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CBA E-Legislative Report -- March 15, 2010

March 15, 2010
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Highlights:

• 20 Bills of Interest

-In the House

-In the Senate

From the Colorado Bar Association - Department of Legislative Relations
Michael Valdez

Keeping you apprised of what the General Assembly and your state Bar Association are up to under the Gold Dome.

Follow the Colorado Legislature on their website: http://www.leg.state.co.us/

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• 20 Bills of interest (and status):

 

In the House

HB 1265 - Concerning a court's authority to waive certain charges levied against indigent defendants. By Rep. Vigil and Sen. Newell. The bill clarifies that a court may suspend or waive surcharges and costs for victims and witness services that are levied against a defendant upon conviction of certain criminal actions and traffic offenses or infractions, if the court determines that the defendant is indigent. The bill passed the House on March 3 and has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.

HB 1266 - Concerning the inclusion of employees of specified employers in certain aspects of state group benefit plans at the option of the employer. By Rep. Frangas. The bill allows certain local governments, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations to offer participation in fully funded state group benefit plans for medical and dental coverages to their employees. The bill:

• Specifies that participation in state group benefit plans for medical and dental coverages is voluntary for local government, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations and that local government, small business, and nonprofit organization employees cannot participate in state group benefit plans if their employer has not chosen to offer participation to its employees.

• Allows the state personnel director to charge an administrative fee to participating local government, small business, and nonprofit organization employees to cover the state's cost of administering group benefit plans for local government, small business, and nonprofit organization employees. 

• Precludes participating local governments, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations from offering any other medical and dental benefit coverages to their employees and requires the local governments, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations to agree to participate in state group benefit plans for at least 3 years. 

• Requires participating local governments, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations to contribute on behalf of their participating employees a minimum amount as determined by the director of the department of personnel.

• Requires participating local government, small business, and nonprofit organization employees to comply with all rules and procedures adopted by the director. 

• Allows local governments, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations to determine eligibility of their employees and their dependents for participation in state group benefit plans for medical and dental coverages.

• Establishes the local government, small business, and nonprofit organization group benefit plans fund in the state treasury and specifies that the fund contains the premium account and the administration account. 

• Specifies that group benefit plan premium costs received by the director for local government, small business, and nonprofit organization employee premiums shall be deposited into the premium account and that expenditures shall be made from the premium account for the payment to carriers of premiums, claims costs, and other administrative fees and costs associated with the group benefit plans for local government, small business, and nonprofit organization employees.

• Specifies that moneys credited to or expended from the premium account for payment to carriers who provide fully funded group benefit plans to local government, small business, and nonprofit organization employees do not constitute state fiscal year spending for purposes of the state constitutional limitation on spending.

On March 3, the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee amended the bill and referred it to the Appropriations Committee.

HB 1268 - Concerning establishment of a two-year registration for vehicles. By Rep. King. The bill authorizes the owners of motor vehicles, trailers, and mobile machinery to elect to register their vehicles for 2 years. Vehicles registered for 2 years are exempt from the registration late fee. On February 23, the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee amended the bill and referred it to the Appropriations Committee.

HB 1275 - Concerning a requirement that the location of a private burial be recorded. By Rep. Baumgardner and Sen. Newell. The bill requires a landowner to record information about a private burial with the county clerk, setting standards for the recording including the deceased person's name, location of burial, dates of birth and death, cause of death, the legal description of the property where the body is interred, and the reception number for the death certificate. The bill requires a burial permit to contain a notice of the recording requirement. On February 25, the unamended bill passed out of the House and has been assigned to the Senate Local Government and Energy Committee.

HB 1277 - Concerning an extension of the prohibition against sexual conduct in correctional institutions, and making an appropriation therefor. By Rep. DelGrosso and Sen. Steadman. Current law prohibits a correctional employee or volunteer from engaging in sexual activity with an inmate. The bill extends that prohibition to engaging in sexual activity with a person or with a juvenile in a detention or commitment facility. On March 1, the Judiciary Committee amended the bill and referred it to the Appropriations Committee.

HB 1278 - Concerning the creation of an ombudsman for matters arising under the "Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act." By Rep. Ryden and Sen. Carroll. As introduced, the bill would have created the office of the HOA ombudsman to advocate on behalf of unit owners, mediate disputes, and act as a clearing house for information on the governing law. The introduced bill directed the secretary of state to collect a surcharge on registration fees of HOAs that are organized as nonprofit corporations to pay the direct and indirect costs of the ombudsman's office.

