August 20, 2017

Colorado Court of Appeals: “Legal Disability” Means Inability to Bring Lawsuit Due to Some Policy of Law

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in T.D. v. Wiseman on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

“Legal Disability” for Tolling Statute of Limitations—C.R.S. § 13-80-103.7(3.5)(a).

T.D.’s complaint alleged she had endured 10 years of sexual and physical abuse from defendant, her former stepfather. She alleged that she was 7 years old when the abuse began and that it continued until about 1990, when she was in high school. She alleged that the abuse caused her to become dependent on drugs and alcohol, and she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological disorders, self-mutilation, eating disorders, depression, and a cycle of abusive relationships.

In August 2005, T.D. disclosed defendant’s alleged abuse to the doctors who had been treating her. She attempted suicide in 2012. Thereafter she was able to maintain sobriety. T.D. filed a lawsuit in 2015 asserting assault, battery, sexual assault and battery, extreme and outrageous conduct, and false imprisonment. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that T.D.’s claims had accrued in 2005 when she disclosed the alleged abuse to her doctors. Consequently, her claims were time-barred by the six-year statute of limitations in C.R.S. § 13-80-103.7(1). T.D. argued that the record contained genuine issues of material fact concerning whether she had been a “person under disability” until 2012 because of her addictions and psychiatric disorder, so the statute would have been tolled until her disability was lifted. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment, finding no genuine issues of material fact in the record about when her claims accrued or whether the statute of limitations barred those claims.

The court of appeals determined that the issue of when the claim accrued was not properly before it, and assumed it accrued at the latest in 2005. The court then considered whether there was a factual dispute about whether the applicable statute of limitations was tolled because T.D. was a “person under disability.” Under C.R.S. 13-80-103.75(3.5)(a), a “person under disability” is a person who is (1) a minor under 18 (2) “declared mentally incompetent”; (3) “under other legal disability and who does not have a legal guardian”; or (4) “in a special relationship with the perpetrator of the assault” and “psychologically or emotionally unable to acknowledge the assault or offense and the resulting harm.” T.D. was 43 when the trial court granted the summary judgment motion, so she was not a minor from 2005 to 2011, when the statute of limitations was running. The record did not contain disputed facts about whether she was mentally incompetent during the years during which the statute of limitations ran. The court concluded that “legal disability” denotes an inability to bring a lawsuit based on a “policy of the law.” No facts in the record indicated that T.D. lacked the power to timely bring her suit. Lastly, while a familial relationship can constitute a “special relationship,” T.D. did not demonstrate that she was “psychologically or emotionally unable to acknowledge the assault or offense and the resulting harm.”

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Appeals Council Required Only to “Consider” New Evidence of Disability

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Vallejo v. Berryhill on February 28, 2017.

Vallejo applied for supplemental security income benefits alleging that she had been disabled for several months. The US Social Security Administration denied her claim. She received a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ), who issued a decision adverse to Vallejo. The next day, Vallejo’s treating physician, Dr. Ratner, completed his opinion, which stated that Vallejo was bipolar with an extreme level of impairment. Vallejo requested the Appeals Council to review the ALJ’s decision and submitted Ratner’s opinion with her request. The Appeals Council denied review, stating that it considered Ratner’s opinion and additional evidence but found the evidence did not provide a basis for changing the ALJ’s decision. This rendered the ALJ’s decision the Commissioner’s final decision.

Vallejo sought judicial review of the Commission’s final decision. The district court found that the Appeals Council erred in not properly articulating its assessment of Ratner’s opinion in denying Vallejo’s request for review. The court reasoned that the Appeals Council was required to either assign Ratner’s opinion controlling weight or articulate reasons for assigning it a lesser weight. Because neither the ALJ nor the Appeals Council expressly evaluated Ratner’s opinion, the district court reversed the Commissioner’s decision and remanded to the Appeals Council to either determine what weight to give Ratner’s opinion or to remand to an ALJ with directions to make such a determination.

The Tenth Circuit held that it had jurisdiction to hear this appeal because the district court’s remand was a sentence-four remand. The Tenth Circuit held this because the district court did not retain jurisdiction and the remand was not solely for consideration of new evidence that was not before the Commissioner.

The Tenth Circuit addressed the issue of whether the district court’s determination that the Appeals Council failed to apply the correct legal standard was an error.

The Tenth Circuit held that the Appeals Circuit was not required to expressly analyze the new evidence of Ratner’s opinion. Rather, the statutes or regulations only require the Appeals Council to “consider” the new evidence. The Tenth Circuit acknowledges that an express analysis from the Appeals Council would be helpful to judicial review. But, further states that nothing in the statutes or regulations requires the Appeals Council to provide that analysis.

Therefore, the Tenth Circuit reversed the district court’s order reversing the Commissioner’s final decision and remanding to the Appeals Council. The Tenth Circuit remanded to the district court with directions to address Vallejo’s remaining arguments and determine if the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards and if substantial evidence in the administrative record supported the Commissioner’s final decision.

Tenth Circuit: Case Law Does Not Support EEOC’s Request for Broad Subpoena

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. TriCore Reference Laboratories on February 27, 2017.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is empowered to investigate charges of discrimination and enforce both Title VII, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex, including pregnancy, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their disability and requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” to qualified individuals. When investigating charges of discrimination, the EEOC may obtain evidence that relates to unlawful employment practices covered by Title VII and is relevant to the charge under investigation. If the employer refuses to comply, the EEOC may issue a subpoena compelling production. If the employer does not respond to the subpoena, the EEOC may apply to a federal district court for an order compelling the employer to comply.

Kellie Guadiana worked for TriCore Reference Laboratories as a phlebotomist, which is someone who draws blood. She requested accommodations due to her rheumatoid arthritis, which was exacerbated by her pregnancy. TriCore’s human resource department determined Ms. Guadiana could not perform the essential functions of her position safely. The HR department offered her the opportunity to apply to other positions within the company. When Ms. Guadiana did not apply to a new position, TriCore terminated her.

Ms. Guadiana filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC alleging that TriCore discriminated against her due to her disability (rheumatoid arthritis) and sex (pregnancy). TriCore explained to the EEOC that it had provided reasonable accommodations by offering her the chance to apply to a new position within the company. EEOC explained that this was a violation of the ADA because the ADA required TriCore to reassign Ms. Guadiana rather than merely provide her with the opportunity to apply to a new position. TriCore statement led the EEOC to suspect that TriCore had a company policy or practice of refusing to provide reassignment as a reasonable accommodation. Due to this, the EEOC informed TriCore in a letter that it was expanding the scope of its investigation to include the failure to accommodate persons with disabilities and failure to accommodate women with disabilities due to pregnancy.

The EEOC sent TriCore another letter requesting a complete list of TriCore employees who had requested an accommodation for disability and a complete list of TriCore employees who had been pregnant while at TriCore and whether they sought or were granted accommodations. TriCore refused to comply. The EEOC subpoenaed the information. When TriCore refused to comply, the EEOC submitted an application to the US District Court for the District of New Mexico requesting an order to show cause why the subpoena should not be enforced. The district court denied the EEOC’s application noting that the EEOC’s real intent in requesting the information was difficult to pin down.

The issue on appeal was whether the district court erred in declining to enforce the EEOC’s subpoena. The Tenth Circuit reviewed the district court’s decision for abuse of discretion. The Tenth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the enforcement of either the disability request, which the EEOC asserted was relevant to its investigation into whether TriCore had a policy of discrimination (i.e., pattern-or-practice evidence), or the pregnancy request, which EEOC asserted was relevant to the investigation whether TriCore treated Ms. Guadiana less favorably than similarly situated employees (i.e., comparator evidence).

Under U.S.C. §2000e, the EEOC is empowered to investigate charges of discrimination. But the EEOC has the burden to demonstrate the relevancy of the information sought in a subpoena. The Tenth Circuit referenced the Supreme Court’s decision in University of Pennsylvania v. EEOC, when stating the law that the EEOC does not need to provide a “specific reason” for requesting the information. However, the Tenth Circuit further cites that case for the law that the EEOC still bears the burden of showing the relevancy of the subpoenaed information. To do so, the Tenth Circuit held that the EEOC must show that it has a realistic expectation that the information requested would advance the investigation. The EEOC must also establish a link between the EEOC’s investigatory power and the charges of discrimination.

