June 19, 2018

Lieutenant Governor Lynne Signs Final Bills of 2018 Legislative Session

On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne signed the final bills of the 2018 legislative session into law in Governor Hickenlooper’s absence. Lt. Gov. Lynne signed 35 bills into law. During the 2018 legislative session, 421 bills were signed into law, 9 were vetoed, and 2 were sent to the Secretary of State without a signature. The bills signed Wednesday are summarized here.

  • SB 18-015 – “Concerning the ‘Protecting Homeowners and Deployed Military Personnel Act,'” by Sens. Bob Gardner & Owen Hill and Reps. Dave Williams & Larry Liston. The bill directs a peace officer to remove a person from a residential premises and to order the person to remain off the premises if the owner or owner’s authorized agent (declarant) swears to a declaration making specified statements concerning ownership of the premises and the lack of authority for the person or persons who are on the premises to be there.
  • SB 18-038 – “Concerning the Allowable Uses of Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater, and, in Connection Therewith, Allowing Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater to be Used for Industrial Hemp Cultivation and Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Kerry Donovan & Don Coram and Reps. Daneya Esgar & Yeulin Willett. The bill codifies rules promulgated by the water quality control commission of the Colorado department of public health and environment concerning allowable uses of reclaimed domestic wastewater, which is wastewater that has been treated for subsequent reuses other than drinking water.
  • SB 18-068 – “Concerning Criminalizing False Reports,” by Sens. John Cooke & Kevin Van Winkle and Rep. Jeff Bridges. Under current law, there is a crime of false reporting to authorities. The bill creates a crime of false reporting of an emergency by criminalizing an act of false reporting to authorities that includes a false report of an imminent threat to the safety of a person or persons by use of a deadly weapon.
  • SB 18-225 – “Concerning the Definition of an Early College for Purposes of the ‘Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act,'” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. Under the existing statute, an early college is not subject to the requirements of the ‘Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act’. The bill amends the definition of ‘early college’ to specify that an early college must provide only a curriculum that is designed to be completed within 4 years and includes concurrent enrollment in high school and postsecondary courses such that, when a student completes the curriculum, the student has attained a high school diploma and a postsecondary credential or at least 60 credit hours toward completion of a postsecondary credential.
  • SB 18-245 – “Concerning the Disposal of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials,” by Sen. John Cooke and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. Current law allows the state board of health to adopt rules concerning the disposal of naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) only after the federal environmental protection agency has adopted rules concerning the disposal of NORM. The EPA has not adopted the rules. The bill repeals this prohibition and requires the state board to adopt rules, which must also regulate technologically enhanced NORM (TENORM), by December 31, 2020.
  • SB 18-250 – “Concerning the Provision of Jail-based Behavioral Health Services, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Bob Gardner & Kent Lambert and Reps. Pete Lee & Dave Young. The bill continues to allow the correctional treatment cash fund to be used to provide treatment for persons with mental and behavioral health disorders who are being served through the jail-based behavioral health services program.
  • SB 18-251 – “Concerning Establishing a Statewide Behavioral Health Court Liaison Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Bob Gardner & Kent Lambert and Reps. Dave Young & Pete Lee. The bill establishes in the office of the state court administrator a statewide behavioral health court liaison program. The purpose of the program is to identify and dedicate local behavioral health professionals as court liaisons in each state judicial district to facilitate communication and collaboration among judicial, health care, and behavioral health systems.
  • SB 18-255 – “Concerning the Use of Electronic Formats in the Issuance of Certificates of Title for Vehicles,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Edie Hooten. Current law provides that a record may not be denied effect merely because it is electronic. The bill clarifies that this applies to documents needed to obtain a certificate of title and electronic signatures.
  • SB 18-259 – “Concerning the Taxation of Retail Marijuana by Local Governments, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Jim Smallwood and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill imposes general taxation requirements on local government.
  • SB 18-267 – “Concerning the Creation of the Justice Center Maintenance Fund,” by Sens. John Kefalas & Randy Baumgardner and Reps. Jon Becker & Chris Hansen. The bill creates the justice center maintenance fund that consists of money appropriated by the general assembly to the maintenance fund from the justice center cash fund to be used for controlled maintenance needs of the Ralph L. Carr Colorado judicial center.
  • SB 18-269 – “Concerning Providing Funding for Local Education Providers to Implement School Security Improvements to Prevent Incidences of School Violence, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating the School Security Disbursement Program,” by Sens. Tim Neville & Dominick Moreno and Reps. Patrick Neville & Jeff Bridges. The bill creates the school security disbursement program in the department of public safety. A school district, charter school, institute charter school, or board of cooperative services may apply for a disbursement by submitting an application to the department. A disbursement recipient may use the money for one or more of the purposes specified in the bill, which include building improvements to enhance security and training for school personnel.
  • SB 18-280 – “Concerning a Transfer from the General Fund to the Tobacco Litigation Settlement Cash Fund to be Allocated to the Programs, Services, and Funds that Currently Receive Tobacco Litigation Settlement Money,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill requires the state treasurer to transfer $19,965,068 from the general fund to the tobacco litigation settlement cash fund on July 1, 2018. This money is allocated for the 2018-19 fiscal year to the programs, services, and funds that receive tobacco litigation settlement money to supplement the allocation of settlement money that those programs, services, and funds will otherwise receive.
  • HB 18-1042 – “Concerning the Creation of a Program to Authorize Private Providers to Register Commercial Vehicles as Class A Personal Property, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing an Appropriation,” by Reps. Jon Becker & Joann Ginal and Sens. Ray Scott & Rachel Zenzinger. The bill creates the expedited registration program. The program authorizes the department of revenue to promulgate rules authorizing private providers to register interstate commercial vehicles. The provider may collect and retain a convenience fee.
  • HB 18-1077 – “Concerning the Penalty for a Person who Commits Burglary to Acquire Firearms, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Larry Liston & Donald Valdez and Sens. Leroy Garcia & Ray Scott. In current law, second degree burglary is a class 4 felony, but it is a class 3 felony under 2 specified circumstances. The bill designates a third type of second degree burglary as a class 3 felony: that is, a burglary, the objective of which is the theft of one or more firearms or ammunition.
  • HB 18-1146 – “Concerning the Continuation Under the Sunset Law of the Measurement Standards Law,” by Rep. Jovan Melton and Sen. Don Coram. The bill implements the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies in its sunset review and report on the measurement standards law by extending the law for 15 years.
  • HB 18-1156 – “Concerning Limitations on Penalties for Truancy,” by Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. Chris Holbert. The bill clarifies in the Colorado Children’s Code and in the ‘School Attendance Law of 1963’ that a ‘delinquent act’ does not include truancy or habitual truancy. A child who is habitually truant and who refuses to follow a plan to rehabilitate his or her truancy may be subject to various sanctions by the court in a truancy proceeding.
  • HB 18-1200 – “Concerning Cybercrime, and, in Connection Therewith, Criminalizing Using a Computer to Engage in Prostitution of a Minor, Criminalizing Skimming Payment Cards, Making Changes to the Penalty Structure for Cybercrime, and Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Paul Lundeen & Alec Garnett and Sens. Rhonda Fields & Don Coram. The bill changes the name of the crime computer crime to cybercrime. The bill makes soliciting, arranging, or offering to arrange a situation in which a minor may engage in prostitution, by means of using a computer, computer network, computer system, or any part thereof, a cybercrime.
  • HB 18-1218 – “Concerning the Definition of a Charitable Organization for Purposes of State Sales and Use Tax, and, in Connection Therewith, Removing the Limitation that a Veterans’ Organization Only Gets the Charitable Organization Exemption for Purposes of Sponsoring a Special Event, Meeting, or Other Function in the State, So Long as Such Event, Meeting, or Function is Not Part of the Organization’s Regular Activities in the State,” by Reps. Terri Carver & Jovan Melton and Sens. Nancy Todd & Larry Crowder. The bill makes state law consistent with federal law and will treat veterans’ organizations registered under section 501 (c)(19) of the federal internal revenue code the same way as veterans’ organizations registered under section 501 (c)(3) of the federal internal revenue code.
  • HB 18-1234 – “Concerning Clarification of the Laws Governing Simulated Gambling Activity,” by Reps. KC Becker & Paul Lundeen and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill amends the definitions of key terms such as ‘gambling’, ‘prize’, and ‘simulated gambling device’ as used in the criminal statutes governing simulated gambling devices and specifies that unlawful offering of a simulated gambling device occurs if a person receives payment indirectly or in a nonmonetary form for use of a simulated gambling device.
  • HB 18-1302 – “Concerning the Allowance of the Department of Public Health and Environment to Waive Certification Requirements for Toxicology Laboratories that have been Accredited by an Entity Using Recognized Forensic Standards,” by Reps. Joann Ginal & Lois Landgraf and Sen. Vicki Marble. Current law allows the department of public health and environment to waive certain certification requirements for toxicology laboratories that are accredited by the American board of forensic toxicology or the international standards organization. The bill changes the waiver requirement to allow the department to waive certification requirements if the laboratory is accredited by an entity using nationally or internationally recognized forensic standards.
  • HB 18-1303 – “Concerning Exemption of Nonprofit Youth Sports Organization Coaches from the ‘Colorado Employment Security Act,'” by Reps. Cole Wist & Alec Garnett and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill exempts from the definition of ’employment’ under the ‘Colorado Employment Security Act’ nonprofit youth sports organization coaches if there is a written agreement between the coach and the organization that meets certain requirements, including a statement that the coach is an independent contractor.
  • HB 18-1313 – “Concerning the Allowance of a Pharmacist to Serve as a Practitioner under Certain Circumstances,” by Reps. Joann Ginal & Jon Becker and Sens. Irene Aguilar & Kevin Priola. The bill clarifies that a licensed and qualified pharmacist may serve as a practitioner and prescribe over-the-counter medication under the ‘Colorado Medical Assistance Act’ and a statewide drug therapy protocol pursuant to a collaborative pharmacy practice agreement.
  • HB 18-1314 – “Concerning Prohibiting the Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems to Obstruct Public Safety Operations,” by Reps. Joann Ginal & Polly Lawrence and Sen. John Cooke. The bill states that, as used in the existing criminal offense of obstructing a peace officer, firefighter, emergency medical service provider, rescue specialist, or volunteer, the term ‘obstacle’ includes an unmanned aircraft system.
  • HB 18-1335 – “Concerning the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Establishing Eligibility Requirements for All Counties and Creating a New Formula to Determine the Amount of Block Grants to Counties,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. For providers under the Colorado child care assistance program, the bill requires the state department of human services, in consultation with the counties, annually to contract for a market rate study of provider rates for each county.
  • HB 18-1342 – “Concerning a Requirement that a Common Interest Community Created in Colorado Before July 1, 1992, Comply with a Provision of the ‘Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act’ that Allows a Majority of the Unit Owners in a Common Interest Community to Veto a Budget Proposed by the Executive Board of the Common Interest Community,” by Rep. Jovan Melton and Sen. Nancy Todd. The bill requires a common interest community that predates the Act to allow its unit owners to veto, by majority vote, a budget proposed by the common interest community’s executive board; except that the bill does not apply to a common interest community that predates the Act if the common interest community’s declaration sets a maximum assessment amount or provides a limit on the amount that the common interest community’s annual budget may be increased.
  • HB 18-1350 – “Concerning the Sales and Use Tax Treatment of Equipment Used to Manufacture New Metal Stock from Scrap or End-of-Life-Cycle Metals, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Sen. Kevin Priola. Purchases of machinery or machine tools to be used in Colorado directly and predominantly in manufacturing tangible personal property are currently exempt from state sales and use tax. Manufacturing is currently defined to include the processing of recovered materials. The bill expands the definition of recovered materials to include materials that have been derived from scrap metal or end-of-life-cycle metals for remanufacturing, reuse, or recycling into new metal stock that meets applicable standards for metal commodities sales.
  • HB 18-1363 – “Concerning Legislative Recommendations of the Child Support Commission, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Jonathan Singer & Lois Landgraf and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill implements several recommendations from the child support commission.
  • HB 18-1373 – “Concerning the Use of the State Telecommunications Network by Private Entities Through Public-Private Partnerships, and, in Connection Therewith, Relocating Laws Related to the State Telecommunications Network from the Department of Public Safety’s Statutes to the Statutes Regarding Telecommunications Coordination within State Government,” by Reps. Jon Becker & Chris Hansen and Sens. Randy Baumgardner & John Kefalas. The bill authorizes private entities to use the state telecommunications network through public-private partnerships considered, evaluated, and accepted by the chief information officer and relocates laws related to the state telecommunications network from the department of public safety’s statutes to the statutes regarding telecommunications coordination within state government.
  • HB 18-1402 – “Concerning Authorization for the State Treasurer to Invest State Money in Investment Grade Securities Issued by Sovereign, National, and Supranational Entities,” by Reps. Polly Lawrence & Dave Young and Sens. Bob Gardner & Angela Williams. The bill authorizes the state treasurer to invest state money in securities issued by a sovereign, national, or supranational entity that are rated at least investment grade by a nationally recognized rating organization.
  • HB 18-1405 – “Concerning an Exception from the Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Persons Providing Legal Assistance to Area Agencies on Aging,” by Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. Bob Gardner. Under current law, staff, and staff of contracted providers, of area agencies on aging are mandatory reporters of the mistreatment of an at-risk elder or an at-risk adult with an intellectual and developmental disability. The bill creates a mandatory reporter exception for attorneys at law providing legal assistance to individuals pursuant to a contract with an area agency on aging, the staff of such attorneys at law.
  • HB 18-1410 – “Concerning Measures to Address Prison Population Increases,” by Reps. Pete Lee & Leslie Herod and Sens. Kevin Lundberg & Daniel Kagan. The bill requires the department of corrections to track the prison bed vacancy rate in both correctional facilities and state-funded private contract prison beds on a monthly basis. If the vacancy rate falls below 2% for 30 consecutive days, the department shall notify the governor, the joint budget committee, the parole board, each elected district attorney, the chief judge of each judicial district, the state public defender, and the office of community corrections in the department of public safety.
  • HB 18-1421 – “Concerning the Procurement Process for Major Information Technology Projects Undertaken by State Agencies, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Bob Rankin and Sens. Kent Lambert & Jack Tate. The bill requires internal process changes in connection with the procurement process for major information technology (IT) projects as specified.
  • HB 18-1422 – “Concerning Requirements for Marijuana Testing Facilities,” by Rep. Matt Gray and Sen. Cheri Jahn. The bill requires medical and retail marijuana testing facilities to be accredited pursuant to the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission 17025:2005 standard by a body that is itself recognized by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation by January 1, 2019.
  • HB 18-1429 – “Concerning the Exemption of the Workers’ Compensation Cash Fund from the Maximum Reserve,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kent Lambert. Prior to July 1, 2017, the workers’ compensation cash fund was exempt from the maximum reserve for a cash fund, which limits the year-end uncommitted reserves in a cash fund to 16.5% of the amount expended from the cash fund during the fiscal year. The bill once again exempts the workers’ compensation cash fund from the maximum reserve.
  • HB 18-1437 – “Concerning Eliminating the Requirement that a Person who Participates in College-level Academic Programs through the Correctional Education Program in the Department of Corrections must Bear Entirely the Costs Associated with such Programs,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sen. Tim Neville. Under current law, the correctional education program in the department of corrections is required to provide every person in a correctional facility who demonstrates college-level aptitudes with the opportunity to participate in college-level academic programs that may be offered within the correctional facility. The bill removes this stipulation concerning costs and states instead that such costs may be borne through private, local, or federally funded gifts, grants, donations, or scholarships, or by such persons themselves, or through any combination of such funding.

