May 1, 2016

HB 16-1430: Implementing Recommendations of Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force

On April 1, 2016, Rep. Steve Lebsock and Sen. Mary Hodge introduced HB 16-1430Concerning the Implementation of a Recommendation of the Oil and Gas Task Force Regarding the Sharing of Oil and Gas Operators’ Development Plans with Affected Local Governments. The bill was assigned to the House Transportation & Energy Committee, where it was amended and referred for Second Reading with the House Committee of the Whole. The bill was again amended on Second Reading but passed Third Reading with no further amendments. It was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Energy Committee.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recently promulgated several rules to implement two of the recommendations of the governor’s oil and gas task force. The bill codifies some of the essential elements of one of the recommendations.

First, the bill states a local government must register with the Commission a statement of its intent to be covered by the bill in order to be qualified to receive from oil and gas operators the information specified in the bill.

Second, each operator shall register with the Commission and with each registered local government in whose jurisdiction it has an approved drilling unit, a pending or approved permit to drill, or an application for a new or amended oil and gas location.

Third, an operator registers with a local government by: (1) complying with the registration process established by the local government; or (2) if no local registration process exists, delivering a current copy of its Commission registration to the local government.

Fourth, a registered local government may request a registered operator to provide the following information: (1) an estimate of the number of wells the operator intends to drill in the next five years; and (2) a map showing the location of the operator’s existing well sits, sites for which the operator has approved or has submitted applications for drilling, and potentially developable sites for which no application has been submitted.

Max Montag is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

HB 16-1426: Criminalizing Intentional Misrepresentation of a Service Animal

On March 30, 2016, Reps. Dianne Primavera & Yeulin Willett introduced HB 16-1426Concerning Intentional Misrepresentation of Entitlement to an Assistance Animal. The bill was assigned to the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee, where it was amended and referred to the House Committee of the Whole for Second Reading.

Federal law requires that reasonable accommodations be provided under some circumstances to individuals with a disability, and that certain housing providers must allow an individual with a disability to reside with his or her assistance animal without charging any fees or imposing conditions that would otherwise apply if the animal were merely a pet. This bill defines “assistance animal” as an animal, other than a service animal – as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act – that qualifies for a reasonable accommodation under the federal Fair Housing Act or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The bill requires the following medical professionals, when approached by a patient seeking an assistance animal, to either make a written finding regarding whether the patient has a disability (and if so, whether the need for the animal is related to that disability), or make a written finding that there is insufficient evidence to make a disability determination: (1) physicians, physician assistants, and anesthesiologist assistants (pursuant to section 1 of the bill); (2) nurses (pursuant to section 2 of the bill); and (3) psychologists, social workers, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, and addiction counselors (pursuant to section 3 of the bill). A medical professional shall not make a disability determination unless the medical professional: (1) meets with the patient in person or by telephone; (2) is sufficiently familiar with the patient and the disability; and (3) is legally and professionally qualified to make the determination.

The bill creates the class 1 petty offense of intentional misrepresentation of entitlement to an assistance animal, which is committed if (1) a person intentionally misrepresents an animal in his or her possession as an assistance animal for the purpose of obtaining any of the rights or privileges granted by law to persons with disabilities; and (2) the person knows that the animal is question is not a an assistance animal with regard to that person, or the person does not have a disability. A written disability determination made pursuant to the bill is an affirmative defense to the offense established by the bill, while a lack of such a finding is not proof that the offense occurred. If convicted, the defendant must pay: $350-$1,000 for a first offense; $600-$1,000 for a second offense; and $1,000-$5,000 plus community service for a third offense.

A district court may order the conviction record sealed if: (1) the defendant files a petition and pays the filing fee; (2) the defendant’s first offense was at least three years prior to filing the petition; and (3) the defendant has not had a subsequent conviction for the offense.

Max Montag is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

HB 16-1356: Modifying the Treatment of a Line of Credit Secured with Real Property

On March 11, 2016, Reps. Tracy Kraft-Thorp and Dan Nordberg, and Sens. Cheri Jahn and Chris Holbert introduced HB 16-1356Concerning Requirements Related to the Satisfaction of Indebtedness Secured by Real Property. The bill was introduced into the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee, where it passed unamended. It passed Second and Third Reading in the House unamended and was introduced into the Senate Finance Committee. It passed through the Senate Finance Committee unamended and is awaiting Second Reading in the Senate.