The Tenth Circuit held that the EEOC’s intent was difficult to pin down. With regard to the pattern-or-practice evidence, the Tenth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the EEOC’s request. The Tenth Circuit held that TriCore’s admission that it did not reassign Ms. Guadiana did not justify the EEOC’s expanded investigation beyond its initial investigation into Ms. Guadiana’s individual case. The Tenth Circuit held that the EEOC’s letter informing TriCore of its expanded investigation did not constitute a “charge” of discrimination, which is required under §2000e-8 for the EEOC to seek information about alleged discrimination. The EEOC had not alleged anything suggesting a pattern or practice of discrimination by TriCore. Therefore, the Tenth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding TriCore’s alleged violation of the ADA, without more, was insufficient to warrant the EEOC’s expanded investigation. The EEOC did not satisfy its burden to justify its expanded investigation.

Next, the Tenth Circuit held that the EEOC waived the disability request part of its comparator-evidence argument on appeal. This was due to the fact that the EEOC limited its comparator-evidence argument on appeal to the pregnancy request. Therefore, the Tenth Circuit considered only the pregnancy request.

The Tenth Circuit held that the EEOC’s pregnancy request could seek information that was potentially relevant to Ms. Guadiana’s charge, which could tend to prove she was denied an accommodation on the basis of her disability. However, the EEOC did not present those relevance arguments in district court. Therefore, the Tenth Circuit held that the EEOC failed to meet its burden of explaining how the pregnancy request would offer information relevant to Ms. Guadiana’s charge. The Tenth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding.

Bills Signed Adding Water Right for Industrial Hemp, Amending Collections of Delinquent Taxes on Mobile Homes, Changing Election Laws, and More Signed

Though the legislative session is over, the governor continues to sign bills. He signed two bills on Friday, May 19; three bills on Saturday, May 20; three bills on Sunday, May 21; six bills on Monday, May 22; six bills on Tuesday, May 23; four bills on Wednesday, May 24; 28 bills on Thursday, May 25; one bill on Friday, May 26; and one bill on Tuesday, May 30. To date, the governor has signed 285 bills and vetoed one bill this legislative session. The bills signed since May 19 are summarized here.

Friday, May 19, 2017

  • HB 17-1354“Concerning the Collection of Delinquent Taxes on Certain Mobile Homes,” by Rep. KC Becker and Sens. John Kefalas & Kevin Priola. The bill modifies the county treasurer’s duties in connection with the collection of delinquent taxes on mobile or manufactured homes that are not affixed to the ground.
  • SB 17-305“Concerning Modifications to Select Statutory Provisions Affecting Primary Elections Enacted by Voters at the 2016 Statewide General Election to Facilitate the Effective Implementation of the State’s Election Laws, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Stephen Fenberg & Kevin Lundberg and Reps. Patrick Neville & Mike Foote.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • HB 17-1113“Concerning Electronic Participation in Committee Meetings During the Legislative Interim,” by Reps. Yeulin Willett & Jeni Arndt and Sen. Ray Scott. The bill gives the executive committee of the legislative council the ability to consider, recommend, and establish policies regarding electronic participation by senators or representatives in committee meetings during the legislative interim.
  • HB 17-1258“Concerning Renaming Delta-Montrose Technical College to Technical College of the Rockies,” by Reps. Millie Hamner & Yeulin Willett and Sens. Kerry Donovan & Don Coram. The bill changes the name of ‘Delta-Montrose Technical College’ to ‘Technical College of the Rockies’.
  • SB 17-280“Concerning Extending the Repeal Date of the Colorado Economic Development Commission, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Dan Thurlow & Tracy Kraft-Tharp. The bill extends the Colorado economic development commission by changing the repeal date of its organic statute to July 1, 2025.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

  • HB 17-1003“Concerning a Strategic Action Plan to Address Teacher Shortages in Colorado,” by Rep. Barbara McLaughlin and Sen. Don Coram. The bill requires the Department of Higher Education in partnership with the Department of Education to examine recruitment, preparation, and retention of teachers and to prepare a strategic plan to address teacher shortages in school districts and public schools within the state.
  • HB 17-1077“Concerning the Useful Public Service Cash Fund,” by Rep. Donald Valdez and Sen. Don Coram. The bill creates the useful public service cash fund in the judicial branch to facilitate the administration of programs that supervise the performance of useful public service by persons who are required to perform such service pursuant to a criminal sentence.
  • SB 17-117“Concerning Confirmation that Industrial Hemp is a Recognized Agricultural Product for Which a Person with a Water Right Decreed for Agricultural Use may Use the Water Subject to the Water Right for Industrial Hemp Cultivation,” by Sen. Don Coram and Reps. Donald Valdez & Marc Catlin. The bill confirms that a person with an absolute or conditional water right decreed for agricultural use may use the water subject to the water right for the growth or cultivation of industrial hemp if the person is registered by the Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp for commercial or research and development purposes.

Monday, May 22, 2017

  • HB 17-1104“Concerning the Exclusion from State Taxable Income of the Monetary Value of any Medal Won by an Athlete while Competing for the United States of America at the Olympic Games, so long as the Athlete’s Federal Adjusted Gross Income does not Exceed a Specified Amount,” by Rep. Clarice Navarro and Sen. Kevin Priola. The bill specifies that for the purpose of determining the state income tax liability of an individual, income earned as a direct result of winning a medal while competing for the United States of America at the olympic games is excluded from state taxable income.
  • HB 17-1283“Concerning the Creation of a Task Force to Examine Workforce Resiliency in the Child Welfare System,” by Reps. Jonathan Singer & Dan Nordberg and Sens. John Cooke & Leroy Garcia. The bill creates a task force to organize county-level versions of and guidelines for child welfare caseworker resiliency programs modeled on national resiliency programs.
  • HB 17-1289“Concerning a Requirement that the State Engineer Promulgate Rules that Establish an Optional Streamlined Approach to Calculate the Historical Consumptive Use of a Water Right,” by Reps. Donald Valdez & Chris Hansen and Sens. Larry Crowder & Don Coram. The bill directs the state engineer to promulgate rules that take into account local conditions that an applicant can use to calculate historical consumptive use.
  • SB 17-074“Concerning the Creation of a Pilot Program in Certain Areas of the State Experiencing High Levels of Opioid Addiction to Award Grants to Increase Access to Addiction Treatment, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Leroy Garcia and Rep. Daneya Esgar. The bill reates the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) expansion pilot program, administered by the University of Colorado College of Nursing, to expand access to medication-assisted treatment to opioid-dependent patients in Pueblo and Routt counties.
  • SB 17-105“Concerning Consumers’ Right to Know their Electric Utility charges by requiring investor-owned electric utilities to provide their customers with a comprehensive breakdown of cost on their monthly bills,” by Sen. Leroy Garcia and Reps. Daneya Esgar & KC Becker. The bill requires an investor-owned electric utility to file with the public utilities commission for the commission’s review a comprehensive billing format that the investor-owned electric utility has developed for its monthly billing of customers.
  • SB 17-153“Concerning Establishment of the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission to Oversee the Preservation and Expansion of Amtrak Southwest Chief Rail Service in Colorado and Facilitate the Development and Operation of a Front Range Passenger Rail System that Provides Passenger Rail Service In and Along the Interstate 25 Corridor,” by Sens. Larry Crowder & Leroy Garcia and Rep. Daneya Esgar. The bill replaces the existing southwest chief rail line economic development, rural tourism, and infrastructure repair and maintenance commission, the current statutory authorization for which expires on July 1, 2017, with an expanded southwest chief and front range passenger rail commission.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