For a list of the governor’s 2018 legislative decisions, click here.

Colorado Supreme Court: No Fraud Where Assignment Clause Made Clear that Buyers Could Assign Interests

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Rocky Mountain Exploration, Inc. v. Davis, Graham & Stubbs, LLP on Monday, June 11, 2018.

Undisclosed Principals—Fraud—Breach of Fiduciary Duty—Restatement (Third) of Agency.

This case arose out of a sale of oil and gas assets by petitioners to a buyer who was acting as an agent for a third company. The third company was represented by respondents, but due to a prior, contentious business relationship between petitioners and the third company, neither the buyer, the third company, nor respondents disclosed to petitioners that the buyer was acting on behalf of the third company in the sale.

After the sale was complete, petitioners learned of the third company’s involvement and sued respondents, among others, for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and civil conspiracy. The district court ultimately granted summary judgment for respondents, and a division of the court of appeals affirmed.

The supreme court here decided whether (1) petitioners could avoid their sale agreement for fraud when the buyer and respondents purportedly created the false impression that the buyer was not acting on behalf of the third company; (2) an assignment clause in the transaction documents sufficiently notified petitioners that the buyer was acting on behalf of others, such that the third company would not be considered an undisclosed principal under the Restatement provision on which petitioners’ contract avoidance argument is exclusively premised; (3) petitioners stated a viable claim for fraud against respondents; and (4) prior agreements between petitioners and the third company negated any joint venture relationship or fiduciary obligations between them.

The court first concluded that the assignment clause in the pertinent transaction documents made clear that the buyer had partners in the transaction to whom it could assign a portion of its interests. As a result, the third company was not an undisclosed principal under the Restatement provision on which petitioners’ rely, and petitioners’ contract avoidance argument and the civil conspiracy claim that flows from it fail as a matter of law. The court further concluded that, even if the Restatement provision did apply, the record did not support a finding that either the buyer or respondents created a false impression that the buyer was not acting on behalf of an undisclosed principal. For this reason as well, petitioners’ civil conspiracy claim failed as a matter of law.

The court next concluded that, as a matter of law, petitioners did not demonstrate the requisite false representation or reasonable reliance to support a viable claim for fraud against respondents.

Finally, the court concluded that the controlling agreements between petitioners and the third company expressly disavowed any pre-existing joint ventures and fiduciary obligations between the parties, and therefore the district court properly granted summary judgment for respondents on petitioners’ claim for aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty.

Accordingly, the court affirmed the court of appeals division’s judgment.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Determining Ownership Requires Examining Right to Possess, Use, and Control Property

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Kelly v. Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Property Tax—Residential Land—Common Ownership—Vacant Land—C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a).

Kelly purchased two adjacent parcels of land in Summit County. She built a home on one parcel and left the subject parcel vacant. Sometime later, Kelly placed the residential parcel in an irrevocable trust and the subject parcel in a revocable family trust. Kelly was the settlor, trustee, and beneficiary of both trusts.

For tax purposes, the Summit County Assessor classified the residential parcel as residential land but the subject parcel as vacant land, which is taxed at a higher rate. In 2016, Kelly appealed the subject parcel’s classification to the Summit County Board of County Commissioners, requesting that it be reclassified as residential under C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a), and sought a tax abatement for the tax years 2014 and 2015. The County denied the petition. The Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA) affirmed, finding that because the two parcels were owned by two separate trusts, they were not commonly owned and therefore the subject parcel did not qualify under the statutory section.

On appeal, Kelly contended that the BAA erred in concluding that the subject parcel was not residential land. She argued that the BAA misconstrued the “common ownership” element of C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a). The statute does not define common ownership, and the Property Tax Administrator has neither defined nor offered guidance to assessors on determining whether parcels are under common ownership. The BAA and the County interpreted “common ownership” to mean the same record titleholder. The court of appeals focused its analysis on the meaning of “ownership,” noting that ownership goes beyond mere record title and focuses on who has the power to possess, use, enjoy, and profit from the property. It concluded that ownership of contiguous parcels for purposes of C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a) depends on a person’s or entity’s right to possess, use, and control the contiguous parcels. Here, the unchallenged testimony that Kelly was the beneficiary, trustee, and settler of both trusts established that Kelly held legal title to and was the equitable owner of both parcels. Further, Kelly testified that she only placed the parcels in the trusts on the advice of counsel for tax and estate planning purposes and that she possessed, controlled, and used the parcels before and after they were placed in trust. The Assessor testified that she considered the parcels separate simply because the names on the trusts were different. The court of appeals concluded that the parcels were under common ownership for tax years 2014 and 2015 and the BAA erred in denying the request to reclassify the subject property.

Kelly also argued that the BAA abused its discretion when it rejected the parties’ stipulation that the contiguous parcels element was not at issue. The BAA’s decision to reject the signed stipulation two months after the close of evidence and without notice to the parties was manifestly unfair.

The BAA’s order was reversed and the case was remanded with directions for the BAA to reclassify the subject parcel as residential land.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Single Notice Addressed to Married Homeowners Deemed Constitutionally Adequate

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Cordell v. Klingsheim on Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Tax Sale—Adequate Notice—Treasurer’s Deed—Due Process—Reinstatement Order.