This bill establishes for indebtedness consisting of a line a credit secured by a lien on real property, any lien on real property securing that line of credit continues, and no lien release is required, until the line of credit expires and all indebtedness has been satisfied, unless, before expiration of the line of credit, all outstanding indebtedness is satisfied and the debtor relinquishes in writing all right to make any further draw upon the line of credit.

Further, the debtor relinquishes the right to make a further draw by either requesting in writing that the line of credit be closed by the creditor, or by written notification by the debtor, or his or her designee, that the real property is being conveyed upon payment of all indebtedness. Upon satisfaction of all indebtedness in connection with the conveyance of the real property and notice to the creditor or holder of the conveyance, the creditor or holder shall terminate the line of credit, record the release of the lien on real property, or in the case of a deed of trust, file with the public trustee the documents required for release, and return all papers and personal property.

Max Montag is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

SB 16-133: Changing Procedures for Affirming Shared Ownership of Real Property at Death of Decedent

On February 18, 2016, Sens. Jack Tate & Michael Johnston and Reps. Dan Pabon & Yeulin Willett introduced SB 16-133Concerning the Transfer of Property Rights upon the Death of a Person, and, in Connection Therewith, Clarifying Determination-Of-Heirship Proceedings in Probate. The bill was introduced into the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it was amended. It passed through the Senate with amendments on Second Reading and passed through the House without further amendments. It is now awaiting the governor’s signature.

Under current law, a certificate of death, a verification of death document, or a certified copy thereof, of a person who is a joint tenant may be placed of record with the county clerk and recorder of the county in which the real property affected by the joint tenancy is located, together with a supplementary affidavit. First, this bill removes the requirement that the person who swears to and affirms the supplementary affidavit has no record interest in the real property, while requiring that the supplementary affidavit include a statement that the person referred to in the certificate is the same person who is named in a specific recorded deed or similar instrument creating the joint tenancy.

Second, this bill amends provisions concerning determination-of-heirship proceedings, as follows:

  1. Amends the definition of “interested person” to mean an owner by descent or succession so that anyone affected by the ownership of property may commence a proceeding;
  2. Requires the petition to contain additional information with respect to the property at issue, each decedent, any previous administration of the decedent’s property, and any unknown interested person;
  3. Imposes additional requirements upon a petition if the decedent died testate, depending on whether the decedent’s will has or has not been previously admitted to probate, and if the will has not been probated, the petition must contain a statement that the original will is unavailable;
  4. Requires a petitioner’s notice to identify the petition, and include the name of the each decedent, the name of each interested party, a legal description of any real property, the time and place of the hearing on the petition, and that any objection to the petition must be filed in writing with the court on or before the hearing date and served upon the petitioner; notice shall also be published once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the proceeding was filing, and in the county in which the real property at issue is located;
  5. Requires upon the entry of a decree affecting title to real property, a certified copy of the decree must be recorded and indexed in the office of the county clerk and recorder of each county in which real property is located, as if it were a deed of conveyance from the decedent; and
  6. Establishes that the admission of a previously unprobated will applies only to the decedent’s particular property interest described in the petition.

Third, this bill enacts portions of section 5 of the “Uniform Power of Appointment Act,” with amendments.

Max Montag is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

HB 16-1310: Increasing Potential Liability of Oil and Gas Operators Beyond Interference with Surface Use

On March 2, 2016, Rep. Joseph Salazar and Sen. Morgan Carroll introduced HB 16-1310Concerning Liability for the Conduct of Oil and Gas Operations. The bill was introduced in the House Health, Insurance, & Environment Committee, where it was referred, unamended, to the House Committee of the Whole. The bill passed Second Reading with amendments and Third Reading with no amendments. In the Senate, the bill was assigned to the Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Energy Committee.

Under current law governing relations between surface landowners and oil and gas operators, to prevail on a claim a surface owner plaintiff must present evidence that the operator’s use of the surface land materially interfered with the surface owner’s use of the surface of the land. This bill increases the potential liability of operators beyond interference with the owner’s use of the surface by allowing a plaintiff to present evidence that the oil and gas operations caused bodily injury to the surface owner or any person residing on the property of the surface owner, or that the operations damaged the surface owner’s property.