  • HB 17-1248“Concerning the Funding of Colorado Water Conservation Board Projects, and, in Connection Therewith, Making Appropriations,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sens. John Cooke & Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill appropriates the following amounts from the Colorado Water Conservation Board construction fund to the CWCB or the Division of Water Resources for certain projects.
  • HB 17-1279“Concerning the Requirement that a Unit Owners’ Association Obtain Approval Through a Vote of Unit Owners Before Filing a Construction Defect Action,” by Reps. Alec Garnett & Lori Saine and Sens. Lucia Guzman & Jack Tate. The bill requires that, before the executive board of a unit owners’ association (HOA) in a common interest community brings suit against a developer or builder on behalf of unit owners based on a defect in construction work not ordered by the HOA itself, the board must notify the unit owners, call a meeting of the executive board, and obtain approval of a majority of unit owners.
  • HB 17-1280“Concerning Conforming Colorado Statutory Language Related to Disability Trusts to the Federal ’21st Century Cures Act’,” by Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet & Dave Young and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill conforms Colorado statutory language relating to the creation of a disability trust to conform to the language established in the federal ’21st Century Cures Act’. Specifically, it clarifies that the individual who is the beneficiary of a disability trust can also be the person who establishes such trust.
  • HB 17-1353“Concerning Implementing Medicaid Initiatives that Create Higher Value in the Medicaid Program Leading to Better Health Outcomes for Medicaid Clients, and, in Connection Therewith, Continuing the Implementation of the Accountable Care Collaborative and Authorizing Performance-based Provider Payments,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. The bill authorizes the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to continue its implementation of the medicaid care delivery system, referred to as the accountable care collaborative (ACC).
  • SB 17-209“Concerning Access to the Ballot by Candidates,” by Sen. Kevin Priola and Rep. Mike Weissman. The bill makes various changes to the laws governing access to the ballot.
  • SB 17-232“Concerning Continuation under the Sunset Law of the Bingo-Raffle Advisory Board, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2016 Sunset Report of the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Sen. Stephen Fenberg and Rep. Paul Rosenthal. The bill The bill implements the recommendations of the sunset review and report on the licensing of bingo and other games of chance through the Secretary of State.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

  • HB 17-1155“Concerning the Ability to Cure Campaign Finance Reporting Deficiencies Without Penalty,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill requires the Secretary of State to give notice to the particular committee by e-mail of deficiencies alleged in a complaint pursuant to the campaign finance provisions of the state constitution or the ‘Fair Campaign Practices Act’ (FCPA).
  • HB 17-1317“Concerning the Authority of the State Historical Society to Dispose of Real Property Located on the Former Lowry Air Force Base,” by Reps. Daneya Esgar & Chris Hansen and Sens. John Kefalas & Randy Baumgardner. The bill grants the state historical society the authority to sell a vacant cold storage facility located on the former Lowry Air Force base.
  • HB 17-1342“Concerning Authorization for a County to Submit a Ballot Question for a County Public Safety Improvements Tax at a Biennial County or November Odd-year Election,” by Rep. Adrienne Benavidez and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill authorizes a county to submit a ballot question at a biennial county election or an election held in November of an odd-numbered year.
  • HB 17-1356“Concerning the Temporary Authority of the Colorado Economic Development Commission to Allow Certain Businesses to Treat Specific Existing Income Tax Credits Differently,” by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Daneya Esgar and Sens. Leroy Garcia & Jack Tate. The bill allows the Colorado economic development commission to allow certain businesses that make a strategic capital investment in the state, subject to a maximum amount, and subject to the requirements of the specified income tax credits, to treat any of the following income tax credits allowed to the business as either carryforwardable for a five-year period or as transferable under certain circumstances.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

  • HB 17-1072: “Concerning Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude,” by Reps. Lois Landgraf & Polly Lawrence and Sen. John Cooke. The bill amends the language defining the crime of human trafficking for sexual servitude to include that a person who knowingly advertises, offers to sell, or sells travel services that facilitate activities defined as human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude commits the offense of human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude. ‘Travel services’ are defined in the bill.
  • HB 17-1190“Concerning the Limited Applicability of the Colorado Supreme Court’s Decision in St. Jude’s Co. v. Roaring Fork Club, LLC, 351 P.3d 442 (Colo. 2015),” by Rep. KC Becker and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill provides that the decision in the St. Jude’s Co. case interpreting section 37-92-103(4) does not apply to previously decreed absolute and conditional water rights or claims pending as of July 15, 2015. The interpretation of section 37-92-103 (4) in St. Jude’s Co. applies only to direct-flow appropriations, without storage, filed after July 15, 2015, for water diverted from a surface stream or tributary groundwater by a private entity for private aesthetic, recreational, and piscatorial purpose.
  • HB 17-1209“Concerning Peace Officer Designation for the Manager of the Office of Prevention and Security Within the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in the Department of Public Safety,” by Reps. Jovan Melton & Terri Carver and Sens. Rhonda Fields & John Cooke. The bill designates as a peace officer the manager of the office of prevention and security within the division of homeland security and emergency management in the department of public safety.
  • HB 17-1223“Concerning the Creation of a Fraud Reporting Hotline to be Administered by the State Auditor, and, in Connection Therewith, Establishing Referral and Reporting Processes and State Auditor Investigative Authority,” by Reps. Lori Saine & Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Sens. Cheri Jahn & Tim Neville. The bill requires the state auditor to establish and administer a telephone number, fax number, email address, mailing address, or internet-based form whereby any individual may report an allegation of fraud committed by a state employee or an individual acting under a contract with a state agency. This system is referred to in the bill as the ‘fraud hotline’ or ‘hotline’ and any report to the hotline as a ‘hotline call’.
  • HB 17-1238“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to Debt Management and Collection Services from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. Chris Holbert. The bill relocates the laws related to debt management and collection services from articles 14, 14.1, 14.3, and 14.5 of title 12.
  • HB 17-1239“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to Private Occupational Schools from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Cole Wist and Sen. Lucia Guzman. The bill creates a new article 64 in title 23 of the Colorado Revised Statutes and relocates the repealed provisions of article 59 of title 12 of the Colorado Revised Statutes to that article 64 and repeals article 59 of title 12 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.
  • HB 17-1240“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to the Department of Public Health and Environment from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Cole Wist and Sen. John Cooke. The bill relocates Article 29.3 of title 12 to part 6 of article 1.5 of title 25 and Article 30 of title 12 to article 48 of title 25.
  • HB 17-1243“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to Wholesale Sales Representatives from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Yeulin Willett and Sen. Lucia Guzman. The bill relocates article 66 of title 12, which relates to wholesale sales representatives, to title 13.
  • HB 17-1244: “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to Cemeteries from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill relocates article 12 of title 12, which relates to cemeteries, to title 6.
  • HB 17-1245“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to Public Establishments from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Daniel Kagan. The bill relocates parts 1 and 3 of article 44 of title 12, which relate to public establishments, to title 6.
  • HB 17-1251“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by Higher Education Agencies to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Dan Nordberg and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill addresses the reporting requirements of higher education agencies.
  • HB 17-1255: “Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of a Report by the Board of Veterans Affairs to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Dan Nordberg and Sen. Andy Kerr. The bill continues indefinitely a reporting requirement of the board of veterans affairs.
  • HB 17-1257: “Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Natural Resources to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill continues indefinitely reporting requirements of the Department of Natural Resources that were scheduled to repeal according to section 24-1-136(11)(a)(I).
  • HB 17-1265“Concerning an Increase in the Total Employer Contribution for Employers in the Judicial Division of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association,” by Reps. KC Becker & Dan Nordberg and Sens. Andy Kerr & Kevin Priola. For the calendar year beginning in 2019, for the judicial division only, the bill increases the AED to 3.40% of total payroll and requires the AED payment to increase by 0.4% of total payroll at the start of each of the following 4 calendar years through 2023.
  • HB 17-1267“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by Educational Agencies to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill addresses the reporting requirements of educational agencies.
  • HB 17-1295“Concerning the Repeal of the Governor’s Office of Marijuana Coordination,” by Rep. Bob Rankin and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill repeals the office of marijuana coordination, effective July 1, 2017.
  • HB 17-1298: “Concerning the Date by Which the State Personnel Director is Required to Submit the Annual Compensation Report,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. The bill changes the deadline for submission of the state personnel director’s annual report to September 15 of each year beginning with the 2017 report.
  • HB 17-1346“Concerning the Sale of More Than Fifteen Acres of Land at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for the Expansion of Fort Logan National Cemetery,” by Rep. Susan Lontine and Sen. Owen Hill. The bill grants the Department of Human Services authority to execute a land sale, at fair market value, to sell 51 additional acres, or up to 66 acres. The bill specifies that the proceeds of the sale of the additional 51 acres to the United States department of veterans affairs must be credited to the Fort Logan land sale account in the capital construction fund.
  • SB 17-222“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to Fireworks from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Sen. John Cooke and Rep. Yeulin Willett. The bill relocates article 28 of title 12, which relates to fireworks, to a new part 20 of article 33.5 of title 24, which title pertains to the department of public safety.
  • SB 17-225“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to Farm Products from Title 12 of the Colorado Revised Statutes as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Sen. John Cooke and Rep. Yeulin Willett. The bill relocates part 2 of article 16 of title 12, the ‘Commodity Handler Act’, to article 36 of title 35; and part 1 of article 16 of title 12, the ‘Farm Products Act’, to article 37 of title 35.
  • SB 17-228“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of the Laws Related to Licenses Granted by Local Governments from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Cole Wist. The bill relocates article 18 of title 12, which relates to dance halls, to title 30, which pertains to counties; article 25.5 of title 12, which relates to escort services, to title 29, which relates to local governments; and relocates article 56 of title 12, which relates to pawnbrokers, to title 29.
  • SB 17-242“Concerning Modernizing Terminology in the Colorado Revised Statutes Related to Behavioral Health,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Reps. Kim Ransom & Joann Ginal. The bill updates and modernizes terminology in the Colorado Revised Statutes related to behavioral health, mental health, alcohol abuse, and substance abuse.
  • SB 17-243“Concerning the Continuation under the Sunset Law of the Motorcycle Operator Safety Training Program by the Director of the Office of Transportation Safety in the Department of Transportation, and, in Connection Therewith, Transferring the Operation of the Program to the Chief of the State Patrol Beginning in 2018,” by Sens. Nancy Todd & Randy Baumgardner and Rep. Dominique Jackson. The bill continues the motorcycle operator safety training program for 3 years, until 2020.
  • SB 17-279“Concerning Clarification of the Applicability Provisions of Recent Legislation to Promote an Equitable Financial Contribution Among Affected Public Bodies in Connection with Urban Redevelopment Projects Allocating Tax Revenues,” by Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Rachel Zenzinger and Reps. Matt Gray & Susan Beckman. The bill clarifies the applicability provisions of legislation enacted in 2015 and 2016 to promote an equitable financial contribution among affected public bodies in connection with urban redevelopment projects allocating tax revenues.
  • SB 17-291“Concerning Continuation of the School Safety Resource Center Advisory Board,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Rep. Jeff Bridges. The bill implements the recommendations of the sunset review and report on the school safety resource center advisory board by eliminating the repeal date of the board and extending the board through September 1, 2022.
  • SB 17-293“Concerning Updating the Reference to a National Standard Setting Forth Certain Specifications Applicable to the Type of Paper Used to Publish the Colorado Revised Statutes,” by Sen. Daniel Kagan and Rep. Pete Lee. The bill updates the statutory reference to the current applicable alkaline minimum reserve requirements and acidity levels for uncoated paper as established by the American national standards institute and the national information standards organization.
  • SB 17-294“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Revision of Statutes in the Colorado Revised Statutes, as Amended, and, in Connection Therewith, Amending or Repealing Obsolete, Imperfect, and Inoperative Law to Preserve the Legislative Intent, Effect, and Meaning of the Law,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Pete Lee. The bill amends, repeals, and reconstructs various statutory provisions of law that are obsolete, imperfect, or inoperative. The specific reasons for each amendment or repeal are set forth in the appendix to the bill.
  • SB 17-304“Concerning the Authority of the Joint Technology Committee,” by Sens. Angela Williams & Beth Martinez Humenik and Reps. Dan Thurlow & Jonathan Singer. The bill adds definitions of ‘cybersecurity’ and ‘data privacy’ for the purposes of the joint technology committee. In addition, the bill modifies the definition of ‘oversee’ for the purposes of the committee to be consistent with other statutory provisions.

