May 28, 2015

Medical Marijuana, Statewide Ballot Initiatives, and More Bills Signed

On Monday, May 18, 2015, Governor Hickenlooper signed five bills into law. To date, he has signed 224 bills this legislative session. The bills signed Monday are summarized here.

  • HB 15-1270 – Concerning Authorization for Local Education Providers to Operate Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Mike Foote and Sens. Nancy Todd & Laura Woods. The bill authorizes the creation of a P-Tech school to prepare students for careers in industry.
  • HB 15-1274 – Concerning the Creation of Career Pathways for Students for Critical Occupations in Growing Industries, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Alec Garnett & Jovan Melton and Sens. Andy Kerr & Laura Woods. The bill requires that the Colorado Workforce Development Council design integrated career pathways in identified industries where no clear career pathways are indicated.
  • SB 15-197 – Concerning the Prescriptive Authority of Advance Practice Nurses, by Sens. Larry Crowder & Cheri Jahn and Reps. Rhonda Fields & Yeulin Willett. The bill makes several changes to the prescriptive authority of advance practice nurses, including eliminating preceptorship hours and reducing mentorship hours.
  • HB 15-1057 – Concerning the Process for a Statewide Initiative to be Placed on a Ballot, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Lois Court & Brian DelGrosso and Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg & Mary Hodge. The bill requires the Legislative Council Staff to prepare fiscal impact statements for all ballot measures submitted to the title board, not just citizen-initiated measures.
  • SB 15-014 – Concerning Marijuana Issues that are Not Regulated by the Department of Revenue, and, in Connection Therewith, Making Appropriations, by Sen. Irene Aguilar and Rep. Jonathan Singer. The bill makes several changes to the regulation of medical marijuana in Colorado, including requiring DORA to establish guidelines for physicians to follow when prescribing medical marijuana for severe pain.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2015 legislative decisions, click here.

Bills Regarding Businesses Permitted to Provide PACE Services, Release of Information Regarding Juvenile Facility Incidents, and More Signed

On Friday, May 8, 2015, Governor Hickenlooper signed 13 bills into law. To date, the governor has signed 197 bills this legislative session. Although the 2015 session has ended, the governor will continue to sign bills for the next few weeks.

The bills signed by Governor Hickenlooper on Friday are summarized here.

  • SB 15-239 – Concerning the Transfer of Vocational Rehabilitation Programs from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Labor and Employment, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Dave Young.
  • HB 15-1299 – Concerning Use of the Petroleum Storage Tank Fund for Incentives for Significant Operational Compliance with Regard to Petroleum Storage Tanks, by Reps. Millie Hamner & Dan Nordberg and Sen.  Ray Scott. The bill allows petroleum storage tank funds to be used for upgrades to both underground and above-ground tanks.
  • HB 15-1187 – Concerning Mental Health Evaluations of Licensed Veterinarians Conducted by a Veterinarian Peer Health Assistance Program as Ordered by the State Board of Veterinary Medicine, by Rep. Steve Lebsock and Sen. Leroy Garcia. The bill allows the State Board of Veterinary Medicine to require a veterinarian to undergo a mental health exam if it has reason to suspect the veterinarian has a mental health problem.
  • SB 15-137 – Concerning Business Entities Permitted to Provide the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, by Sen. David Balmer and Reps. Brian DelGrosso & Joann Ginal. The bill allows public, private, and for-profit entities to provide care to the elderly in the PACE program.
  • SB 15-247 – Concerning the Augmentation of the Scope of Services of the State Drug Assistance Program Administered by the Department of Public Health and Environment to Authorize Funding for Prevention, Intervention, and Other Services, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Dave Young. The bill increases the scope of services provided by the AIDS drug assistance program and makes several changes to the program.
  • HB 15-1131 – Concerning a Ban on Powdered Alcohol, by Rep. JoAnn Windholz and Sen. Nancy Todd. The bill prohibits the use, sale, possession, transfer, purchase, or manufacture of powdered alcohol, with an exemption for certain institutions conducting bona fide research.
  • HB 15-1242Concerning the Right of a Medical Patient to Designate a Caregiver to Assist the Patient with Basic Tasks Following Release from a Medical Facility, by Rep. Jessie Danielson and Sen. Irene Aguilar. The bill requires that general hospitals in Colorado give a patient the option to designate at least one caregiver.
  • HB 15-1243 – Concerning Increased Spending Authority for the Division of Parks and Wildlife, and, in Connection Therewith, Establishing the Parks for Future Generations Trust Fund, Amending the Wildlife for Future Generations Trust Fund, and Giving the Division of Parks and Wildlife Explicit Spending Authority Over Moneys Received to Mitigate or Offset Adverse Impacts to the State’s Parks and Wildlife Resources, by Rep. Ed Vigil and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill establishes the Parks for Future Generations Trust Fund, amends the Wildlife for Future Generations Trust Fund, and provides funding for both trust funds.
  • HB 15-1267 – Concerning Conditions of Probation Relating to Medical Marijuana, by Rep. Joseph Salazar and Sen. Lucia Guzman. The bill allows probationers to use and possess medical marijuana unless the offense for which they are on probation is a medical marijuana-related offense.
  • HB 15-1304 – Concerning a Plan to Study the Available Bear Management Tools Year Round to Address Bear-Human Conflicts, by Reps. Yeulin Willett  & Steve Lebsock and Sens. David Balmer & Ray Scott. The bill requires the Division of Parks and Wildlife to study available tools for better management of the black bear population.
  • HB 15-1284 – Concerning Measures to Enhance Program Efficiency for Shared Photovoltaic Energy Generation Facilities, by Reps. Faith Winter & Kit Roupe and Sens. Kevin Grantham and Mary Hodge. The bill eliminates population requirements for community solar garden use across counties.
  • HB 15-1015 – Concerning the Creation of an Interstate Compact Allowing States that Enter the Compact to Share Emergency Medical Service Providers Under Certain Circumstances, by Rep. Faith Winter and Sen. John Cooke. The bill allows the governor to enter into a compact with other states to enable emergency medical service providers to provide services in Colorado.
  • HB 15-1134 – Concerning the New Vehicle Exemption for Emissions Testing of Heavier Diesel Vehicles with a Model Year That is No Older than 2014, by Rep. Don Coram and Sen. John Cooke. The bill extends the new vehicle exemption for heavy diesels to six years as long as the vehicle has a model year of 2014 or later.

