May 23, 2018

Colorado Supreme Court: Aspen’s Bag Surcharge is Cost Aimed at Waste Reduction, Not Tax Subject to TABOR

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Colorado Union of Taxpayers Foundation v. City of Aspen on Monday, May 21, 2018.

Taxation—Constitutional Law—Local Government Law.

The supreme court considered whether a $0.20 charge on paper bags is a tax subject to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). The court held that if the primary purpose of a charge is to raise revenue for the general expenses of government, the charge is a tax. Conversely, the court concluded that a charge is not a tax if the primary purpose of a charge is to defray the reasonable direct and indirect costs of providing a service or regulating an activity, because such a charge does not raise revenue for the general expense of government.

After analyzing the charge in this case, the court held that this charge is not a tax. Aspen imposed this charge as part of a regulatory program aimed at waste management, and the $0.20 charge for the right to use a paper bag bears a reasonable relationship to Aspen’s cost of permitting that use. Because this charge is a not a tax, it is exempt from TABOR’s requirements.

The court affirmed the court of appeals’ judgment.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Bills Signed Modifying Public Trustee Foreclosure Process, Lowering Mandatory Parole for Certain Felonies, and More

On Monday, April 23, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed 20 bills into law. To date, he has signed 169 bills and sent one to the Secretary of State without a signature. Some of the bills signed Monday include a bill modifying the Public Trustee Foreclosure process, a bill lowering mandatory parole for certain felonies, a bill allowing discretionary parole of special needs offenders, and more. The bills signed Monday are summarized here.

  • HB 18-1008 – “Concerning the Financing of the Division of Parks and Wildlife’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating an Aquatic Nuisance Species Stamp for the Operation of Motorboats and Sailboats in Waters of the State, Increasing Penalties Related to the Introduction of Aquatic Nuisance Species into the Waters of the State, and Combining Two Separate Funds Related to the Aquatic Nuisance Species Program into One Fund,” by Reps. Daneya Esgar & Jeni James Arndt and Sens. Kerry Donovan & Don Coram. The bill updates a legislative declaration concerning aquatic nuisance species to encourage the federal government to dedicate sufficient funding and resources to the detection, prevention, control, and eradication of aquatic nuisance species for federally owned or managed aquatic resources and water infrastructure in Colorado.
  • HB 18-1025 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to the Regulation of Alcohol Beverages from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, to a New Title 44 as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sens. John Cooke & Bob Gardner. The bill creates Title 44 and relocates laws related to the regulation of alcohol beverages to the new Title 44.
  • HB 18-1029 – “Concerning Lowering the Period of Mandatory Parole from Five Years to Three Years for Certain Felony Offenses,” by Rep. Mike Weissman and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. Under current law, the length of a mandatory parole sentence for a class 2 and 3 felony is 5 years. The bill lowers the length of mandatory parole for a class 2 felony if the offense is not a crime of violence and a class 3 felony to 3 years.
  • HB 18-1047 – “Concerning Technical Modifications to the ‘Fair Campaign Practices Act’ to Facilitate its Administration,” by Rep. Susan Lontine and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill makes technical modifications to the “Fair Campaign Practices Act” (FCPA) to facilitate its administration.
  • HB 18-1065 – “Concerning Discipline of a Department of Human Services Employee when the Employee is Found to have Mistreated a Vulnerable Person,” by Reps. Susan Beckman & Janet Buckner and Sens. Kent Lambert. Current law specifies when an employee of the Department of Human Services will be suspended or dismissed after being charged with specified criminal offenses. However, the Department has encountered difficulty in suspending, dismissing, or otherwise disciplining employees through the administrative process when the employee was involved in an egregious incident of mistreatment of a vulnerable person but was not convicted of a criminal offense. The bill specifies that in considering a disciplinary action against an employee for engaging in mistreatment, abuse, neglect, or exploitation, against a vulnerable person, the appointing authority shall give weight to the safety of vulnerable persons over the interests of any other person.
  • HB 18-1098 – “Concerning the Expanded Ability of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to Finance the Remediation of Oil and Gas Locations,” by Reps. Lori Saine & Matt Gray and Sen. Vicki Marble. Under current practice, expenditures by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to address the mitigation of adverse environmental impacts of oil and gas operations are paid from the environmental response account of the oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund, and the year-end balance of the account transfers into the fund. The bill specifies that the year-end balance of the account remains in the account.
  • HB 18-1109 – “Concerning Discretionary Parole of Special Needs Offenders,” by Rep. Mike Weissman and Sen. John Cooke. The bill makes several changes to the process of determining parole for special needs offenders.
  • HB 18-1191 – “Concerning a Local Authority’s Ability to Alter Speed Limits Within the Local Authority’s Jurisdiction,” by Rep. Faith Winter and Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & John Kefalas. Current law requires county and municipal authorities (authorities) to conduct a traffic investigation or survey before increasing or decreasing the speed limits within the authority’s jurisdiction. The bill allows the authority to also consider certain other factors.
  • HB 18-1227 – “Concerning the Authority of the Real Estate Commission to Issue Licenses for an Initial Period of Less than Three Years,” by Reps. Leslie Herod & Cole Wist and Sen. John Cooke. The bill authorizes the Real Estate Commission to issue licenses that expire on December 31 of the year of issuance.
  • HB 18-1242 – “Concerning the Salary Categorization of Locally Elected Officers in Specified Counties,” by Reps. KC Becker & Donald Valdez and Sens. Larry Crowder & Randy Baumgardner. Current law categorizes each county for purposes of establishing the salaries of elected county officials in the county. The statutory salary amounts are adjusted every 2 years for inflation and take effect for terms commencing after any change is made. The bill modifies the categories of 4 counties with the accompanying percentage increase in salary.
  • HB 18-1254 – “Concerning the Modification of the Foreclosure Process on Property that is Encumbered by a Deed of Trust,” by Rep. Kevin Van Winkle and Sen. Jim Smallwood. The bill makes several modifications to the public trustee foreclosure process, including eliminating the authority of the holder’s attorney to specify a newspaper for publication, allowing an amended combined notice to be omitted in certain circumstances, modifying the amounts of deposits required for fees and costs of the public trustee, and more.
  • HB 18-1327 – “Concerning the All-Payer Health Claims Database, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill authorizes the General Assembly to appropriate general fund money to the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to pay for expenses related to the all-payer health claims database.
  • HB 18-1330 – “Concerning a Supplemental State Payment Relating to Certain Office-Administered Oncology-Related Drugs for Qualified Providers under the Medical Assistance Program who Experienced a Reduction in Reimbursement Payments in the 2017-18 State Fiscal Year as a Result of the Implementation of the Federal Final Rules for Covered Outpatient Drugs, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill authorizes a supplemental payment of state-only money to providers under the medicaid program of certain office-administered drugs relating to oncology who experienced a decrease in aggregate reimbursements in the 2017-18 fiscal year as a result of the implementation of the federal department of health and human services final rule for covered outpatient drugs, 81 FR 5169, published in the federal register on February 1, 2016.
  • SB 18-014 – “Concerning Requiring the Department of Corrections to Disclose the Location of Inmates who are Relocated to Facilities Outside of the State,” by Sens. Rhonda Fields & John Cooke and Reps. Cole Wist & Leslie Herod. The bill states that if the Department of Corrections relocates an inmate for incarceration or contracts with another state for the incarceration of an inmate in a penal institution in another state, then not later than 48 hours after such relocation, the Department shall notify the prosecuting attorney and any registered victim of crimes for which the inmate is serving his or her sentence of the name and location of the penal institution where the inmate is to be housed, with certain exceptions.
  • SB 18-026 – “Concerning Measures to Make Sex Offender Registration More Effective,” by Sen. Daniel Kagan and Reps. Pete Lee, Leslie Herod, and Yeulin Willett. The bill makes several changes to the sex offender registration process.
  • SB 18-055 – “Concerning the Crimes Against Children Surcharge in Cases Involving Trafficking of Children,” by Sen. Tim Neville and Reps. Kevin Van Winkle & Edie Hooten. Current law requires each person who is convicted of a crime against a child to pay a surcharge to the clerk of the court for the judicial district in which the conviction occurs. The bill adds the crime of human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude to the definition of crime against a child for purposes of the surcharge.
  • SB 18-149 – “Concerning Records of the Board of Directors of the Denver Health and Hospital Authority,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Reps. Matt Gray & Leslie Herod. The bill specifies that certain reports, statements, agreements, bonds, guidelines, manuals, handbooks, and accounts of the authority are public records. The bill also specifies that the content of an electronic medical record system and individual medical records or medical information are not public records.
  • SB 18-151 – “Concerning Department of Education Research to Develop Bullying Prevention Policies,” by Sens. Rhonda Fields & Kevin Priola and Reps. Janet Buckner & James Wilson. The bill requires the Department of Education to research approaches, policies, and practices in other states related to bullying prevention and education, and to develop a model bullying prevention and education policy after considering its research.
  • SB 18-174 – “Concerning Liability of Entities that Provide Services to Persons with Developmental Disabilities in Residential Settings,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Lang Sias. The bill defines ‘case management agency’ and adds a case management agency to the definition of ‘provider’ that provides services and supports to persons with developmental disabilities. The bill requires providers and service agencies to operate pursuant to department of health care policy and financing rules.
  • SB 18-188 – “Concerning Agricultural Commodities, and, in Connection Therewith, Adding Millet to the Definition of an Agricultural Commodity and Allowing the Commissioner of Agriculture to Determine Marketing Order Public Announcement Requirements,” by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Jon Becker. The bill adds millet to the definition of an agricultural commodity in the “Colorado Agricultural Marketing Act of 1939.” The bill removes the requirement that marketing order issuance, suspension, amendment, or termination be posted in the office of the commissioner of agriculture and published in a newspaper.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2018 legislative decisions, click here.