The Cordells owned a tract of land in La Plata County. After they failed to pay taxes for several years, Heller purchased a tax lien for the property and assigned it to Klingsheim, who later requested a deed from the La Plata County Treasurer. Before issuing the deed, the Treasurer sent the Cordells a copy of the notice of application for a treasurer’s deed by certified mail. The notice was mailed to the Cordells in one envelope, using a New Mexico address listed for the Cordells in the county tax records. A return receipt was received indicating the notice had been received by Mr. Cordell’s mother. The Cordells did not redeem, and the Treasurer issued a treasurer’s deed to Klingsheim.

Sometime later the Cordells learned of the notice and filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that they were the owners of the property and the treasurer’s deed was void. The trial court ruled that the Treasurer had not made a “diligent inquiry” in attempting to notify the Cordells that their land might be sold to satisfy the tax lien and voided the deed. The alternative basis for the decision was that the deed was void because no “separate notice” was mailed to Ms. Cordell. The Court of Appeals previously affirmed the voiding order but did not address the “separate notice” argument. On certiorari review, the Colorado Supreme Court concluded that the Treasurer fulfilled the diligent inquiry duty and the Treasurer’s transmission of the notice by certified mail satisfied due process, and the Court reversed and remanded the case. On remand to the Court of Appeals, the Cordells requested the division to consider the separate notice argument. The division declined to do so, and a mandate was issued reversing the voiding order and remanding the case to the trial court. On remand, the trial court issued a reinstatement order without substantive analysis of its own.

On appeal of the reinstatement order, the Cordells argued that the trial court was not required to reinstate the treasurer’s deed on remand because the Supreme Court’s holding reached only one of the two grounds on which the trial court rested the voiding order. Neither the Supreme Court nor the trial court reached the separate notice issue. Because the issue was not resolved, the Court of Appeals considered whether the trial court’s failure to consider the issue warrants reversal. Here, the Cordells were married and both were receiving mail at the same address. The Court concluded that notice mailed to both record owners in a single piece of mail is constitutionally adequate. Thus, the reinstatement of the treasurer’s deed on remand was proper.

The reinstatement order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Including Landowners in Special District Violated Owners’ Rights to Due Process

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Landmark Towers Association, Inc. v. UMB Bank, N.A. on Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Special District—Taxation—Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights—Due Process—Injunction—Uniform Tax Clause of the Colorado Constitution—Mill Levy—Misappropriation of Bond Sales.

A developer created the Marin Metropolitan District, a special district, to comprise two separate projects, the Landmark Project and the European Village Project. The developer created the District as a means to use owners of condominiums in the Landmark Project to pay for improvements in the European Village Project. As part of his application to Greenwood Village for approval of the District, the developer submitted a Service Plan. Using dubious means and without notice to the Landmark Project buyers, the developer and his associates then voted in an election to organize the District and approve bonds and “taxes” to pay for the bonds. The District sold bonds to Colorado Bondshares. UMB Bank, N.A. held the bond sales proceeds in trust. Among other things, the Service Plan capped the debt service levy for the bonds at 49.5 mills, but the District imposed a levy of 59.5 mills. The developer drew on the funds, but the European Village Project infrastructure was never built.

Landmark Towers Association, Inc., a homeowners association, sued UMB, Bondshares, and the District (collectively, defendants), challenging the creation of the District. Landmark asserted that the special district can’t levy Landmark owners’ properties to pay for bonds issued by the special district, which funded improvements on other property, because the election organizing the special district, approving the bonds, and approving the levies paying for the bonds violated the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and the Landmark owners’ rights to due process. The district court ruled that the election was illegal; Landmark is entitled to injunctive relief preventing the District’s levy; the District’s mill levy rate exceeds the legal limit; Landmark owners are entitled to a refund of excessive assessments; and Landmark owners are entitled to a “refund” of misappropriated bond sale proceeds. It enjoined the District from trying to collect levies from the Landmark owners and ordered that the owners may recover bond proceeds misappropriated by the District’s creator under TABOR.

On appeal, defendants asserted that the district court erred in finding that including the Landmark Project in the District violated the Landmark owners’ rights to due process. Specifically, defendants argued that the levy was a tax, and property subject to a tax does not need to receive any benefit in return for the tax payments. Colorado law is clear that imposing a special assessment on property that doesn’t specially benefit from the funded improvements violates the due process rights of those property owners. Here, the Landmark project was included in the District only to use it as a payment source for improvements to other property, and Landmark receives no benefit from those improvements. Further, the “tax” is in substance a special assessment because it doesn’t defray the general expenses of government but funds a private venture’s infrastructure. Because the Landmark owners derive no benefit from the improvements, the special assessments violated the owners’ rights to due process.

Defendants also argued that the district court erred in weighing the equities in imposing the injunction. The district didn’t abuse its discretion in balancing the equities.

Defendants further contended that the injunction violated the Uniform Tax Clause of the Colorado Constitution because it means that only some of the property in the district can be taxed. First, it is undisputed that defendants raised this issue for the first time in their motion for reconsideration, which was too late. Second, the Uniform Tax Clause applies only to taxes, not special assessments. Third, the injunction doesn’t obligate the District to do anything with respect to other persons or property outside the Landmark Project. Fourth, the violation of the Landmark owners’ rights to due process under both the U.S. and Colorado Constitutions entitles them to the injunctive relief they request, as a matter of law. Therefore, the district court correctly ruled on this issue.

Defendants also contended that the district court erred in ruling that the District may not levy property taxes in excess of 50 mills. The mill levy rate imposed by the District exceeds that allowed by the statutorily required service plan approved by the City of Greenwood Village. Furthermore, it did not comply with the District’s Service Plan or the financing plan. Therefore, the 59.5-mill-rate levy was illegal.

Finally, defendants contended that the district court erred in ruling that the misappropriation of bond sale proceeds violated TABOR and in ordering a refund of those proceeds because the bond proceeds aren’t “revenue.” The bond proceeds at issue are borrowed funds, not “revenue” within the meaning of the relevant TABOR provision. Further, they aren’t subject to refund because they were lent to the District by a private, outside entity and not collected from property owners. Therefore, the owners may not recover bond proceeds misappropriated by the District’s creator under TABOR. Nor may the owners recover those misappropriated funds under other provisions of the Colorado Constitution because the District is not subject to those provisions. Therefore, the district court erred in ordering refunds of the misappropriated money.

The portion of the judgment ordering TABOR refunds was reversed. The remainder of the judgment was affirmed and the case was remanded.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Bills Requiring Elected Officials to Swear by “Everliving God,” Providing Representation to Indigent Defendants in Municipal Courts, and More Signed

On Friday, June 1, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed 10 bills into law and vetoed three bills. On Monday, June 4, the governor signed seven bills and vetoed two. To date, he has signed 367 bills into law, sent two to the Secretary of State without a signature, and vetoed five bills.

Some of the bills signed include a bill requiring elected officials who choose to swear their oath of office, rather than affirm, to do so by the “everliving God” while raising their hand, a bill allowing transportation services for foster children in order to improve high school graduation rates, a bill allowing independent representation for indigent defendants in municipal courts, and more. Some of the bills vetoed include a bill allowing out-of-state electors to participate in Colorado elections, a bill restricting parties able to receive autopsy reports for minors, and a bill allowing a credit for tobacco products shipped out of state. The bills signed and vetoed Friday are summarized here.

