Jerry Kopel


"The Rest of the Story" is a book by radio commentator Paul Harvey but it's also the subject of this letter. What happened to those bills we discussed in the Clear Creek Courant?

Landscape Architects were licensed by the state until 1976 when the law was repealed after a "Sunset" review to determine whether regulation was necessary. This year, the landscape architects applied to be re-licensed. The Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) did a report recommending "no", pointing out there was adequate oversight by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

That didn't stop the landscapers from introducing a bill, SB 80, by Sen. Andy McElhany and Rep Bob Briggs. The landscapers pointed out 46 states do regulate the profession, all except Colorado, North Dakota, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

The Landscape Architects may have been opposed by the licensed Professional Engineers who do much the same type of work. SB 80 was sent to Senate State Affairs where it died. Landscape Architects can re-introduce the bill in 2004 without going through another DORA review. But if they lose again, they must submit a new application.

Animal chiropractors did even worse. DORA reviewed their application for regulation, turned it down, and no bill was introduced. But animal chiropractors can try again in 2004.

Colorado dentists, hygienists and dental assistants are presently regulated by the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). The statute was up for either repeal or continuation in 2003. DORA urged the legislature to continue the regulation but with a large number of specific changes set out as amendments in their review.

I pointed out in an earlier letter that over the last four years Colorado had added 400,000 more people with 84 fewer practicing dentists than we had four years ago. One of DORA's important recommendations: Accept testing results of all states and not just the 21 states presently approved as meeting our qualifications. The rest of the test takers have to wait five years after passing their test before practicing in Colorado.

The bill introduced was SB 120 by Sen. Steve Johnson and Rep. Lauri Clapp. I kept hearing from other legislators about bitter fighting between the dentists and hygienists.

The hygienists were in a huff because "their" law did not include mandatory continuing education (MCE) as did the regulations in most other states. MCE was added to SB 120 for hygienists and dentists as the bill moved through the process, with the dental board delegating administration of the testing to others. Additional fees were to be paid by licensees for the privilege of attending the lectures. Dentists in Colorado have NEVER been subject to mandatory continuing education requirements since they were first regulated.

Another part of SB 120 reduced the power of public members by adding three more dentists and hygienists, raising the number of board members from 10 to 13.

To the surprise of almost all legislators, Gov. Bill Owens vetoed SB 120 on April 25th giving a number of reasons, including the mandatory continuing education program. Republicans were not about to override the veto and so the State Board of Dental Examiners was repealed. Not every part of the statute was repealed but licensing and discipline only work through the board.

There is a period of time after repeal for the board to "wind down" which ends July 1, 2004. Until then, they can continue to operate and regulate. There will be a bill in 2004 to reinstate the dental board. Most likely dentists and hygienists will be more willing to follow all the DORA recommendations and not tempt fate. Otherwise, your next dentist may not even have a high school diploma.

I hope to tell you what happened to other bills discussed in future letters submitted.

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

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