Bills Signed Requiring Commercial Drivers to Receive Training in Human Trafficking Prevention, Modifying Water Court Process for Substitute Water Rights, and More

On Thursday, April 12, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed 23 bills into law. To date, he has signed 149 bills and sent one to the Secretary of State without a signature. Some of the bills signed Thursday include a bill allowing a water court process for mitigation measures, a bill requiring commercial drivers to receive training on prevention of human trafficking, a bill authorizing insurers’ agents to access the electronic motor vehicle title database, and more. The bills signed Thursday are summarized here.

  • SB 18-011 – “Concerning Treatment of Students who are Excused by their Parents from Participating in State Assessments,” by Sens. Chris Holbert & Andy Kerr and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Paul Lundeen. The bill clarifies procedures for parents who excuse their children from taking state assessments and students whose parents excuse them from testing shall still be allowed to receive rewards designed for students who complete the assessments.
  • SB 18-079 – “Concerning Classifying Sake as a Vinous Liquor for the Purposes of the ‘Colorado Liquor Code,'” by Sen. Lucia Guzman and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill classifies sake as a vinous liquor (wine) for the purposes of the “Colorado Liquor Code.”
  • SB 18-087 – “Concerning In-state Tuition at Institutions of Higher Education for Certain Foreign Nationals Legally Settled in Colorado,” by Sen. Stephen Fenberg and Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet & Faith Winter. The bill contains a legislative declaration about the circumstances facing special immigrants and refugees and the benefit of access to education.
  • SB 18-106 – “Concerning Obsolete Statutory Provisions Related to a Local Government’s Pledging of Sales or Use Tax Revenues to Pay for Revenue Bonds Issued for the Purpose of Financing Capital Improvements,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Don Thurlow. Current law specifies that a county, city, or incorporated town may include the creation of a sales and use tax capital improvement fund (special fund) when the county, city, or incorporated town seeks voter approval to levy a sales or use tax. The creation of the special fund does not have a purpose for a county, city, or incorporated town post-TABOR because the question of using sales or use tax revenues for financing capital improvements is asked when the county, city, or incorporated town seeks voter approval for the bond issuance. Thus, the language regarding the creation of the fund is unnecessary.
  • SB 18-110 – “Concerning the Repeal of the Requirement that Each State Agency Annually Report the Amount of Federal Money it Received in the Prior Fiscal Year,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. During the 2017 legislative session, the statutory revision committee put forth House Bill 17-1058, which, in part, repealed a requirement that the state controller submit to the general assembly a report of all federal money received by state agencies during the prior fiscal year. State agencies are still required to submit an annual report to the state controller of all federal moneys received by the state agency in the prior fiscal year for the state controller’s use in preparing the report for the general assembly.The bill repeals the state agency reporting requirement as the state controller is no longer required to prepare a report for the general assembly.
  • SB 18-127 – “Concerning the Repeal of the Department of Revenue’s Requirement to Publish an Historical Explanation of Income Tax Rate Modifications Enacted in the State on Every Income Tax Return Form,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Rep. Dan Thurlow. The bill repeals the requirement that the Executive Director of the Department of Revenue publish an historical explanation of income tax rate modifications enacted in the state on every income tax return form.
  • SB 18-129 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Reorganization of the Law Exempting from State Sales Tax Certain Drugs and Medical and Therapeutic Devices,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. The bill makes several modifications to the laws exempting certain drugs and medical devices from sales tax.
  • SB 18-136 – “Concerning Fees for Advising Clients About the Selection of an Individual Health Benefit Plan,” by Sen. Tim Neville and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Lang Sias. The bill allows an insurance producer or broker advising a client on individual health benefit plans to charge the client a fee if the producer or broker does not receive a commission related to the individual health benefit plan selected by the client and if the producer or broker discloses in writing the fee to the client.
  • SB 18-161 – “Concerning Repeal of the Behavioral Health Transformation Council,” by Sen. Jim Smallwood and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Lois Landgraf. The bill repeals the behavioral health transformation council.
  • SB 18-162 – “Concerning Substitute Child Care Providers,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Reps. Janet Buckner & James Wilson. The bill creates a license within the Department of Human Services for a substitute placement agency that places or that facilitates or arranges placement of substitute child care providers in licensed child care facilities providing less than 24-hour care.
  • SB 18-170 – “Concerning a Water Court Process by Which an Owner of a Storage Water Right Allowing Water to be Stored in New Reservoir Capacity may Release Water into an Identified Stream Reach in a Manner that Protects the Water Releases while Complying with Mitigation Measures Identified in a Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Plan Approved by the Colorado Water Conservation Board,” by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Reps. Chris Hansen & Hugh McKean. The bill establishes a water court process by which an owner of a water storage right allowing water to be stored in a newly constructed reservoir or an enlarged existing reservoir may comply with the mitigation measures identified in a mitigation plan by contracting with the board.
  • SB 18-172 – “Concerning Testing of Horse Racing Licensees for the Presence of Prohibited Substances,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Pete Lee. The bill adds to the responsibilities of the Colorado racing commission the protection of all participants, human and animal, involved in horse racing.
  • SB 18-176 – “Concerning Changes to the Requirements for Meeting Dates for the Board of the Southwestern Water Conservation District,” by Sen. Don Coram and Reps. Barbara McLachlin & Marc Catlin. The bill requires the Board of the Southwestern Water Conservation District to meet once every three months and makes amendments to the terms of the board members and board president.