Signed

  • SB 18-003 – “Concerning the Colorado Energy Office,” by Sen. Ray Scott and Reps. Chris Hansen & Jon Becker. The bill repeals several programs providing energy grants for schools, and specifies several preferred energy methods.
  • SB 18-200 – “Concerning Modifications to the Public Employees’ Retirement Association Hybrid Defined Benefit Plan Necessary to Eliminate with a High Probability the Unfunded Liability of the Plan Within the Next Thirty Years,” by Sens. Jack Tate & Kevin Priola and Reps. KC Becker & Dan Pabon. The bill makes changes to the hybrid defined benefit plan administered by PERA with the goal of eliminating, with a high probability, the unfunded actuarial accrued liability of each of PERA’s divisions and thereby reach a 100% funded ratio for each division within the next 30 years.
  • SB 18-203 – “Concerning the Provision of Independent Counsel to Indigent Defendants in Municipal Courts, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Vicki Marble and Rep. Susan Lontine. The bill requires each municipality, on and after January 1, 2020, to provide independent indigent defense for each indigent defendant facing a possible jail sentence for a violation of a municipal ordinance. Independent indigent defense requires, at minimum, that a nonpartisan entity independent of the municipal court and municipal officials oversee the provision of indigent defense counsel.
  • SB 18-219 – “Concerning the Rates a Motor Vehicle Dealer Charges a Motor Vehicle Manufacturer for Work Performed by the Dealer in Accordance with a Warranty Obligation,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp. The bill requires motor vehicle manufacturers to fulfill warranty obligations. A manufacturer must compensate each of its motor vehicle dealers in accordance with a set of standards designed to reflect the current market rate for labor and the profit margin on parts the dealer can expect to obtain. Dealers must submit certain repair orders to the manufacturer as required by the bill to establish compensation rates.
  • SB 18-230 – “Concerning Modification of the Laws Governing the Establishment of Drilling Units for Oil and Gas Wells, and, in Connection Therewith, Clarifying that a Drilling Unit may Include more than One Well, Providing Limited Immunity to Nonconsenting Owners Subject to Pooling Orders, Adjusting Cost Recovery from Nonconsenting Owners, and Modifying the Conditions upon which a Pooling Order may be Entered,” by Sen. Vicki Marble and Reps. Lori Saine & Matt Gray. Current law authorizes ‘forced’ or ‘statutory’ pooling, a process by which any interested person–typically an oil and gas operator–may apply to the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission for an order to pool oil and gas resources located within a particularly identified drilling unit. The bill clarifies that an order entered by the commission establishing a drilling unit may authorize more than one well.
  • SB 18-242 – “Concerning the Swearing of a Public Official Oath of Office,” by Sens. Vicki Marble and Reps. Timothy Leonard & Stephen Humphrey. The bill requires a person swearing an oath of office for a public office or position to do so by swearing by the everliving God. The bill also requires the person swearing the oath of office to do so with an uplifted hand.
  • SB 18-243 – “Concerning the Retail Sale of Alcohol Beverages, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Chris Holbert & Lucia Guzman and Reps. Daneya Esgar & Hugh McKean. Under current law, effective January 1, 2019, the limitation on the maximum alcohol content of fermented malt beverages, also referred to as ‘3.2% beer’, is eliminated, thereby allowing grocery stores, convenience stores, and any other person currently licensed or licensed in the future to sell fermented malt beverages for consumption on or off the licensed premises to sell fermented malt beverages containing more than 3.2% alcohol by weight or 4% alcohol by volume, referred to as ‘malt liquor’. The bill modifies laws governing the retail sale of fermented malt beverages, which will be synonymous with malt liquor as of January 1, 2019.
  • SB 18-276 – “Concerning an Increase in the General Fund Reserve,” by Sens. Kevin Lundberg & Millie Hamner and Reps. Kent Lambert & Dave Young. For the fiscal year 2018-19, and each fiscal year thereafter, the bill increases the statutorily required general fund reserve from 6.5% to 7.25% of the amount appropriated for expenditure from the general fund.
  • HB 18-1006 – “Concerning Modifications to the Newborn Screening Program Administered by the Department of Public Health and Environment, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Millie Hamner & Larry Liston and Sens. Bob Gardner & Dominick Moreno. The bill updates the current newborn screening program to require more timely newborn hearing screenings. The department of public health and environment (department) is authorized to assess a fee for newborn screening and necessary follow-up services. The bill creates the newborn hearing screening cash fund for the purpose of covering the costs of the program.
  • HB 18-1185 – “Concerning Changes to the State Income Tax Apportionment Statute Based on the Most Recent Multistate Tax Commission’s Uniform Model of the Uniform Division of Income for Tax Purposes Act,” by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Cole Wist and Sens. Tim Neville & Dominick Moreno. For income tax years commencing on and after January 1, 2019, the bill generally replaces the method for sourcing of sales for purposes of apportioning the income of a taxpayer that has income from the sale of services or from the sale, lease, license, or rental of intangible property in both Colorado and other states from the cost-of-performance test in the case of services and the commercial domicile test in the case of intangible property to a market-based sourcing system.
  • HB 18-1187 – “Concerning the Lawful Use of a Prescription Drug that Contains Cannabidiol that is Approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration,” by Reps. Janet Buckner & Lois Landgraf and Sens. Dominick Moreno & John Cooke. The bill amends the definition of ‘marijuana’ to exclude prescription drug products approved by the federal food and drug administration and dispensed by a pharmacy or prescription drug outlet registered by the state of Colorado. The bill also specifies that the change does not restrict or otherwise affect regulation of or access to marijuana that is legal under Colorado’s statutory or constitutional scheme or industrial hemp and its derivatives.
  • HB 18-1244 – “Concerning the Creation of a Submarine Service License Plate to Honor the Service of Submarine Veterans, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Jessie Danielson and Sens. Nancy Todd & Bob Gardner. The bill creates the submarine service license plate. In addition to the standard motor vehicle fees, the plate requires 2 one-time fees of $25. One fee is credited to the highway users tax fund and the other to a fund that provides licensing services.
  • HB 18-1270 – “Concerning Energy Storage, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring the Public Utilities Commission to Establish Mechanisms for Investor-Owned Electric Utilities to Procure Energy Storage Systems if Certain Criteria are Satisfied,” by Reps. Chris Hansen & Jon Becker and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill directs the public utilities commission to adopt rules establishing mechanisms for the procurement of energy storage systems by investor-owned electric utilities, based on an analysis of costs and benefits as well as factors such as grid reliability and a reduction in the need for additional peak generation capacity.
  • HB 18-1271 – “Concerning the Authorization of Economic Development Rates to be Charged by Electric Utilities to Qualifying Nonresidential Customers,” by Reps. Matt Gray & Yeulin Willett and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill allows the public utilities commission to approve, and electric utilities to charge, economic development rates, which are lower rates for commercial and industrial users who locate or expand their operations in Colorado so as to increase the demand by at least 3 megawatts.
  • HB 18-1286 – “Concerning Allowing School Personnel to Give Medical Marijuana to a Student with a Medical Marijuana Registry Card while at School,” by Rep. Dylan Roberts and Sens. Irene Aguilar & Vicki Marble. Under current law, a primary caregiver may possess and administer medical marijuana in a nonsmokeable form to a student while the student is at school. The bill allows a school nurse or the school nurse’s designee, who may or may not be an employee of the school, or school personnel designated by a parent to also possess and administer medical marijuana to a student at school. The bill provides a school nurse or the school nurse’s designee or the school personnel designated by a parent protection from criminal prosecution if he or she possesses and administers medical marijuana to a student at school.
  • HB 18-1306 – “Concerning Ensuring Educational Stability for Students in Out-of-Home Placement, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Sens. Don Coram & Dominick Moreno. The bill aligns state law with federal ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ (ESSA) provisions relating to students in foster care, referred to in state statutes as ‘students in out-of-home placement’. ESSA permits students in out-of-home placement at any time during the school year to remain in their school of origin, as defined in the bill, rather than move to a different school upon placement outside of the home or changes in placement, unless the county department of human or social services determines that it is not in the child’s best interest to remain in his or her school of origin.
  • HB 18-1430 – “Concerning the Requirement that a State Agency Prepare a Long-Range Financial Plan,” by Reps. Kevin Van Winkle & Dave Young and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. The bill requires each state agency to develop a long-range financial plan on or before November 1, 2019, and to update the plan each of the next 4 years thereafter. The department of state, the department of treasury, the department of law, and the judicial branch shall each publish the required components of the plan for their respective state agencies. The office of state planning and budgeting shall publish the required components of the plan in its annual budget instructions for all other state agencies.

Vetoed

  • SB 18-179 – “Concerning Adjustments to Total Gross Purchases for Purposes of Calculating the Excise Tax on Tobacco Products, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Owen Hill & Angela Williams and Reps. Edie Hooten & Dan Pabon. Currently and until September 1, 2018, a distributor can claim a credit for taxes paid on tobacco products that are shipped or transported by the distributor to a consumer outside of the state. The bill would have made the credit permanent and requires the distributor to maintain certain records related to the out-of-state sales to consumers. “While the bill’s economic benefits appear minimal, the negative health effects of cheaper tobacco are both significant and compelling,” said Governor John Hickenlooper in the veto letter. “These concerns remain from when we vetoed SB 17-139.”
  • SB 18-223 – “Concerning the Circumstances Under Which an Autopsy Report Prepared in Connection with the Death of a Minor may be Released to Certain Parties,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Reps. Matt Gray & Terri Carver. The bill specified that an autopsy report prepared in connection with the death of a minor is confidential and may be disclosed by the county coroner to any other person or entity only in accordance with certain exceptions. “Transparency can lead to enhanced government protections, greater public and private resources, and heightened public understanding and demand for change,” wrote Governor John Hickenlooper in the veto letter. He went on to say, “An informed public has societal benefits for all at-risk children, present and future.”
  • HB 18-1181 – “Concerning Measures to Expand the Ability of Nonresident Electors to Participate in the Governance of Special Districts, and, in Connection Therewith, Allowing Nonresident Electors Who Own Taxable Property Within the Special District to Vote in Special District Elections And Allowing Such Electors to Serve on Special District Boards in a Nonvoting Capacity,” by Rep. Larry Liston and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill would have expanded the definition of ‘eligible elector’, as used in reference of persons voting in special district elections, to include a natural person who owns, or whose spouse or civil union partner owns, taxable real or personal property situated within the boundaries of the special district or the area to be included in the special district and who has satisfied all other requirements in the bill for registering to vote in an election of a special district but who is not a resident of the state. “Allowing non-Coloradans to vote in Colorado elections to select our elected representatives is poor public policy,” said Governor John Hickenlooper in the veto letter. “Out-of-state landowners enjoy Colorado’s great views, activities, and economy. While we are grateful to our out-of-state neighbors and their love of Colorado, we are unpersuaded that the State should allow those who spend days or weeks in Colorado to make decisions impacting those who make it their home each and every day.”
  • HB 18-1258 – “Concerning Authorization for an Endorsement to an Existing Marijuana License to Allow for a Marijuana Accessory Consumption Establishment for the Purposes of Consumer Education, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Jovan Melton & Jonathan Singer and Sens. Tim Neville & Stephen Fenberg. The bill would have  authorized each licensed medical marijuana center or retail marijuana store to establish one retail marijuana accessory consumption establishment that may sell marijuana, marijuana concentrate, and marijuana-infused products for consumption, other than smoking, at the establishment. “Since Colorado approved Amendment 64 in 2012, this Administration implemented a robust regulatory system to carry out the intent of this voter-initiated measure,” said Governor John Hickenlooper in the veto letter. “Amendment 64 is clear: marijuana consumption may not be conducted ‘openly’ or ‘publicly’ on ‘in a manner that endangers others’ We find that HB 18-1258 directly conflicts with this constitutional requirement.”
  • HB 18-1427 – “Concerning a Prohibition on Conflicts of Interest of Members of the Sex Offender Management Board,” by Reps. Leslie Herod & Cole Wist and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill would have prohibited members of the sex offender management board from receiving a direct financial benefit from the standards or guidelines adopted by the board. “We all support proper handling of conflicts. We veto this bill today, however, because it is redundant and overbroad,” wrote Governor John Hickenlooper in the veto letter. He went on to say, “Despite the issues with HB 18-1427, recent media reports raise important issues as to the need for better conflict of management interests.”

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

Bills Signed Regarding Civil Forfeiture Reform, Community Corrections Transition Placements, Electronic Vehicle Title Filing, and More

On Tuesday, May 29, 2019, Governor Hickenlooper signed 59 bills into law. To date, he has signed 315 bills into law and sent two to the Secretary of State without a signature. Some of the bills signed Tuesday include a bill reforming the civil asset forfeiture process, a bill enacting a community corrections transition placement program, a bill providing relief from collateral criminal consequences, a bill allowing vehicle titles to be transferred electronically, a bill changing the own-source requirements for medical marijuana sales, a bill expanding civil jurisdiction of county courts, and more. The bills signed Tuesday are summarized here.