As amended by the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee the bill creates the office of the HOA Ombudsman within the Division of Real Estate. The HOA Ombudsman shall be appointed by the Executive Director of the Department of Regulatory Agencies. The bill specifies the qualifications for the HOA Ombudsman. The amended bill provides that the HOA Ombudsman shall act as a clearinghouse for information concerning the rights and duties of unit owners, declarants, and unit owners’ associations under CCIOA. The HOA Ombudsman will track inquiries and complaints and report annually to the director of the division of Real Estate regarding the number and types of inquiries and complaints received. The bill establishes the HOA Ombudsman Cash Fund in the state Treasury. The fund shall consist of annual registration fees paid by unit owners’ associations and collected by the division of real estate. On March 3, the Business Affairs and Labor Committee amended the bill and referred it to the Appropriations Committee.

HB 1279 - Concerning the ownership of a license to sell alcohol beverages at retail, and, in connection therewith, allowing a grocery store to apply to transfer ownership and change location of a retail liquor store license and to convert the retail liquor store license to a liquor-licensed drugstore license. By Rep. McFadyen and Sen. Williams. On or after January 1, 2011, the bill allows a grocery store to apply to the state and local licensing authorities, as part of a single application, to transfer ownership and change the location of a licensed retail liquor store and to convert the retail liquor store license to a liquor-licensed drugstore license, thereby allowing the grocery store, if the application is approved, to sell malt, vinous, and spirituous liquors. The bill is assigned to the Business Affairs and Labor Committee.

HB 1280 - Concerning an incentive to create Colorado nonprofit jobs by establishing an income tax credit. By Rep. Summers and Sen. Romer. The bill establishes the Colorado nonprofit job creation incentive tax credit for income tax years commencing on or after January 1, 2011, but before January 1, 2017. Upon approval and calculation by a nonprofit intermediary, the bill allows a taxpayer to claim a credit of 25% of any donation made to a qualified nonprofit organization that has applied to the nonprofit intermediary for the ability to solicit donations for purposes of creating nonprofit jobs. The total amount of the credits available in a calendar year is $1 million. The bill allows the nonprofit intermediary to review the applications of nonprofit organizations and determine if the applications meet the necessary qualifications. The bill allows the credit to be carried forward for 7 years but not refunded. The bill establishes the methods for issuing credit certificates as well as the application process. The bill also grants the department of revenue rule-making authority. On February 24, the Finance Committee amended the bill and referred it to the Appropriations Committee.

HB 1283 - Concerning increasing patient safety outside of the litigation process, and, in connection therewith, requiring physicians to engage in ongoing professional development, facilitating information sharing about health care workers, and requiring demonstration project data about redress for adverse health care outcomes. By Rep. Riesberg and Sen. Sandoval. As introduced, the bill requires physicians to attest to a plan for ongoing professional development to obtain licensure. The bill requires physicians to document participation in ongoing professional development activities to maintain licensure. It also provides protections for records of the activities. The bill defines failure to comply with ongoing professional development as unprofessional conduct. The bill provides an exception to the restriction on mandating continuing medical education as necessary to comply with ongoing professional development requirements. The bill creates the "Patient Safety Act". The act requires health care providers to verify employment history of health care worker applicants. The section also requires employers to provide information to prospective employers about health care worker impairment, patient abuse, and violent crimes. The bill allows for protected communications with patients and other interested persons as part of health care quality assessments. It also allows for sharing of health care information among certain health care providers without waiving the confidentiality or privilege of the information. The bill also requires the health and human services committees to identify statewide professional associations to conduct, or compile data on, demonstration projects exploring alternatives to litigation for redress of adverse medical events. On February 22 the Health and Human Services Committee amended the bill and referred it to the Judiciary Committee. On March 11, the Judiciary Committee heard testimony and will bring the bill back for action at a later date. Click here for a current version of the bill.

HB 1284 - Concerning regulation of medical marijuana. By Rep. Massey and Sen. Romer. The bill creates the medical marijuana licensing authority in the department of revenue. The state licensing authority grants, refuses, or renews a medical marijuana center license after the licensee has received local approval. The state licensing authority also administers aspects of medical marijuana licensure, including rulemaking. Many of the functions and duties of the state licensing authority are similar to those held by the state licensing authority for alcoholic beverages. Under the bill, the department of public health and environment will promulgate new rules related to standards for issuing registry identification cards, documentation for physicians who prescribe medical marijuana, and sanctions for physicians who violate the bill.