  • SB 18-182 – “Concerning the Authority to Allocate a Portion of the Source Market Fee to Statutorily Authorized Purse Funds,” by Sens. Don Coram & Lucia Guzman and Reps. Marc Catlin & Jeni James Arndt. Current law requires persons outside of Colorado who accept wagers from residents of Colorado on simulcast horse racing events to be licensed in Colorado and to pay a source market fee into the racing cash fund. The bill authorizes the Director of the Division of Racing Events to allocate a portion of the source market fee to be paid to any horse purse trust fund established pursuant to existing law, if necessary, to maintain a sustainable and competitive purse structure in Colorado.
  • SB 18-183 – “Concerning Authorizing Agents of Insurers to Access the Electronic System that Insurers Access for Owner and Lienholder Information of a Motor Vehicle,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Larry Liston. Current law authorizes the creation and maintenance of an electronic system that vehicle towers, insurers, and salvage pools may use to access motor vehicle title records if the vehicle is insured or possessed by those entities. The bill allows an agent of an insurer to use the system in the same circumstances.
  • SB 18-184 – “Concerning a New Permit for the Short-term Extraction of Construction Materials,” by Sen. Don Coram and Reps. Hugh McKean & Daneya Esgar. The bill creates a new class of limited impact construction materials permits for one-time activities that produce construction materials as a by-product and are not intended to be ongoing mining operations and authorizes an application fee of $400 for the permit and an annual fee of $200.
  • HB 18-1017 – “Concerning the Adoption of an Interstate Compact to Allow a Person Authorized to Practice Psychology in a Compact State in Which the Person is not Licensed, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Dafna Michelson Jenet and Sens. Bon Gardner & Stephen Fenberg. The bill enacts the ‘Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact Act’ allowing psychologists licensed in any compact state to provide telepsychology services to clients in any other compact state, or temporary in-person client services in any compact state not exceeding 30 days in a calendar year.
  • HB 18-1018 – “Concerning a Requirement that Education to Prevent Human Trafficking be Included in the Training to Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License,” by Reps. Terri Carver & Dominique Jackson and Sens. Rachel Zenzinger & John Cooke. The bill requires that the training to obtain a commercial driver’s license to drive a combination vehicle contain education to prevent human trafficking if the training is conducted in a driving school. The department must also publish information about human trafficking for commercial driver’s license holders and trainees.
  • HB 18-1049 – “Concerning the Department of Human Services’ Authority to Continue to Lease Portions of the Grand Junction Regional Center Campus to Third-party Behavioral Health Providers,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Ray Scott. The Department of Human Services currently leases portions of the Grand Junction regional center campus to third-party behavioral health providers. The bill authorizes the Department to continue such leases until June 30, 2020, and each party to such lease may terminate the lease early provided that the terminating party provide the other party with 90 days notice before vacating the property or requiring the property to be vacated.
  • HB 18-1056 – “Concerning the Statewide Standard Health History Form that Members of the Fire and Police Pension Association Complete when Commencing Employment,” by Reps. Kevin Van Winkle & Dave Williams and Sen. John Cooke. Every member of the fire and police pension association (FPPA), at the commencement of employment, is required to complete a health history on a statewide standard health history form. The bill clarifies several aspects of the form.
  • HB 18-1078 – “Concerning Court Programs for Defendants who have Served in the Armed Forces,” by Reps. Lois Landgraf & Tony Exum and Sen. Bob Gardner. Under current law, the chief judge of a judicial district may establish an appropriate program for the treatment of veterans and members of the military. The bill states that, in establishing any such program, the chief judge, in collaboration with the probation department, the district attorney, and the state public defender, shall establish program guidelines and eligibility criteria. The bill requires a court, in determining whether to issue an order to seal criminal records of a petitioner who has successfully completed a veterans treatment program, to consider such factor favorably in making the determination.
  • HB 18-1154 – “Concerning Consumer Protections Relating to a Solicitation to Provide a Copy of a Public Record for a Fee,” by Reps. Edie Hooten & Kevin Van Winkle and Sen. Cheri Jahn. The bill requires a person who solicits a fee for providing a copy of a deed or deed of trust to give a copy of the document that will be used for the solicitation to each county clerk and recorder where the solicitation is to be distributed; not charge a fee of more than 4 times the amount charged by the county clerk and recorder; and include specified disclosures.
  • HB 18-1239 – “Concerning Continuation under the Sunset Law of the Environmental Management System Permit Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the Sunset Report by the Department of Regulatory Agencies by Allowing the Program to Repeal,” by Rep. Lois Landgraf and Sen. Ray Scott. The bill implements the recommendations of the sunset review and report on the environmental management system permit program by allowing the program to repeal.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2018 legislative decisions, click here.

Tenth Circuit: Defendants Found Liable for ATV Protest Ride on Recapture Canyon in Utah

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Wells on Monday, October 23, 2017.

In 2007, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) closed part of Recapture Canyon in Utah to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) due to potential damage to the soil and archaeological sites. Although this was intended to be temporary, the order was still in place in 2014. Upset at the delay in reopening, County Commissioner Lyman organized a protest ride on ATVs into the closed portion of the Canyon. Wells, who ran a website that reported on local news, assisted and interviewed Lyman, while also encouraging others to the protest. Despite warnings from the BLM that criminal and civil penalties would be enforced against anyone riding ATVs in the closed portion of the Canyon, the ride took place in May of 2014. There is undisputed evidence that both Lyman and Wells rode ATVs in the protest.