  • HB 18-1019 – “Concerning Criteria Applied in Determining Performance Ratings for Entities in the Elementary and Secondary Public Education System, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Kevin Priola and Rep. Mike Cooke. For purposes of determining the level of attainment for accreditation of each public high school, each school district, the state charter school institute, and the state as a whole on the postsecondary and workforce readiness performance indicator, the bill adds additional measures of the percentage of students who successfully complete certain courses.
  • HB 18-1020 – “Concerning Civil Forfeiture Reform, and, in Connection Therewith, Changing the Entity Required to Report on Forfeitures, Expanding the Scope of the Forfeitures to be Reported, Establishing Grant Programs, Changing the Disbursement of Net Forfeiture Proceeds, and Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sens. Daniel Kagan, Tim Neville, & Bob Gardner. During the 2017 session, the General Assembly enacted a bill involving civil forfeiture requiring seizing agencies to submit reports to the Department of Local Affairs The bill expands the scope of the reports to include seizures related to a local public nuisance law or ordinance. The 2017 act also prohibited seizing agencies from receiving forfeiture proceeds from the federal government unless the aggregate value of property seized in a case is over $50,000. The bill establishes the law enforcement assistance grant program in the Department of Public Safety to reimburse seizing agencies for revenue lost because of this prohibition.
  • HB 18-1057 – “Concerning the Collection of Debts, and, in Connection Therewith, Allowing Collection Agents to Add Certain Expenses to Amounts Due for Collection,” by Rep. Hugh McKean and Sen. Don Coram. The bill allows a private collection agency or privately retained attorney collecting on any debt arising from past-due orders, obligations, fines, or fees due to the state, or to any political subdivision within the state, to add to the amount due that has been placed for collection all fees, costs, and costs of collection, including designated contractual attorney fees and costs that are awarded by a court of competent jurisdiction.
  • HB 18-1060 – “Concerning a State Income Tax Deduction for Military Retirement Benefits for an Individual who is Under Fifty-five Years of Age,” by Reps. Jessie Danielson & Lois Landgraf and Sens. Larry Crowder & Angela Williams. The bill allows an individual who is under 55 years old and whose military retirement benefits are less than $40,000 to claim a federal income tax deduction.
  • HB 18-1108 – “Concerning the Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and, in Connection Therewith, Renaming the Commission the Colorado Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deafblind; Creating the Colorado Deafblind Citizens Council to Advise the Commission on Deafblind Issues; Clarifying and Expanding the Commission’s Duties to Provide Services to the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deafblind; and Changing the Membership of the Committee Charged with Reviewing Grant Applications,” by Rep. Jessie Danielson and Sen. Nancy Todd. The bill changes the name of the ‘Colorado commission for the deaf and hard of hearing’ to the ‘Colorado commission for the deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind’. The bill expands the commission’s duties to include establishing a community access program for one-on-one system navigation and changes the membership on the committee reviewing grant applications under the act.
  • HB 18-1128 – “Concerning Strengthening Protections for Consumer Data Privacy,” by Reps. Cole Wist & Jeff Bridges and Sens. Kent Lambert & Lois Court. Except for conduct in compliance with applicable federal, state, or local law, the bill requires covered and governmental entities in Colorado that maintain paper or electronic documents that contain personal identifying information to develop and maintain a written policy for the destruction and proper disposal of those documents.
  • HB 18-1135 – “Concerning the Extension of the Advanced Industries Export Acceleration Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Traci Kraft-Tharp & James Wilson and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill extends the advanced industries export acceleration program that is currently managed by the office of economic development.
  • HB 18-1152 – “Concerning Making Certain Records of the State Judicial Department Relating to Sexual Harassment Investigations Subject to the Colorado Open Records Act,” by Rep. Polly Lawrence and Sen. John Cooke. Under the Colorado open records act (CORA), records related to sexual harassment complaints are not open records; except that those records are available to a person making a sexual harassment complaint and the subject of the complaint. The bill makes the judicial department subject to the sexual harassment provision of CORA until May 1, 2021.
  • HB 18-1155 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Physical Therapy Board, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations Contained in the 2017 Sunset Review and Report by the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Reps. Larry Liston & Jonathan Singer and Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik. The bill extends the licensing of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to 2024 and makes several other changes.
  • HB 18-1174 – “Concerning the Continuation Under the Sunset Law of the Board of Mortgage Loan Originators, and, in Connection Therewith, Adopting the Legislative Recommendations of the Department of Regulatory Agencies as Contained in the Department’s Sunset Report,” by Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Matt Gray and Rep. Kevin Priola. The bill implements the recommendations of the Department of Regulatory Agencies in its sunset review of the board of mortgage loan originators.
  • HB 18-1184 – “Concerning the Creation of a Report on 911 Service in Colorado, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring Consideration of Issues Related to the Implementation of Next Generation 911,” by Reps. Tony Exum & Polly Lawrence and Sens. Irene Aguilar & Bob Gardner. The bill requires the public utilities commission to annually publish a ‘state of 911’ report. The report must address the commission’s activities related to 911 service, the current statewide architecture and operations related to 911 service, 911 network reliability and resiliency, any identified gaps or vulnerabilities in 911 service, national trends and activities, funding, and the implementation of next generation 911.
  • HB 18-1202 – “Concerning an Income Tax Credit for an Employer Related to an Employee’s Paid Leave of Absence for the Purpose of Making an Organ Donation, and, in Connection Therewith, Enacting the ‘Living Organ Donor Support Act,'” by Rep. Alec Garnett and Sen. Bob Gardner. Beginning January 1, 2020, an employer is allowed an income tax credit that is an amount equal to 35% of the employer’s expenses incurred while the employee is on paid leave or for paying a temporary employee.
  • HB 18-1217 – “Concerning a Temporary Income Tax Credit for Employers that Make Contributions to 529 Qualified State Tuition Program Accounts Owned by their Employees, and, in Connection Therewith, Enacting the “Working Families College Savings Act,'” by Reps. Kevin Van Winkle & Alec Garnett and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill creates a temporary income tax credit for income tax years commencing on or after January 1, 2019, but prior to January 1, 2022, for employers that make contributions to 529 qualified state tuition program accounts owned by their employees in an amount equal to 20% of the contribution, not to exceed $500.
  • HB 18-1224 – “Concerning the Process that is Due for the Imposition of Discipline that Affects a Person’s Ability to Practice an Occupation, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring the Parties to Submit to Mediation and Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Yeulin Willett and Sen. Bob Gardner. Current law requires state agencies to give notice to a licensee of certain facts that may lead to discipline or suspension. The bill makes certain changes to these requirements.
  • HB 18-1251 – “Concerning Measures to Improve the Efficiency of the Community Corrections Transition Placements, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Pete Lee & Cole Wist and Sens. Daniel Kagan & Bob Gardner. The bill requires the state board of parole to submit a list of offenders for community corrections transition placement referrals to the department of corrections staff. The staff shall inform the board when the referral is made or the reason for not making the referral.
  • HB 18-1252 – “Concerning Unlawful Sale of Academic Materials for Submission to an Institution of Higher Education,” by Reps. Dylan Roberts & James Wilson and Sen. Kevin Priola. Under existing law, a person is not permitted to prepare, offer to prepare, cause to be prepared, sell, or distribute any term paper, thesis, dissertation, or other written material for another person for compensation if he or she knows or should reasonably have known, that it is to be submitted by any other person for academic credit at a public or private college, university, or other institution of higher education, or to advertise the same. A court may issue an injunction to prevent these practices. The bill defines ‘assignment’ to include any specific written, recorded, pictorial, artistic, or other academic task; maintains the existing offenses related to preparing or selling assignments, or advertising the same; and prohibits a person from preparing, selling, or offering to sell a document or service that provides answers for, or completes on behalf of a student, an online exam that is administered pursuant to a course of study at any institution of higher education, or advertising the same.
  • HB 18-1269 – “Concerning Notification to Parents of Charges Brought Against Public School Employees for Alleged Felony Offenses that would Result in the Revocation of an Educator License Pursuant to title 22, Colorado Revised Statutes,” by Reps. Paul Lundeen & Brittany Pettersen and Sens. Owen Hill & Rhonda Fields. The bill requires school districts, district charter schools, institute charter schools, and boards of cooperative services to notify parents of students enrolled in a local education provider of charges brought against an employee or former employee, if the employee was employed at any time within 12 months before an offense is charged, who has or had contact with students, if the charges are for one of the felony offenses that requires the denial, suspension, or revocation of a teacher license if the employee were a teacher.
  • HB 18-1277 – “Concerning a Requirement that an Application for a “Building Excellent Schools Today Act” Grant of Financial Assistance for Public School Capital Construction Include a Plan for the Future Use or Disposition of any Existing Public School Facility that the Applicant will Stop Using for its Current Use if it Receives the Grant,” by Reps. Jon Becker & Daneya Esgar and Sens. Randy Baumgartner & John Kefalas. Beginning with the state fiscal year 2019-20 grant cycle, the bill requires an application made to the public school capital construction assistance board under the ‘Building Excellent Schools Today Act’ for a grant of financial assistance that is for either the construction of a new public school facility that will replace one or more existing public school facilities or the reconstruction or expansion of an existing public school facility to include a plan for the future use or disposition of any existing public school facility that the applicant will stop using for its current use if it receives the grant.
  • HB 18-1283 – “Concerning the Classification of Residential Land for Property Tax Purposes Resulting from a Significant Change in the Residential Improvements Located Upon the Land,” by Rep. Adrienne Benavidez and Sen. Tim Neville. When residential improvements are destroyed, demolished, or relocated on or after January 1, 2018, that, were it not for their destruction, demolition, or relocation, would have qualified the land upon which the improvements were located as residential land for the following property tax year, the bill requires the residential land classification to remain in place for the year in which the improvements were destroyed, demolished, or relocated and one subsequent property tax year if the assessor determines that evidence is present that the owner intends to rebuild or locate a residential improvement on the land.
  • HB 18-1285 – “Concerning Parking for People with Certain Disabilities, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Dan Pabon and Sens. Jim Smallwood & Nancy Todd. The bill creates a remuneration-exempt identifying placard that exempts an individual with a disability from paying for parking if the disability limits the individual’s fine motor skills, ability to grow above 48 inches, or ability to reach or access a parking meter.
  • HB 18-1291 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2017 Sunset Report by the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Reps. Faith Winter & Dan Thurlow and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg. The bill implements the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies in its sunset review of the conservation easement oversight commission by extending the repeal date of the commission for 7 years until 2025 and modifies the composition of the commission.
  • HB 18-1294 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Regulation of Nursing Home Administrators by the Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators in the Division of Professions and Occupations in the Department of Regulatory Agencies, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring the Board to Record by Board Member Each Vote Regarding Licensee Discipline,” by Reps. Susan Longtine & Janet Buckner and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill partially implements the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies, as contained in the department’s sunset review of nursing home administrators by continuing the regulation of nursing home administrators by the board of examiners of nursing home administrators in the division of professions and occupations for 5 years, until September 1, 2023.
  • HB 18-1296 – “Concerning an Expansion of the Ability to Leave a Motor Vehicle Unattended in Certain Circumstances,” by Reps. Jovan Melton & Justin Everett and Sens. Vicki Marble & Dominick Moreno. Currently, if a person’s motor vehicle has a remote starter system and adequate security measures, he or she may leave the motor vehicle unattended while the engine is running. The bill provides that a motor vehicle may be left unattended if either a remote starter system or adequate security measures are in place.
  • HB 18-1299 – “Concerning Electronic Documents Related to the Ownership of a Vehicle that is Regulated by the Department of Revenue, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Jeff Bridges & Patrick Neville and Sens. Ray Scott & Rachel Zenzinger. The bill creates a framework for the department of revenue to establish electronic processing for issuing certificates of title, filing or releasing liens, or registering vehicles and special mobile machinery. This is subject to the department promulgating rules.
  • HB 18-1300 – “Concerning Granting Authority for Local District Colleges to Provide a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing Program as a Completion Degree to Students who Have or Are Pursuing an Associate Degree in Nursing,” by Reps. Dave Young & Perry Buck and Sens. Vicki Marble & John Cooke. The bill allows a local district college, such as Aims community college, to offer a bachelor of science degree in nursing program as a completion degree in nursing to students who have or are pursuing an associate degree in nursing, provided that the college’s board of trustees determines it is appropriate to address the needs of the communities within its service area, as approved by the Colorado commission on higher education based on existing criteria.
  • HB 18-1309 – “Concerning Programs Addressing Educator Shortages, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. James Coleman & James Wilson and Sen. Owen Hill. The bill requires the Colorado department of education and the Colorado department of higher education to create the framework for a grow your own educator program and specifies required provisions.
  • HB 18-1344 – “Concerning Relief from Collateral Consequences of Criminal Actions,” by Reps. Mike Weissman & Lang Sias and Sens. Dominick Moreno & Don Coram. Current law has separate collateral relief sections for when a court orders an alternative sentence, probation, or community corrections. The bill combines collateral relief provisions into one section and authorizes a court to enter an order for collateral relief at the time of conviction of a defendant or any time thereafter. The bill requires a fingerprint-based criminal history record check only if the hearing is held after sentencing.
  • HB 18-1351 – “Concerning Signage for the Old Spanish Trail,” by Reps. Donald Valdez & Phil Covarrubias and Sens. Leroy Garcia & Larry Crowder. The bill recognizes the significance of the old Spanish national historic trail as a historic resource in Colorado. Subject to the availability of funding from gifts, grants, or donations, the bill requires the executive director of the department of transportation to erect signs marking portions of the trail that travel along or cross highways in Colorado.