A physician who certifies that a patient can use medical marijuana shall certify certain information to the department and maintain a record-keeping system for his or her medical marijuana patients. A physician who certifies that a patient can use medical marijuana shall not receive remuneration from or offer it to a primary caregiver, distributor, or any other provider of medical marijuana. The bill requires patients under 21 years of age who want to be registered medical marijuana patients to receive recommendations from 2 doctors.

A primary caregiver may serve no more than 5 patients on the registry at one time, unless the department allows more patients due to exceptional circumstances. A patient who is permitted to use medical marijuana must have in his or her possession a registry identification card at all times when in possession of medical marijuana.

The bill lists various places and situations in which the patient or primary caregiver may not use or possess medical marijuana. A physician who certifies that a patient can use medical marijuana may not receive remuneration from a primary caregiver related to medical marijuana or from a medical marijuana center.
The bill imposes a one-year moratorium on the opening of new medical marijuana centers, but allows current medical marijuana centers to operate for a year before becoming licensed.
The bill provides an exception to the adulterated food offenses for medical marijuana centers that manufacture or sell food that contains medical marijuana if the food is labeled as containing medical marijuana and the label specifies the amount of medical marijuana.

On March 4, the Judiciary Committee heard testimony and will bring the bill back on Monday, March 22 for action.

HB 1288 - Concerning the ability of a commercial real estate broker to secure payment of commissions earned, and, in connection therewith, enacting the "Commercial Real Estate Brokers Commission Security Act." By Rep. Nikkel and Sen. Williams. The bill permits a real estate broker to create a lien on real or personal property to enforce debts if they procure tenants for commercial real estate, either under a listing agreement or a written compensation agreement. The bill places conditions on the real estate broker's right to the lien, including an obligation to seek mediation of the dispute; to give notice of the intent to pursue enforcement of the debt through the lien process, both before and after recording the notice of lien; and to commence a lawsuit within 6 months if the debt is not paid. The bill passed out of the House on March 9 and is assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Friday, March 12, the CBA Legislative Policy Committee gave the Real Estate section permission to work with the proponents to seek amendments to the bill that will resolve concerns raised by the Real Estate section.

HB 1291 - Concerning the elimination of certain witness fees. By Rep. Priola and Sen. Newell. The bill eliminates the daily fee, ranging from $1.50 to $2.50, which a witness receives for attending court other than municipal, court commissioner, or magistrate courts. The bill eliminates the daily fee, ranging from .50 cents to $2.00, which a witness receives for attending municipal court. The bill eliminates the fee that a witness receives for attending a coroner's inquest. On March 12, the Appropriations Committee amended the bill and referred it to the House for consideration on 2nd Reading.

HB 1292 - Concerning a clarification of the conditions on land-use approvals that may be imposed by local governments under statutory provisions governing the regulatory impairment of property rights. By Rep. Murray and Sen. Harvey. In connection with conditions that may be imposed on land-use approvals by local governments under statutory provisions governing the regulatory impairment of property rights, the bill addresses the construction of the requirement prohibiting a local government from imposing any discretionary condition upon a land-use approval unless the condition is based upon duly adopted standards that are sufficiently specific to ensure that the condition is imposed in a rational and consistent manner. The bill clarifies that the phrase "any discretionary condition" refers back to the constitutionally based conditions found in a previous provision and, accordingly, does not create an independent cause of action under the statute. On March 3 the bill passed out of the House and has been assigned to the Local Government and Energy Committee in the Senate.

HB 1293 - Concerning the creation of a task force to study property tax assessment issues related to the use of land for agricultural purposes. By Rep. Massey. The bill creates a 13-member land assessment and classification task force to meet during the 2010 interim to study the assessment and classification of agricultural and residential land and propose statutory modifications to ensure that land is valued based on its actual use. The bill requires the task force to study, make legislative recommendations, and report findings on all matters relating to property tax assessment and classification in connection with land used for agricultural and residential purposes, including, without limitation, the current system for classification of agricultural and residential property in Colorado, the fiscal, land use, and other impacts of the state's current classification system, and any ideas for improving the current classification system. On February 23, the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee amended the bill and referred it to the Appropriations committee.