At trial, Lyman and Wells were found guilty for riding ATVs on the closed lands and with conspiracy to do the same. On appeal, Defendants seek a new trial, arguing that a reasonable observer would have questioned the district judge’s impartiality. Although the judge did ultimately recuse before sentencing, Defendants contend he should have recused earlier. Further, they challenge the denial of their motions to dismiss the criminal information, the denial of a new trial, and their restitution order. Lyman separately argues that he was deprived of effective assistance of counsel. The Tenth Circuit addressed each claim in turn.

The first argument was that the district court judge, Judge Shelby, should have recused earlier in the trial. Judge Shelby is close friends with the legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), an organization that was opposed to the protest ride. The ultimate recusal was based largely on a letter to the judge signed by SUWA and other conservative groups that expressed views adverse to Defendants, as well as evidence that showed SUWA had extensive pretrial involvement with the case in passing information to BLM officials and the United States Attorney’s Office.

Defendants argued for a new trial, contending that Judge Shelby ought to have recused from participation in the trial because a reasonable observer would have questioned his impartiality, as Judge Shelby should have been alerted to SUWA’s involvement by their legal director’s presence at trial and by a voir dire question asking potential jurors if close friends or family members were in SUWA.

The Tenth Circuit found that the argument for a new trial failed on the merits. The Circuit reviewed Judge Shelby’s decision not to recuse early in the trial for an abuse of discretion and found that the decision not to recuse could not be characterized as arbitrary or manifestly unreasonable. The Tenth Circuit concluded that recusal was not required where SUWA was not a party to the criminal prosecution, and, further, there was no evidence that Judge Shelby should have known about SUWA’s pretrial involvement. As Judge Shelby did not err in failing to recuse, Defendant were not entitled to a new trial.

The Defendants next challenged the denial of their motions to dismiss. Wells claimed that he could not be prosecuted for his activities because they consisted of protected speech under the First Amendment. To determine whether Wells’ conduct was protected, the Tenth Circuit inquired as to whether there was a realistic or reasonable likelihood of prosecutorial conduct that would not have occurred but for the hostility toward the defendant because he exercised his specific legal rights.

Wells argued that the prosecution’s hostility became evident when showings were made that SUWA had pushed for prosecution of the Canyon riders and that they regularly passed Wells’ social media posting on to prosecutors. However, the Tenth Circuit found that Wells did not present any evidence of prosecutorial hostility toward Wells’ exercise of his First Amendment rights. SUWA was simply interest in protecting the Canyon, not in limiting Wells’ First Amendment rights. The Circuit held that Wells failed to establish the requisite vindictiveness from the prosecution.

Lyman argued that the district court erred in denying his motion to dismiss when the government failed to allege interdependence, a required element of conspiracy. The Circuit applied a two-part test to determine the sufficiency of an indictment: First, the indictment must contain the elements of the offense and sufficiently apprise the defendant of what he must be prepared to meet; second, it must be such as to show to what extent he may plead a former acquittal or conviction as a bar to further prosecution for the same cause. The Tenth Circuit found that Lyman’s argument implicated only the first prong of this test. Further, Lyman and Wells worked together for their mutual benefit in the context of their conspiracy to ride ATVs on the Canyon in protest. The Tenth Circuit found that Lyman’s motion to dismiss argument failed.

Next, Wells argued that the government failed to introduce sufficient evidence that he was acting as a co-conspirator rather than a journalist. The Tenth Circuit inquired whether the evidence would establish each element of the crime of conspiracy, to wit: (1) an agreement, (2) to break the law, (3) an overt act, (4) in furtherance of the conspiracy’s object, and (5) proof that the defendant willfully entered the conspiracy. The Circuit found that the evidence presented by the government was sufficient for a jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Wells acted not merely as a journalist reporting on issues, but as a co-conspirator who agreed with Lyman to ride on the closed lands. More specifically, Wells reposted Lyman’s advertisements of the protest ride while adding flourishes of his own that suggest active support for, and agreement with, the planned ride.

Defendants next contested the district court’s denial of their motion for a new trial based on the post-trial discovery of a map which allegedly showed a right-of-way that the government failed to disclose before trial. Defendants argued that (1) the map would have permitted them to establish the existence of a right-of-way to negate the legality of the closure order on the Canyon, and (2) they should have been able to present the map as evidence relevant to their good-faith defense, since violation of the laws at hand require that the defendant act knowingly and willfully. The government argued that no violation occurred because the map in question was not material.

The Circuit found that the materiality of the map was at issue in this appeal. Materiality requires a reasonable probability that the result of the proceeding would have been different had the evidence been disclosed. The Tenth Circuit concluded that the map could not have been material for purposes of the Defendants’ good-faith defense, and, as the district court pointed out, the map could not be relevant because the Defendants were unaware of the map at the time of the ATV ride. A mere suspicion that a right-of-way existed is not an honest belief that the road was not legally closed to ATV use. The Tenth Circuit found that the Defendants could not establish that the map would have been material to their good-faith defense. Further, the map failed to create a reasonable probability of a different outcome so as to cast doubt on Defendants’ convictions. The Circuit held that the district court properly denied Defendants’ motion for a new trial.

Wells next challenged the restitution order holding him jointly and severally responsible with Lyman for $48,000. Wells challenged that it included: (1) harms that were not recoverable as restitution because they were not caused by the conspiracy and its underlying conduct, and (2) amounts that were not legally cognizable as actual loss or supported by the evidence. Lyman made a similar argument. Under the Mandatory Victims Restitutions Act (MVRA), courts are required to order a defendant to pay restitution to a victim of the offense. No party disputed that the United States constituted a victim under the MVRA; however, the question was for which alleged harms could the United States properly recover restitution. The government was required to show both that the defendant’s conduct was the ‘but-for’ cause of the harm and that the defendant proximately caused the harm.

The government’s principal contention was that the conspiracy and its underlying conduct was the but-for cause of the motorized damage to archeological, riparian, and upland soil resources in the closed area. The Tenth Circuit concluded that the government presented ample evidence to find by a preponderance of the evidence that the government’s contention was correct. The district court did not err in ruling that Defendants were responsible for paying restitution to the United States for damages stemming directly and proximately from Defendants’ unlawful conspiracy to conduct a protest ride.

Next, Defendants challenged three aspects of the total amount of restitution ordered: (1) that the amount spent assessing the damage caused by the ATV ride was disallowed, speculative archeological expenses; (2) that the assessment costs were not incurred during participation in the investigation or prosecution of the offense; and (3) that at least some of the claimed amount was supported by estimates, not concrete figures. The Tenth Circuit first found that the government’s requested damages did not constitute speculative, archaeological damages. The archaeological value is an effort to go back in time before the violation occurred and estimate what it would have cost the United States to engage in a full-blown archaeological dig at the site, notwithstanding the fact that the United States had no plans to engage in any such effort. The Circuit held that the assessment that took place was detailed and anything but hypothetical.

