By Don Knox, STATE BILL COLORADO
Colorado legislators got an early holiday present this week from the state’s Office of Legislative Legal Services.
Starting with the 2010 session, the office’s staff attorneys will start updating the sometimes lengthy summaries that appear at the beginning of text of proposed legislation.
The lack of summary updates has been the No. 1 complaint of legislators to the legal services office, Director Charles W. Pike told the General Assembly’s joint Legal Services Committee earlier this week.
Pike asked for, and was granted, permission from committee chair Sen. John Morse, the Democratic majority leader, to update the summary of any amended bills once — when those bills move from one chamber to the other. Pike’s attorneys set a goal of completing the updated summary 24 hours prior to the bill being heard in the second chamber’s first committee.
The attorneys already have begun to write the bill summaries in a more reader-friendly way, Pike said. Instead of beginning sentences with present tense verbs, the summaries will be written in complete sentences.
* OLD: “Requires meeting to be open to the public. Specifies that members of the commission are only reibursed for actual and necessary expenses incurred while performing duties of the commission.”
* NEW: “All commission meetings are open to the public. Members of the commission are only reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses incurred while performing duties related to the commission.”
The members of the Legal Services Committee, without taking a vote, assented to the updating idea, which several said they considered an improvement.
One downside, according to Pike: Because of the need to move bills quickly from chamber to chamber, the updated bill summaries won’t actually appear on the bill. Instead, the updated summaries will appear on a separate Web page. The bill will cite the Web page’s URL.