Jerry Kopel

Well, the deadlines for introducing bills have passed and there have been 299 bills introduced in the Colorado House and 174 bills in the Colorado Senate, not counting Senate bills dealing with cuts in state spending for this fiscal year.

Each legislator is "entitled" to introduce five bills each year, so there may be more we haven't yet seen, but hopefully nowhere near the 660 bills that didn't deal with budget issues introduced in the 2002 session.

Here are some House bills being considered that you might not otherwise ever hear about:

Rep. Mark Cloer has introduced HB 1229. It allows licensed or certified mental health professionals from other states to come to Colorado and practice their professions for 20 days each year without having to get a Colorado license. If we have a shortage of mental health experts in rural areas, they might be welcome guests, but the bill doesn't limit them to areas where their help might be needed.

Rep. Debbie Stafford and Sen. Steve Johnson have introduced HB 1232. If you are in the business of medical care, you'll like this bill, but if you are an unhappy patient, you won't.

Suppose you have breast cancer and the doctor removes the wrong breast. He or she then tells you "Gee, I'm sorry. I guess someone put the x on the wrong breast." In a lawsuit against the doctor, or the hospital, his or her admission of fault will not be admissible.

Rep. Don Lee has found an ancient federal law that granted extra-ordinary powers to the U.S. President and the governor of Colorado to deal with the financial crisis of the "Great Depression" (the one in 1933, not 2003) which have never been rescinded.

Lee doesn't want Colorado's governor to exercise extraordinary powers dealing with riots, invasion, natural disaster, or financial turmoil without approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate. If the legislature is not in session, they would be called into special session.

As part of Rep. Lee's bill, HB 1224, he would repeal a statute passed in 1914 (following the Ludlow massacre and insurrection) which gave the governor the power to halt the sale or use of any firearm without a permit from the governor in the event of riot, insurrection, or invasion. That prohibition did not apply to peace officers.

Rep. Alice Madden wants a deadbeat list of delinquent taxpayers who owe $20,000 or more to Colorado for a period of six months to be listed by the Revenue Dept., available for public inspection, and published on the Revenue Dept. website. Her bill is HB 1210, and if the delinquent taxpayer is a corporation, the list would also contain the name of the current corporation president.

Rep. Mark Cloer in HB 1219 wants to wipe out consumer protections put into Colorado law that are not part of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act passed by Congress in 1984. Colorado adopted the federal act in 1985 (I was chief sponsor) but we retained a number of additional protections already in our law. Here are some of those rights not in federal law:

In Colorado collection agencies must inform consumers in writing of their right to limit contact by the agency and the right to refuse to pay. If a collection agency calls the consumer, it must identify itself to the debtor in the first 60 seconds.

A collection agency can be held liable for invasion of privacy if it harasses a consumer's employer or consumer's family. The collection agency has to inform the consumer that the Attorney General's office (AG) oversees collection agencies, and provide the consumer with the AG's address.

National collection agencies claim Colorado's additional rights for consumers creates problems in standardizing their forms and work. But they fail to mention more than 30 other states also have additional rights for consumers and that our version has worked well for 18 years.

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

Home  Full archive  Biographies  Colorado history  Colorado legislature  Colorado politics   Colo. & U.S. Constitutions  Ballot issues  Consumer issues  Criminal law  Gambling  Sunrise/sunset (prof. licensing)


Copyright 2015 Jerry Kopel & David Kopel