The bill also holds oil and gas operators strictly liable if the operations, including a hydraulic fracturing treatment or reinjection operation, cause an earthquake that damages real or personal property or injuries an individual, wherever the person or property is located. A plaintiff establishes a prima facie case of causation in this context if the plaintiff shows: (1) An earthquake has occurred; (2) the earthquake damaged the plaintiff’s property or injured the plaintiff; and (3) the oil and gas operations occurred within an area that has been determined to have experienced induced seismicity by a study of induced seismicity that was independently peer-reviewed. The strict liability established by this bill is not waivable by contract, and a plaintiff has five years after discovery of the damages or injury to file an action.

Max Montag is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Bills Limiting Foreclosure Finder’s Fee, Clarifying Documentary Recording Fees, and More Signed by Governor

On Friday, April 15, 2016, Governor Hickenlooper signed 15 bills into law. To date, he has signed 117 bills this legislative session. Some of the bills signed Friday include a bill reducing finder’s fees for public trustee foreclosures, a bill treating sexual trafficking of a child as child abuse for dependency and neglect cases, a bill clarifying how to calculate filing fees for recording grants or conveyances of real property, and more. The bills signed Friday are summarized here.

  • HB 16-1011 – Concerning the Removal of Restrictions on the Authority of a Board of a Metropolitan District to Provide Activities in Support of Business Development Within the District, by Rep. Ed Vigil and Sens. Leroy Garcia & Kevin Grantham. The bill removes the specified minimum valuation of commercial property for which a board of a metropolitan district can provide activities in support of business recruitment, management, and development.
  • HB 16-1066 – Concerning an Habitual Domestic Violence Offender, by Rep. Kit Roupe and Sen. Linda Newell. Currently, a judge must make a finding of fact regarding whether a defendant is a habitual domestic violence offender. The bill specifies that the trier of fact (judge or jury) may determine habitual status.
  • HB 16-1073 – Concerning the Qualifications of Licensed Electricians, by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Brian DelGrosso and Sens. Lucia Guzman & Mark Scheffel. The bill creates new renewal requirements for people seeking to renew licenses as master electricians, journeyman electricians, or residential wiremen. Renewal applicants will be required to complete 24 hours of continuing education rather than passing a competency evaluation.
  • HB 16-1090 – Concerning the Conditions Under Which a Person May Assist Another for Compensation in Obtaining the Proceeds of a Foreclosure Sale After All Liens Have Been Satisfied, by Rep. Beth McCann and Sen. Cheri Jahn. The bill limits the premium, or finder’s fee, that a person may charge for offering assistance in recovering the balance of the purchase price of a foreclosed property after all liens and claims against the property have been satisfied.
  • HB 16-1098 – Concerning Updates to Provisions Relating to School Discipline Reporting, by Rep. Polly Lawrence and Sen. Linda Newell. The bill modifies school discipline reporting requirements, requiring that agencies of the Judicial Department make information regarding expunged juvenile delinquency proceedings available to the Division of Criminal Justice, specifies that the attorney general’s requirement to report names of students given criminal citations or diversion is exempt from statutes prohibiting dissemination of confidential information, and allows aggregation of data about incidents involving law enforcement on school property.
  • HB 16-1103 – Concerning Clarifying License Pathways for the Mental Health Professional Workforce, by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Lois Landgraf and Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Nancy Todd. The bill specifies that candidates seeking licensure as mental health professionals may, but are not required to, register with the database of registered psychotherapists after completing their degree.
  • HB 16-1106 – Concerning the Authority of a County to Designate Public Roads as a Section of a Pioneer Trail, by Rep. Jim Wilson and Sens. Kevin Grantham & Leroy Garcia. The bill allows a board of county commissioners to designate by resolution any public roads in the county as a pioneer trail, with certain conditions.
  • HB 16-1145 – Concerning the Determination of the Documentary Fee Imposed for Recording a Grant or Conveyance of Residential Real Property, by Rep. Steve Lebsock and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill clarifies that the filing fee for a residential real property conveyance is calculated based on the total sales price, as listed on the conveyance document, and if there is no sales price listed or the amount is less than $500, the documentary fee is calculated based on the total sales price listed on the declaration form.
  • HB 16-1149 – Concerning a Requirement that the Executive Board of a Common Interest Community Created in Colorado Before July 1, 1992, Comply with the Budget Reporting Provision of the “Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act”, by Rep. Jovan Melton and Sen. Linda Newell. Currently, common interest communities established before July 1, 1992 are exempt from certain reporting requirements. The bill removes the exemption.
  • HB 16-1170 – Concerning the Continuation of the Division of Racing Events in the Department of Revenue, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing Recommendation 1 of the 2015 Sunset Report of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, by Reps. Ed Vigil & Don Coram and Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg & Leroy Garcia. The bill extends the sunset of the Division of Racing Events and the Colorado Racing Commission until September 1, 2023.
  • HB 16-1189 – Concerning the Regulation of Bingo-Raffle Licenses, by Rep. Cole Wist and Sen. Ellen Roberts. The bill makes changes to the Secretary of State’s regulation of bingo-raffle licenses. Specifically, the bill allows people whose license was denied to appeal to an ALJ within 60 days, clarifies when consolation prizes must be reported, and removes a restriction on the number of games a person can be a game manager for.
  • HB 16-1224 – Concerning Child Abuse Involving Human Trafficking of Minors, by Rep. Paul Lundeen and Sen. Laura Woods. The bill adds human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude or commercial sexual exploitation to the definition of child abuse for purposes of dependency and neglect. The bill also requires county departments of human services to immediately offer services to children who are victims of human trafficking when appropriate and to file petitions in juvenile court on the child’s behalf.
  • HB 16-1236 – Concerning Continuation of the Infection Control Advisory Committee, by Rep. Dianne Primavera and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill extends the sunset of the Infection Control Advisory Committee until July 1, 2021.
  • SB 16-013 – Concerning Statutory Changes Related to the Office of the Child Protection Ombudsman, by Sen. Linda Newell & Rep. Jonathan Singer. The bill makes several statutory changes regarding the Office of the Child Protection Ombudsman, including clarifying its board’s advisory nature, clarifying certain duties and the relationship between the office and the Judicial Department, and removing an audit requirement.
  • SB 16-125 – Concerning the Governance of Credit Unions, and, in Connection Therewith, Authorizing the Appointment of an Audit Committee in Lieu of a Supervisory Committee and Allowing the Reasonable Compensation of a Director for His or Her Service to the Credit Union, by Sen. Chris Holbert and Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp. The bill allows the board of directors of a credit union to appoint an audit committee in lieu of a supervisory committee.