For a complete list of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2015 legislative decisions, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Specific Statutory Medical Marijuana Registry Offenses Not Exclusive Means of Prosecution for Violations

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Montante on Thursday, April 9, 2015.

Physician—Medical Marijuana—Attempt to Influence a Public Servant—Lesser Non-Included Offense—Jury Instructions—Unconstitutionally Vague—First Amendment—Motion to Suppress—Expert Witness.

Defendant worked as a contract physician at a medical marijuana clinic. Defendant issued “Nick Moser,” an undercover police detective, a Physician Certification stating that Moser suffered from a debilitating medical condition and might benefit from the medical use of marijuana despite the fact that Moser did not suffer from any medical conditions. Defendant was charged and convicted of attempt to influence a public servant.

On appeal, defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying his pretrial motion to dismiss the charge because the legislature proscribed and directed punishment for his conduct in the specific medical marijuana registry fraud statute. Although the statute could apply to a physician’s recommending medical marijuana in a Physician Certification, it does not preclude prosecution for defendant’s conduct under the attempt to influence a public servant statute.

Defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying his request for a lesser non-included offense jury instruction on medical marijuana registry fraud under CRS § 18-18-406.3(2)(a). There was no evidentiary basis on which the jury rationally could have convicted defendant of medical marijuana registry fraud but acquitted him of attempt to influence a public servant. Consequently, the jury could not rationally have convicted defendant of the lesser offense and acquitted him of the greater. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in rejecting defendant’s tendered instruction.

Defendant argued that the attempt to influence a public servant statute is unconstitutional because it is vague as applied to him and violates his free speech rights under the First Amendment. The statute was sufficiently clear that it prohibited defendant’s alleged conduct. Furthermore, false representations such as those made by defendant are not protected by the First Amendment.

Defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the trial court incorrectly concluded that he was not in custody at the time the statements were made. The interview took place at defendant’s clinic, he was not coerced, and the statements were made voluntarily. Therefore, defendant was not in custody when the interview took place and Miranda warnings were not required.

Defendant argued that the trial court erred in admitting the prosecution’s expert testimony on general medical assessments, examinations of patients, and establishing a bona fide physician-patient relationship. The physician was qualified as an expert, and his testimony could have assisted the jury in determining whether defendant’s representations were false. Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the testimony met the requirements of CRE 702 and was not excludable under CRE 403. The judgment was affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Law Week: New Federal Ethics Rule Precludes Colorado Attorneys Practicing in U.S. District Court from Assisting Clients in Complying with State Marijuana Laws

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Law Week Colorado on November 24, 2014. Reprinted with permission.

LipinskySmithBy Lino S. Lipinsky de Orlov and Mason J. Smith

On November 17, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado announced an amendment to its Local Rules that arguably will preclude members of the U.S. District Court bar from representing marijuana-related businesses. The U.S. District Court has opted out of comment 14 to Rule 1.2( d) of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, which allows Colorado attorneys to assist clients with conduct-permitted under the Colorado marijuana laws, but not under federal law.

Under the new amendment to Local Rule D.C.COLO.L.Atty.R. 2(b)(2), which takes effect on December 1, practitioners in the U.S. District Court will be permitted to advise clients regarding the “validity, scope, and meaning” of Colorado’s marijuana laws, but may not “assist a client in conduct that the lawyer reasonably believes is permitted by” such laws. The U.S. District Court’s distinction between advice concerning the interpretation of Colorado’s marijuana laws and assistance with “conduct” creates a significant split in the ethical rules applicable to state and federal practitioners in Colorado.

Rule 1.2(d) of Colorado’s Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits attorneys from “counsel[ing]clients to engage, or assist[ing] a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal. . . .” Colo. RPC 1.2( d). Because the sale, use, and possession of marijuana remain illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, Rule 1.2(d) on its face prohibits Colorado attorneys from counseling or assisting clients who seek to comply with the state’s laws on medical and recreational marijuana. On March 24, 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court adopted comment 14 by a 5-2 vote in an attempt to resolve this issue. Comment 14 expressly allows lawyers to “assist a client in conduct that the lawyer reasonably believes is permitted by [Colorado’s marijuana-related] constitutional provisions” and their implementing statutes and regulations. (Emphasis added.) The lawyer, however, must also “advise the client regarding related federal law and policy.”