Friday, May 26, 2017

  • SB 17-254“Concerning the Provision for Payment of the Expenses of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Departments of the State of Colorado, and of its Agencies and Institutions, For and During the Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 2017, Except as Otherwise Noted,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill provides for the payment of expenses of the executive, legislative, and judicial departments of the state of Colorado, and of its agencies and institutions, for and during the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017, except as otherwise noted.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

  • SB 17-267“Concerning the Sustainability of Rural Colorado,” by Sens. Lucia Guzman & Jerry Sonnenberg and Reps. KC Becker & Jon Becker. The bill creates a new Colorado healthcare affordability and sustainability enterprise (CHASE) within the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF), effective July 1, 2017, to charge and collect a healthcare affordability and sustainability fee that functions similarly to the repealed hospital provider fee. Because CHASE is an enterprise for purposes of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), its revenue does not count against the state fiscal year spending limit.

For a list of the governor’s 2017 legislative actions, click here.

Tenth Circuit: Disability Appeals Council Not Required to Expressly Evaluate Treating Physician’s Report

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Vallejo v. Berryhill on February 28, 2017.

Vallejo applied for supplemental security income benefits alleging that she had been disabled for several months. The Social Security Administration denied her claim. She received a hearing with an administrative law judge, who issued a decision adverse to Vallejo. The next day, Vallejo’s treating physician, Dr. Ratner, completed his opinion, which stated that Vallejo was bipolar with an extreme level of impairment. Vallejo requested the Appeals Council to review the ALJ’s decision and submitted Ratner’s opinion with her request. The Appeals Council denied review, stating that it considered Ratner’s opinion and additional evidence but found the evidence did not provide a basis for changing the ALJ’s decision. This rendered the ALJ’s decision the Commissioner’s final decision.

Vallejo sought judicial review of the Commission’s final decision. The district court found that the Appeals Council erred in not properly articulating its assessment of Ratner’s opinion in denying Vallejo’s request for review. The court reasoned that the Appeals Council was required to either assign Ratner’s opinion controlling weight or articulate reasons for assigning it a lesser weight. Because neither the ALJ nor the Appeals Council expressly evaluated Ratner’s opinion, the district court reversed the Commissioner’s decision and remanded to the Appeals Council to either determine what weight to give Ratner’s opinion or to remand to an ALJ with directions to make such a determination.

The Tenth Circuit held that it had jurisdiction to hear this appeal because the district court’s remand was a sentence-four remand. The Tenth Circuit held this because the district court did not retain jurisdiction and the remand was not solely for consideration of new evidence that was not before the Commissioner.

The Tenth Circuit addressed the issue of whether the district court’s determination that the Appeals Council failed to apply the correct legal standard was an error.

The Tenth Circuit held that the Appeals Circuit was not required to expressly analyze the new evidence of Ratner’s opinion. Rather, the statutes or regulations only require the Appeals Council to “consider” the new evidence. The Tenth Circuit acknowledges that an express analysis from the Appeals Council would be helpful to judicial review. But, further states that nothing in the statutes or regulations requires the Appeals Council to provide that analysis.

Therefore, the Tenth Circuit reversed the district court’s order reversing the Commissioner’s final decision and remanding to the Appeals Council. The Tenth Circuit remanded to the district court with directions to address Vallejo’s remaining arguments and determine if the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards and if substantial evidence in the administrative record supported the Commissioner’s final decision.

Bills Signed Adding Disabilities to Bias-Motivated Harassment, Clarifying Vehicle Title Transfers on Death, and More

On Wednesday, May 3, 2017, the governor signed 14 bills into law. To date, the governor has signed 209 bills and vetoed one bill this legislative session. Some of the bills signed Wednesday include a bill to clarify the process for vehicle title transfers on death, a bill adding disabilities to bias-motivated harassment laws, a bill allowing mandatory reporters access to reports of abuse, a bill extending the agricultural water leasing pilot project, and more. The bills signed Wednesday are summarized here.