  • HB 18-1362 – “Concerning the Membership Expansion of the Colorado Task Force on Drunk and Impaired Driving,” by Rep. Jeni James Arndt and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill adds 3 members to the Colorado task force on drunk and impaired driving. The executive director of the department of transportation, or the director’s designee, shall appoint a community-based representative from the substance use disorder prevention field and a representative from the retail or medical marijuana industry who is an owner or manager of a retail dispensary. The executive director of the department of revenue, or the director’s designee, shall appoint a representative from the marijuana enforcement division.
  • HB 18-1371 – “Concerning Capital Construction Budget Items, and, in Connection Therewith, Codifying the Three-year Period that Capital Construction Budget Items Remain Available and Clarifying the Deadlines for the Submission of Capital Construction Budget Requests, Budget Request Amendments, and Budget Request Amendments that are Related to a Request for a Supplemental Appropriation,” by Reps. Daneya Esgar & Jon Becker and Sens. John Kefalas & Randy Baumgardner. The bill codifies the 3-year period that capital construction appropriations remain available and clarifies the deadlines for the submission of capital construction budget requests, budget request amendments, and budget request amendments that are related to a request for a supplemental appropriation.
  • HB 18-1372 – “Concerning an Exemption of the Regional Center Depreciation Account in the Capital Construction Fund from the Definition of Cash Fund for Purposes of the Requirements under the Automatic Cash Fund Funding Mechanism for Payment of Future Costs Attributable to Certain of the State’s Capital Assets,” by Reps. Daneya Esgar & Jon Becker and Sen. John Kefalas. The bill exempts the Department of Human Services’ regional center depreciation account in the capital construction fund from the definition of ‘cash fund’ for purposes of the requirements under the automatic cash fund funding mechanism for payment of future costs attributable to certain of the state’s capital assets.
  • HB 18-1375 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Revision of Statutes in the Colorado Revised Statutes, as Amended, and, in Connection Therewith, Amending or Repealing Obsolete, Imperfect, and Inoperative Law to Preserve the Legislative Intent, Effect, and Meaning of the Law,” by Reps. Yeulin Willett & Pete Lee and Sen. Bob Gardner. To improve the clarity and certainty of the statutes, the bill amends, repeals, and reconstructs various statutory provisions of law that are obsolete, imperfect, or inoperative.
  • HB 18-1381 – “Concerning Operations Related to the Sale of Medical Marijuana in the Regulated Medical Marijuana Market, and, in Connection Therewith, Moving from the Seventy Percent Own Source Requirement to a One-year Transition Period of Fifty Percent Own Source Requirement to an Elimination of the Own Source Requirement,” by Reps. Matt Gray & Kevin Van Winkle and Sens. Tim Neville & Cheri Jahn. The bill creates a transition period between the current limited sourcing model that begins July 1, 2018. For one year from that date, medical marijuana centers and optional premises cultivation facilities can purchase and sell 50% of their inventory as a wholesale transaction, and medical marijuana trim is not included in the calculation of the percentage.
  • HB 18-1388 – “Concerning an Exemption from the Requirement to Register a Security if the Security is Subject to a Notice Filing as Permitted under Federal Law,” by Rep. Alec Garnett and Sen. Jack Tate. Existing law generally requires that, for a person to issue a security, either the security or the person must be exempt or the person must register the security with the securities commissioner. The bill eliminates the registration requirement, and substitutes a notice filing requirement.
  • HB 18-1393 – “Concerning Measures to Support Effective Implementation of the ‘Colorado Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act’ for all Students who Receive Services Pursuant to READ Plans, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Millie Hamner & Tony Exum and Sen. Bob Gardner. Under existing law, the state board of education is required to adopt an approved list of reading assessments, and the department of education is required to adopt advisory lists of literacy programming and professional development in literacy. With regard to the list of approved assessments and the advisory lists, the bill makes several changes.
  • HB 18-1431 – “Concerning Updating Managed Care Provisions in the Medical Assistance Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Aligning Managed Care Provisions with new Federal Managed Care Regulations, Removing Obsolete or Duplicative Statutory Language and Programs, and Updating and Aligning Statutory Provisions to Reflect the Current Statewide Managed Care System,” by Rep. Joann Ginal and Sen. Jim Smallwood. The bill amends, repeals, and relocates provisions of part 4 of article 5 of title 25.5, C.R.S., relating to managed care provisions under the medical assistance program to align with the federal ‘Medicaid and CHIP Managed Care Final Rule of 2016’, and to reflect the implementation of the accountable care collaborative as the statewide managed care system.
  • HB 18-1433 – “Concerning Modifications to the ‘Naturopathic Doctor Act,’ and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring a Naturopathic Doctor to Disclose that the Naturopathic Doctor is Registered and Updating the Terms that a Naturopathic Doctor May Use,” by Rep. Matt Gray and Sens. Jack Tate & Don Coram. As it relates to naturopathic doctors, the bill makes changes to terminology they may use.
  • SB 18-012 – “Concerning Including Military Enlistment as Part of the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Performance Indicator for Public Schools,” by Sen. Owen Hill and Rep. Brittany Pettersen. For purposes of determining the level of attainment of each public high school, each school district, the state charter school institute, and the state as a whole on the postsecondary and workforce readiness performance indicator for accreditation, the bill adds enlistment in the military within a year of graduation as a measure of performance.
  • SB 18-013 – “Concerning Expanding the Grades Eligible for the Child Nutrition School Lunch Protection Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Rhonda Fields & Bob Gardner and Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet. Current law creates an annual appropriation to provide lunches at no charge to children in state-subsidized early childhood education programs administered by public schools or in kindergarten through fifth grade who would otherwise have to pay for a reduced-price lunch. The bill extends the grade of eligibility to eighth grade in schools that elect to participate in the expanded program.
  • SB 18-031 – “Concerning an Extension of the Title 12 Recodification Study Being Conducted by the Office of Legislative Legal Services, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Mike Foote. Current law directs the office of legislative legal services to study the organizational recodification of title 12 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. The law authorizing the study repeals on September 1, 2018. The bill extends the title 12 recodification study for one additional year, through September 1, 2019.
  • SB 18-033 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Animal Feeding Operation Permit Program under the Department of Public Health and Environment, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Jon Becker. The bill replaces the July 1, 2018, repeal date for the department of public health and environment’s animal feeding operation permit program with a repeal date of July 1, 2025. The bill also extends the fees associated with the program at their current levels.
  • SB 18-056 – “Concerning Monetary Amounts in Civil Actions,” by Sen. Cheri Jahn and Reps. Pete Lee & Yeulin Willett. Under current law, a person may file a civil action in county court if the value of the claim is $15,000 or less. The bill increases that limit to $25,000 or less. The bill also changes the filing fees.
  • SB 18-108  – “Concerning the Issuance of Identification Documents under the ‘Colorado Road and Community Safety Act’ to Persons who are Not Lawfully Present in the United States, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Larry Crowder & Don Coram and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Jonathan Singer. Currently, a person who is not lawfully present in the United States may obtain a driver’s license or identification card if certain requirements are met. One of the requirements is that the person present a taxpayer identification card. The bill allows a person to present a social security number as an alternative to a taxpayer identification card. The bill allows the license or identification card to be reissued or renewed in accordance with the process used for other licenses and identification cards.
  • SB 18-119 – “Concerning False Imprisonment of a Minor, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Bob Gardner & Terri Carver and Rep. Adrienne Benavidez. The bill states that a person commits class 5 felony false imprisonment if he or she confines or detains another person less than 18 years of age by means of tying, locking, caging, chaining, or otherwise restricting that person’s freedom of movement by any instrumentality for an unreasonable amount of time under the circumstances.
  • SB 18-141 – “Concerning Voluntary Contribution Designations on the Colorado Individual Income Tax Return Form,” by Sen. Lois Court and Reps. James Wilson & Chris Hansen. The bill creates the donate to a Colorado nonprofit fund in the state treasury. A voluntary contribution designation line for the fund will appear on the state individual income tax return form.
  • SB 18-150 – “Concerning Measures to Facilitate Voter Registration of Individuals in the Criminal Justice System, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Stephen Fenberg & Kevin Lundberg and Reps. Hugh McKean & Pete Lee. The bill allows a person on parole to preregister to vote. A person who preregisters is required to meet all the requirements of a person who registers.
  • SB 18-191 – “Concerning the Local Government Limited Gaming Impact Fund, and, in Connection Therewith Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Reps. Terri Carver & Edie Hooten. The bill annually increases the amount of money credited to the limited gaming impact fund by an amount equal to the growth of the state share from the previous fiscal year.
  • SB 18-205 – “Concerning the Regulation of Industrial Hemp as an Agricultural Product, and, in Connection Therewith, Identifying the Unprocessed Seeds of Industrial Hemp as a Commodity under the ‘Commodity Handler Act’ and Industrial Hemp as a Farm Product under the ‘Farm Products Act,'” by Sens. Vicki Marble & Don Coram and Reps. Marc Catlin & Barbara McLachlin. The bill includes the unprocessed seeds of industrial hemp in the definition of ‘commodity’ within the ‘Commodity Handler Act’, thus subjecting a person who acts as a commodity handler with respect to the unprocessed seeds of industrial hemp to the licensing requirements set forth in the ‘Commodity Handler Act’.
  • SB 18-208 – “Concerning the Creation of the Governor’s Mansion Maintenance Fund,” by Sen. Randy Baumgartner & John Kefalas and Reps. Daneya Esgar & Chris Hansen. The bill creates the governor’s mansion maintenance fund, which is comprised of the money generated from the mansion’s operation, such as rental fees.
  • SB 18-209 – “Concerning Modifications to the Government Data Advisory Board Created in the Office of Information Technology,” by Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Nancy Todd and Reps. Dan Thurlow & Dan Pabon. The government data advisory board (board) was created in the office of information technology to advise and provide recommendations to the chief information officer regarding interdepartmental data protocol and best practices in sharing and protecting data in state government. The bill modifies the definition of interdepartmental protocol to reflect current practice. The bill also modifies the composition of the board to include a representative from each state agency and to remove members of the education data subcommittee from the board.
  • SB 18-210 – “Concerning the Regulation of Real Estate Appraisal Management Companies, and, in Connection Therewith, Aligning State Law with Current Federal Law and Regulations,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Edie Hooten. The bill amends the definition of ‘appraisal management company’ to contain all of the elements specified in recent amendments to Title XI of the federal ‘Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989’ (FIRREA) and regulations adopted in furtherance of FIRREA. Section 1 also adds a definition of ‘appraiser panel’ to include appraisers working as independent contractors.
  • SB 18-213 – “Concerning Requiring Local School Districts to Recognize Academic Credits Earned by Students in the Custody of the Division of Youth Services,” by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik and Rep. Leslie Herod. Under current law, when a student in out-of-home placement transfers from one school to another school, the sending school must certify to the receiving school or school district the course work that the student has fully or partially completed while enrolled at the school. The bill requires receiving schools and school districts to follow the same procedures for a student who transfers to a school or school district from a division of youth services placement.
  • SB 18-233 – “Concerning Technical Modifications to Miscellaneous Provisions of the ‘Uniform Election Code of 1992,’ and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Vicki Marble & Stephen Fenberg and Reps. Mike Foote & Patrick Neville. The bill makes several technical modifications to miscellaneous provisions of the ‘Uniform Election Code of 1992.’
  • SB 18-235 – “Concerning the Creation of the Colorado Industrial Hemp Research and Development Authority,” by Sen. Don Coram and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. The bill creates the Colorado industrial hemp research and development task force to study whether to develop an industrial hemp research and development authority to develop, fund, and promote educational, research, and development programs and collaborative efforts concerning industrial hemp.
  • SB 18-239 – “Concerning a Licensed Chiropractor’s Ability to Perform Animal Chiropractic on an Animal Patient,” by Sen. Vicki Marble and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & James Wilson. Under current law, a licensed chiropractor must obtain a veterinary medical clearance from a licensed veterinarian before performing an animal chiropractic act that falls within the chiropractor’s scope of practice on an animal patient. The bill removes the veterinary medical clearance requirement for licensed chiropractors who have successfully completed 9 hours of course work related to contagious, infectious, and zoonotic diseases.
  • SB 18-253 – “Concerning the Effective Date to Transition the Department of Revenue’s CSTARS Account to the Department of Revenue’s DRIVES Vehicle Services Account,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Dave Young. The bill establishes a uniform date of July 1, 2019, to transition the department of revenue’s Colorado state titling and registration (CSTARS) account to the department of revenue’s DRIVES vehicle services account. The bill also delays for one year the corresponding statutory repeal dates.
  • SB 18-262 – “Concerning Targeted Funding for Public Institutions of Higher Education to Help Achieve the Colorado Commission on Higher Education Master Plan Goals, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Reps. Crisanta Duran & Jeff Bridges. The bill makes appropriations to the department of higher education for need-based grants, student stipends, fee-for-service contracts with institutions of higher education, local district college grants, and area technical colleges.
  • SB 18-266 – “Concerning Controlling Costs under the ‘Colorado Medical Assistance Act, and, in Connection Therewith, Using Data and Technology, Creating a Hospital Review Program, and Making and Reducing an Appropriation,” by Sen. Kevin Lundberg and Rep. Dave Young. The bill directs the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to provide information to providers participating in the accountable care collaborative.
  • SB 18-268 – “Concerning the Scope of the Authority of the Department of Transportation to Award a Design Bid Build Highway Project Contract in an Amount that Exceeds the Estimate of the Department on the Project,” by Sens. Ray Scott & Dominick Moreno and Reps. Barbara McLachlin. If there are fewer than 3 bidders on a design bid build highway project, a provision of current law generally prohibits the department of transportation (CDOT). The bill authorizes a designee of the executive director to award such a contract.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: BAA Properly Determined that Vacant Land Could Not Be Reclassified as Residential

