What the hell has happened to this bill? At the outset, it was a standard regulatory measure that made sure that every honest person had an opportunity at being a private investigator, and every private investigator was going to have to pass a background check and get a bond. Pretty simple.
Now, it has gone through a metamorphosis and contains confusing language and threatens every one-person shop in Colorado. .
First, it leaves it up to some bureaucrat to decide if I have enough experience to be an agency. THE DIRECTOR SHALL DETERMINE, BY RULE, THE AMOUNT AND TYPE OF EXPERIENCE, WHICH MAY INCLUDE POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION THAT A SOLE PROPRIETOR AGENCY APPLICANT OR DESIGNATED MANAGER OF AN AGENCY APPLICANT MUST HAVE TO SATISFY THE EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS OF PARAGRAPH (a) OF THIS SUBSECTION (1)
So what if the Director decides I don’t have enough experience? I believe the bill says that I need to go work for someone else (an agency) so I can earn my stripes.
Add to that, THE DIRECTOR, BY RULE, MAY ESTABLISH THE SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITIES OF AN AGENCY OVER ITS REGISTERED PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR EMPLOYEES. So the government is going to be able to tell me how I should supervise my own employees? What if the Director decides that any investigator with less than 6000 hours of experience must be directly supervised by an investigator with more than 6,000 hours? You just doubled the expense of my investigation. What am I going to tell my client? That I need to have 2 investigators working this case? Can I bill for that? Will my client even stand for it? This language alone could make my life as a business owner miserable. “Sorry, kid. Can’t take you on and show you the ropes because Colorado says I gotta hold your hand at every step and I can’t afford that”.
This language smells of big companies and special interests. Big companies wanting to crush little guys and make sure that all roads lead to the doorstep of an “agency”. I really, really hate to agree with the anti-license crowd that believes regulation will “put them out of business”, but this has some real issues in it. If it is left up to the director as to who can or can’t be an Agency…some people will close their doors. Good people.
Agencies will tell you that this is about costs. It can’t just be about costs. An agency that has enough business to warrant having 10 investigators on their payroll is billing out a ton annually. Think about this:
An agency that has 10 PIs is probably paying each one of them an average of $20/hr. But I guarantee you the agency is billing them out at $40. And even if they only keep those PIs working 20 hours a week on cases (keeping them at “part time” allows them to avoid having to pay certain benefits to the employee), that comes to 200 billable hours a week. That’s $400,000 in annual revenue. If you’re keeping them full time, then you’re approaching a million in revenue each year. And you can’t afford $3,000?
Take any size agency. The cost of licensing fees when adding an investigator is minuscule compared to what that individual investigator is expected to bring in profit to the company. If the added investigator isn’t going to bring revenue, then why hire the person in the first place? That’s business 101. You don’t hire employees unless you have enough business to warrant it.
I suspect the real reason for this language is to put the big agencies in firm control over who can get work in Colorado and who can’t.
Who, exactly, is driving this departure from the original bill? I’m told that NCISS had a heavy hand in it. But that doesn’t make any sense. I thought NCISS was an organization that concerns itself with federal legislation. Why would they even care? So it can’t be just NCISS. It looks to me that this is just a small group of companies or individuals that are being too cheap to understand the overall benefit of a mandatory license law in Colorado.