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Feb. 10

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In this issue:   Feb. 10, 2014
eLegislative Report from Michael Valdez

Welcome to the 2014 edition of the CBA e-legislative report. This CBA member benefit will be delivered to your Inbox on Monday afternoons and will recap legislation from the current legislative session and the role the CBA plays at the State Capitol.

In addition to updates on the positions taken by the CBA through our Legislative Policy Committee the e-leg report will highlight legislation that is of interest to the practicing bar.

We welcome your feedback. We welcome your questions. Or just drop me a line on how we are doing or raise an issue on a piece of legislation. Contact me at mavaldez@cobar.org.

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CBA Legislative Policy Committee

For readers who are new to CBA legislative activity, the Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) is the CBA’s legislative policy-making arm during the legislative session. The LPC meets weekly during the legislative session to determine CBA positions on requests from the various sections and committees of the Bar Association.

At the meeting on Friday, Feb. 7, the CBA LPC:

  • Voted to oppose HB 14-1153. Concerning attorney fees when an action is dismissed prior to trial.

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At the Capitol—Week of Jan. 3

A scorecard of the committee and floor work follows.

In the House

Monday, Feb. 3

Passed on 3rd Reading:

  • HB 14-1026. Concerning the authorization of flexible water markets. Vote: 47 yes, 13 no, and 5 excused.

Tuesday, Feb. 4

Passed on 3rd Reading:

  • HB 14-1047. Concerning restrictions on the publishing of basic identification information on commercial web sites. Vote: 45 yes, 19 no, and 1 excused.
  • HB 14-1079. Concerning an increase in the monetary amount allowed for the limited offering registration procedure under the “Colorado Securities Act.” Vote: 64 yes, 0 no, and 1 excused.
  • HB 14-1069. Concerning district commissions on judicial performance. Vote: 62 yes, 2 no, and 1 excused.
  • HB 14-1051. Concerning a strategic plan for enrolling all eligible persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities into programs at the time services and supports are needed, and, in connection therewith, requiring the department of health care policy and financing to develop and implement the strategic plan and to report annually on the number of persons waiting for services and supports. Vote: 64 yes, 0 no, and 1 excused.
  • HB 14-1010. Concerning corrections to statutory provisions relating to the prescribed burning program administered by the division of fire prevention and control in the department of public safety. Vote: 64 yes, 0 no, and 1 excused.

Thursday, Feb. 6

Passed on 3rd Reading:

  • HB 14-1052. Concerning an increase in the enforcement authority of ground water management districts. Vote: 38 yes, 24 no, and 3 excused.
  • HB 14-1146. Concerning a prohibition against greyhound racing in Colorado. Vote: 39 yes, 23 no, and 1 excused.

In the Senate

Monday, Feb. 3

Passed on 3rd Reading:

  • SB 14-84. Concerning the election of a county commissioner in a county with a population of less than seventy thousand by the voters residing in the district from which the commissioner runs for election. Vote: 35 yes and 0 no.
  • SB 14-59. Concerning eliminating the statute of limitations for offenses that accompany sex offenses that are not subject to a statute of limitations. Vote: 30 yes and 5 no.
  • HB 14-1019. Concerning the enactment of Colorado Revised Statutes 2013 as the positive and statutory law of the state of Colorado. Vote: 21 yes and 14 no.
  • SB 14-80. Concerning the elimination of the list of certain additional qualifications that apply to property valuation appeal arbitrators. Vote: 35 yes and 0 no.

Tuesday, Feb. 4

Passed on 3rd Reading:

  • SB 14-63. Concerning the mandatory review of existing executive branch agency rules conducted by each principal department. Vote 33 yes and 2 absent.

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10 Bills of Interest
House Bills

HB 14-1073. Concerning the recording of legal documents.

By Rep. Pabon

The bill makes the following modifications to various statutory provisions involving the recording of deeds or other legal documents:

