Businesses would get an ear on the bench under pending bill

/ Colorado News Agency
Apr 26th, 2011

IMG_8157An effort to train judges on business matters was approved by lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee today. The proposed program will be funded with excess fees collected by the Secretary of State’s Office from Colorado businesses.

House Bill 1302, by Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs authorizes the Secretary of State’s Office to spend $500,000 to administer the program, designed and delivered by the judiciary branch, to train judges in handling business issues.

Waller, an attorney, said it’s about efficiency that would benefit all who are a party to litigation involving business matters.

“It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” said Waller. “It enables the judiciary to more effectively deal with these cases and deal with other issues that they also deal with.”

Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, says one of the issues he hears about most from businesses is frustration with the judiciary process that is primarily attributed to a lack of business knowledge.

“They (judges) often have to learn on the job,” said Gessler. ‘This training would give them the tools they need to manage their cases better.”

Some panel members questioned the program having a nexus to the secretary of state, suggesting that it should reside wholly within the judiciary branch.

“It feels messy to have two separate branches of government working on the same thing,” said Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora.

Rep. Daniel  Kagan, D- Greenwood Village, voted in favor of the bill but expressed concern as well over the secretary of state’s involvement in the program.

“What the secretary of state giveth the secretary of state can take away,” said Kagan. “Having a politically controlled office funding the program is probably not a good idea.”

Waller countered that since businesses pay fees to the Secretary of State’s Office, it is appropriate that the money should come from those fees and that the program, while administered by the SOS, would be designed by the judiciary.

Businessman Dale Charles of Denver said he welcomes the program and appreciates that it comes from the Secretary of State’s Office.

“This is a creative way to do this,” said Charles. “The $10 fee is a bargain for better handling of cases from the courts. It makes sense that the fees I pay to the Secretary of State’s Office should go to this program.”

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