How a Bill Becomes a Law in Colorado

Regarding HB 1123, I have received several emails, and have had numerous conversations with end of life professionals on how a bill actually becomes law in Colorado. Right now the bill is stuck waiting for the second reading on the House floor. Here’s how it got that far:

1. The bill was read by the House Clerk on the floor of the House of Representatives.

2. The Speaker of the House assigned the bill to the House Business Labor and Affairs Committee, which voted in favor the bill moving it the next step.

3. Since HB 1123 has a fiscal note attached the House Appropriations Committee had to review the bill. The first vote ended in a tie, but the second vote passed the bill.

4. Now the bill is waiting for the next step, which is second reading on the House floor. The entire House can debate and still make amendments to the bill. During second reading the vote is a voice vote, that means when asked, “All in favor”, or “All opposed” which ever group has a louder voice either keeps the bill moving forward toward third reading, or kills the bill on second reading.

5. If the bill goes to third reading, that is when an official recorded vote is taken, and the bill either dies in the House, or passes and moves to the Senate.

The bill has been postponed every day for over a week now. What’s happening is that as the Legislature prepares to begin debate on the Long Bill, the number of other bills is really piling up, in other words, there’s a log jam at the Capitol. The Long Bill is the bill that deals with the budget and takes a large amount of time for the legislatures to debate and pass, therefore most bill sponsors want to get their bill heard before the Long Bill begins. That creates a huge back-up.

This morning it was announced on the floor of the House that all of the second reading of the bills would indeed be read through tomorrow (Wednesday, March 26, 2008) and I quote, “if it takes until Thursday to get it done.” The Representatives were instructed to bring snacks and dinner would be ordered if necessary to get through the large stack of bills before them.

Click here to get a copy of the State’s official PDF of how a bill becomes law (which is pictured above). Picking up with number 5 above, if the bill passes the House, then it will be moved to the Senate, at which time it will be read, assigned a committee, and a very similar process begins again, only in the Senate. If the bill passes the House and the Senate then it becomes law, provided that the Governor signs it immediately.

However, if the Governor doesn’t sign it within 30 during days during regular session, or within 10 days after the session recesses the bill will not become law, and the whole process must start over.

The Governor can also veto a bill if it hasn’t met the 2/3 passing majority in both the House and Senate, which is what happened to the funeral licensure bill 2 years ago.

Enough Already, AARP

shapeimage_2-4The AARP can’t seem to help itself when it comes to funerals or any end of life issue. It’s becoming almost compulsive that at least once a month in at least one of their publications they have to highlight something negative about funeral homes, or dying, etc. One would think that their readership, let’s say who “aren’t getting any younger” really don’t want to be reminded monthly of their imminent appointment with their local funeral director.

In the AARP March Bulletin they tried to stir something up that really isn’t a story. A funeral home in Idaho found a great location for their new building, albeit by nursing home, but a great location none the less. The neighbors saw it differently and started protesting. The reaction of the funeral home co-owner, James Asper was, “We didn’t expect the outrage that we got, so we decided to look somewhere else.” So the funeral home owners did the right thing, the community didn’t want them in that particular location, so instead of fighting them they decided to look elsewhere, as any good community business would.

So what’s the big deal AARP?

The funeral home found a location, the community didn’t like it, so the funeral home owners looked elsewhere.

I guess I should be happy that it wasn’t some horror story about how a funeral home absconded with $100,000 in pre-need funds, but for goodness sakes AARP, give it a rest already.

HB1123 Ends in Tie Vote for the House Appropriations Committee

On Friday, February 29, 2008 HB1123 ended in a tie vote for the house appropriations committee. There are 13 committee members, 12 were present.

All present Republicans voted against the bill last Friday.

The missing Republican Representative, Jim Kerr, will vote on the bill when it is heard again on Friday, March 7, 2008.

It is feared that at this point in time the bill does not have the bipartisan support needed to pass.

The House Appropriations Committee members are:

• Buescher (D), Chairman

• Pommer (D), Vice-Chairwoman

• Butcher (D),

• Ferrandino (D),

• Judd (D),

• Kerr J. (R),

• Massey (R),

• McGihon (D),

• McNulty (R),

• Riesberg (D),

• Vaad (R),

• Weissmann (D),

• White (R).

Click here to read the updated fiscal impact note as re-evaluated and submitted by DORA on February 26, 2008.

Note that Table 1 on page shows the Funeral Home and Crematory Establishment fee every two years would be set at $700; MSP Licensure at $50 annually; and Funeral Directors, Cremationists, Embalmers, and Interns Registration at $25 annually.