Thursday, February 17, 2011

Colorado to stay with elected county coroners

Lawmakers yesterday rejected a proposal to reassess the state’s system of elected county coroners. Under consideration, among other things, was whether coroners should be appointed instead. The House Local Government Committee defeated the proposal on a party-line vote, with Republicans opposing the measure.

House Bill 1108, by freshman Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, would have formed a commission to look at numerous issues pertaining to county coroners. The commission would have been authorized to look at qualifications, training, responsibilities and whether or not coroners should be elected officials—or pathologists assigned to the task by judicial districts.

Fields said that she believes the coroner system warrants review if only to see if there might be a better way to handle inquiries involving a death.

A group of coroners from around the state came to express their opposition to the bill mainly on the grounds of retaining local control. Colorado Coroners Association President Brenda Beck, who is also the Grand County Coroner, spoke to the committee articulating their position.

The committee’s vice chair, Rep. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, said she didn’t hear any compelling reasons to reverse the time-honored practice of electing coroners.

“There’s just not enough evidence to show that the system is broken,” said Szabo. “Why take away the right of the people to determine who their coroner will be, especially when the system has served us well for so long?”

Via - Colorado News Agency

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