Jerry Kopel


It's always wise to have someone look over your work before sending it into the world. That's true of artists, musicians, and sponsors of bills.

My dad was, among other talents, an artist. In the depression years, he paid for my appendix operation with a portrait of the doctor's young daughter. I was in his studio, glanced over his shoulder, and asked "dad, why are you giving her green hair?" My dad was a color-blind artist. Oversight does help.

Unfortunately, there was no oversight for HB 1153. I had written about the coming state legislative battle in 2001 between more than one thousand unregulated interior designers and 2,338 regulated architects. Designers not only stormed the beaches, they climbed the cliffs and burst through architect defenses to victory.

Under HB 1153, interior designers are plopped into the architect's statute. They can prepare designs and specifications for anything from small homes to skyscrapers as an exemption to the architect law. Interior designers need a college degree in the subject, work experience totaling six years, and a passing grade on the National Council for Interior Design exam.

On the good side, entry of interior designers into a field previously dominated by architects should lead to more competitive bidding and lower prices for developers and consumers. Designers will need professional liability insurance, but the amount is not specified in law.

On the bad side, you can't take away an interior designer's license to practice because there is no license. There is no disciplinary action for habitual drunkenness or drug addiction, or commission of a felony, or for bad interior designing. If a designer can find the money to pay for liability insurance, he or she is untouchable.

This may require all 64 counties to set up their own licensing procedures, none of which need be uniform. That could mean 64 licenses and 64 annual renewal fees for each interior designer. A little oversight subjecting designers to the same disciplinary language covering architects would have solved the problem.

Meanwhile, small claims courts in Colorado really do defy the definition of small under SB 140. The bill has passed the legislature in worse form than when I first wrote about it.

Back in 1976, the small claims court become law with claims limited to no more than $500. Four years later, it became $1000. By 1987 it was $2,000. In 1990, it become $3,500 and in 1995, the original $500 became $5,000. In 2001, the amount was increased 50 percent to $7,500.

That means more cases filed and longer waits for justice for the plaintiffs championed in the original bill: the ones owed a few hundred dollars.

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Copyright 2015 Jerry Kopel & David Kopel