For all of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2016 legislative decisions, click here.

HB 16-1308: Establishing Criminal Penalties for Misrepresentation of a Service Animal

On March 2, 2016, Rep. Daniel Kagan and Sen. Linda Newell introduced HB 16-1308Concerning the Offense of Intentional Misrepresentation of a Service Animal. The bill was introduced in the House Judiciary Committee, where it was amended and referred to the House Committee of the Whole. The bill was amended on Second and Third Readings in the House and was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it was postponed indefinitely.

This bill creates the criminal offense of intentional misrepresentation of a service animal (referred to herein as “offense), which is committed if: (1) a person intentionally misrepresents an animal in his or her possession as a service animal (or service-animal-in-training) for the purpose of obtaining any of the rights or privileges granted by law to persons with disabilities; and (2) the person knows that the animal is question is not a service animal (or service-animal-in-training).

If convicted, the defendant must pay $33 plus: $350-$1,000 for a first offense; $600-$1,000 for a second offense; and $1,000-$5,000, plus community service, for a third offense.

A district court may order the conviction record sealed if: (1) the defendant files a petition and pays the filing fee; (2) the defendant’s first offense was at least three years prior to filing the petition; and (3) the defendant has not had a subsequent conviction for the offense.

Max Montag is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

e-Legislative Report: Week of April 11, 2016

legislationWelcome to another edition of the e-leg report. We’re nearing the halfway point at the capitol, and that means the state budget debate is at hand. A number of bills that the CBA is working are subject to appropriations – and only after the budget debate is settled will we know whether they are likely to be funded or not.

Feel free to drop me a line on how we are doing or raise an issue on a piece of legislation. Contact me atjschupbach@cobar.org.

