What we can learn from 3 of the 5 bills Gov. Jared Polis vetoed

Gov. Jared Polis made millions creating and selling companies before getting into politics, and Capitol observers on both sides of the aisle say that entrepreneurial background could explain why he vetoed three bills from the 2019 session that increased or created state licensing requirements for certain professions.

The vetoes were applauded by conservative groups that have lamented the legislative red tape they say occupational licensing creates, but they also left members of the governor’s own party worrying about how these moves could erode consumer protections.

“I think this shows Jared’s earning his libertarian reputation,” Progress Now director Ian Silverii said. “Occupational licensure is one of those interesting places where parts of the left and the right can meet around the back.”

Polis vetoed five of the 460 bills passed by the 2019 legislature, and three of them dealt directly with licensing requirements for certain jobs.

“Occupational licensing is not always superior to other forms of consumer protection,” Polis wrote in each of the signing statements sent with those vetoes. “Too often it is used to protect existing professionals within an occupation against competition from newcomers entering the occupation.”

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Senate Bill 133 would have required genetic counselors in Colorado to be licensed by the Department of Regulatory Agencies as well as face a misdemeanor offense if they were caught practicing without a license. It passed both chambers with bipartisan support, but Polis described it as potentially blocking “access and innovation” to a growing profession.

The governor’s veto aligned with Colorado’s Division of Professions and Occupations, which opposed creating the new license. Karen McGovern, the division’s deputy director, told lawmakers at a Senate committee meeting in February that her department considered it “unnecessary” because of the “lack of risk for consumer harm.”

House Bill 1212 was going to extend licensing for the companies that manage homeowner associations, or HOAs, while lawmakers continued to work on a long-term solution. But Polis vetoed it Friday afternoon. He also issued an executive order directing DORA to review the rules and regulations around HOA more broadly.