As we wrote in our article that appeared in the October 20, 2014 issue of Law Week Colorado, the U.S. District Court typically adopts Colorado’s Rules of Professional Conduct. In some instances, however, the Court opts out of particular sections of rules or comments based upon its own views on attorney ethics. On November 17, 2014, the Court made good on its October 10, 2014 proposal to opt out of comment 14. This comes as no surprise. The federal bench is no doubt uneasy about permitting attorneys to facilitate conduct that, while legal under state law, conflicts with federal law.

The Court’s language taking exception to comment 14 states that the Court will not adopt the comment, “except that a lawyer may advise a client regarding the validity, scope, and meaning of [the medical and recreational marijuana provisions of the Colorado Constitution] and the statutes, regulations, orders, and other state or local provisions implementing them. . . .” (Emphasis added). The exception also mirrors the state requirement that practitioners “also advise the client regarding related federal law and policy.”

The U.S. District Court has therefore drawn a fine line between generally “advising” a client and “assisting a client in conduct.” Presumably, the federal court’s version of Rule 1.2 permits an attorney to explain Colorado’s marijuana laws, but requires the attorney to stop short of facilitating compliance with such laws because—under these circumstances—compliance with state law would, in many cases, result in commission of a federal crime.

The other comments to Rule 1.2 provide limited guidance: “There is a critical distinction between presenting an analysis of legal aspects of questionable conduct and recommending the means by which a crime or fraud might be committed with impunity,” and “the fact that a client uses advice in a course of action that is criminal or fraudulent” is not enough by itself to make a lawyer a party to an illegal course of action. RPC 1.2 cmt. 9 (emphasis added). But this critical barrier between appropriate and sanctionable counseling remains unclear. Another comment to Rule 1.2 states, for example, that “a lawyer must not participate in a transaction to effectuate criminal or fraudulent avoidance of tax liability.” RPC 1.2, cmt. 10 (emphasis added). It seems that, by analogy, an attorney’s participation in lease negotiations regarding a property that will house a marijuana grow operation would be prohibited under the U.S. District Court’s rules, as would an attorney’s review and recommendations regarding a license for marijuana retail sale. Such legal work could, at least in theory, result in disciplinary action against federal litigators.

The U.S. District Court’s decision to opt out of comment 14 gives rise to two major issues. First, it creates a rift between attorneys admitted to practice only before the Colorado state courts and those attorneys admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court. Second, it leaves those attorneys subject to the federal rules guessing about the critical point at which legal advice becomes the facilitation of conduct. In any event, members of both bars should be cognizant of these inconsistent ethical standards as attorneys encounter more and more clients interested in diving into Colorado’s growing marijuana industry.

Until this issue is resolved, federal practitioners should be conservative in rendering any legal advice in connection with marijuana. All attorneys practicing in Colorado should at least advise all clients as to the illegality of marijuana under federal law. Those admitted to the federal bar should also, at the very least, avoid (1) participating directly in conduct that could technically constitute a federal crime or (2) affirmatively advising or encouraging clients to take specific courses of action regarding the growth, use, possession, or sale of marijuana.

Lino Lipinsky de Orlov is a litigation partner in the Denver office of McKenna Long & Aldridge, LLP.  He represents clients in all aspects of commercial litigation, mediation, arbitration, and appeals.  He has developed particular experience in complex business cases, particularly those involving creditor’s rights, real estate, trade secrets, and employment disputes.  Mr. Lipinsky also frequently speaks and writes on legal issues relating to technology, employment law, and ethics.   He is a member of the Colorado Bar Association’s Board of Governors and serves on the Board of the Colorado Judicial Institute.  He is Immediate Past President of the Faculty of Federal Advocates.  Among his honors, Chambers USA has recognized Mr. Lipinsky as one of Colorado’s leading general commercial litigators, and he has been included in The Best Lawyers in America.  He received his A.B. degree, magna cum laude, from Brown University and his J.D. degree from New York University School of Law, where he was a member of the New York University Law Review.

Mason Smith is an in-house attorney at Amazon.  He previously worked as an associate at the Denver office of McKenna Long & Aldridge, LLP and as an extern for the Hon. Judge Christine M. Arguello of the U.S. District Court, District of Colorado.  Mr. Smith is a graduate of The George Washington University Law School, where he was a member of The George Washington University Law Review.

The opinions and views expressed by Featured Bloggers on CBA-CLE Legal Connection do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of the Colorado Bar Association, the Denver Bar Association, or CBA-CLE, and should not be construed as such.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Medical Marijuana Grower Not Entitled to Bring § 1983 Action for Destruction of Plants

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Young v. Larimer County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, September 11, 2014.

Medical Marijuana Amendment—42 USC § 1983—Seizure—Taking—Constitution.

Young leased property where he grew marijuana plants and distributed marijuana for medical use under the Medical Marijuana Amendment (MMA), Article XVIII, §14 of the Colorado Constitution. After obtaining search warrants, sheriff’s deputies entered Young’s property and seized forty-two marijuana plants by cutting them off just above the roots. This action killed the plants. After Young was acquitted of all charges against him, he brought this action for damages on the basis that the deputies had killed the plants seized from him. The trial court entered summary judgment against Young.