CBA Legislative Policy Committee

For followers who are new to CBA legislative activity, the Legislative Policy Committee (“LPC”) is the CBA’s legislative policy making arm during the legislative session. The LPC meets weekly during the legislative session to determine CBA positions from requests from the various sections and committees of the Bar Association. Members are welcome to attend the meetings—please RSVP if you are interested.

LPC Meeting Update

Here is a quick rundown of the bills on which we have recently taken a position.

HB 16-1211 – Marijuana Transporter License

The bill creates a retail marijuana transporter license and a medical marijuana transporter license. The license is valid for five years. A licensed marijuana transporter (transporter) provides logistics, distribution, and storage of marijuana and marijuana products. A transporter may contract with multiple businesses and may also hold another marijuana license. A transporter must be licensed by December 31, 2017, in order to continue to operate. The bill describes the circumstances under which a business can terminate a contract with a transporter.

The Bar’s Cannabis Law Committee is currently monitoring and preparing comments on this bill. The bill is working through its first chamber and has been greatly amended from its original form. The Legislative Policy Committee has not taken action on this bill.

HB 16-1235 – Commissions Evaluating State Judicial Performance

The bill makes revisions to various functions of the state commission on judicial performance (state commission) and the district commissions on judicial performance (district commission), referred to collectively as the “commissions.”

This bill was postponed indefinitely (killed) in the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. The Colorado Bar Association had many concerns with the cost and operation of the bill.

HB 16-1270 – Security Interest Owner’s Interest In Business Entity

Under current law, the Uniform Commercial Code (Code) invalidates contractual limits on the transferability of some assets that can be subject to a security interest. In 2006, the Colorado Corporations and Associations Act (Act) was amended to clearly and broadly exempt an owner’s interest in a business entity from these Code provisions to effectuate the “pick your partner” principle that allows small businesses to control their ownership. Section 3 of the bill narrows the exemption in the Act to that necessary for “pick your partner,” and sections 1 and 2 codify this narrowed exemption in the Code.

This bill, part of a four bill package of business entities clean up acts, was supported by the Bar and has passed the House and Senate and is on its way to be signed by the Governor.

HB 16-1275 – Taxation Of Corporate Income Sheltered In Tax Haven

The bill pertains to an affiliated group of corporations filing a combined report. In a combined report filing, the tax is based on a percentage of the entire taxable income of all of the includable corporations, but the tax is assessed only against the corporation or corporations doing business in Colorado. Including more affiliated corporations in the combined report may result in an increase in income subject to tax.

There are jurisdictions located outside of the United States with no tax or very low rates of taxation, strict bank secrecy provisions, a lack of transparency in their tax system operations, and a lack of effective exchange of information with other countries. There are several common legal strategies for sheltering corporate income in such jurisdictions, often called “tax havens.”

Notwithstanding a current requirement in state law that those corporations with 80% or more of their property and payroll assigned to locations outside of the United States be excluded from a combined report, the bill makes a corporation that is incorporated in a foreign jurisdiction for the purpose of tax avoidance an includable C corporation for purposes of the combined report.

The bill defines a corporation incorporated in a foreign jurisdiction for the purpose of tax avoidance to mean any C corporation that is incorporated in a jurisdiction that has no or nominal effective tax on the relevant income and that meets one or more of five factors listed in the bill, unless it is proven to the satisfaction of the executive director of the Department of Revenue that such corporation is incorporated in that jurisdiction for a legitimate business purpose.

The bill requires the state controller to credit a specified amount per fiscal year to the state education fund to be used to help fund public school education.

The bill requires the secretary of state to submit a ballot question, to be treated as a proposition, at the statewide election to be held in November 2016 asking voters:

  • To increase taxes annually by the taxation of a corporation’s state income that is sheltered in a foreign jurisdiction for the purpose of tax avoidance;
  • To use the resulting tax revenue to help fund elementary and secondary public school education; and
  • To allow an estimate of the resulting tax revenue to be collected and spent notwithstanding any limitations in section 20 of article X of the state constitution (TABOR).

The Tax Law section of the CBA voted to oppose this bill, which was postponed indefinitely (killed) by the Senate State Affairs Committee. The Bar had concerns over the cost of vague language in the bill as well as the impact on the courts and judicial system.

