From the Colorado Bar Association - Department of Legislative Relations
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/
• CBA Legislative Policy Committee (LPC)
Highlights of LPC activity from the meeting on Friday, March 19:
The Legislative Policy Committee approved a request from the Real Estate Section to move forward with proposed legislation to clarify filing requirements for transfer fees. The Real Estate Section maintains that the bill is necessary to ensure that ownership of real estate in Colorado and real estate transactions are not unnecessarily or unduly burdened with what are described as onerous forms of transfer fee covenants; while at the same time to keep intact the forms of transfer fee covenants which provide a very useful tool for developers of real estate. Our goal is to gather a coalition of stakeholders and seek approval for the introduction of a late bill.
Today marks the 69th day of the legislative session (this is past the halfway point – the session must end no later than Wednesday, May 12, 2010.) As a consequence, the activity of the Legislative Policy Committee will begin to diminish in the coming weeks. Many of the members of this very busy CBA committee perceive this as a good thing.
• 10 Bills of Interest (and status):
In the House
HB 1340 - Concerning the notice sent by a law enforcement agency when a vehicle has been towed from public property. By Rep. Vigil and Sen. Newell. Currently, the statutes governing the towing of vehicles on public property require that both the law enforcement agency and the tow operator send a notice of the tow by certified mail to the owner or lienholder of a towed vehicle. If a law enforcement agency uses a tow operator, the bill requires the law enforcement agency to send a notice by first-class mail. The bill passed out of the House on March 15 and has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.
HB 1347 - Concerning misdemeanor penalties for persons who are convicted of multiple traffic offenses involving alcohol or drugs. By Rep. Levy and Sen. Morse. The bill adjusts the penalties for second offenses of driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI) and creates new penalties for third and subsequent offenses of DUI and DWAI. In sentencing persons for DUI, DWAI, DUI per se, and habitual user, courts are encouraged to require the use of approved ignition interlock devices by persons as a condition of bond, probation, and participation in work, educational, and medical release programs.
An approved alcohol or drug treatment facility may not require a person to repeat any portion of an alcohol or drug treatment program that he or she has successfully completed while he or she was imprisoned. The bill creates the court-ordered alcohol treatment fund to pay for court-ordered alcohol treatment and ignition interlock devices for indigent offenders and court-ordered alcohol treatment programs for incarcerated offenders. On March 11, the Judiciary Committee amended the bill and referred it to the Appropriations Committee.
HB 1350 - Concerning requirements for recipients of economic development incentives. By Rep. Pace and Sen. Carroll. The bill requires any entity that receives public moneys for the purpose of economic development to file an annual report, along with a filing fee, to the Colorado economic development commission. The bill also specifies the contents of the report and requires the commission to include any reports received in its annual presentation to the general assembly.
If the commission finds, in its discretion, that a recipient of an economic incentive has not complied with the requirements of the incentive, the commission has the authority to recapture any public moneys expended on the economic incentive. The bill is assigned to the Finance Committee.
HB 1351 - Concerning the maximum authorized interest rate for a payday loan. By Rep. Ferrandino and Sen. Romer. The bill limits the charge a lender may charge a consumer for a payday loan to 36% per year. As introduced the bill referred the issue to the voters for approval of the statutory change; the House Judiciary Committee amended the bill to change the law in the bill and provided an effective date of August 11, 2010 with the opportunity to challenge the enactment by gathering signatures and putting the issue on the November 2, 2010 ballot. The Judiciary Committee referred the amended bill to the House for consideration on 2nd Reading.
HB 1356 - Concerning enactment of the "Workers' Compensation Policyholder Protection Act of 2010,” and, in connection therewith, requiring the distribution of excess surplus funds held by Pinnacol assurance to Pinnacol assurance policyholders and limiting the insurance commissioner's discretion with respect to the prior approval of workers' compensation pure premium rates filed by a rating organization. By Rep. Ryden and Sen. Tochtrop. Interim Committee to Study Issues Related to Pinnacol Assurance. If the surplus of Pinnacol Assurance is greater than 800% of risk based capital, this bill requires the board of directors of Pinnacol Assurance to credit to the accounts of Pinnacol Assurance policyholders a dividend to bring the surplus of Pinnacol Assurance to less than 800% of risk based capital.
For the prior approval of a pure premium rate filed by a workers' compensation insurance rating agency, this bill would require the insurance commissioner to approve the lowest rate recommended either by the rating organization or by the independent actuary employed by the division of insurance, unless the commissioner explains the rationale or justification for a different rate in the final agency order. The bill requires background material related to a workers' compensation pure premium rate filing to be posted on the division of insurance web site prior to any public hearing. The bill is assigned to the Business Affairs and Labor Committee.
HB 1357 - Concerning creation of a false claims act. By Rep. McFadyen and Sen. Romer. The bill makes legislative findings and states legislative intent that the enactment of the bill qualifies the state for federal incentives and that a portion of the state's share of any recovery should be used to increase funding for the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
The bill authorizes a civil action by the state, a political subdivision, or a private person (relator) against a person who submits a false claim to the state or a political subdivision. It specifies penalties for submitting false claims. The bill establishes procedures if an action is commenced by a relator. It specifies percentages of recoveries that may be awarded as attorney fees.
The bill establishes a private right of action against a person who retaliates against a relator because the relator takes lawful action in furtherance of a false claim action. It specifies requirements for a claim of and damages for retaliation against a relator.
The bill establishes a statute of limitations for false claims. The bill establishes procedures for the attorney general to serve upon a person a civil investigative demand requiring the person to answer written or oral questions and to produce documents in the person's possession or control.
