Jerry Kopel

29 HJRs A RECORD LOW IN RECENT YEARS

Let’s hear it for Terrance Carroll, who limited House Joint Resolutions

No way! Yes they could! And they did it!

The Colorado House, in the 2009 First General Session of the Sixty-Seventh Legislature, knocked House Joint Resolutions out for the 10-count.

Under leadership of Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, the 65-member House produced only 29 House Joint Resolutions. In 1986, the number was 25, so the Carroll House produced lowest total since 1986.

This columnist has been urging the Legislature to stop wasting valuable time notifying Congress what it thinks about national issues or raising public awareness of “Deep-vein Thrombosis Awareness Month Day.” Other Joint Resolutions tell us about holidays that need celebration or news events worthy of notice or the need to promote medical progress.

Some Joint Resolutions are actually needed for legislative work — such as amending House and Senate rules or notifying the governor when work is about to begin or end.

Of course, the Joint Resolutions do play a role. The sponsor might be in the minority party and can use a resolution to tell folks how much work he or she is doing.

Joint Resolutions have to pass both the House and Senate. While Carroll was wise to limit House Joint Resolutions, Senate President Peter Groff took the opposite approach, allowing 59 Senate Joint Resolutions, which tied for the highest number in the Colorado Senate in recent decades.

Here are the number of Joint Resolutions introduced over the past 11 years:

The 59 Joint Resolutions introduced in the Senate during 2009 tied the other Senate high of 59 introduced in 2004 under Senate President John Andrews, R-Englewood.

How can the House speaker or the Senate president keep the resolution number low? They could do it by limiting the number via the rulebook, which says legislators are allowed to introduce only five bills each session. So they could warn potential sponsors that they will get no additional bills beyond those five if they introduce a Joint Resolution.

Of the 29 Joint Resolutions from the House, 10 were not acted on by the Senate until the last day of the session.?????

When we review the bill totals, some logic emerges.

In the even number years, the House gets the job of introducing the supplementals, and in the odd number years, the Senate gets the task. The House and Senate do the same flop, introducing the bills dealing with regulatory agencies subject to the Sunset Law review. That explains why the numbers in the House jump every other year, but not why the same major jump sometimes doesn’t happen in the Senate.

The total bill numbers are:

Yes, the 666-number finally plays in. Was the occult having a field year in 2009?

The legislative play always ends the same way — inundated at the end with 44 pages in House Journal work and 40 pages in the Senate Journal for May 6.

The time frame brings exhaustion, and exhaustion often brings uncaught error. Having served 22 years as a member, I can honestly say legislators faced the same problem in the 1970s that they do in the new century.

After a while, you become numb and can’t pick up another amended bill or one longer than 10 pages.

Sometimes the stress is so great as to cause medical problems. Nine months after I retired, I paid my dues with a major heart attack.

Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.