  • Current statutory provisions governing the issuance of bonds by a school district provide that the bonds are required to be registered by a county clerk and recorder (clerk). The bill eliminates the existing fee of $25 charged for the registration and specifies that the amount of the fee is the amount required to be paid under general provisions authorizing a clerk to impose a fee for filing or recording.
  • In connection with the Colorado Open Records Act, the bill removes from the group of records that may only be inspected by a person in interest records of an application for a marriage or a civil union license.
  • Existing statutory provisions providing the right of inspection of abstract books and related papers give abstractors, title insurance personnel, and others the opportunity to subscribe on an annual basis for a daily copy in bulk of all documents recorded and filed. The bill eliminates the ability to subscribe on an annual basis.
  • The bill specifies when a document is deemed to be received, accepted, or recorded. With respect to recorded documents, the bill requires the clerk to keep record of any reception number, volume, film, or page that is unused, and to immediately make entry into the clerk’s index. Finally, this section of the bill generally obligates the clerk to record any document by the end of business on the next business day and to keep record of the name of the recipient of the delivery of a recorded document.
  • The bill modifies existing statutory provisions governing the process of filing with the clerk an order dissolving a special district. In such circumstances, where there are no remaining funds of the district, this section of the bill permits the division of local government to claim an existing statutory exemption from payment of recording fees at the time the document is offered for recording.
  • The bill establishes that a verification of death document may be filed with the clerk as an alternative to a death certificate in connection with legal proceedings adjudicating an interest in real property of a person who is deceased.
  • Current statutory provisions provide grounds under which the clerk is not required to return the original release of a deed of trust. The bill also permits the clerk to retain the original release where it is electronically recorded. Under current law, a documentary fee is charged upon the conveyance of real property and the clerk is required to establish payment of the fee by imprinting evidence of payment on each document to which the fee applies. The bill alternately permits the clerk to establish payment of the fee in the recording annotation.
  • Under current law, a documentary fee is charged upon the conveyance of real property and the clerk is required to establish payment of the fee by imprinting evidence of payment on each document to which the fee applies. The bill of the bill alternately permits the clerk to establish payment of the fee in the recording annotation.

The bill passed second reading in the House on Friday, Feb. 7.

HB 14-1075. Concerning a reduction in the deferral of unemployment insurance benefits for individuals separated from employment due to the unsuitability of the work after accepting work while unemployed.

By Rep. Melton

The bill reduces the deferral of unemployment insurance benefits to claimants who, while on unemployment, accept work and then separate from that work because it is unsuitable within 30 days after accepting the work and apply again for unemployment insurance benefits. The current deferral penalty is 10 weeks. The bill reduces the deferral period in these situations to the period of time the claimant worked prior to the separation. The bill is assigned to the Business, Labor, Economic, & Workforce Development Committee.

HB 14-1086. Concerning a requirement that a legal notice published in a newspaper is also published on a statewide web site maintained by a majority of Colorado newspapers.

By Rep. Murray and Sen. Jones

Any newspaper that publishes legal notices is required, at no additional cost, to also place each notice on a statewide web site established and maintained by an organization representing a majority of Colorado newspapers as a repository for the notices. The bill cleared the House on Jan. 29 and is assigned to the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.

HB 14-1095. Concerning the Colorado bureau of investigation’s authority to investigate computer crime.

By Rep. Kagan and Sen. Newell

The bill requires the Colorado bureau of investigation (bureau) to:

  • Conduct criminal investigations relating to computer crime;
  • Develop and collect information with regard to computer crime in an effort to identify, charge, and prosecute criminal offenders and enterprises that unlawfully access and exploit computer systems and networks and report such information to the appropriate law enforcement organizations. The bureau must also provide awareness training and information concerning cyber-security and security risks to the information technology critical infrastructure industry.
  • Prepare annual reports concerning any activities of computer crime in Colorado for use by local or federal law enforcement officials or the governor.

On Jan. 28, the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill and moved it to the Committee on Appropriations.

HB 14-1107. Concerning the authority of the department of revenue to offer taxpayers the option to receive electronic notices.

By Rep. Tyler and Sen. Newell

Current law requires first-class mailing for any notices that must be given to any taxpayer. The bill allows the department of revenue the flexibility to offer taxpayers the option to receive electronic communications rather than requiring the department to send notices by first-class mail. The bill is assigned to the Finance Committee.

Senate Bills

SB 14-62. Concerning reinstatement of the parent-child legal relationship.

By Sen. Guzman and Rep. Foote

This bill creates a process for reinstatement of the parent-child legal relationship (reinstatement) in limited circumstances for a child whose parent's rights have previously been terminated voluntarily or involuntarily. A county department of social services (county department) or the child’s guardian ad litem may file a petition for reinstatement alleging the following:

  • The child is 12 years of age or older or is younger than 12 years of age and is part of a sibling group including a child for whom reinstatement is being sought and who also meets the other conditions for reinstatement; Both the child and the former parent consent to the petition for reinstatement;
  • The child does not have a legal parent, is not in an adoptive placement, and is not likely to be adopted within a reasonable period of time, and other permanency options have been exhausted;
  • The child is in the custody of a county department;
  • The date of the final order terminating the parent-child legal relationship was at least 3 years before the filing of the petition or, if the court finds that it is in the best interests of the child to consider reinstatement of the parent-child legal relationship, less than three years from the final order of termination; and
  • The termination of the parent-child legal relationship was not based on findings of sexual abuse or on an incident of egregious abuse or neglect against a child, a near fatality, or a suspicious fatality or near fatality.

