Where Do Opponents of SB133 Stand Now?

Now that SB-133 is on its way to the Colorado House of Representatives, I’m wondering where the primary opponents stand on the bill in its current form.

In a recent email sent to Senator Linda Newell by Rick Johnson (President of CSPI), there was an indication that he and his group might be warming up to the idea of mandatory licensing, or at least considering support of the original bill introduced in February:  In his 3/18/14 letter to Senator Newell, Johnson wrote:

For what’s it worth I think CSPI members and I might be able to go along with the level 1 and level 2 private investigator concept. A background, jurisprudence test and bond we might be able to live with. We do not, under any circumstances go along with the hours or years requirement of our profession to be determined after the bill becomes law. This makes absolutely no sense, and smells of a back room deal already made. 

The “back room deal” that he refers to is an amendment that happened at the end of the Senate Judiciary Committee that changed the bill to a measure that looked nothing like the original bill.  Since none of that amendment’s language was discussed during the stakeholders meetings (which Johnson and others from his group participated in), I have to agree with him that it indeed smelled of special interests.  

But that amendment was stripped at the very next committee (Senate Finance). PPIAC Chairman Chris Bray recently posted on their website that PPIAC did not favor the amendment, and gave kudos to Senator Newell for returning the bill to its original form.

On the heels of the return to the original bill, coupled with the letter to Senator Newell, I wonder if the two sides have found something they can agree upon.  Obviously, both sides saw the danger in the “agency amendment”.  Obviously, both sides had concern with language that threatened to keep newer investigators out of the industry.

Johnson did give himself an “out” in the letter to Senator Newell by using the word “might” on two occasions, and Johnson is well known for having taken both sides on the issue of mandatory licensing.  He once was a champion of mandatory licensing (before and during his tenure as President of PPIAC).  But after he left PPIAC and formed CSPI, he suddenly became a staunch and vocal opponent.

Before I make my final comment, let me bring up a bit of history.  If you step back and look at the numerous attempts to bring licensing back to Colorado (since it was struck down in the mid-70s), no PPIAC-led initiative has even made it through the first committee without being killed. In my opinion, PPIAC never had the political clout or willpower to do what it took to be successful.  But in the past five years, the momentum has definitely shifted. Not only did PPIAC get their Voluntary bill past the first committee (a surprise to many)..they actually got the thing all the way through the General Assembly and signed by the governor!  And last year, PPIAC got a mandatory bill all the way to the last days of the General Session before a surprise vote killed it in a committee that would have sent it to the House for a final vote.  So opponents of mandatory licensing dodged a huge bullet there, as a bill to create mandatory regulation (which they had no say in) was looming large.

But now, here we are. Johnson and his group have indicated that he might be able to support the original language. And PPIAC has certainly made it clear that they support the original language.  Seems to me that together, they could probably control the direction of mandatory regulation and hold the state accountable for introducing rules that harm small business.  They also have the opportunity to work together and urge the state to adopt rules that would benefit the industry. If they could only quit butting heads long enough to let the dizziness subside and think clearly.

Or will Johnson and others just return to their standard position of “oppose, oppose, oppose”.  I guess we’ll see.

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