  • HB 17-1150“Concerning Disallowing a Court from Granting Bail After Conviction to Offenders who have Committed Certain Felony Crimes,” by Rep. Clarice Navarro and Sen. Owen Hill. The bill adds to the list of crimes for which bail is not allowed a second or subsequent conviction for stalking that occurs within 7 years after the date of a prior offense for which the person was convicted; stalking when there was a protection order, injunction, or condition of bond, probation, or parole or any other court order in effect that protected the victim from the person; and any offense that includes an act of domestic violence if the defendant at the time of sentencing has been previously convicted of three or more prior offenses that included an act of domestic violence.
  • HB 17-1185“Concerning Reports of Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect,” by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Jim Smallwood. The bill adds officials and employees of county departments of health, human services, or social services to the list of mandatory reporters and specifies that if a mandatory reporter continues to be involved with the child for whom he or she has filed a report, the reporter is entitled to access to records and reports of the abuse or neglect.
  • HB 17-1188“Concerning Bias-Motivated Harassment,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sens. Dominick Moreno & Don Coram. The bill adds physical or mental disability and sexual orientation to the categories described in the harassment statute to make the statute consistent with Colorado’s law concerning bias-motivated crimes.
  • HB 17-1213“Concerning the Transfer of a Vehicle Title Upon the Death of the Vehicle’s Owner,” by Rep. Kevin Van Winkle and Sen. Chris Holbert. The bill amends the law regarding transfers of vehicle titles on death by clarifying that the Division of Motor Vehicles shall oversee the process, and clarifying that a personal representative or successor is not liable for obtaining a new certificate of title or for transferring title to the vehicle absent actual knowledge of the existence of a valid, unrevoked beneficiary designation form.
  • HB 17-1217“Concerning the Governance Structure of the State Historical Society,” by Reps. Faith Winter & Lori Saine and Sens. Jim Smallwood & Kerry Donovan. The bill repeals certain obsolete provisions of the statutes governing the structure of the State Historical Society and changes the language from establishing the council to allowing the board to establish the council.
  • HB 17-1219“Concerning an Extension of the Agricultural Water Leasing Pilot Program Administered by the Colorado Water Conservation Board,” by Reps. Jeni Arndt & Barbara McLaughlin and Sens. Kerry Donovan & Larry Crowder. The bill extends the agricultural water leasing pilot program.
  • HB 17-1233“Concerning Protection of the Historical Consumptive Use Analysis of a Water Right Involved in a Water Conservation Program,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill applies a rule statewide that provides that the reduced water usage that results from participation in a government-sponsored water conservation program will not be considered in analyzing the historical consumptive use of the water right.
  • SB 17-148“Concerning the Continuation of the Office of Boxing in the Division of Professions and Occupations in the Department of Regulatory Agencies, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2016 Sunset Report of the Department of Regulatory Agencies and Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Kevin Priola and Rep. Alec Garnett. The bill continues the Office of Boxing and vests the Director of the Division of Professions and Occupations with licensing authority.
  • SB 17-214“Concerning the Creation of the Voluntary Firefighter Cancer Benefits Program,” by Sens. Leroy Garcia & Jim Smallwood and Reps. Brittany Pettersen & Tony Exum. The bill allows an employer to participate in a voluntary firefighter cancer benefits program, as a multiple employer health trust to provide benefits to firefighters by paying contributions into the established trust.
  • SB 17-227: “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to Attorneys-at-Law from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Sen.  Bob Gardner and Rep. Mike Foote. The bill relocates Article 5 of Title 12, “Attorneys-at-Law,” to a new Article 93 in Title 13, Colorado Revised Statutes.
  • SB 17-247“Concerning the Qualifications of Electricians, and, in Connection Therewith, Allowing Only persons who have Passed the Written Residential Wireman’s Examination to Act as Residential Inspectors and Waiving the Continuing Education Requirement During the First License Period for an Electrician who Passed the Appropriate Written Examination,” by Sen. Kevin Priola and Rep. Don Coram. The bill waives the continuing education requirement, otherwise applicable upon every renewal or reinstatement of an electrician’s license, for the first renewal or reinstatement of the license of an electrician who passed the appropriate written examination in connection with his or her initial license application.
  • SB 17-258“Concerning the Use of Open Educational Resources in Public Institutions of Higher Education, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Kevin Lundberg and Rep. Bob Rankin. The bill creates the Open Educational Resources Council in the Department of Higher Education. The bill directs the Department to contract with an entity to evaluate the existing use of open educational resources by public institutions of higher education.
  • SB 17-259“Concerning a Transfer of Money from the General Fund to Cash Funds Administered by State Departments for the Protection of the State’s Natural Resources,” by Sen. Kevin Lundberg and Rep. Bob Rankin. The bill requires the state treasurer to transfer money from the general fund to certain state departments.
  • SB 17-268“Concerning an Increase in the Number of Pharmacy Technicians a Pharmacist may Supervise,” by Sens. Andy Kerr & Jim Smallwood and Reps. Joann Ginal & Kim Ransom. The bill allows a pharmacist to supervise up to 6 pharmacy technicians.

For a list of all of the governor’s 2017 legislative decisions, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Administrative Fire Chief Engaged in Fire Protection Duties Under FPPA

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Dolan v. Fire & Police Pension Association on Thursday, April 20, 2017.

FirefighterInjuryOccupational Disability BenefitsFire and Police Pension AssociationPolicemen’s and Firemen’s Pension Reform ActFire ChiefAmended Complaint.

Dolan joined North Metro Fire Rescue in 1986, and in 2007, he sustained an injury that prevented him from passing the physical tests for firefighting duties. After approximately two years of attempted rehabilitation, North Metro terminated Dolan. Dolan promptly filed for occupational disability benefits with the Fire and Police Pension Association (FPPA).

While working for North Metro, Dolan also worked for the Elk Creek Fire Protection District: he was Elk Creek’s paid fire chief from 1998 through 2003; he returned as a volunteer in 2008; and in 2010, he was again hired as a paid fire chief.

Dolan initially received disability benefits, but these were later revoked based on a finding that because his position at Elk Creek had involved fire protection, he was ineligible for benefits under the Policemen’s and Firemen’s Pension Reform Act (the Act). A hearing officer recommended that Dolan repay the benefits he received after he signed his employment contract with Elk Creek in 2010, and the FPPA’s Board of Director’s (Board) affirmed the recommendation. Dolan filed for C.R.C.P. review of the Board’s decision in district court and also asserted several common law claims against FPPA. The district court affirmed the Board’s decision. Dolan then moved to amend his complaint, which was denied as untimely, and a trial was held on his remaining common law claims. The court found for FPPA and entered final judgment against Dolan.

On appeal, Dolan argued that the Board and the district court misapplied the law in discontinuing his disability benefits because, since his termination from North Metro, he was never re-employed in a position directly involved with the provision of fire protection under the Act. Re-employment in a full-time salaried position that directly involves the provision of fire protection precludes a firefighter from collecting disability benefits. Because Dolan acted in a command capacity at the scenes of fires and accidents, the hearing officer concluded it was not necessary to find that he was involved in “hands on” firefighting or medical care to conclude that his position was directly involved with the provision of fire protection. The Board adopted the hearing officer’s conclusions of fact and law that Dolan’s duties as Elk Creek fire chief directly involved fire protection. Because nothing in the Act suggests that re-employment at a position directly involved with the provision of fire protection must be limited to physically fighting fires, the district court and the Board did not misapply the law in determining that Dolan was no longer eligible for disability benefits after re-employment at Elk Creek.

Dolan also argued that the district court erred in denying his motion to amend his complaint when it determined his claim was untimely. Dolan sought leave to amend his complaint on August 30, 2013, approximately one year after he filed his initial complaint, seven months after the district court initially found in favor of the FPPA, and four months after the district court finalized its C.R.C.P. 106 order. Because Dolan presented the district court with an as-applied challenge to the FPPA regulations, the court correctly determined that claim was time barred by C.R.C.P. 106(b). Further, even if Dolan’s claim presented a facial challenge to the FPPA regulations, the court’s denial of his claim was not error because Dolan failed to show that his delay in bringing the claim was justified.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Experience Interactive “People in Crisis” Exercise at the Criminal Law Spring Update

Often, people come to lawyers during a period of crisis, looking to their lawyer for assistance and comfort. Perhaps they are newly unemployed, or have lost a loved one, or are going through a contentious divorce. Or perhaps the client is experiencing poverty and all its attendant problems. While lawyers may be familiar intellectually with the statistics of poverty, many have not actually experienced it.

This year’s Criminal Law Spring Update is a unique interactive simulation of clients in crisis. Each participant will assume the role of a family member with limited resources. Some participants will be newly unemployed, some will have been recently deserted by the “breadwinner,” and some will be senior citizens living on fixed incomes or raising grandchildren. The participants will be tasked with providing for basic necessities and shelter with limited resources.

This program is designed to provide perspective to attorneys whose clients may be experiencing similar situations. The exercise will let participants experience some of the emotional stresses and frustrations created by having limited resources, as well as the difficult choices people with few resources feel they may need to make in order to survive. The program will begin with an introduction, move into the simulation, and then have a debriefing period in which participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences and talk about what they have learned during the exercise. The afternoon will be a more traditional CLE program, where we will discuss bond and sentencing issues, and how poverty affects these issues.

