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.

Funerals to Die For

Recently the CBS Early Show aired a three part series titled “Funerals To Die For”. The first part was a fantastic montage of the personalization going on in funeral service. From a Harley Davidson hearse, to the showcase of “Big Mama’s Kitchen”, the funeral industry was painted in a positive light. There was no horror story, or sad events which lead to the series; it was just an informative and enlightening look at the current state of funeral service and all it has to offer its families.

The second portion of the story was almost shocking. If you think Americans are a death denying society, then the South Koreans are 180 degrees opposite. This story highlighted how in South Korean people are staging their own death as a means to appreciate what they have today. Complete with climbing in a casket for a full 15 minutes while their “funeral” takes place, dirt is even thrown on the closed casket!

The third segment aired a story about a man who starred in a film about his own life in part to find out what people thought of him before he died. He had the same concept as the South Koreans, but accomplished it without climbing into a casket while alive!

The most thoughtful part of the series is that it was presented as a way for people to appreciate their lives and all their blessings today. Why wait until you die and let your family look back for you? Take a few moments right now. What would be in your video? Who would you like to see in it? What do you think they would say? What would you say to them?

To watch one or all of the stories above click here

Be patient, you’ll have to sit through a 30 second non-optional commercial on each video before you get to the actual story. But if you have a few minutes, it’s definitely worth your time.

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.