On appeal, Young argued that 42 USC § 1983 provides a remedy for state action that violates a right created by the MMA. Section 14(2)(e) of the MMA requires that medical marijuana that has been seized be returned upon acquittal of criminal charges. However, because federal law criminalizes possession of marijuana, such a claim is not cognizable under § 1983. Further, no express or implied private right of action exists under the MMA. Therefore, the trial court properly entered summary judgment on this claim.

Defendants argued that because Young’s complaint alleged a taking only under federal law (which is foreclosed by the federal criminalization of marijuana), a state law takings claim under Article II, §15 of the Colorado Constitution should not be considered. A valid seizure under criminal law does not constitute a taking for which the owner is entitled to just compensation, even if the defendant is later acquitted of the charges. Therefore, the trial court properly entered summary judgment on the state law takings claim. The judgment was affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Trial Court Erroneously Denied Party Its Counsel of Choice

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re People v. Hoskins on Monday, September 8, 2014.

Disqualification of Retained Counsel of Choice—Colo. RPC 1.9(a).

In this original CAR 21 proceeding, the Supreme Court reviewed the trial court’s order disqualifying petitioners’ retained counsel of choice under Colo. RPC 1.9(a). The trial court found that counsel previously represented another party in the same matter for which counsel now represents petitioners, and that the former client and petitioners have materially adverse interests. The Court held that, because the record before it was insufficient to support a finding that the interests of petitioners and the former client are materially adverse in this criminal proceeding, the trial court abused its discretion by disqualifying petitioners’ retained counsel of choice under Colo. RPC 1.9(a). Accordingly, the Court made the rule absolute, reversed the trial court’s order disqualifying petitioners’ counsel of choice, and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

New C.J.E.A.B. Opinion States Judges Cannot Ethically Use Marijuana

On Thursday, July 31, 2014, the Colorado State Judicial Branch released Colorado Judicial Ethics Advisory Board (C.J.E.A.B.) Opinion 2014-01, advising Colorado judges that because marijuana is still illegal under federal laws, any use of marijuana violates Rule 1.1 of the Canon of Judicial Conduct.

The C.J.E.A.B. consists of judges and non-judges who provide advice on ethical issues to judicial officers who request an opinion. Any judicial officer in Colorado may request an opinion from the Board. Once the request is received, the C.J.E.A.B. will consider whether to research the question and issue an opinion regarding the propriety of the proposed conduct and the ethical issues presented.

The question raised in Opinion 2014-01 was whether a judge may use marijuana privately and in a manner consistent with the Colorado Constitution in light of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. The C.J.E.A.B. decided that because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, using marijuana even in a manner consistent with Colorado law is more than a minor violation of the law and constitutes a violation of Rule 1.1 of the Canon of Judicial Conduct. The C.J.E.A.B. decided that virtually every violation of Colorado law is a violation of the CJC, because the exceptions delineated by the committee that crafted the CJCs were extremely minor, such as parking tickets. Further, because drug- and alcohol-related offenses were specifically mentioned as not falling under the exception, the C.J.E.A.B. determined that a judge’s use of marijuana is not a minor violation of law.

Click here for the full text of Opinion 2014-01 and click here for all of the C.J.E.A.B. opinions.

Bills Regarding Great-Grandparent Visitation, Workers’ Comp Treating Physicians, Marijuana Revenue, Segregation of Mentally Ill Inmates, and More Signed

The 2014 Legislative Session has now ended, and Governor Hickenlooper signed many bills into law this session. Over the past week, he signed 79 bills, allowed one to become law without a signature, and vetoed two bills. In total, the governor signed 396 bills, allowed one to become law without a signature, and vetoed four bills.

On Wednesday, June 4, 2014, the governor signed two bills. They are summarized here. The governor also vetoed one bill, SB 14-023 – Concerning an Authorization of the Voluntary Transfer of Water Efficiency Savings to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for Instream Use Purposes in Water Divisions that Include Lands West of the Continental Divide. The governor’s statement regarding SB 14-023 is available here.

  • SB 14-041 – Concerning the Creation of a USS Colorado License Plate for Motor Vehicles and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Bernie Herpin and Reps. Bob Gardner & Spencer Swalm. The bill creates a special license plate to commemorate the USS Colorado.
  • SB 14-214 – Concerning the Studies Requested in the Department of Personnel’s Response to the Request for Information in the Fiscal Year 2013-14 Annual General Appropriation Act, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sens. Kent Lambert & Pat Steadman and Reps. Cheri Gerou & Jenise May. The bill requires the state personnel director and the state auditor to conduct a compensation study to compare with similar workforce structures. The bill also requires PERA to provide member information and data to any third-party compensation consulting firm.

On Thursday, June 5, 2014, the governor signed 24 bills into law. Some of these are summarized here.