Register now for this unique opportunity to experience the effects of poverty on legal issues from the client’s perspective. Call (303) 860-0608 to register or click the links below.

 

CLELogo

CLE Program: Criminal Law Spring Update – LIVE ONLY!

This CLE presentation will occur on May 2, 2017, at the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center (2 E. 14th Ave. in Denver), from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Register for the live program here. You may also call (303) 860-0608 to register.

Bills Regarding Hearsay Exception, Free Speech on College Campuses, Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, and More Signed

On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, the governor signed 16 bills into law. He also signed 14 bills into law on March 30, and 12 bills on March 23. To date, the governor has signed 122 bills into law.

Some of the bills recently signed include a bill clarifying the hearsay exception for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, a bill correcting the Colorado Uniform Trust Decanting Act, a bill clarifying that a juvenile court has jurisdiction to issue civil protection orders in dependency and neglect cases, a bill clarifying a student’s right to free speech on college campuses, and more. The bills signed since March 23 are summarized here.

April 4, 2017

  • HB 17-1051“Concerning Modernization of the Colorado ‘Procurement Code’,” by Reps. Bob Rankin & Alec Garnett and Sens. Andy Kerr & Don Coram. The bill reviews the entirety of the Colorado Procurement Code and makes several updates in an effort to modernize the Code.
  • HB 17-1101“Concerning the Creation of the Youth Corrections Monetary Incentives Award Program in the Division of Youth Corrections,” by Rep. Paul Rosenthal and Sens. Nancy Todd & Kevin Priola. The bill authorizes the Division of Youth Corrections to establish, at its discretion, a youth corrections monetary incentives award program. The purpose of the program is to provide monetary awards and incentives for academic, social, and psychological achievement to juveniles who were formerly committed to the Division to assist and encourage them in moving forward in positive directions in life.
  • HB 17-1103“Concerning a State Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Historic Aircraft on Loan for Public Display,” by Reps. Dan Nordberg & Dan Pabon and Sens. Dominick Moreno & Bob Gardner. The bill creates a state sales and use tax exemption for a historic aircraft that is on loan for public display, demonstration, educational, or museum promotional purposes in the state provided certain conditions are met.
  • HB 17-1107“Concerning the Implementation of a New Computer System by the Division of Motor Vehicles to Facilitate the Division’s Administration of the Operation of Motor Vehicles in the State,” by Reps. Dan Thurlow & Jeff Bridges and Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik. The bill makes statutory changes regarding implementation of a new computer system.
  • HB 17-1109“Concerning Prosecuting in One Jurisdiction a Person who has Committed Sexual Assaults Against a Child in Different Jurisdictions,” by Reps. Terri Carver & Jessie Danielson and Sens. John Cooke & Rhonda Fields. The bill allows a prosecutor to charge and bring a pattern-offense case for all such assaults in any jurisdiction where one of the acts occurred, rather than prosecuting each act in the jurisdiction in which it occurred.
  • HB 17-1111“Concerning Allowing Juvenile Courts to Enter Civil Protection Orders in Dependency and Neglect Cases,” by Rep. Susan Beckman and Sen. Rhonda Fields. The bill clarifies that the juvenile court has jurisdiction to enter civil protection orders in dependency and neglect actions in the same manner as district and county courts. The court must follow the same procedures for the issuance of the civil protection orders and use standardized forms.
  • HB 17-1149“Concerning Special License Plates Issued to Members of the United States Military who Served in the United States Army Special Forces,” by Reps. Tony Exum & Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill clarifies which individuals are eligible for a U.S. Army Special Forces license plate.
  • HB 17-1151“Concerning the Regulation of Electrical Assisted Bicycles,” by Reps. Chris Hansen & Yeulin Willett and Sens. Owen Hill & Andy Kerr. The bill defines electrical assisted bicycles and enacts several regulations regarding manufacture, labeling, and government oversight of such bicycles.
  • HB 17-1152: “Concerning the Authority of a Federal Mineral Lease District to Manage a Portion of the Direct Distribution of Money from the Local Government Mineral Impact Fund to Counties for the Benefit of Impacted Areas,” by Reps. Yeulin Willett & Diane Mitsch Bush and Sen. Ray Scott. The bill gives a federal mineral lease district the option to invest a portion of the funding it receives from the local government mineral impact fund in a fund.
  • SB 17-015“Concerning the Unlawful Advertising of Marijuana,” by Sen. Irene Aguilar and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill makes it a level 2 drug misdemeanor for a person not licensed to sell medical or retail marijuana to advertise for the sale of marijuana or marijuana concentrate.
  • SB 17-016“Concerning the Optional Creation of a Child Protection Team by a County,” by Sens. Cheri Jahn & Tim Neville and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Dan Nordberg. The bill allows counties and groups of contiguous counties to choose whether to establish a child protection team, at the discretion of the county director or the directors of a contiguous group of counties.
  • SB 17-048“Concerning Requiring an Officer to Arrest an Offender who Escapes from an Intensive Supervision Program in the Department of Corrections,” by Sen. John Cooke & Rep. Yeulin Willett. The bill requires a peace officer who believes that an offender in an intensive supervision program has committed an escape by knowingly removing or tampering with an electronic monitoring device to immediately seek a warrant for the offender’s arrest or arrest the offender without undue delay if the offender is in the presence of the officer.
  • SB 17-062“Concerning the Right to Free Speech on Campuses of Public Institutions of Higher Education,” by Sen. Tim Neville and Reps. Jeff Bridges & Stephen Humphrey. The bill prohibits public institutions of higher education from limiting or restricting student expression in a student forum, and prohibits those institutions for penalizing free speech.
  • SB 17-066“Concerning Clarifying Retroactively the Authority of a Municipality to Employ a Police Force without Going Through Sunrise Review,” by Sens. Rhonda Fields & John Cooke and Reps. Steve Lebsock & Lori Saine. The bill clarifies that municipalities may employ a police force without going through the review process for groups seeking peace officer status.
  • SB 17-076“Concerning Authority to Spend Money in the Public School Performance Fund,” by Sen. Kevin Priola and Rep. James Coleman. The bill allows the Department of Education to spend money received as gifts, grants, and donations for monetary awards to certain high-performing public schools and in purchasing tangible items of recognition for the schools.
  • SB 17-125“Concerning Allowing Certain Persons who Have Been Exonerated of Crimes to Receive in Lump-Sum Payments Compensation that is Owed to Them by the State,” by Sen. Lucia Guzman and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill allows an exonerated person to elect to receive the remaining balance of the state’s duty of compensation in a lump sum rather than periodic payments.