HB 16-1310 – Operators Liable For Oil And Gas Operations

Under current law governing relations between surface owners and oil and gas operators, to prevail on a claim the surface owner must present evidence that the operator’s use of the surface materially interfered with the surface owner’s use of the surface of the land. The bill amends this requirement to allow proof that the operator’s oil and gas operations harmed the surface owner’s use of the surface of the land, caused bodily injury to the surface owner or any person residing on the property of the surface owner, or damaged the surface owner’s property.

The Legislative Policy Committee voted to oppose this bill because it upends the burden of proof responsibility. The bill has passed the House and is moving on to the Senate, where it will be heard by the Agriculture Committee.

HB 16-1331 – Policies On Juvenile Shackling In Court

The bill requires restraints on a juvenile to be removed prior to any court proceeding, except when the court determines the restraints are necessary:

  • To prevent physical harm to the juvenile or another person;
  • To prevent disruptive courtroom behavior by the juvenile, evidenced by a history of behavior that created potentially harmful situations or presented substantial risk of physical harm; or
  • To prevent the juvenile from fleeing the courtroom, when there is evidence of an escape history or other relevant factors.

The prosecution, sheriff, or any other detention or pretrial personnel may request that an individual juvenile be restrained in the courtroom. The court shall provide the juvenile’s attorney an opportunity to be heard before the court allows the use of restraints on a juvenile. The court may conduct a hearing on the use of restraints without the juvenile being present.

The CBA supports this bill as good policy and an extension of the efforts the courts have made this past year. While the courts need discretion, we believe this bill strikes the right balance for outlining the policies on how and when juveniles should be subject to shackling.

HB 16-1346 – Open Records Subject To Inspection Denial

The bill allows a custodian to deny access to confidential personal information records and employee personal e-mail addresses. The provisions of the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) that relate to civil or administrative investigations and trade secrets and other privileged and confidential information apply to the judicial branch.

The Bar Association opposed this bill because of constitutional and separation of powers concerns regarding the relationship between the judicial and legislative branches of government. In addition, we believe that the PAIRR rules issued by the Chief Justice, which closely mirror the text of CORA, are better suited to meet the information needs of requesters while maintaining the integrity of judicial records.

HB 16-1394 -Aligning Issues Around At-risk Persons

The bill implements the following recommendations of the at-risk adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities mandatory reporting implementation task force:

  • Standardizing statutory definitions among the Colorado Criminal Code, adult protective services in the department of human services, and the office of community living in the department of health care policy and financing;
  • Specifying that enhanced penalties for crimes against an at-risk person apply to all persons 70 years of age or older and to all persons with a disability; and
  • Clarifying and expanding the definitions of persons who are required to report instances of mistreatment of at-risk elders or at-risk adults with an intellectual and developmental disability (adults with IDD).

The bill also:

  • Reduces the time in which a law enforcement agency or county department is required to prepare a written report from 48 hours to 24 hours;
  • Specifies that a county department of human or social services is to conduct an investigation of allegations of mistreatment of an at-risk adult; and
  • Clarifies that the human rights committee is responsible for ensuring that an investigation of mistreatment of an adult with IDD occurred.

The Colorado Bar Association opposed the bill as written, but is working with stakeholders to review amendments from other stakeholder groups. We are working with and talking with the sponsors frequently.

SB 16-130 – Methods To Collect Consumer Use Tax

Consumer use tax is the complement to sales tax and is due on the purchases of goods where the retailer did not charge sales tax. For example, any time consumers make an Internet purchase and the out-of-state retailer does not charge sales tax, the purchaser should pay the equivalent amount of sales tax as consumer use tax directly to the Colorado Department of Revenue (department). The department has added a use tax line to the 2015 individual income tax return form in an effort to make self-reporting of use tax more convenient for consumers.

The bill specifies that after the 2015 income tax year the department is not allowed to add use tax reporting lines to the individual income tax return form for any reason. The bill also prohibits the department from auditing any taxpayer for any amount he or she reported on the use tax lines included in the 2015 individual income tax return form.

The CBA is monitoring this bill and has sought permission to make changes to the bill to ensure that collecting use taxes is efficient.

