knew whose efforts created the OCC. Dodge
and Artist, according to one newspaper "let Sen. Holme host the brief
signing ceremony at the Capitol. Gov Dick Lamm praised Holme for keeping
the faith through the years and the crowd gave her a standing ovation."
In 1991, Attorney General Gale Norton had reversed the Woodard approach
and had the OCC report to deputy AG Garth Lucero, who headed the section
related to consumer issues. But under SB 3, carried by Sen. MaryAnne
Tebedo, R-Colorado Springs and Rep David Owen, R-Greeley (both members
of the oversight Sunrise-Sunset Committee) the OCC was taken our from
the AG's office and placed in the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies In 1993
as an independent agency. DORA reported that from 1987 to June of 1992,
the OCC had been involved in saving consumers several hundred million
State Rep Rennie Fagan, D-Colorado Springs, in 1992 was carrying HB
1146. Fagan did not write the bill. It was produced after an enormous
amount of work by Securities Commissioner Phil Feigin in cooperation
with the Colorado Bar Assn. and the securities industry, and it was
going to pass.'''
Securities dealers had finally realized they could not function in
Colorado anymore because the securities law produced by the CBA Business
Section in 1989 had turned Colorado into the "garbage pit" of the
industry. Banks across the nation would not finance Colorado offerings
because of uncorrected loopholes that allowed crooks to operate with
immunity in Colorado. Since their pocketbooks were now hurting,
securities dealers were willing to allow changes in the law.
In the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee, the 87-page Fagan
bill was amended into HB 1222, a bill carried by Majority Leader Chris
Paulson, R-Arapahoe, at Paulson's request. The Fagan bill then died he
next day in the House Finance Committee.
HB 1222, the revised Colorado securities bill, did become law in what
must have been a bittersweet moment for Fagan, who did add his name as
co-sponsor of HB 1222 after third reading in the House.
It really is not rustling to add your bill that did not get out of
committee, as a floor amendment to another's bill which had a broad
title (A Bill Concerning Criminal Law) which in the opinion of the
original sponsor would allow him or her to pick up support.
I used such an approach in 1988 by having Senate co-sponsor Jim Rizzuto,
D-Las Animas, add HB 1143 "Protection of employees of businesses under
contract with state agencies who disclose information relating to state
government" to a bill HB 1009 by Rep. Pat Grant , R-Denver "Concerning
government competition with private enterprise."
The point of my amendment was to provide a shelter for whistleblower's
jobs. But Grant refused a possible payment to the whistleblower for
government money saved.
A good government amendment for CRS 24-114-103 in 2010? Provide a
financial incentive for a whistleblower who saves Colorado money not
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)