March 30, 2017

  • HB 17-1059: “Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Public Safety to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill continues indefinitely statutory reporting requirements.
  • HB 17-1076“Concerning Rule-making by the State Engineer Regarding Permits for the Use of Water Artificially Recharged into Nontributary Groundwater Aquifers,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sens. Stephen Fenberg & Don Coram. The bill adds a requirement that the state engineer promulgate rules for the permitting and use of waters artificially recharged into nontributary groundwater aquifers.
  • HB 17-1147“Concerning Defining the Purposes of Community Corrections Programs,” by Rep. Lang Sias and Sen. Daniel Kagan. The bill statutorily defines the purpose of community corrections as to further all purposes of sentencing and improve public safety.
  • HB 17-1180: “Concerning Requirements for the Tuition Assistance Program for Students Enrolled in Career and Technical Education Certificate Programs,” by Reps. Faith Winter & Polly Lawrence and Sens. Andy Kerr & Tim Neville. The bill allows students in technical education programs to receive tuition assistance even if they do not meet credit hour requirements for the federal Pell grant program.
  • SB 17-024“Concerning the Hearsay Exception for Persons with an Intellectual and Developmental Disability when a Defendant is Charged with a Crime Against an At-risk Person,” by Sen. Rhonda Fields and Rep. Dave Young. The bill clarifies that the hearsay exception for a person with an intellectual and developmental disability applies if the defendant is charged under the increased penalties for crimes against at-risk persons.
  • SB 17-031“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Corrections to the General Assembly,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Jeni Arndt. The bill continues indefinitely reporting requirements for the Department of Corrections and makes other changes.
  • SB 17-033“Concerning the Authority of a Professional Nurse to Delegate Dispensing Authority for Over-the-Counter Medications,” by Sen. Irene Aguilar and Rep. Polly Lawrence. The bill allows a professional nurse to delegate to another person, after appropriate training, the dispensing authority of an over-the-counter medication to a minor with the signed consent of the minor’s parent or guardian.
  • SB 17-073“Concerning Promotion of the Runyon-Fountain Lakes State Wildlife Area,” by Sen. Leroy Garcia and Rep. Donald Valdez. The bill directs stakeholders interested in the Runyon-Fountain lakes state wildlife area (including the Colorado division of parks and wildlife, the city of Pueblo, and the Pueblo conservancy district) to cooperatively engage in a long-term process to promote the maximum beneficial development and maintenance of the area.
  • SB 17-110“Concerning Expanding the Number of Unrelated Children to No More than Four to Qualify for License-exempt Family Child Care,” by Sens. Larry Crowder & John Kefalas and Reps. James Wilson & Jessie Danielson. The bill expands the circumstances under which an individual can care for children from multiple families for less than 24 hours without obtaining a child care license.
  • SB 17-122“Concerning the Duties of the Fallen Heroes Memorial Commission, and, in Connection Therewith, Repealing the Commission and Shifting all Remaining Responsibilities to the State Capitol Building Advisory Committee,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Terri Carver & Jessie Danielson. The bill repeals the fallen heroes memorial commission and requires the state capitol building advisory committee to take on any remaining duties of the commission.
  • SB 17-123“Concerning a High School Diploma Endorsement for Biliteracy,” by Sens. Rachel Zenzinger & Kevin Priola and Reps. James Wilson & Millie Hamner. The bill authorizes a school district, BOCES, or institute charter high school to grant a diploma endorsement in biliteracy to a student who demonstrates proficiency in English and at least one foreign language.
  • SB 17-124“Concerning a Correction to the ‘Colorado Uniform Trust Decanting Act’,” by Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Dominick Moreno and Reps. Edie Hooten & Dan Nordberg. The bill changes one reference to the second trust to the first trust to conform with the Uniform Law Commission’s corrected version of the Act.
  • SB 17-134“Concerning the Exclusion of Certain Areas of an Alcohol Beverage Licensee’s Operation in the Application of Penalties for Certain Violations,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Dan Nordberg & Leslie Herod. The bill limits penalties for violations relating to the sale of alcohol beverages to a visibly intoxicated or underage person that occur in a sales room for licensees operating a beer wholesaler, winery, limited winery, or distillery, or in a retail establishment, for licensees operating a brew pub, vintner’s restaurant, or distillery pub.
  • SB 17-194“Concerning an Exception to the Statutory Deadlines for Making Income Tax Refunds for Returns Suspected of Refund-related Fraud,” by Sen. Tim Neville and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill specifies that if the department of revenue makes a determination, in good faith, that there is a suspicion of identity theft or other refund-related fraud, then the statutory deadlines do not apply.

March 23, 2017

  • HB 17-1015: “Concerning Clarifying the Manner in Which Reductions of Inmates’ Sentences are Administered in County Jails,” by Rep. Edie Hooten and Sen. John Cooke. The bill clarifies and consolidates various statutory sections concerning reductions of sentences for county jail inmates.
  • HB 17-1040: “Concerning Authorizing the Interception of Communication Relating to a Crime of Human Trafficking,” by Reps. Paul Lundeen & Mike Foote and Sens. Cheri Jahn & Kevin Priola. The bill adds human trafficking to the list of crimes for which a judge can issue an order authorizing the interception of certain communications.
  • HB 17-1044“Concerning Autocycles, and, in Connection Therewith, Clarifying that an Autocycle is a Type of Motorcycle and Requiring Autocycle Drivers and Passengers to Use Safety Belts and, if Applicable, Child Safety Restraints,” by Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush and Sen. Nancy Todd. The bill amends the definition of “autocycle” and amends the restraint requirements for autocycles.
  • HB 17-1048“Concerning the Prosecution of Insurance Fraud,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Jim Smallwood. The bill amends language describing the criminal offense of insurance fraud.
  • HB 17-1065“Concerning a Clarification of Requirements Governing the Formation of Metropolitan Districts, and, in Connection Therewith, Limiting the Inclusion of Agricultural Land Within a Metropolitan District Providing Park and Recreational Services and Clarifying Signature Requirements Governing Judicial Approval of a Petition for Organization of a Proposed Special District,” by Rep. Kimmi Lewis and Sen. Vicki Marble. The bill subjects metropolitan districts to certain limitations regarding parks and recreation and clarifies which signatures can be counted by the district court in determining validity.
  • HB 17-1071“Concerning a Process for Repayment of Certain Criminal Monetary Amounts Ordered by the Court to be Paid Following Conviction,” by Reps. Cole Wist & Pete Lee and Sens. Daniel Kagan & Bob Gardner. The bill establishes a process for a defendant who has paid a monetary amount due for a criminal conviction in a district or county court to request a refund of the amount paid if the conviction was overturned or the restitution award was reversed.
  • HB 17-1092“Concerning Contracts Involving License Royalties with Proprietors of Retail Establishments that Publicly Perform Music,” by Rep. Steve Lebsock and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill expands the law covering contracts between performing rights societies and proprietors of retail establishments to cover investigations and negotiations between the two.
  • HB 17-1133“Concerning the Annual Report on Filing-Office Rules by the Secretary of State,” by Reps. Dan Nordberg & Edie Hooten and Sens. Dominick Moreno & Jack Tate. The bill repeals the requirement that the secretary of state annually report to the governor and legislature regarding filing-office rules promulgated under the “Uniform Commercial Code – Secured Transactions.”
  • HB 17-1136“Concerning Consistent Statutory Language for Electronic Filing of Taxes,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill changes the EFT and electronic filing requirements in the taxation statutes for consistency, specifying in all cases that the department may require EFT and electronic filing and that the department may promulgate rules to implement EFT and electronic filing.
  • HB 17-1148“Concerning Applications for Registration to Cultivate Industrial Hemp,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. John Cooke. The bill adds a requirement to existing registration requirements that applicants to cultivate industrial hemp for commercial purposes provide the names of each officer, director, member, partner, or owner of 10% or more in the entity applying for registration and any person managing or controlling the entity.
  • HB 17-1157“Concerning Reliance by a Financial Institution on a Certificate of Trust,” by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Dan Nordberg and Sen. Kevin Priola. The bill requires trustees to provide additional information in a certificate of trust when trustees open a trust deposit account and permits the bank to rely on the certificate of trust absent knowledge of fraud.
  • SB 17-008“Concerning Legalizing Certain Knives,” by Sen. Owen Hill and Rep. Steve Lebsock. The bill removes gravity knives and switchblades from the definition of illegal weapons.

For a list of the governor’s 2017 legislative decisions, click here.

Electronic Court Notice Bill, Increase of Life Insurance Exemption Bill, Subpoena Clarifications Bill, and More Signed Monday.

On Monday, March 20, 2017, the governor signed 17 bills into law. To date, he has signed 80 bills this legislative session. Some of the bills signed Monday include a bill increasing the exemption amount for a cash surrender of life insurance, a bill authorizing the fiduciary of an endowment fund to distribute principal under a unitrust election, a bill allowing an attorney general or district attorney to issue a subpoena for people engaged in deceptive trade practices, a bill allowing court clerks to electronically notice parties, and a bill increasing the appropriation to the Department of Law for providing legal services to the Department of Education. The bills signed Monday are summarized here.

