Jerry Kopel

KOPEL: MR. SMITH AT THE CAPITOL

A rare look at the state Legislature - back when people actually smiled

A literate author and professional photographer will soon show his readers what the state Legislature was like in the early 1970s and perhaps go beyond those years. Morgan Smith, a Democrat who served as chairman of the Joint Budget Committee was writing his biography before realizing he was writing “Friends of Morgan Smith.”

He asked my assistance when we got together in Denver to review what has been accomplished. Morgan served in the Colorado House from 1973 through 1978. Morgan has hundreds of pictures he has taken of legislators and staff. These are working pictures, not profiles.

Cover of the book when I last saw it was a picture of Richard Castro in a year-ending Hummer’s performance, playing Republican Steve Durham as a mean and nasty Viking. Castro wears Viking headgear as he strides down the central aisle of the House chamber to address the sketch in the Hummers’ comedy show.

This photo of Richard Castro portraying Steve Durham as a mean and nasty Viking in the Legislature’s Hummers show graces the cover of Morgan Smith’s book called “Friends of Morgan Smith.” The book includes photos from his own days in the Legislature from 1973-1978.

Morgan wanted to write something about each legislator who appears in this “Friends’ Book.” It will be a useful tool for future historians as well as entertaining to those whose photographs appear. As we ran through the pictures Morgan said something profound. “If you look at these pictures, Democrats and Republicans are together and of course they are smiling. But that doesn’t mean they are responding to a request from me. Smiling was a natural occurrence back in the seventies.”

If the author decides to expand the book he could use your help especially if you were a close friend of a now deceased legislator or are you in present or future printed photos. The Smiths now live in Santa Fe but keep a place in Denver. Morgan has no Denver phone, but can be reached at 1-505-982-9620.

In the meantime I am trying to reach former legislators to add their papers to more than a dozen present collections of news columns and background information already indexed in the Denver Central Library state legislative papers. You won’t have to pay to have your set indexed. Costs have to date been taken care of by me. So don’t throw your papers away. Call special collections director Erin Edwards at the library archives 720-865-1810. Your work as a legislator will be available to future historians.

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Last year I wrote about the National Association of State Boards of Accountants pushing higher education to require students seeking to become CPAs to take 150 credit hours instead of 120 credit hours, basically requiring five years of higher education study.

The Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) faced the same issue in its 1999 and 2004 Sunset reviews and opposed the 30 credit hour increase. So why did they “change their mind?” Probably because Colorado is the only state to not make the change.

Sponsors of House Bill 1236 are Rep. A. Kerr, D-Lakewood, and Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Adams. And DORA’s researchers have actually written a report explaining why such a change is not needed. The added credit hours would not occur with the college graduates until on or after July 1, 2015 and they are not yet around to voice their protest.

National board spokesmen concede there is not significant meaningful difference between 150 credit hour states and Colorado as to passing exam rates. Actually there is a difference in that Colorado CPA students do better on written testing than the rest of the nation.

Keeping our credit hours at 120 would encourage CPA students to become qualified to practice, meaning more CPAs wanting your business and willing to compete for it. DORA research in 1999 showed adding 30 hours would create an artificial scarcity (based on reducing the number of graduates) “allowing licensees to charge higher prices for their service.”

The then-director of accounting programs at CU-Denver claimed adding semester hours would add about $25,000 (in 1999 values) to the cost of each graduate’s tuition in 2010 dollars. How much is that?

If 150 hours is so important why not require all present CPAs to re-enroll for 30 more college credit hours before the 30-hour addition goes into effect in 2015. Why 2015? To keep present CPA students from protesting.

At the least all pre July 1, 2015 CPAs should be made to take the ethics courses offered to CPA students and not be entitled to renew their certification without having passed the ethics courses.

A recent Denver Post editorial criticized increasing duplication of classes Metropolitan State is about to begin: A master program in accounting which is already being offered on the same campus through the University of Colorado-Denver. Is this “looking forward to 30 extra credit hours?”

Deepening cuts in higher education funding has already stretched facilities thin. Keeping credit hours at 120 would attract potential CPAs from other nations who would help Colorado CPAs obtain accounting work across the nation’s borders.

The rest of the bill contains useful amendments.

Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.