A child who is 16 years of age or older, or his or her guardian ad litem, may also file a petition for reinstatement of the parent-child legal relationship. The bill requires the county department or the guardian ad litem to contact the other party if a former parent contacts one of them about filing a petition for reinstatement. A former parent who is named in a petition for reinstatement is entitled to the appointment of legal counsel, if eligible, or may retain counsel at his or her expense.

The bill requires the court to hold an initial hearing to determine whether certain threshold conditions for pursuing reinstatement have been satisfied.

  • The former parent has remediated the problems that led to the termination of the parent-child legal relationship, if applicable; and
  • The former parent has participated in an assessment that supports that the reinstatement of the parent-child legal relationship is in the best interests of the child.

At the initial hearing on the petition, the court shall either dismiss the petition or enter an order finding that the threshold conditions for pursuing reinstatement have been met and that it is in the best interests of the child to work toward reinstatement of the parent-child legal relationship. If the court finds that working toward reinstatement is in the best interests of the child, then the court must approve a transition plan for reinstatement of the parent-child legal relationship, including visitation or placement of the child with the former parent for a designated trial period of up to six months while the child remains in the custody of the county department.

At the final hearing, the court must make certain findings and may either dismiss the petition, continue the matter for another hearing, or grant the petition and order the reinstatement of the parent-child legal relationship if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interests of the child.

The bill states the effect of reinstatement. The bill further states that granting the petition for reinstatement does not vacate or otherwise affect the validity of the original order terminating the parent-child legal relationship and that granting a petition for reinstatement for one former parent does not restore or otherwise impact the rights of the other former parent.

The bill states that this statutory process does not create a cause of action against the county department or its employees concerning the original order terminating the parent-child legal relationship. The bill also states that this statutory process should not be construed to limit or alter the protections of a governmental entity or its employees under the “Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.”

A county department, guardian ad litem, or other person filing a petition for reinstatement must file the petition in the county or city and county that has legal custody of the child.

On Jan. 27, the Judiciary Committee amended the bill and sent it to the Appropriations Committee. The Appropriations Committee approved the bill on Feb. 7 and sent it to the floor for consideration on 2nd Reading.

SB 14-64. Concerning restricting the use of long-term isolated confinement for inmates with serious mental illness.

By Sen. Ulibarri and Sen. Salazar

The bill requires the department of corrections to review the status of all offenders held in long-term isolated confinement within 90 days after the effective date of the bill. If the review determines that the offender is seriously mentally ill, the department shall move the offender from long-term isolated confinement to a mental health step-down unit, prison mental hospital, or other appropriate housing that does not include long-term isolated confinement. The department may not place a seriously mentally ill offender in long-term isolated confinement and must do a mental health evaluation prior to placing an inmate in long-term isolated confinement prior to placement to determine whether the placement is allowed.

The bill dictates the type and manner that discipline is applied to seriously mentally ill inmates. The bill provides seriously mentally ill inmates with the opportunity for therapy and out-of-cell time.

The bill is assigned to the Judiciary Committee.

SB 14-75. Concerning the registration of motor vehicles for members of the United States armed forces who are deployed outside the United States.

By Sen. Baumgartner and Rep. Sonnenberg

The act exempts a member of the United States armed forces from paying the basic motor vehicle registration fees and authorizes payment of an alternate specific ownership tax of $1 if the person is deployed outside the United States for a full year. The vehicle may not be driven during this time. If the person is not deployed for a whole year, the basic fees and taxes are prorated. If the person has already paid the fees at the time of deployment, the department credits the fees towards succeeding years.

On Feb. 4, the Transportation Committee amended the bill and sent it to the Finance Committee.

SB 14-84. Concerning the election of a county commissioner in a county with a population of less than seventy-thousand by the voters residing in the district from which the commissioner runs for election.

By Sen. Roberts and Rep. Coram

In a county with a population of less than 70,000, the board of county commissioners currently consists of three members from three separate districts, with one commissioner elected from each district by the voters of the whole county.

The bill allows the voters of a county to change the method of election so that a commissioner is elected only by voters residing in the district from which the commissioner runs for election.

The change can be made either by the board of county commissioners referring a question to the voters or by the qualified electors filing a petition to have the question placed on the ballot. Terms of current commissioners are not affected and the change only affects newly elected commissioners.

The bill cleared the Senate on Feb. 3 and has been assigned to the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee in the House.

SB 14-96. Concerning renaming state veterans nursing homes to veterans community living centers to more accurately reflect the wide array of services provided to state veterans.

By Sen. Crowder and Rep. Exum

The bill changes the terms “state veterans nursing home” and “state nursing home” throughout statute to “veterans’ community living center” and “veterans center” to more accurately reflect the wide array of services provided by these facilities to meet the multiple needs of veterans and their families in Colorado. On Feb. 5, the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee approved the bill and sent it to the Senate’s Consent Calendar for 2nd Reading.