  • HB 17-1023“Concerning a Clarification of Procedures for Subpoenas for Deceptive Trade Practices,” by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Cole Wist and Sens. Chris Holbert & Lois Court. The bill clarifies that the attorney general or a district attorney may issue a subpoena pursuant to C.R.C.P. 4 to a person whom he or she has reasonable cause to believe has engaged or is engaging in a deceptive trade practice in violation of Colorado statute.
  • HB 17-1039“Concerning Communication Issues Related to Restorative Justice,” by Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. Daniel Kagan. The bill allows the district attorney to consent to an assessment for suitability for participation in restorative justice practices, including victim-offender conferences, as part of a recommended sentence in a plea bargain.
  • HB 17-1041“Concerning Measures to Inform Students of Education Opportunities Leading to Jobs,” by Rep. Phil Covarrubias and Sen. Kevin Priola. The bill requires schools to inform students of military enlistment as a path to educational opportunities.
  • HB 17-1056“Concerning the Eligibility of a Veterans’ Service Organization to Accept Public Service Assignments Offered in Connection with Misdemeanor Sentencing,” by Rep. Michael Weissman and Sens. Bob Gardner & Andy Kefalas. The bill expands the criteria for organizations that may accept community or useful public service assignments to include veterans’ service organizations organized under 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(19) of the tax code, and specifies that the court or other entity making the assignment retains discretion to determine which organizations may be included in its program of community or useful public service.
  • HB 17-1061“Concerning Modification of the Class of Vehicles that is Subject to Regulation as Commercial Vehicles,” by Reps. Jon Becker & Jovan Melton and Sens. Nancy Todd & Ray Scott. The bill increases the minimum weight for classification as a commercial vehicle subject to the statutory and regulatory standards for commercial vehicles from 10,001 pounds to 16,001 pounds unless the vehicle is registered for use in interstate commerce.
  • HB 17-1093“Concerning an Increase in the Exemption for the Cash Surrender Value of Life Insurance,” by Rep. Kim Ransom and Sen. Daniel Kagan. The bill increases the exemption for cash surrender value of life insurance policies to $250,000.
  • HB 17-1096“Concerning Endowment Care Funds Administered for Cemetery Authorities,” by Rep. Larry Liston and Sen. Jim Smallwood. The bill authorizes the fiduciary of an endowment fund to distribute principal, such as capital gains, under a unitrust election.
  • HB 17-1135“Concerning the Portability of Employment Background Checks for a Child Care Worker who Works for the Same Common Ownership Entity,” by Rep. Jeff Bridges and Sen. Kevin Priola. The bill allows a child care worker who is employed in a licensed facility that is wholly owned, operated, and controlled by a common ownership group or school district to use a single completed fingerprint-based criminal history record check and a check of the records and reports of child abuse or neglect to satisfy the requirements of the necessary background checks if the employee also works for or transfers to another licensed facility.
  • HB 17-1142“Concerning Notices of Certain Court Proceedings,” by Rep. Dominique Jackson and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill allows the clerk of the court to send notice by first-class mail or electronically using the e-filing system of the judicial department.
  • HB 17-1143“Concerning Audits of Correspondence Sent to Medicaid Clients,” by Rep. Lois Landgraf and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill directs the Office of the State Auditor to conduct or cause to be conducted an audit of client correspondence, including letters and notices, sent to clients or potential clients in Medicaid programs.
  • SB 17-011“Concerning the Creation of a Technical Demonstration Forum to Study Solutions to Improve Transportation Access for People with Disabilities,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Polly Lawrence. The bill creates a technical demonstration forum consisting of eight members to study and document how advanced technologies can improve transportation access for people with disabilities.
  • SB 17-041“Concerning Employment Contracts for Positions at Institutions of Higher Education that are Funded by Revenue Generated from Auxiliary Activities,” by Sen. Kevin Priola and Reps. Yeulin Willett & Edie Hooten. The bill exempts certain positions at institutions of higher education from limits for employment contract terms or amounts.
  • SB 17-060“Concerning Relocation of the Colorado Student Leaders Institute from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to the Department of Higher Education, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing an Appropriation,” by Sen. Nancy Todd and Rep. James Wilson. The bill relocates the Colorado Student Leaders Institute to the Department of Higher Education with no changes to the program.
  • SB 17-077“Concerning the Eligibility of Certain Government Agencies to Apply for a Special Event Permit to Sell Alcohol Beverages,” by Sen. Cheri Jahn and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Yeulin Willett. The bill authorizes certain agencies to obtain a special event permit to sell alcohol beverages for a limited period.
  • SB 17-109“Concerning the Use of Industrial Hemp in Products Designed for Consumption,” by Sen. Kerry Donovan and Rep. Jeni Arndt. The bill creates a group under the commissioner of agriculture to study the feasability of including hemp products in animal feed.
  • SB 17-196“Concerning the Improvement of the Department of Law’s Information Technology Security,” by Sen. Kevin Lundberg and Rep. Dave Young. The bill increases the appropriation to the Department of Law to improve the Department’s information technology security based on an external auditor’s recommendations.
  • SB 17-197“Concerning the Provision of Legal Services for the Department of Education in the 2016-17 State Fiscal Year,” by Sen. Kevin Lundberg and Rep. Dave Young. The bill increases the amount of reappropriated funds that are appropriated to the Department of Law for the purpose of providing additional legal services for the Department of Education.

For a list of the governor’s 2017 legislative actions, click here.

Run, Walk, Roll — Support Disability Law Colorado at This Year’s Colfax Marathon

Doing good has never been so fun! Support Disability Law Colorado by running, walking, or rolling in the Colfax Marathon. There is a race for everyone — there is a family 5K on Saturday, May 20, 2017 (dogs are welcome!), and on Sunday there is a 10 miler, half-marathon, full marathon, and corporate marathon relay.

The marathon relay is a great way to connect with your coworkers while getting out in the beautiful Colorado sunshine. You even get a medal at the finish! Just find five people for your team and register at www.runcolfax.org. Make sure to select Disability Law Colorado as your charity partner.

If running doesn’t sound so fun, you can still support Disability Law Colorado by making a tax-deductible donation. Contact Julie Busby at (303) 862-3505 for more details.

Tenth Circuit: Honest Belief Doctrine Allows Employee to Challenge Honesty of Employer’s Stated Reason for Termination

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Dewitt v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Company on Wednesday, January 18, 2017.

After her employment was terminated by Southwestern Bell Telephone Company (SWBTC) in 2010, Janna Dewitt filed a lawsuit against her former employer claiming unlawful discrimination and failure to accommodate her disability in violation of the American Disability Act, as well as a retaliation claim in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of SWBTC on all three claims, and Dewitt appealed.

Dewitt worked as a customer service representative in the call center of SWBTC. When Dewitt was hired she disclosed her diagnosis of Type I diabetes to her employer, who allowed her to take breaks as needed to eat and check her insulin levels. During Dewitt’s employment she took FMLA leave occasionally for health reasons, but generally avoided taking FMLA leave as it was looked upon unfavorably by SWBTC. After Dewitt violated SWBTC’s company policy for a second time by hanging up on two customers, SWBTC initiated a review and ultimately terminated Dewitt. Dewitt contends that she does not recall hanging up on the customers, as she was experiencing dangerously low blood sugar levels.

The court applied the burden-shifting framework first laid out in McDonnell-Douglas Corp. v. Green, which articulates a three-prong test for evaluating employment claims: (1) the claimant must show a prima facie case of retaliation or discrimination; (2) if the claimant presents a prima facie case, then if the employer can show a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the action against the employee, the burden shifts back to the claimant to show that (3) there is a genuine issue of material fact as to if the employer’s reason for the action was merely pretext.

As to Dewitt’s first claim that SWBTC terminated her because of her disability, the court affirms the district court’s grant of summary judgment. The court looked to SWBTC’s process in evaluating the hang-ups, and stated that SWBTC’s termination was made based on their honest belief and in good faith due to Dewitt’s conduct, not because of her disability. Dewitt requests that the court decline to apply the honest belief doctrine, claiming that it “eviscerates the third prong of the McDonnell-Douglas test.” The court declines to do so, stating that the honest belief doctrine works to allow the employee to challenge the honesty of the employer’s stated reasoning for the action against the employee.

Next, Dewitt claims that SWBTC failed to accommodate her disability by not excusing the dropped phone calls. The court affirms the grant of summary judgment as to this claim as well, stating that an employer is not required to retroactively accommodate a disability where the employee has not previously requested an accommodation, and Dewitt never raised the concern prior to the incident with SWBTC that her diabetes could cause her to drop calls. The court added that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s own guidance refutes Dewitt’s claim that her past conduct should be overlooked, as the guidance states “an employer is not required to excuse past misconduct even if it is the result of the individual’s disability.”

Finally, regarding Dewitt’s third claim of retaliation by SWBTC against her for taking FMLA leave, the court also affirms the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of SWBTC. The court held that because SWBTC offered a legitimate reason for terminating Dewitt, her hanging up on customers, Dewitt was required to show that this reason was mere pretext for firing her due to her disability. While Dewitt offered testimony that FMLA leave was discouraged and another supervisor disliked her, neither witness was involved in her actual termination. Therefore, the court determined that Dewitt’s evidence did not sufficiently establish a question as to if SWBTC’s stated reason for terminating her was merely pretext to terminate her employment due to her disability.

The court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on all three of Dewitt’s employment claims.