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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signs the state's budget into law on Monday, June 23, 2020, while surrounded by Democratic members of the Joint Budget Committee. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Saturday vetoed a pair of bills passed during the recent legislation session dealing with the issuance of license plates and regulations around private investigators.

The Democrat rejected Senate Bill 51, the license plate measure, because of what he said was a problem with the legislation’s finances that allowed the Division of Motor Vehicles to collect fees but not spend them on changes made by the policy.

The bill would have required a new license plate to be issued each time a vehicle is sold in an attempt to cut down on fraud.

“We have no particular issue with the policy goals the sponsors are trying to accomplish in (Senate Bill 51),” Polis wrote in a letter explaining his decision. “… We encourage the sponsors and the General Assembly to bring this bill again next session in a manner that considers the ways to effectively fund this program so that it can meet its valid policy goals. However, no bill should become law without the necessary resources to implement it.”

MORE: Read Gov. Jared Polis’ letter vetoing Senate Bill 51.

A lawmaker who worked on the bill said the funding issue was, in essence, a miscommunication between House and Senate.

Polis vetoed House Bill 1207, which would have continued the regulation of private investigators in the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, because of concerns about the rules limiting who can work in the field. Specifically, the legislation would have continued a 2014 requirement that private investigators be licensed.

“Occupational licensing is often not superior to other forms of
consumer protection,” Polis wrote in a letter explaining his decision on House Bill 1207. “Too often it is used to protect existing professionals within an occupation against competition from newcomers entering that occupation.”

He added: “Eliminating unnecessary credentialing broadens diversity and allows more to offer and access various services.”

MORE: Read Gov. Jared Polis’ letter vetoing House Bill 1207.

Polis said that instead of regulations, he favors working with lawmakers next year to pass a bill that can oversee the private investigator industry.

“We do believe that in any activity, PIs included, there is some potential for consumer harm resulting from rare instances of deceptive trade practices, much if not all of which can be addressed through other areas of law,” the governor wrote. “We are open to working with the General Assembly to take reasonable steps to address these concerns while stopping short of full licensure.”

Rep. Jovan Melton, an Aurora Democrat and prime sponsor of House Bill 1207, said he thinks Polis’ veto will hurt the state’s private investigator industry.

“I don’t think the governor made a good decision on this. I think he chose to protect his staff over the people of Colorado,” Melton said.

Melton was referring to a report by Polis’ administration that regulations on private investigators aren’t necessary because so few complaints have been filed against people who work in the industry.

“That to me shows the program is working the way it should be,” Melton said.

Melton said his bill had the support of victims’ rights groups and the backing of the private investigators’ association. By not having a licensure apparatus, he said that private investigators in Colorado could find it difficult to get insured.

Earlier this month, Polis vetoed a third measure passed during the 2020 lawmaking term, which ended in June after a coronavirus pause. House Bill 1085 sought to reduce opioid abuse in Colorado, but because it would have increased the cost of health insurance the governor rejected the legislation.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....