Second, the MVRA provides that a victim must be reimbursed for expenses incurred during participation in the investigation or prosecution of the defense. The Tenth Circuit rejected Defendants’ assertion that the expenses were not incurred during the government’s participation in the investigation or prosecution of the offense, as the court has specifically recognized that the government’s investigatory costs can constitute actual losses subject to restitution.

Third, the Circuit concluded that the third argument was based on a mistaken view of the record. The government did not admit that its damages were not hard numbers. In context, the prosecutor was attempting to explain why restitution figures from an earlier case could not be considered as a basis for comparison in the present case. The Circuit found Defendants’ final argument misguided and spurious. The district court’s restitution award was upheld.

The last argument by Lyman was ineffective assistance of counsel. The Tenth Circuit found that ineffective assistance of counsel claims should be brought in collateral proceedings, not on direct appeal. Such claims brought on direct appeal are presumptively dismissible, and virtually all will be dismissed. As Lyman made no attempt to argue that his claim should be addressed on direct appeal, the Tenth Circuit saw no reason to reach its merits.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals AFFIRMED the district court’s judgment and restitution order.

Bills Signed Regarding Ground Water Commission Approval of Aquifer Storage and Recovery Plans, Repealing Procedures to Fill Municipal Vacancies, and More

On Monday, April 9, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed 12 bills into law. To date, he has signed 126 bills into law and sent one to the Secretary of State without a signature. The bills signed Monday include a bill to increase transparency in higher education statutes concerning military service, a bill repealing procedures to fill vacancies in candidate nominations for municipal elections, a bill allowing the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission to roll-over its year-end balances in order to facilitate financing, and more. The bills signed Monday are summarized here.

  • SB 18-107 – “Concerning the Repeal of Procedures to Fill Vacancies in Candidate Nominations for Elections Conducted under the ‘Colorado Municipal Code of 1965,'” by Sen. Rachel Zenzinger and Rep. Dan Thurlow. The bill repeals the process by which a vacancy in nomination may be filled for an election conducted under the ‘Colorado Municipal Code of 1965’ and makes conforming amendments.
  • HB 18-1098 – “Concerning the Expanded Ability of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to Finance the Remediation of Oil and Gas Locations,” by Reps. Lori Saine & Matt Gray and Sen. Vicki Marble. Under current practice, expenditures by the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission to address the mitigation of adverse environmental impacts of oil and gas operations are paid from the environmental response account of the oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund, and the year-end balance of the account transfers into the fund. The bill specifies that the year-end balance of the account remains in the account.
  • HB 18-1112 – “Concerning Covered Health Care Services Provided by a Pharmacist,” by Reps. Jon Becker & Daneya Esgar and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill requires a health benefit plan to provide coverage for health care services provided by a pharmacist if the services are provided within a health professional shortage area and the health benefit plan provides coverage for the same services provided by a licensed physician or advanced practice nurse.
  • HB 18-1134 – “Concerning Eligibility of Kindergarten Students Funded through Early Childhood At-risk Enhancement Positions,” by Reps. Brittany Pettersen & James Wilson and Sens. Michael Merrifield & Beth Martinez Humenik. If a district chooses to use early childhood at-risk enhancement (ECARE) positions to enroll children in the district’s full-day kindergarten program, children using the ECARE positions must satisfy at least one of the eligibility requirements of the Colorado preschool program.
  • HB 18-1145 – “Concerning the Repeal of Laws Regulating Ballot Issue Petition Circulators that have been Permanently Enjoined from Enforcement,” by Rep. Edie Hooten and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill repeals laws ordered permanently enjoined from enforcement in Independence Inst. v. Gessler , 936 F. Supp. 2d 1256 (D. Colo. 2013).
  • HB 18-1148 – “Concerning the Prohibition Against a Carrier Requiring Step Therapy for Covered Persons with Stage Four Advanced Metastatic Cancer,” by Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill prohibits a carrier that issues a health benefit plan that covers treatment for stage four advanced metastatic cancer from requiring a cancer patient to undergo step therapy prior to receiving a drug approved by the United States food and drug administration if use of the approved drug is consistent with best practices for treatment of the cancer and as long as the drug is on the carrier’s prescription drug formulary.
  • HB 18-1172 – “Concerning Money Allocated from an Appropriation from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund to a Designated Managed Service Organization to Implement its Community Action Plan,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill amends the ‘Increasing Access to Effective Substance Use Disorder Services Act’ to clarify that a designated managed service organization (designated MSO) may use money allocated to it from the marijuana tax cash fund for expenditures for substance use disorder services and for any start-up costs or other expenses necessary to increase capacity to provide such services and may allow allocations to roll forward.
  • HB 18-1199 – “Concerning a Process for the Ground Water Commission to Use for Approving Aquifer Storage-and-Recovery Plans, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring that the Ground Water Commission Promulgate Rules Governing its Implementation of the Process,” by Reps. Marc Catlin & Barbara McLaughlin and Sen. Don Coram. The bill authorizes a person to apply to the ground water commission (commission) for approval of an aquifer storage-and-recovery plan and requires the commission to promulgate rules governing the application process and the requirements that an aquifer storage-and-recovery plan must meet to be approved.
  • HB 18-1228 – “Concerning Increasing Transparency in Higher Education Statutes Relating to Military Service,” by Reps. Justin Everett & Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Sen. Leroy Garcia. The bill creates a new article 7.4 in title 23, Colorado Revised Statutes, with the article heading ‘Military Members, Veterans, and Dependents’, in order to locate physically within the same article, whenever practicable, higher education provisions relating to the military.
  • HB 18-1238 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Wildland-Urban Interface Training Advisory Board, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2017 Sunset Report by the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Reps. Dominique Jackson & Marc Catlin and Sen. Vicki Marble. The bill implements the recommendation of the Department of Regulatory Agencies to sunset the wildland-urban interface training advisory board.
  • HB 18-1246 – “Concerning Updates to the “Colorado Nursery Act”, and, in Connection Therewith, Modernizing the Act and Protecting Agriculture from Pests, Diseases, and Noxious Weeds,” by Rep. Jessie Danielson and Sen. Don Coram. The bill updates the ‘Colorado Nursery Act’, last amended in 2009, to protect nursery stock.
  • HB 18-1293 – “Concerning Payment of Expenses of the Legislative Department,” by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Patrick Neville and Sens. Kevin Grantham & Lucia Guzman. The bill makes appropriations for matters related to the legislative department for the 2018-19 state fiscal year.

For a list of all of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2018 legislative decisions, click here.

Colorado Supreme Court: Encroaching Tree on Property Line Belongs to Party on whose Property Tree First Grew

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Love v. Klosky on Monday, March 19, 2018.

Adjoining Landowners—Stare Decisis.