  • SB 14-125Concerning the Regulation of Transportation Network Companies, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring Transportation Network Companies to Carry Liability Insurance, Conduct Background Checks on Transportation Network Company Drivers, Inspect Transportation Network Company Vehicles, and Obtain a Permit from the Public Utilities Commission; and Making an Appropriation, by Sens. Cheri Jahn & Ted Harvey and Reps. Dan Pabon & Libby Szabo. The bill creates a limited structure for transportation network companies, which use digital networks to connect riders to drivers who provide transportation in their area.
  • SB 14-172 – Concerning Employer-Paid Benefits to a Firefighter for Cardiac Illnesses Resulting from a Strenuous Work Event, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sens. Lois Tochtrop & Linda Newell and Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp. The bill requires any municipality, special district, fire authority, or county improvement district employing firefighters to provide benefits for heart and circulatory malfunctions.
  • SB 14-213 – Concerning Increasing the Statutes of Limitations for Commencing Procedures Against a Person who, After Committing a Vehicular Homicide, Leaves the Scene of the Accident, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring a Post-Enactment Review of the Implementation of this Act. The bill increases the statute of limitations for persons who leave the scene of a vehicular homicide from five years to ten years.
  • HB 14-1214 – Concerning an Increase in the Penalties for Certain Offenses Committed Against an Emergency Medical Services Provider, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Cheri Gerou and Sen. David Balmer. The bill adds working emergency medical service providers to the list of victims that trigger enhanced sentencing for first degree murder, first degree assault, and second degree assault.
  • HB 14-1228 – Concerning the Repeal of Certain Requirements for Defensive Driving Schools Attended in Accordance with a Court Order Resulting from a Violation of a Law Regulating the Operation of a Motor Vehicle and, in Connection Therewith, Reducing an Appropriation, by Reps. Cherylin Peniston & Libby Szabo and Sens. Lois Tochtrop & Steve King. The bill removes the requirement that the Department of Revenue monitor, evaluate, and report on the effectiveness of court-ordered driving programs, and eliminates the penalty surcharge on people who attend the courses.
  • HB 14-1260 – Concerning the Creation of Three Mandatory Minimum Presumptive Ranges for Defendants Convicted of a Felony Sex Offense Involving Intrusion Against a Child who is Under Twelve Years of Age when the Adult Defendant is At Least Ten Years Older that has One of the Ranges Starting at Ten Years as the Minimum in the Range, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating an Indeterminate Lifetime Sentence with a Mandatory Minimum Presumptive Range of Ten to Sixteen Years for a Class 4 Felony; a Mandatory Minimum Presumptive Range of Eighteen to Thirty-Two Years for a Class 3 Felony; and a Mandatory Minimum Presumptive Range of Twenty-Four to Forty-Eight Years for a Class 2 Felony, by Rep. Mike Foote  and Sen. Mike Johnston. The bill changes the sentencing parameters for adults who commit felony sex offenses on children under age 12.
  • HB 14-1279 – Concerning the Creation of a State Income Tax Credit to Reimburse a Business for Personal Property Taxes Paid in the State, by Reps. Dianne Primavera & Dave Young and Sens. Rollie Heath & Mark Scheffel. The bill creates a state income property tax credit to reimburse businesses for the amount of business personal property tax paid in Colorado.
  • HB 14-1383 – Concerning the Required Number of Physicians that Must Be Provided to an Injured Employee for Selection of a Treating Physician in Workers’ Compensation Cases, by Rep. Angela Williams and Sens. Lois Tochtrop & Jessie Ulibarri. The bill requires employers to provide injured workers a choice of at least four physicians at two or more distinct locations, with exceptions for rural areas.

On Friday, June 6, 2014, the governor signed 53 bills, allowed one to become law without a signature, and vetoed one bill. The bill he allowed to become law without a signature was HB 14-1371 – Concerning Property Taxation of Oil and Gas Leaseholds and Lands and, in Connection Therewith, Specifying that the Wellhead is the Point of Valuation and Taxation for Such Leaseholds and Lands, which changed the point of taxation for oil and gas wells from the production point to the wellhead. The governor issued a statement about the bill (available here).

The bill the governor vetoed Friday was HB 14-1375 – Concerning Modifications to Statutory Provisions Governing Urban Redevelopment to Promote the Equitable Financial Contribution Among Affected Public Bodies in Connection with the Tax Increment Financing of Urban Redevelopment Projects. The governor’s statement regarding this bill is available here.

Summaries of some of the bills the governor signed on Friday are available here.