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Rust v. Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, May 17, 2018.

Vacant Land Tax Assessment—C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a)—Residential Property—“Used as a Unit” Element—Assessor’s Reference Library.

Rust bought residential property in Summit County and a year later bought the adjacent undeveloped parcel (the subject property). He and his family have used the two parcels for decades. The county assessor classified the subject property as vacant land for the years 2013 through 2015, subjecting it to a tax rate almost triple the rate for residential property. Rust sought reclassification, asserting that both properties should be classified as residential under C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a). The Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA) affirmed the decision of the Board of County Commissioners of Summit County denying reclassification.

On appeal, Rust contended that the BAA misconstrued the “used as a unit” element in C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a), which defines residential land. County assessors use the Assessor’s Reference Library (ARL) for guidance in classifying land under this statute. The ARL further defines “used as a unit” as contiguous parcels of land that are under common ownership and are “used as an integral part of a residence.” Assessors use four guidelines when applying this definition. Here, the parties stipulated that the parcels are commonly owned and contiguous; the only issue was whether the subject property was “used as a unit” with the residential parcel. The assessor found no evidence that the subject property was an integral part of the residence, and the use of the subject property failed to support its reclassification as residential property. There was no error in the BAA’s decision.

The BAA’s order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Practice of Billing Foreclosure Clients for Costs Not Incurred Violates CCPA

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in State of Colorado ex rel. Coffman v. Robert J. Hopp & Associates, LLC on Thursday, May 17, 2018.

Foreclosure Commitments—Colorado Consumer Protection Act—Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act—Deceptive Trade Practices—Statute of Limitations—Title Insurance Policy—Cancellation Fee—Civil Penalties—Evidence.

Hopp is an attorney whose law firms provided legal services for mortgage defaults, including residential foreclosures, in Colorado. Hopp also owned businesses that supported the law firms’ foreclosure services, including National Title, LLC and First National Title Residential, LLC, which provided foreclosure commitments for the law firms. National Title and First National Title Residential issued title commitments and policies through an underwriter, Fidelity National Title Insurance Company (Fidelity). Fidelity had a Division of Insurance (DOI)-approved manual that set forth rates and charges for foreclosure commitments.

While representing loan servicers, the law firms typically ordered foreclosure commitments from Hopp’s title companies. National Title invoiced the law firms a charge of 110% of the schedule of basic rates upon the delivery of a foreclosure commitment. As a routine practice, within 10 days of filing a foreclosure action, the law firms passed this cost on to the servicers by billing and seeking reimbursement from them for the charge of 110% of the schedule of basic rates, even though this cost may not have actually been incurred.

The State of Colorado ex rel. Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General for the State of Colorado, and Julie Ann Meade, Administrator, Uniform Consumer Credit Code (collectively, plaintiffs) sued Hopp, his law firms, his affiliated title companies, and his business that provided accounting and bookkeeping services for the law firms and title companies (collectively, defendants), alleging that defendants violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) and the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (CFDCPA) by engaging in the billing practices described above. The district court found in favor of plaintiffs and imposed penalties of $624,000.

On appeal, defendants contended that the trial court erred by imposing penalties under the CCPA and the CFDCPA because they were barred by the one-year limitation period in C.R.S. § 13-80-103(1)(d) and C.R.S. § 5-16-113(5) (CFDCPA claims), and C.R.S. § 6-1-115 (CCPA claims). Because the CCPA contains a statute of limitations specifically addressing cases brought under its provisions, the three-year statute of limitations controls over the more general C.R.S. § 13-80-103(1)(d). Further, because the CFDCPA did not contain a clear statute of limitations applying to government enforcement actions at the times relevant to this action, a catch-all provision applies requiring the government to file any claims within one year of discovery, which was done in this case. Therefore, the trial court did not err in concluding that the CFDCPA claims were timely filed.

