Blue Book Abuse, the Colorado Governor's Race, and More:

My father, Jerry Kopel, is a columnist for the Colorado Statesman, Colorado's weekly political newspaper. Before that, he served for 22 years as a Democratic State Representative from Denver. Before that, he worked for several Colorado newspapers, including the Rocky Mountain News (for which I currently write a media column). Here's a sample of his recent columns, all of which are available on his website:

Analyzing the 2006 race for Governor, he suggests that Marc Holtzman (who formerly served in Bill Owens' cabinet) will beat Bob Beauprez in the Republican primary, because Holtzman is the candidate with "fire in his belly." On the Democratic side, he predicts that former Denver D.A. Bill Ritter will have trouble with the Democratic base, because of his anti-abortion stance.

The story of Blue Book abuse does not involve the manual of legal citation. "The Blue Book" is also the name of a state guide about ballot issues which is mailed to every voter before elections. The Colorado Constitution specifies that the text of the Blue Book--describing the ballot issues, and summarizing pro and con arguments--must be written by non-partisan legislative staff. Yet a recent decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals (the intermediate appellate court) allowed the legislature to get away with writing a statute that in effect nullified the state Constitution, by authorizing legislators to tamper with the Blue Book wording.

The shady financial dealings of the CU Foundation, which has provided enormous funding to various administrators and programs at the University of Colorado, has become a major controversy in Colorado. A December 19 column details how my father attempted to lead a legislative investigation of the CU Foundation's finances, but was stymied by legislative leadership which did not want to dig very deeply.

Colorado, like many states, has "Sunrise/Sunset" legislation, which requires that bills to impose new licensing on a profession must go through a special "sunrise" study process. All licensing regulations for professions are supposed to "sunset" on a regular schedule, unless the legislature chooses to renew them. (My dad sponsored the first such law in the United States, in 1974.) In the 2006 legislature, one faction of naturopaths (those with degrees from four-year naturopathic schools) will make their third try to attempt to outlaw the practice of naturopathy by anyone else.

Meanwhile, law enforcement lobbies will push for professional licensing for burglar alarm installers. The claim is that licensing will reduce the number of false alarms. Yet a study by Colorado's Department of Regulatory Agencies concluded that false alarms were the result of consumer behavior, and licensing of installers would not reduce false alarms.