  • HB 14-1269 – Concerning the Circumstances Under Which a Person who Sells Items Subject to Sales Tax Must Collect Such Sales Tax on Behalf of the State, by Reps. Lois Court & Angela Williams and Sen. Mike Johnston. The bill expands the definition of “nexus” for sales tax purposes, broadening the types of business activity that create taxable sales.
  • HB 14-1280 – Concerning Limits on Liability for Agritourism, by Rep. Timothy Dore and Sen. Gail Schwartz. The bill renames “agricultural recreation activities” as “agritourism” and excludes marijuana-related activities from its definition.
  • HB 14-1321 – Concerning the Membership of the Colorado Task Force on Drunk and Impaired Driving, by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Steve King. The bill changes the name of the Interagency Task Force on Drunk Driving to the Colorado Task Force on Drunk and Impaired Driving and makes several changes to membership requirements.
  • HB 14-1333 – Concerning the Funding of Colorado Water Conservation Board Projects and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Randy Fischer & Don Coram and Sens. Gail Schwartz & Ted Harvey. The bill appropriates funds from the Colorado Water Conservation Board Construction Fund for specific projects and authorizes certain other transactions.
  • HB 14-1343 – Concerning Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Peace Officers, by Reps. Jonathan Singer & Jared Wright and Sen. Lois Tochtrop. The bill allows firefighters and peace officers to file workers’ compensation claims for post-traumatic stress disorder and specifies parameters for filing such claims.
  • HB 14-1356 – Concerning an Increase in the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission’s Penalty Authority and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Matt Jones. The bill increases the penalties for violations of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act.
  • HB 14-1362 – Concerning Great-Grandparent Visitation with Great-Grandchildren, by Rep. Dominick Moreno and Sen. Jessie Ulibarri. The bill allows great-grandparents to seek visitation rights with their great-grandchildren under the same circumstances as grandparent visitation rights are allowed.
  • HB 14-1387 – Concerning Revisions of Capital Related Statutes in the Colorado Revised Statutes and, in Connection Therewith, Amending or Repealing Obsolete, Inconsistent, and Conflicting Provisions of Law and Clarifying the Language to Reflect Legislative Intent and Current Application of the Law, by Reps. Libby Szabo & Randy Fischer and Sen. Gail Schwartz. The bill updates statutes related to capital construction projects and makes additional changes.
  • HB 14-1390 – Concerning the Legal Standing of a Member of the Public in Challenging a Violation of the Open Meeting Requirements, by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Bob Gardner and Sens. Greg Brophy & Rachel Zenzinger. The bill clarifies that anyone denied rights provided by the Open Meetings Law has standing to challenge the denial.
  • HB 14-1398 – Concerning the Provision of Financial Services to Licensed Marijuana Businesses, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sens. Pat Steadman & David Balmer. The bill allows for the creation and regulation of marijuana financial services cooperatives referred to as “cannabis credit co-ops” or CCCs, a new type of financial services entity with membership restricted to licensed marijuana businesses.
  • SB 14-021 – Concerning the Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness who are Involved in the Criminal Justice Systems, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sens. Lois Tochtrop & Steve King and Rep. Jared Wright. The bill extends the repeal date of the Legislative Oversight Committee for the Continuing Examination of the Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness who are Involved with the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems. The bill also specifies areas of examination for the committee.
  • SB 14-064 – Concerning Restricting the Use of Long-Term Isolated Confinement for Inmates with Serious Mental Illness, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Jessie Ulibarri and Rep. Joseph Salazar. The bill requires the DOC to review the mental health status of offenders in segregation every 90 days, and requires that prior to placing an inmate in segregation, a review of the inmate’s mental health status should occur to determine if such placement is allowed.
  • SB 14-117 – Concerning the Reauthorization of the Regulation of Real Estate Appraisers by the Board of Real Estate Appraisers through a Recreation and Reenactment of the Relevant Statutes Incorporating no Substantive Amendments other than those Approved During the First Regular Session of the 69th General Assembly, by Sen. Cheri Jahn and Rep. Randy Fischer. The bill corrects an oversight from Senate Bill 13-155 and extends the repeal date of the Board of Real Estate Appraisers (board) in the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) through September 1, 2022.
  • SB 14-129 – Concerning Changes to Criminal Provisions Related to Marijuana and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Jenise May. The bill affects a number of criminal provisions related to marijuana, including adding penalties for underage consumption and possession.
  • SB 14-193 – Concerning Conforming Colorado Law on Location Information with the Fourth Amendment as Interpreted by the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Jones, by Sens. Morgan Carroll & Kevin Lundberg and Rep. Jonathan Singer. The bill prohibits a state agency from obtaining location information from an electronic device without first obtaining a search warrant, with some exceptions.
  • SB 14-215 – Concerning the Disposition of Moneys Collected by the State in Connection with the Legal Marijuana Industry, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Reps. Crisanta Duran & Cheri Gerou. The bill creates the Marijuana Cash Tax Fund for tax revenue collected by the legal marijuana industry, and identifies the purposes for which funds may be appropriated from the Marijuana Cash Tax Fund.

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

Veterans Bills, Hepatitis C Bill, Marijuana Bills, and Many Others Signed by Governor

Though the General Assembly has adjourned for 2014, the governor continues to sign legislation. To date, the governor has signed 283 bills and vetoed two bills. He signed bills most days during the week of May 19, and signed veterans bills on Memorial Day – May 26, 2014. Some of these are summarized here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

  • SB 14-173 – Concerning the Recommendation that Certain Persons be Offered a Test for the Hepatitis C Virus, by Sens. Cheri Jahn & Steve King and Reps. Jonathan Singer & Frank McNulty. The bill recommends that health care providers offer a test to screen for hepatitis C to anyone born between 1945 and 1965.
  • SB 14-174 – Concerning the Creation of the Prosecution Fellowship Program, by Sens. Rollie Heath & Mike Johnston and Reps. Mike McLachlan & Dan Pabon. The bill provides a fund in the Department of Higher Education for fellowships for recent Colorado law school graduates to pursue careers as prosecutors in rural areas.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

  • HB 14-1178 – Concerning a Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Qualified Property Used in Space Flight, and, In Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Reps. Mark Ferrandino & Brian DelGrosso and Sens. Mary Hodge & Kevin Grantham. The bill exempts qualified space flight personal property from sales and use tax.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