HB 1328 - Concerning the "New Energy Jobs Creation Act Of 2010," and, in connection therewith, creating the Colorado New Energy Improvement District and authorizing the district to fund new energy improvements by issuing special assessment bonds payable from special assessments levied on eligible real property owned by persons who voluntarily join the district in order to have the district help them fund new energy improvements to the eligible real property. By Rep. Miklosi and Sen. Schwartz. the bill creates the Colorado new energy improvement district as an independent public body corporate and a public instrumentality performing an essential public function, clarifies that, under applicable Colorado supreme court case law, the district is not subject to the provisions of the taxpayer's bill of rights, and specifies the qualifications, manner of appointment, and terms of the board of directors of the district.
The bill also specifies that the purpose of the district is to help provide the special benefits of new energy improvements to owners of eligible real property who voluntarily join the district by establishing, developing, financing, and administering a new energy improvement program in counties that have approved the conduct of the program by the district through which the district can provide assistance to any such owner in completing a new energy improvement by providing reimbursement or a direct payment for all or a portion of the cost of completing a new energy improvement and further specifies the powers and duties of the district.

On March 4, the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee amended the bill and referred it to the House for consideration on 2nd Reading. The bill is scheduled for 2nd reading on March 17.

HB 1332 - Concerning the creation of the "Medical Clean Claims Transparency and Uniformity Act." By Rep. Miklosi and Sen. Romer. The bill creates the "Medical Clean Claims Transparency and Uniformity Act," which requires the executive director of the department of health care policy and financing to establish a task force of industry and government representatives to develop a standardized set of payment rules and claim edits to be used by payers and health care providers in Colorado. The task force is to track the progress of the national initiative, known as the American society for quality initiative (ASQ initiative), in the development of a national uniform, standardized set of rules and edits and avoid duplication of conflict with the ASQ initiative.
The task force is to develop a base set of rules and edits using existing national industry sources and work with the ASQ initiative to develop a complete set of uniform, standardized payment rules and claim edits applicable to all types of professional services.
On February 25, the Health and Human Services Committee amended the bill and referred it to the House for consideration on 2nd Reading.

In the Senate

SB 181 - Concerning the authority of a municipality in the state to lease lands owned by the municipality. By Sen. Kester and Rep. McKinley. Currently, a municipality is allowed to purchase water rights and to purchase and hold the lands with which the water rights are connected. The law allows the municipality to sell such lands when deemed advisable by the governing body of the municipality. The bill allows the city to also lease such lands. The bill is assigned to the Local Government and Energy Committee.

SB 183 - Concerning the continuation of a statutory prohibition on balance billing of certain charges for health care services. By Sen. Morse and Rep. Gagliardi. The bill continues indefinitely the requirement that health insurers hold consumers harmless for charges over and above the in-network rates for services rendered in an in-network facility. The bill is assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 184 - Concerning transportation demand management solutions for traffic congestion in the Interstate 70 mountain corridor, and, in connection therewith, authorizing the high-performance transportation enterprise to contract with the department of transportation to provide and operate reversible highway lanes within a specified portion of the corridor. By Sen. Romer and Rep. Scanlan. The bill:

• Authorizes the high-performance transportation enterprise to enter into a transportation demand management contract with the department of transportation to relieve traffic congestion during peak travel times in a specified portion of the interstate 70 mountain corridor by providing and operating reversible highway lanes within that portion of the corridor;

• Specifies that, if a feasibility study of a moveable barrier system on interstate 70 is completed and demonstrates that such a system is viable and that life safety issues can be addressed, a transportation demand management contract shall establish, at a minimum, the goal of beginning the provision and operation of reversible highway lanes no later than January 1, 2011; and

• Further specifies that a transportation demand management contract may authorize the high-performance transportation enterprise to enter into single-fiscal year or multiple-fiscal year operating lease agreements or capital lease or lease-purchase agreements with a private contractor as needed to provide and operate the reversible highway lanes. 

The bill is assigned to the Transportation Committee.

SB 185 - Concerning modifications to the residential warranty of habitability for the purpose of protecting renters. By Sen. Shaffer and Rep. Merrifield. The bill makes the following changes related to the warranty:

• Written notice is no longer required prior to a breach of the warranty and the condition of the premises that constitutes a breach is modified.

• A county court, including a small claims court, may provide injunctive relief related to a breach.

• A local government need not be notified prior to an injunction.

• The prohibition on retaliation for a tenant's alleging a breach is modified to specify damages and to eliminate presumptions.
The bill is assigned to the Judiciary Committee.

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