Defendants next contended that the trial court erred when it concluded that they violated the CCPA and the CFDCPA by charging 110% of the schedule of basic rates for foreclosure commitment required by Fidelity’s rates on file with the DOI. This was the same amount that Fidelity’s manual listed as the charge for a completed title insurance policy, even in cases where the policy would never be issued because the foreclosure was cured or cancelled. Defendants did not charge amounts in compliance with Fidelity’s filed rates because they required payment from servicers even when a title insurance policy was never issued. The evidence supported the trial court’s finding that defendants misrepresented the premium charges as actually incurred costs. Therefore, the trial court did not err.

Defendants also contended that the trial court erred when it concluded that they knowingly engaged in a deceptive trade practice. Here, the trial court’s finding that defendants acted knowingly was supported by evidence in the record.

Defendants next argued that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted plaintiffs’ Exhibit 103 and relied on it in assessing civil penalties against defendants. Exhibit 103 is a 1,114-page spreadsheet compiling electronic invoicing data submitted by Hopp’s law firms through a billing software to the servicers from 2008 until the time of trial. The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted Exhibit 103 as a business record under CRE 803(6).

Plaintiffs contended on cross-appeal that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted defendants’ Exhibit 1093 to rebut plaintiffs’ Exhibit 104. At times, servicers directed the law firms to order foreclosure commitments from LSI Default Title and Closing (LSI), instead of from one of Hopp’s affiliated title companies. Plaintiffs amended their complaint to add claims for defendants’ violation of the CCPA and CFDCPA through conduct regarding the LSI transactions. Exhibit 104 reflected that LSI appeared to charge defendants only $350 for title commitments ordered, which was representative of a cancellation fee. Exhibit 1093 was an email from an LSI representative to Hopp’s wife, which included an attached spreadsheet showing charges for full policy premiums rather than outstanding charges of $350. There were “unusual and unexplained adjustments” to Exhibit 104, and the trial court declined to place any weight on the exhibit in its final order and concluded that plaintiffs failed to prove their claim based on the LSI transactions. Here, there was a proper foundation for admitting Exhibit 1093, and given the late addition of the LSI claim and the parameters of the claim set forth in the plaintiffs’ written notice, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to exclude Exhibit 1093 as a sanction for defendants’ failure to supplement their mandatory disclosures at a late point in litigation.

Both parties requested an award of attorney fees and costs incurred in this appeal. Plaintiffs, but not defendants, are entitled to an award.

The judgment was affirmed and the case was remanded with directions.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Statute of Limitations Does Not Begin when Party Signs Prepared Document

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Bell v. Land Title Guarantee Co. on Thursday, May 17, 2018.

Buy and Sell Contract—Mineral Rights—Warranty Deed—Negligence—Breach of Contract—Statute of Limitations—Third Party—Cause of Action—Accrual Date.

The Bells hired Orr Land Company LLC (Orr) and its employee Ellerman to represent them in selling their real property. Orr found a buyer and the Bells entered into a buy and sell contract with the buyer, which provided, as pertinent here, that the sale excluded all oil, gas, and mineral rights in the property. Orr then retained Land Title Guarantee Company (Land Title) to draft closing documents, including the warranty deed. In 2005 the Bells signed the warranty deed and sold the property to the buyer. The Bells didn’t know that the warranty deed prepared by Land Title didn’t contain any language reserving the Bells’ mineral rights as provided in the buy and sell contract. For over nine years, the Bells continued to receive the mineral owner’s royalty payments due under an oil and gas lease on the property. In 2014 the lessee oil and gas company learned that the Bells didn’t own the mineral rights, so it began sending the payments to the buyer. After that, the Bells discovered that the warranty deed didn’t reserve their mineral rights as provided in the buy and sell contract. In 2016 the Bells filed this negligence and breach of contract action against defendants Land Title, Orr, and Ellerman. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that the Bells’ claims were untimely because the statute of limitations had run. The district court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss.

On appeal, the Bells contended that the district court erred in granting defendants’ motions to dismiss because they sufficiently alleged facts that, if true, establish that the statute of limitations didn’t begin to accrue on their claims until the oil and gas company ceased payment in September 2014, which is when they contended they discovered that the warranty deed didn’t reserve their mineral rights. A plaintiff must commence tort actions within two years from the date the cause of action accrues, and contract actions within three years from the date the cause of action accrues. A cause of action accrues on the date that “both the injury and its cause are known or should have been known by the exercise of reasonable diligence.” The trial court relied on the legal principle that one who signs a document is presumed to know its contents, so the Bells should have known on the day they signed the deed that the mineral rights reservation language was not included, and thus their claims accrued on that date. However, the presumed-to-know principle applies conclusively only where a party (for example, a grantor) seeks to avoid the legal effects of a deed in an action against another party to the conveyance (a grantee), not where a party (a grantor) asserts claims against third parties who failed to conform the deed to an underlying agreement on that party’s behalf. Here, the Bells claims against defendants, who aren’t parties to the deed, don’t seek to avoid the deed, but seek damages for negligent preparation of the deed, and the purpose of the presumed-to-know principle isn’t applicable. Taking the complaint’s factual allegations as true, the Bells filed their negligence and breach of contract claims within the statute of limitations and stated a plausible claim for relief. The court erred in granting defendants’ motions to dismiss.

The order of dismissal was reversed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Municipality Cannot Remove Property from Regional Transportation Authority Simply by Annexing Property

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority on Thursday, May 17, 2018.

Annexation—Colorado Constitution Article XX, section 6—Regional Transportation Authority—Sales Tax—Use Tax—Matter of Mixed Local and State Concern.

Colorado’s Regional Transportation Authority law (RTA Law) allows municipalities, counties, special districts, and the state to combine to provide regional transportation services and to collect sales and use taxes to pay for such services. In 2014, the City of Fountain annexed a parcel of vacant land (the Property) from unincorporated El Paso County. The Property was within the boundaries of the Authority when it was formed in 2004. Fountain, a home rule city in El Paso County, has never been a member of the Authority. After the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (Authority) announced its intention to collect a 1% sales tax from recently built retail businesses on the Property, the operators of the businesses, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and Sam’s West, Inc. (collectively, plaintiffs) filed a declaratory judgment action against the Authority and the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR), which collects sales tax on behalf of both Fountain and the Authority. Plaintiffs sought a declaration that defendants could not collect sales and use taxes on the Property because the Property was now part of Fountain, which was not a member of the Authority. On cross-motions for summary judgment the district court declared that the taxes could be collected and entered summary judgment for defendants.

On appeal, plaintiffs first argued that Fountain’s annexation of the Property removed it from the Authority’s boundaries and that the Authority’s attempt to tax retail sales outside of its boundaries violates the RTA law. A municipality may annex property from unincorporated parts of the county in which it lies. However, that annexation power does not permit a municipality to automatically remove territory from other political subdivisions of the state. The Property remained within the Authority’s boundaries.

Plaintiffs’ also argued that under C.R.S. § 43-4-603(2)(d) the Property was no longer within the boundaries of the Authority due to its annexation by Fountain, which is not a “member of the combination” constituting the Authority and must be deemed to be outside the Authority’s boundaries under RTA Law. The court of appeals concluded that the legislature intended the statute to define the boundaries of an authority at its inception, not to define requirements for changing those boundaries thereafter. Further, the RTA law defines a specific procedure for how territory may be removed from an established authority, which was not followed here. Fountain’s annexation of the Property did not remove it from the Authority’s boundaries.

Plaintiffs further contended that the Authority’s statutory power to tax is preempted by Article XX, section 6 of the Colorado Constitution, which they argued gives home rule cities “plenary” and “sole” authority over local concerns such as municipal taxation and supersedes state statutes that conflict with local laws in these areas. Colorado case law has long recognized that transportation regulation is generally a matter of mixed local and state concern, and the Colorado Constitution does not give home rule cities sole authority over taxation within their boundaries. The provision of transportation services to the Property and the imposition of taxes to pay for such services is not a matter of purely local concern that under article XX, section 6 would supersede conflicting state law. Further, plaintiffs failed to establish that the state statute granting the Authority the right to impose such a tax conflicts with Fountain’s power to impose its own taxes. The district court did not err in rejecting plaintiffs’ preemption argument and concluding that the Authority’s sales tax on eligible transactions on the Property was valid.

Lastly, the court rejected plaintiffs’ argument that the district court erred by failing to address all of the factors that courts frequently consider in determining whether an issue is a matter of local, mixed, or state concern.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Plaintiff Need Not Post Bond in Every Land Use Appeal Under C.R.C.P. 106

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Stor-N-Lock Partners Inc. v. City of Thornton on Thursday, May 3, 2018.

Administrative Law—C.R.C.P. 106—Specific Use Permit—Zoning Regulations—Evidence—Bond—Preliminary Injunction.

Plaintiff, Stor-N-Lock Partners #15, LLC (Stor-N-Lock), owns a self-storage facility located in the City of Thornton (the City). The Stor-N-Lock facility is located next to vacant property. Defendant Resolute Investments, Inc. (Resolute) contracted to buy the vacant property and then sought a specific use permit from the City to operate a self-storage facility there. The City granted the permit. Stor-N-Lock appealed the City’s decision to the district court under C.R.C.P. 106. While the case was pending in district court, Resolute filed a motion to require Stor-N-Lock to post a bond, theorizing that by filing the Rule 106 action, Stor-N-Lock had effectively obtained an injunction. The district court summarily denied the motion and affirmed.

On appeal, Stor-N-Lock argued that the City granted the permit in violation of its own zoning regulations, because the City failed to find that Resolute’s use of the property as a self-storage facility enhanced Stor-N-Lock’s property. However, the record evidence supports the City Council’s determination that the proposed use of the property would contribute to, enhance, or promote the welfare of adjacent properties, including Stor-N-Lock’s property. This evidence was sufficient to clear Rule 106(a)(4)’s low no-competent-evidence bar. Thus, the City Council did not abuse its discretion in granting the permit.

On cross-appeal, Resolute argued that although Stor-N-Lock did not seek a preliminary injunction, and the district court did not enjoin Resolute’s use of the property in any way, Stor-N-Lock should nonetheless have been ordered to post a bond when it initiated its Rule 106 action in the district court. Resolute argued that the mere filing of the action increased the financial risk associated with the project and thus created an “effective stay” of its development plan. However, a plaintiff is required to post a bond only when a restraining order or preliminary injunction has been entered . Here, Stor-N-Lock did not seek injunctive relief or a temporary restraining order and therefore was not required to post a bond. The district court did not err in denying Resolute’s motion to require security.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.