  • SB 14-123 – Concerning the Authority of the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, and, In Connection Therewith, Providing Additional Rule-Making Authority; Raising the Maximum Fee for Certification and Skills Exams; Allowing Awarding Grants to Nonprofit Organizations; Denying Certification for Municipal Violations; and Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Lucia Guzman and Rep. Daniel Kagan. The bill makes several adjustments to the rule-making authority of the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board and allows fee increases, denial of certification, and more.
  • SB 14-155 – Concerning Grant Funding for Medical Marijuana Health Effects Studies, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Reps. Jenise May & Crisanta Duran. The bill creates a grant program to fund scientific research on the use of marijuana as a part of medical treatment.
  • HB 14-1032 – Concerning the Provision of Defense Counsel to Juvenile Offenders, and, In Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations, by Rep. Daniel Kagan and Sen. Lucia Guzman. The bill makes several changes to the procedures concerning providing defense counsel for juvenile offenders.
  • HB 14-1288 – Concerning Information Available Regarding Personal Belief Exemptions to Immunization Requirements for Children Prior to Attending School, by Rep. Dan Pabon and Sen. Irene Aguilar. The bill expands the requirements necessary for parents to waive the immunization requirement for their children prior to attending school.
  • HB 14-1361 – Concerning the Authority of the State Licensing Authority to Establish Equivalencies for Retail Marijuana Products, and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Reps. Frank McNulty & Jonathan Singer and Sens. Lucia Guzman & Steve King. The bill requires the Department of Revenue to establish rules regarding the equivalency of marijuana flowers and marijuana concentrate by January 1, 2016.
  • HB 14-1366 – Concerning Reasonable Restrictions on the Sale of Edible Retail Marijuana Products, by Reps. Jonathan Singer & Frank McNulty and Sens. Mike Johnston & Steve King. The bill removes the requirement that marijuana flowers be sold in childproof packaging and maintains the requirement for edible marijuana products.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • SB 14-051 – Concerning Access to Records Relating to the Adoption of Children, and, In Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Sen. Lois Tochtrop and Rep. Lori Saine. The bill eliminates different standards for the release of adoption records, and generally seals those records from all but eligible recipients.
  • SB 14-118 – Concerning Improving Protections for Individuals with Disabilities, by Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Jovan Melton. The bill changes definitions to conform to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and increases penalties for certain offenses.
  • HB 14-1042 – Concerning Access by Birth Parents to Records Relating to the Relinquishment of Parental Rights, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation, by Rep. Lori Saine and Sen. Lois Tochtrop. The bill requires the custodian of records to release certain records to relinquishing birth parents at the time of relinquishment.
  • HB 14-1372 – Concerning Unauthorized Advertising for Adoption Purposes, by Reps. Kathleen Conti & Beth McCann and Sen. Vicki Marble. The bill prohibits advertising through a public medium for purposes of facilitating adoptions.

Monday, May 26, 2014

  • HB 14-1205 – Concerning the Veterans Assistance Grant Program, by Rep. Su Ryden and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill creates the Veterans Assistance Grant Program, which will provide financial assistance to nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies providing services to improve the health and well-being of veterans in the state.
  • HB 14-1373 – Concerning Individuals Who May Claim the Property Tax Exemption for Qualifying Seniors and Disabled Veterans, by Reps. Steve Lebsock & Ray Scott and Sens. Larry Crowder & Rachel Zenzinger. The bill allows certain individuals to claim a property tax exemption when those individuals would not ordinarily be allowed to claim the exemption.

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

SB 14-215: Specifying the Disposition of Moneys Collected by the State in Connection with the Marijuana Industry

On April 28, 2014, Sen. Pat Steadman introduced SB 14-215 – Concerning the Disposition of Moneys Collected by the State in Connection with the Legal Marijuana Industry, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

Joint Budget Committee

The bill specifies the cash fund into which the moneys collected by the state in connection with the retail marijuana industry will be deposited and determines the disposition of such moneys received by the state during the 2013–14 state fiscal year.

Beginning July 1, 2014, the bill requires all retail marijuana excise tax revenues, all retail marijuana sales tax revenues, and all marijuana state sales tax revenues to be deposited in the marijuana tax cash fund, which the bill creates in the state treasury. The bill requires the state treasurer to transfer all moneys in the marijuana cash fund on July 1, 2014, that are attributable to retail marijuana excise tax revenues, retail marijuana sales tax revenues, and marijuana state sales tax revenues to the marijuana tax cash fund. All moneys attributable to fees will remain in the marijuana cash fund and will continue to be deposited in the marijuana cash fund.

The bill modifies the authorized uses of the moneys in the marijuana cash fund. Beginning July 1, 2014, the general assembly may appropriate the moneys in the marijuana cash fund only to the department of revenue for the costs associated with the regulation, control, and taxation of medical and retail marijuana.

Marijuana tax cash fund. The bill specifies that the general assembly may appropriate the moneys in the newly created marijuana tax cash fund for specified purposes, including the purposes that were eliminated from the currently existing marijuana cash fund.

The bill prohibits the general assembly from appropriating the moneys in the marijuana tax cash fund until the fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the moneys were received by the state; except that the general assembly may appropriate moneys in the marijuana tax cash fund to the department of revenue in the fiscal years in which they were received by the state for the costs associated with the regulation, control, and taxation of medical and retail marijuana.