The bill directs the state treasurer to transfer to the health sciences center false claims recovery cash fund 2% of any moneys received by the state due to a false claims action and specifies that moneys in the fund are to be appropriated to the health sciences center. The bill excludes from the transfer money received through an action in which the health sciences center was a defendant. On March 18, the Judiciary Committee amended the bill (click here
to see the latest version) and referred the bill to the Appropriations Committee.
HB 1358 - Concerning a requirement for new home builders to offer home buyers water efficiency options. By Rep. Fischer and Sen. Johnston. The bill requires every person that builds a new single-family detached residence for which a buyer is under contract to offer the buyer the opportunity to select one or more of the following water-smart home options for the residence:
• Installation of water-efficient toilets, lavatory faucets, and showerheads;
• If dishwashers or clothes washers are financed, installed, or sold as upgrades through the home builder, the model selected must be qualified pursuant to the federal environmental protection agency's energy star program at the time of offering;
• If front yard landscaping is financed, installed, or sold as upgrades through the home builder and will be maintained by the home owner, either average water use of the landscape must be no more than 10 gallons per square foot per year or turf grass shall not exceed 40% of the landscaped area; and
• Installation of a pressure-reducing valve that limits static service pressure in the residence to a maximum of 60 pounds per square inch.
The bill is assigned to the Transportation and Energy Committee.
HB 1359 - Concerning change of venue in dependency and neglect proceedings, and, in connection therewith, clarifying the role of the county departments of social or human services when jurisdiction over a case is transferred between counties. By Rep. McCann and Sen. Steadman. The bill clarifies the process for transferring jurisdiction over dependency and neglect cases to a different court. In a case where the proceedings were commenced in a county other than the county in which the child resides, the court may transfer the case to the county in which the child resides if the transfer would not be detrimental to the best interests of the child and the child has been adjudicated dependent and neglected or the case has been continued according to certain provisions in law.
An order granting a change of venue and transferring jurisdiction shall be effective 15 days after the court signs the order and must include certain provisions. The court to which jurisdiction is transferred must hold an initial hearing in the case within 30 days after the effective date of the order.
Motions for change of venue must be in writing and mailed to all parties and attorneys of record and to the county attorney of the receiving jurisdiction.
Within 15 days after a court signs an order granting a change of venue and transferring jurisdiction of the case, the transferring county department of social or human services shall provide certain written case information, update all documentation in the case file, including information in the state automated system, provide information concerning the physical location of persons relating to the case, and facilitate the transfer of the case.
Within 15 days after a court signs an order granting a change of venue and transferring jurisdiction of the case, the transferring county attorney's office shall forward a complete copy of the case file, excluding confidential attorney-client communications, to the county attorney's office in the receiving county.
The state department of human services shall promulgate rules relating to the effective transfer of case responsibilities between county departments in change of venue cases.
The bill is assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee.
In the Senate
SB 186 - Concerning state warrants for tax refunds that are not presented for payment within six months from the date of issuance. By Sen. Tochtrop and Rep. Primavera. Legislative Audit Committee. Existing law provides that any amount due and payable as a refund of Colorado income tax represented by a warrant that has not been presented for payment within 6 months from the date of issuance of the warrant and that has been forwarded by the department to the state treasurer is presumed abandoned. The bill expands this requirement to apply to all taxes imposed or assessed by the department. The bill was introduced on March 15 and has been assigned to the Finance Committee.
SB 187 - Concerning workers' compensation. By Sen. Tochtrop and Rep. Riesberg. The bill makes various changes to the "Workers' Compensation Act of Colorado." The bill excludes Medicaid and other indigent health care programs from the purview of health insurance plans, the cost of which is factored into a calculation of wages under the act.
The bill adds a compensable cost under the act by requiring a court to award all reasonable costs (not including attorney fees) to a claimant when medical maintenance benefits that have been recommended by an authorized treating physician but are unpaid and contested are:
• Admitted fewer than 20 days before the date of the hearing; or
• Ordered after the application for hearing on the benefits is filed.
The bill clarifies that the phrase "at the time of injury," with respect to calculation of a worker's average weekly wage, means the wages the worker was earning on the date of the worker's accident.
The bill eliminates permanent partial disability from the types of disabilities for which payments must be reduced under the act in order to offset benefits payable under the federal "Old-age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Amendments of 1965." The bill also repeals the requirement that employees apply for benefits under the federal act upon request by the insurer or employer.
The bill describes some circumstances under which a temporarily disabled employee's rejection of an offer of modified employment does not constitute employee responsibility for termination of employment.
The bill replaces loss of an eye by enucleation on the schedule of specific permanent medical impairment injuries with loss of a tooth, and sets the compensation period for such loss at 6 weeks.
The bill requires the director of the division of workers' compensation in the department of labor and employment to annually adjust, based on his or her annual adjustments to the computation of average weekly wages, the amount of compensation for combined temporary disability payments and permanent partial disability payments. This provision takes effect January 1, 2011.
The bill forbids the director or an administrative law judge from conditioning a lump sum payment on the claimant's waiver of his or her right to pursue permanent total disability payments.
The bill was introduced on March 18 and has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee.
SB 188 - Concerning a prohibition against the imposition of a surcharge for a debit card transaction. By Sen. Penry and Rep. Ferrandino. The bill prohibits a seller or lessor from imposing a surcharge on a holder of a credit card who elects to use the debit card for any sale or lease transaction. The bill was introduced on March 19 and has been assigned to the Business Labor and Technology Committee.