SB 16-131 Overseeing Fiduciaries’ Management Of Assets

The bill clarifies statutory language concerning the removal of a fiduciary to ensure that a fiduciary’s authority is suspended as soon as a petition to remove the fiduciary is filed. The bill adds a provision to the conservatorship statutes stating that an adult ward or protected person has a right to be represented by a lawyer of their choosing unless the trial court finds the person lacks sufficient capacity to provide informed consent for representation by a lawyer. The bill states that after a fiduciary receives notice of proceedings for his, her, or its removal, the fiduciary shall not pay compensation or attorney fees and costs from the estate without an order of the court.

This bill rearranges the existing responsibilities for fiduciaries managing assets. It is a cleanup and reorganization of these statutes and adds the right to legal counsel for wards and protected persons. The bill is scheduled for committee later this week.

SB 16-133 – Transfer Of Property Rights At Death

Under current law, a certificate of death, a verification of death document, or a certified copy thereof, of a person who is a joint tenant may be placed of record with the county clerk and recorder of the county in which the real property affected by the joint tenancy is located, together with a supplementary affidavit. The bill removes the requirement that the person who swears to and affirms the supplementary affidavit has no record interest in the real property. The bill includes inherited individual retirement accounts and inherited Roth individual retirement accounts as property exempt from levy and sale under writ of attachment or writ of execution.

The bill amends provisions concerning determination-of-heirship proceedings, as follows:

  • Clarifies the definition of “interested person” so that anyone affected by the ownership of property may commence a proceeding;
  • Describes when an unprobated will may be used as part of a proceeding;
  • Clarifies notice requirements; and
  • Ensures that a judgment and decree will convey legal title as opposed to equitable title.

The bill enacts portions of section 5 of the Uniform Power of Appointment Act, with amendments.
This bill, the second part of the Colorado Bar Association’s probate reorganization bills, has passed the legislature and will be sent to the Governor shortly.

Bills that the LPC is monitoring, watching or working on can be found at this link:
http://www.statebillinfo.com/sbi/index.cfm?fuseaction=Public.Dossier&id=21762&pk=996

SB 16-080: Enacting Requirements for In-Home Growing of Marijuana

On January 19, 2016, Sen. Linda Newell and Reps. Cole Wist & Dan Pabon introduced SB 16-080Concerning Secured Marijuana Cultivation Requirements. The bill was introduced in the Senate Business, Labor, & Technology Committee, where it passed unamended. The bill passed Second Reading in the Senate with amendments and was not further amended on Third Reading. In the House, the bill was approved by the Finance Committee with amendments. It was amended again on Second Reading in the House and passed through Third Reading. The bill is now back in the Senate for consideration of the House amendments.

C.R.S. § 18-18-406 sets forth the requirements to be met for persons cultivating adult-use marijuana at their residence. Under current law, if a person is growing adult-use marijuana in a residence where another person, who is under the age of 21, resides, the grow site must be in an enclosed and locked space.

Additionally, if no person under 21 years old lives in the residence, but a person under 21 years old enters the residence, the person growing the marijuana must ensure access to the grow site is reasonably restricted during the period the under-aged person is staying at the residence. The bill also applies the same conditions to a person growing medical marijuana.

Mark Proust is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Colorado Court of Appeals: County’s Master Plan Retained Advisory Status when Not Incorporated Into Land Development Code

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan, Inc. v. Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, April 7, 2016.

C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4)—Special Use Permit Appeal—Binding Nature of Master Plans.

Under C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4), plaintiffs, Friends of Black Forest Preservation Plan, Inc. and several residents of the Black Forest area, appealed the district court’s judgment affirming the decision of defendant Board of County Commissioners of El Paso County (Board) approving the special use permit application of defendant Black Forest Mission, LLC (BFM) to construct a greenhouse operation in the Black Forest Preservation area.

BFM proposed to construct a 1.19-acre greenhouse on a 4.87-acre lot it owned in an area governed by the Black Forest Preservation Plan (BFPP), which is contained within El Paso County’s overall master plan. Greenhouses are allowed if less than one acre in size, but a special use permit is required for larger greenhouses.

The Planning Commission recommended by a 6–2 vote that the Board deny BFM’s application for a special use permit because of its inconsistency with both El Paso County’s Policy Plan and the BFPP. At the first hearing before the Board, BFM was granted a continuance to amend its application to attempt to ameliorate various concerns of the Planning Commission and residents. At the next hearing, BFM presented a revised plan proposing three smaller greenhouses that collectively would be larger and would be built on two parcels instead of one. BFM also modified the location to address concerns about light pollution, view obstruction, and traffic congestion. The Board approved BFM’s amended special use application by a vote of 3–2.