The remaining moneys in the marijuana tax cash fund are subject to annual appropriation by the general assembly, initially based on the most recent revenue estimate, in the fiscal year following the fiscal year in which they were received by the state. The general assembly may also direct the state treasurer to make transfers from the marijuana tax cash fund to the general fund for specific purposes.

The governor is required to include the governor’s requested expenditures of moneys in the marijuana tax cash fund and the purposes of such expenditures in the governor’s budget request submitted to the joint budget committee each November. In addition, the executive director of the department of revenue is required to include in its budget request submitted to the joint budget committee in November of each year the amount that the department requests from the moneys in the marijuana cash fund and from the marijuana tax cash fund for the costs associated with the regulation, control, and taxation of medical and retail marijuana.

Beginning with appropriations made for the 2015–16 state fiscal year, the total amount that the general assembly appropriates from the fund shall not exceed 93.5% of the amount of moneys in the fund available for appropriation.

The bill delineates the permissible purposes for which the general assembly may appropriate moneys in the marijuana tax cash fund.

The bill makes changes to the 2014 general appropriation bill that are required due to the transfer of moneys from the marijuana cash fund to the marijuana tax cash fund.

The bill passed the Health & Human Services and Appropriations Committees on April 30 and May 1 respectively. On May 2, the bill passed the 2nd Reading Consent Calendar in the Senate.

Since this summary, the bill passed the Senate on Third Reading, with amendments. It was introduced in the House and assigned to the Committee on Health, Insurance & Environment. The Committee on Health, Insurance & Environment referred the bill, amended, to the Appropriations Committee, which referred it, amended, to the House Committee of the Whole. The bill passed on Second Reading with amendments and on Third Reading with no amendments. The Senate repassed the bill with the House amendments.

HB 14-1398: Creating a New Class of Financial Institutions for Marijuana Businesses

On April 30, 2014, Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Pat Steadman introduced HB 14-1398 – Concerning the Provision of Financial Services to Licensed Marijuana Businesses, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, financial institutions are reluctant to serve state-licensed marijuana businesses. These businesses therefore currently operate almost entirely on a cash-only basis, which raises their costs and increases the risk of crime, among other things.

The bill enacts the “Marijuana Financial Services Cooperatives Act.” Marijuana financial services cooperatives (referred to as “cannabis credit co-ops”) are a type of financial services entity, membership in which is restricted to entities that are licensed to own or operate a marijuana business. Cannabis credit co-ops are subject to regulation by the state commissioner of financial services in a manner similar to that of credit unions, with the following differences:

  • The commissioner has 60 days after the filing of an application for a charter to determine whether the application meets the applicable requirements;
  • The incorporators of the co-op must provide the commissioner with written evidence of approval by the federal reserve bank for access by the co-op to the federal reserve system;
  • The commissioner cannot allow more than 10 charters for Cannabis credit co-ops to be outstanding at any one time;
  • The commissioner must examine cannabis credit co-ops at least once every six months; and
  • Once a member no longer owns or operates a licensed marijuana business, the member is no longer qualified to be a member of a co-op.

A cannabis credit co-op:

The bill gives the court of appeals jurisdiction to review certain of the commissioner’s actions. The bill sunsets the regulation of cannabis credit co-ops on September 1, 2020.

The bill has been approve by the Business, Labor, Economic, & Workforce Development, Finance, and Appropriations Committees in the House On May 2, the House passed the bill, as amended, on 2nd Reading Refer Amended to Finance.

  • Cannot refer to itself as a “credit union” or “bank;”
  • Does not need to acquire and maintain deposit insurance;
  • Is subject to taxation; and
  • Is specifically required to comply with federal requirements relating to marijuana businesses and their proceeds and to file reports with the commissioner regarding its federal law compliance and compliance with federal guidance.

Since this summary, the bill passed through the Senate Finance Committee and was referred to Appropriations, where it also passed. The bill passed 2nd Reading in the full Senate with amendments. It also passed 3rd Reading in the Senate, where it was also amended. The bill went back to the House for consideration of the Senate amendments. The first consideration in the House was to not concur with the Senate changes, and a committee conference was requested. The committee conferred, and the bill went back to the House floor, where the changes were accepted.

HB 14-1361: Requiring the Department of Revenue to Promulgate Rules Regarding Equivalency of Marijuana Flowers and Edibles

On April 7, 2014, Rep. Frank McNulty and Sen. Lucia Guzman introduced HB 14-1361 – Concerning the Authority of the State Licensing Authority to Establish Equivalencies for Retail Marijuana Products, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill directs the department of revenue (department) to promulgate rules establishing the equivalent of one ounce of retail marijuana flower in various retail marijuana products. The bill authorizes the department to contract for a scientific study of the equivalency of marijuana flower in marijuana products.

The bill prohibits a retail marijuana store from selling more than one ounce of retail marijuana or the equivalent in retail marijuana products during any single transaction to a Colorado resident. Current law prohibits the sale of more than one-quarter ounce of retail marijuana to a person who is not a resident of Colorado. The bill expands this prohibition to include the equivalent of one-quarter ounce in retail marijuana products.

The bill passed out of the house on April 21. The bill has been approved by the senate health & human services and appropriations committees and cleared 2nd reading in the Senate on May 2.

Since this summary, the bill passed 3rd Reading in the Senate with no amendments. It is on its way to the governor’s desk.