In this case, the supreme court considered whether to overrule Rhodig v. Keck, 421 P.2d 729 (Colo. 1966), which outlines the test for ownership of a tree that encroaches onto a neighbor’s land. Under that test, an encroaching tree remains the sole property of the owner of the land where the tree first grew, unless the tree was jointly planted, jointly cared for, or treated as a partition between the two properties. The supreme court upheld Rhodig. The court found that Rhodig’s approach remains sound and it failed to see how overruling Rhodig would do more good than harm.

The court then applied to Rhodig to the decision at hand. Here, the trial court found that the tree in question began life on Klosky’s land and encroached onto the Loves’ land, and there was no joint activity implying shared ownership of the tree. Because the Loves failed to prove any such shared property interest in the tree, the court concluded that the Loves cannot prevent Klosky from removing the encroaching tree.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Appeal of Fracking Regulation Unripe Due to Uncertainty of Future

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in State of Wyoming v. Zinke on Thursday, September 21, 2017.

In this case, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is asked to decide whether the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acted beyond its statutory authority when it created a regulation that governed hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on lands owned by the United States.

As fracking has become more common, public concern has increased about whether fracking is contributing to contamination of underground water sources. The BLM responded by preparing a regulation that attempted to modernize the existing federal regulations governing fracking on lands owned by the United States by increasing disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking, updating the standards for wellbore construction and testing, and addressing management of water used in the fracking process.

The finalized, published fracking regulation attempted to regulate fracking in four ways: by (1) imposing new well construction and testing requirements; (2) imposing new flowback storage requirements; (3) imposing new chemical disclosure requirements; and (4) generally increasing BLM’s oversight of fracking.

Shortly before the fracking regulation was to take effect, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) filed a petition for review under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), opposing the new regulation. North Dakota, Utah, and the Ute Indian Tribe also intervened.

The petition for review asserted that the fracking regulation violated two provisions of the APA in two ways: (1) the regulation was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law; and (2) it was in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right.

The district court concluded that no statute authorized the BLM to regulate fracking. The district court reasoned that states may regulate underground injections of any substance, not the federal government. According to the district court, only the states could regulate fracking.

While the parties supporting the regulation brought an appeal, the BLM asked this court to hold these appeals in abeyance, explaining that President Trump’s Executive Order required the Department of the Interior to review its regulations, including the fracking regulation, for consistency with the policies and priorities of the new administration. Another Executive Order directed the Secretary of the Interior, as soon as practicable, to publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding the fracking regulation at issue. The Secretary of the Interior then stated that the BLM would rescind the regulation in full.

The issue addressed in this appeal is whether the BLM has the authority to regulate fracking on lands owned or held in trust by the United States and thereby to promulgate the fracking regulation. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the case was not ripe for review, as there was no hardship to the parties. The only harm suffered will be the continued operation of oil and gas development on federal lands, which represents no departure from the status quo since 2015. Further, the BLM will be able to proceed with its proposed rule rescinding the fracking regulation, and would face more uncertainty if these appeals were to remain under advisement. The appeal was held to be unripe and unfit for judicial review.

The Circuit dismissed the appeals, finding that the subject matter is unripe and the record is notably undeveloped or the future is particularly uncertain.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals DISMISSED the appeals as prudentially unripe, VACATED the district court’s judgment invalidating the fracking regulation, and REMANDED with instructions to dismiss the underlying action without prejudice.

Tenth Circuit: EPA Exceeded Statutory Authority in Denying Small Refinery Exemption

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in Sinclair Wyoming Refining Co. v. United States Environmental Protection Agnecy on Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

In 2005, in an amendment to the Clean Air Act (CAA), Congress directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to operate a Renewable Fuel Standards Program (the RFS Program) to increase oil refineries’ use of renewable fuels. However, if smaller refineries would suffer a disproportionate economic hardship in compliance with the RFS Program, the statute allows the EPA to grant exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

The program induces refineries to produce renewable fuel products (e.g., ethanol), and if they cannot, to purchase biofuel-generated credits from refineries that can. However, Congress was aware that the RFS Program might disproportionately impact small refineries because of the inherent scale advantages of larger refineries and, therefore, Congress created three classes of exemptions to protect these smaller refineries.

First, the statute exempted all small refineries from the RFS Program until 2011.

Second, Congress directed a study to be done to determine whether compliance with the RFS Program would impose disproportionate economic hardship on small refineries after the program’s implementation. After this study was conducted, it was found that Sinclair’s two refineries, among others, would suffer disproportionate economic hardship. The EPA then extended the blanket exemption for two more years.

Third, Congress provided a process for small refineries to petition the EPA at any time for an extension of the initial exemption for reason of disproportionate economic hardship. In evaluating the petitions, the EPA must consult with the Department of Energy (DOE) and consider other economic factors. It is this third exemption that is at issue in this case.

After successfully receiving a blanket exemption to the RFS Program until 2013, Sinclair then petitioned the EPA to extend their exemption. The EPA denied the petitions, finding that both refineries appeared to be profitable enough to pay the costs of the RFS Program. Sinclair filed a petition for review with the Tenth Circuit, which was granted.

The Tenth Circuit reviewed Sinclair’s petitions under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The APA finds agency action unlawful if it is in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, in short of statutory right.

In order to decide if the EPA’s interpretation of the statute constitutes the force of law, the Circuit followed an analysis set forth in Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134 (1994). In the Skidmore case, the Court explained that the weight courts provide an administrative judgment will depend upon the thoroughness evident in the agency’s consideration, the validity of its reasoning, its consistency with earlier and later pronouncements, and all those factors which give it power to persuade, if lacking power to control.

The Circuit found that Congress did not authorize the EPA to promulgate regulations for the small refinery exemptions, the EPA conducted its interpretation via informal adjudication, the decisions were not made by the head of the EPA, but by a mid-level agency official, the decisions hold no precedential value for third parties, nor have any precedential value for even a refiner, and the EPA’s analysis is not a longstanding practice, but is only a few years old.

Thus, the Circuit concluded that Congress did not intend the EPA’s interpretation of “disproportionate economic hardship” to have the force of law. The Circuit then analyzed Congress’s grant of power to the EPA to administer the RFS Program, beginning with the statutory text.

Although Congress did not define the term “disproportionate economic hardship” in the statute, the provision makes clear that Congress provided the EPA with a comprehensive directive in analyzing and evaluating RFS Program exemptions. The Circuit then turned to whether the EPA’s decisions comport with Congress’s directive to grant exemptions when a small refinery demonstrates that complying with the RFS Program would cause it to suffer a disproportionate economic hardship.

Prior to considering a refinery’s petition for a hardship exemption, the EPA receives a recommendation on the petition from DOE. DOE created a scoring matrix for determining its recommendations for granting exemptions. The relevant part of DOE’s matrix assigns scores for three “viability” metrics: (1) whether the cost of compliance would reduce the profitability of the firm enough to impair future efficiency improvements; (2) whether individual special events have had a temporary negative impact on the ability of the refinery to comply; and (3) whether compliance costs are likely to lead to shutdown of the refinery.