Plaintiffs filed this action, arguing the Board misapplied governing law and abused its discretion because of its belief, as relayed by a county attorney, that the county’s master plan was merely advisory. The district court affirmed the Board’s decision, agreeing that the county’s master plan was advisory and there was competent evidence in the record supporting the Board’s decision to approve BFM’s special use permit application. Plaintiffs appealed.

The court of appeals noted that C.R.S. § 30-28-106 provides that master plans may be made binding by formal inclusion in county land use regulations. The court undertook an extensive analysis of El Paso County’s land use regulation scheme and rejected plaintiffs’ argument that the Board’s approval was based on an erroneous legal standard, concluding there was a reasonable basis for the Board’s interpretation of its own regulatory framework. It held that the master plan was advisory and the Board has discretion in deciding how to apply the master plan in its decisions on special use applications.

Plaintiffs also argued it was error for the district court to find competent evidence in the record to support the Board’s decision. The court disagreed.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

HB 16-1174: Limiting the Ability of the Director of the Department of Revenue to Contest Claimed Conservation Easements

On February 1, 2016, Rep. Becker introduced HB 16-1174Concerning a Perpetual Conservation Easement in Gross Granted for Property in Colorado for Which a Tax Credit Claim has been Rejected. The bill was introduced in the House and assigned to the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee, and was referred by that committee, unamended, to the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee amended the bill and referred it to Appropriations.

Under current Colorado law, a state income tax credit is allowed for a portion of the value of a perpetual conservation easement that is granted by a taxpayer on real property located in Colorado. This bill, if enacted, would restrict the ability of the executive director of the department of revenue to contest an appraisal and credit claimed for an easement donated prior to January 1, 2008, in which a final settlement has not been reached by July 1, 2016.

C.R.S. § 39-22-522 proposes that this restriction would apply unless the executive director can show two things. First, the restriction would not apply if the executive director is able to produce clear and convincing evidence of an overvaluation of the easement, confirmed in writing by the State Attorney General prior to a specified date. Second, if the valuation is supported solely by an appraisal from an appraiser convicted of fraud or misrepresentation in connection with preparing the appraisal.

Currently, Colorado law allows for a conservation easement to be terminated in the same manner as any other easement. The proposed bill specifies, however, under C.R.S. § 38-30.5-107(2) that a court may exercise its equitable jurisdiction to terminate a conservation easement where a tax credit has been claimed in certain circumstances if the claim has been rejected.

Mark Proust is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Residential Reconstruction Bill, Costs of District Health Agency Bill, and Bill Repealing Medicaid Claims Task Force Signed

On Tuesday, April 5, 2016, the governor signed three bills into law. To date, he has signed 73 bills into law this legislative session. The bills signed Tuesday include a bill to extend the time to complete residential reconstruction, a bill regarding the costs of district public health agencies, and a bill repealing the “Medicaid Clean Claims Task Force.” These three bills are summarized below.

  • SB 16-012 – Concerning the Authority of a Local Assessor to Grant Additional Time for a Landowner to Reconstruct Residential Improvements that were Destroyed by a Natural Cause, by Sen. Rollie Heath and Rep. Jonathan Singer. The bill allows residential property to maintain its property tax classification for an indefinite period of time if the county assessor finds the property owner is making a good faith effort to rebuild after a natural disaster.
  • SB 16-094 – Concerning the Shared Costs of a District Public Health Agency by the Counties in the District, by Sen. Larry Crowder and Rep. Ed Vigil. Currently, the largest county in a multi-county public health district must serve as treasurer and district costs must be apportioned based on population. The bill allows multi-county health districts with small populations more flexibility in choosing which county will act as treasurer and apportioning costs.
  • SB 16-127 – Concerning the Repeal of the “Medicaid Clean Claims Transparency and Uniformity Act,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. The bill repeals the Medicaid Clean Claims Transparency and Uniformity Act, repeals all ongoing work of the Medicaid Clean Claims Task Force, and repeals the requirement that insurance companies bill using codes developed by the task force. Related statutory definitions are also repealed.

For a complete list of the governor’s 2016 legislative decisions, click here.