Here, DOE applied its matrix and recommended the EPA provide a 50 percent waiver of the RFS Program’s requirements for both of Sinclair’s refineries. The EPA rejected DOE’s recommendations and denied both petitions.

The EPA concluded that “viability” meant only that program costs threatened the long-term survival of the refinery, not a short-term comparison to other industry actors. The Circuit held that the EPA’s long-term threat of closure requirement is inconsistent with the plain meaning of disproportionate economic hardship. The EPA takes the holistic evaluation required by Congress and morphs it into a single question: a threat of closure inquiry. This narrow viability evaluation is also not supported by contextual clues in the statutory scheme.

The Circuit concluded that by reading a necessary viability requirement into its statutory directive to evaluate a refinery’s petition for exemption from the RFS program based on disproportionate economic hardship, the EPA exceeded its statutory authority.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals GRANTED Sinclair’s petition for review, VACATED the EPA’s decisions for Sinclair’s refineries, and REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

Tenth Circuit: Commerce Clause Authorizes Regulation of Take of Utah Prairie Dog

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners (PETPO), representing over 200 property owners and entities, challenged a regulation promulgated by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The challenged regulation restricts, but does not prohibit, the take of Utah prairie dogs, a listed threatened species, on non-federal land. The U.S. District Court of Utah granted PETPO’s request for summary judgment on the basis that neither the Commerce Clause nor the Necessary and Proper Clauses authorizes Congress to regulate the take. The FWS and Friends of Animals (FoA), as intervenors, appealed. Together they argue, that PETPO lacks standing and the challenged regulation is Constitutional. The Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court on the issue of standing, but concluded that the district court erred in its conclusion that the regulation was not authorized by the Commerce Clause. The court did not address whether the regulation was not authorized by Necessary and Proper Clause.

The Tenth Circuit first considered the issue of standing de novo. The parties disagreed whether the PETPO had sufficient standing for the summary judgment stage. The parties agreed that PETPO suffered an injury in fact that was traceable to the actions of defendant, but disagreed about whether PETPO’s injury would be redressable. PETPO claimed that the regulation was unduly burdensome and requested declaratory and injunctive relief, which “pertain to any federal prohibition on the take of Utah prairie dogs on nonfederal land.” The Tenth Circuit found that PETPO had standing, since the Necessary and Proper and Commerce clauses allow Congress to regulate the take.

The Tenth Circuit found that the district court erred in holding that the challenged regulation was not permissible under the Commerce Clause. The court held that “[R]egulation on nonfederal land of take of a purely intrastate species, like the Utah prairie dog, under the ESA is a constitutional exercise of congressional authority under the Commerce Clause.” The court applied the framework established by the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Raich and found (1) the ESA to be a comprehensive regulatory scheme substantially affecting commerce; and (2) Congress had a rational basis to believe that the regulation at issue is an essential part of that scheme.

Here, the “[R]egulation of take of endangered and threatened species is directly related to—indeed, arguably inversely correlated with—economic development and commercial activity.” This is because Congress intended the ESA to conserve species, restrict commerce, and thereby promote long-term commerce. Further, the Commerce Clause authorizes Congress to regulate commerce, which includes “the power to prohibit commerce.”

Remaining was the question of whether regulation of a purely intrastate species, such as the Utah prairie dog, is authorized within the Raich framework. Here, the court reasoned that the majority of species protected by the ESA are intrastate. If this particular regulation is viewed in isolation as PETPO proposed, the “[p]iecemeal excision of purely intrastate species would severely undercut the ESA’s conservation purposes.” Further, this approach was foreclosed by Raich because it “[w]ould lead to just such a lingering death for the ESA—and likely for other regulatory schemes—insofar as every individual regulation passed within a larger regulatory scheme would be subject to a narrowly applied substantial effects test.” Therefore, “[C]ongress had a rational basis to conclude that providing for the protection of purely intrastate species is essential to the ESA’s comprehensive regulatory scheme.”

The court REVERSED and REMANDED with instructions to enter judgment in favor FWS and FoA.

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.

Bills Correcting Statutory References, Changing Child Welfare Allocations, Implementing State Engineer’s Functions, and More Signed

On Friday, March 17, 2017, the governor signed 21 bills into law. To date, he has signed 63 bills this 2017 legislative session. The bills signed Friday include a bill to update statutory references to people with disabilities, a bill outlining the procedure to correct statutory references in administrative procedural rules, a bill redetermining the child welfare allocation formula, and a bill exempting steroids injected into nonhumans from controlled substances statutes. The bills signed Friday are summarized here.

  • HB 17-1006“Concerning the Authorization of a Process to Correct Statutory Citations Contained in Executive Branch Agency Rules Published in the Code of Colorado Regulations without the Requirement to Follow Rule-Making Procedures,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Daniel Kagan. The bill allows agencies to correct statutory citations in the code of Colorado regulations without notice, comment, or a hearing by submitting to the secretary of state a specific, written determination by the attorney general.
  • HB 17-1011“Concerning a Limitation on When Certain Disciplinary Actions may be Commenced Against a Mental Health Professional, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring that a Mental Health Professional Provide Notice to Former Clients Regarding Record Retention and that All Complaints be Resolved by the Agency within Two Years after the Date the Complaint was Filed,” by Rep. Jovan Melton and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill requires that any complaint filed with the division of professions and occupations in the department of regulatory agencies against a mental health professional alleging a maintenance-of-records violation must be commenced within 7 years after the alleged act or failure to act giving rise to the complaint.
  • HB 17-1014“Concerning the Elimination of the Criminal Penalty Imposed Upon an Elector for Disclosing the Contents of the Elector’s Voted Ballot,” by Reps. Paul Rosenthal & Dave Williams and Sens. Kerry Donovan & Owen Hill. The bill deletes the ballot selfie prohibition in the Uniform Election Code provided certain conditions are met.
  • HB 17-1032“Concerning the Evidentiary Privilege for Communications Made During the Provision of Certain Peer Support Services,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. John Cooke. The bill clarifies that privileged peer support communications need not be made during individual meetings in order to be confidential.
  • HB 17-1034“Concerning Licensing Changes to the Medical Marijuana Code to Conform with the Retail Marijuana Code,” by Rep. Dan Pabon and Sen. Randy Baumgardner. The bill creates a requirement for a medical marijuana business operator to be licensed, and allows a medical marijuana licensee to move his or her business anywhere in Colorado upon approval of the state and local jurisdiction. The bill also allows a medical marijuana licensee to remediate its product if it contains a foreign substance.
  • HB 17-1046“Concerning Updating Statutory References to Certain Limited Outdated Terms Relating to People with Disabilities,” by Rep. Steve Lebsock and Sen. Kerry Donovan. The bill updates certain limited terms in statute that refer to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities or physical disabilities using insensitive or outdated terminology.
  • HB 17-1050“Concerning the Annual In-Service Training Required for a County Sheriff,” by Rep. Hugh McKean and Sen. Daniel Kagan. The bill specifies that each sheriff undergo at least the number of hours required for all certified peace officers by the peace officers standards and training board (POST board), but in no case less than 20 hours.
  • HB 17-1052“Concerning Factors to Take Into Consideration in Determining the Child Welfare Allocation Formula in a Given Fiscal Year,” by Rep. Susan Beckman and Sen. Jim Smallwood. The bill removes certain data-gathering factors currently required to be taken into consideration in determining a fiscal year’s child welfare allocation formula for counties and replaces those with a broader scope of factors that directly affect the population of children in need of child welfare services.
  • HB 17-1054“Concerning Partnerships Between Local Governments and Military Installations, and, in Connection Therewith, Identifying Shared-Service Opportunities to Reduce Costs and Increase Efficiencies,” by Reps. Terri Carver & Dan Nordberg and Sen. Nancy Todd. The bill directs the department of local affairs to support cooperative intergovernmental agreements between military installations and local governments to the extent possible.
  • HB 17-1055“Concerning a Voluntary Contribution Designation Benefiting the Urban Peak Housing and Support Services for Youth Experiencing Homelessness Fund that Appears on the State Individual Tax Return Forms,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill creates the Urban Peak Housing and Support Services for Youth Experiencing Homelessness fund in the state treasury and adds a check-off to state tax returns for five years.
  • HB 17-1094“Concerning Modifications to the Requirements for Health Benefit Plans to Cover Health Care Services Delivered via Telehealth,” by Reps. Perry Buck & Donald Valdez and Sens. Kerry Donovan & Larry Crowder. The bill makes several changes to broaden the application of telehealth services.
  • HB 17-1105“Concerning Narrowing the Circumstances in Which Physical Inspection of a Vehicle is Required before Issuing Legal Documentation Identifying the Vehicle,” by Rep. Jon Becker and Sen. Randy Baumgardner. The bill specifies that the department of revenue may not require physical inspection of a vehicle, including a VIN inspection, to verify information about the vehicle before registering or titling the vehicle if certain requirements are met.
  • HB 17-1137“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Revenue to the General Assembly,” by Reps. Dan Thurlow & Edie Hooton and Sens. Dominick Moreno & Jack Tate. The bill amends reporting requirements of the Department of Revenue.
  • HB 17-1140“Concerning Permitted Uses of Fee-for-Service Contract Money by the Colorado School of Mines,” by Rep. Jessie Danielson and Sen. Tim Neville. In addition to tuition supports, the bill allows Colorado School of Mines to use state fee-for-service contract money to fund  other services and programs, including counseling, academic support, student recruiting, and precollegiate programs.
  • SB 17-026“Concerning Requirements Governing Implementation of the State Engineer’s Functions, and, in Connection Therewith, Restructuring the Fee that the State Engineer may Charge for Rating Certain Types of Water Infrastructure, Repealing Certain Requirements, and Updating Language in the Statutes Regarding the Division of Water Resources,” by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Rep. Jeni Arndt. The bill makes several changes to the state engineer’s functions and fee requirements.
  • SB 17-030“Concerning the Exemption from the Schedules of Controlled Substances any Anabolic Steroid that is Administered through Injection into Nonhuman Species,” by Sen. Randy Baumgardner and Rep. Daneya Esgar. The bill exempts from the definition of ‘anabolic steroid’ human chorionic gonadotropin licensed for animal use only if it is expressly intended for administration through implants or injection into cattle or other nonhuman species.
  • SB 17-034“Concerning Extension of the Period Following the Declaration by the Governor of a Disaster Emergency in a County Within Which the Board of County Commissioners of the County may Transfer County General Fund Money to the County Road and Bridge Fund for the Purposes of Disaster Response and Recovery,” by Sens. Kevin Lundberg & Matt Jones and Reps. Hugh McKean & Mike Foote. The bill extends from 4 years to 8 years the period within which the board of county commissioners of the county may transfer general fund money to the road and bridge fund for disaster response and recovery.
  • SB 17-050“Concerning the Consolidation of Grant Programs Relating to Forest Management,” by Sen. John Cooke and Reps. Jeni Arndt & KC Becker. The bill transfers a forest management grant program from the Department of Natural Resources to the Forest Service, and realigns the funding for the new grant program and the healthy forest and vibrant communities fund.
  • SB 17-056“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Public Health and Environment to the General Assembly,” by Sen. Andy Kerr and Rep. Jeni Arndt. The bill addresses reporting requirements of the department of public health and environment.
  • SB 17-090“Concerning How to Measure the Level of Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol in Industrial Hemp,” by Sen. Randy Baumgardner and Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush. The bill requires the commissioner of agriculture to determine the level of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol in industrial hemp by measuring the combined concentration of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol and its precursor, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid.
  • SB 17-127“Concerning an Expansion of the Exemption from the Requirements that Apply to a Mortgage Loan Originator to Include Up to Three Loans Per Year Without Compensation Between Family Members,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill expands the mortgage loan originator exemption to include up to 3 loans per year without compensation, other than interest, between family members, and directs the board of mortgage loan originators to define ‘family member’ by rule.

For a list of the governor’s legislative actions, please visit here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Complaint Filed After Denial of Motion to Reconsider was Untimely

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Sterling Ethanol, LLC v. Colorado Air Quality Control Commission on Thursday, February 23, 2017.

Interlocutory Appeal—Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction.

Sterling Ethanol, LLC and Yuma Ethanol, LLC (collectively, Companies) are ethanol manufacturing plants that are sources of air pollution in northeastern Colorado. They are required to operate in accordance with air permits issued by the Colorado Air and Pollution Control Division (Division). After the Division issued two compliance orders addressing the Companies’ alleged violations of their air permits, Companies sought timely administrative review from the Air Quality Control Commission (Commission), which operates pursuant to the Colorado Air Pollution Prevention and Control Act (APPCA). Following an evidentiary hearing, the Commission issued a final order affirming the Division’s orders.

Companies filed a motion to reconsider, which the Commission denied. Companies then filed a complaint in the district court 69 days after the Commission issued its final order and 35 days after the Commission denied its motion to reconsider. The Commission filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing the complaint was untimely filed. The district court denied the motion. The district court, on the Commission’s request, certified for review the question whether the State Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the APPCA, and the Commission’s procedural rules, read together, compel the conclusion that the complaint was untimely filed, thus depriving the court of appeals of subject matter jurisdiction.

The court held that the district court erred in denying the motion to dismiss because Companies’ complaint was untimely. The party seeking judicial review must file a complaint within 35 days of the effective date of the Commission’s final order, even if that party first filed a motion to reconsider, and the Commission declined to reconsider its order. The plain language of the APPCA, the APA, and the Commission’s procedural rules required such a conclusion.

The order was reversed and the case was remanded for entry of an order dismissing the action.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.