April 28, 2017

Bills Delaying Accrual of Property Tax Abatement Refund Interest, Encouraging Mental Health Treatment for Peace Officers, and More Signed

On Monday, April 24, 2017, the governor signed eight bills into law. To date, the governor has signed 166 bills this legislative session. Some of the bills signed Monday include a bill delaying the accrual date of the property tax abatement refund interest, a bill expanding consumer options in fingerprint-based background checks, and a bill allowing campus liquor licenses for on-campus consumption of alcoholic beverages. The bills signed Monday are summarized here.

  • HB 17-1049“Concerning the Elimination of Refund Interest Related to a Property Tax Abatement,” by Reps. Dan Thurlow & Matt Gray and Sen. Don Coram. If property taxes are levied erroneously or illegally and a taxpayer has not protested the valuation within the time permitted by law, then the taxpayer has 2 years from the start of the property tax year to file a petition for abatement or refund with interest. The bill delays the start of the refund interest so that it accrues from the date a complete abatement petition is filed, with the exception of an abatement or refund for taxes paid as a result of omitted property being added to the assessment roll.
  • HB 17-1115“Concerning the Establishment of Direct Primary Health Care Agreements to Operate without Regulation by the Division of Insurance,” by Reps. Perry Buck & Joann Ginal and Sens. Jack Tate & John Kefalas. The bill establishes parameters under which a direct primary care agreement may be implemented. An agreement may be entered into between a direct primary health care provider and a patient for the payment of a periodic fee and for a specified period of time. The provider must be a licensed, registered, or certified individual or entity authorized to provide primary care services.
  • HB 17-1120“Concerning the Designation of a Campus Liquor Complex on the Campus of an Institution of Higher Education that is Licensed to Serve Alcohol Beverages for Consumption on the Licensed Premises to Allow the Institution to Obtain Permits to Serve Alcohol Beverages at Other Facilities Within its Campus Liquor Complex, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Yeulin Willett and Sen. Don Coram. The bill allows a higher education institution that has a license to serve alcohol beverages for on-premises consumption to apply for designation as a campus liquor complex, thereby allowing the institution to designate multiple facilities on the campus as locations for serving alcohol beverages.
  • HB 17-1184“Concerning Developing Additional Resources for Modern Technology Education in Public Schools,” by Rep. Crisanta Duran and Sen. Kevin Grantham. The bill directs the State Board of Education, in the course of revising the academic standards, to incorporate into the standards for each subject skills relating to the use of information and communications technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information.
  • HB 17-1215“Concerning Mental Health Support for Peace Officers,” by Rep. James Coleman and Sens. Daniel Kagan & Bob Gardner. The bill encourages each sheriff’s office and each municipal police department to adopt a policy whereby mental health professionals, to the extent practicable, provide on-scene response services to support officers’ handling of persons with mental health disorders, and counseling services to officers.
  • SB 17-108“Concerning Continuation of the Regulation of Speech-Language Pathologists by the Director of the Division of Professions and Occupations, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2016 Sunset Report of the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Sen. Larry Crowder and Rep. Janet Buckner. The bill extends the automatic termination date of the “Speech-language Pathology Practice Act” to September 1, 2022.
  • SB 17-189“Concerning Elimination of the Requirement that a Law Enforcement Agency is the Only Entity Authorized to Take Fingerprints for Purposes of a Background Check,” by Sen. John Cooke and Rep. Mike Foote. The bill removes the statutory requirement that a law enforcement agency is the only authorized entity able to take fingerprints for background checks. If an approved third party takes the person’s fingerprints, the fingerprints may be electronically captured using Colorado bureau of investigation-approved or federal bureau of investigation-approved livescan equipment.
  • SB 17-190“Concerning Prohibiting a Carrier from Setting Fees for a Dental Service that is Not Paid For by the Carrier,” by Sens. Dominick Moreno & Larry Crowder and Rep. Matt Gray. The bill prohibits a contract between a carrier and a dentist from requiring a dentist to provide services to a covered person at a fee set by, or subject to the approval of, the carrier unless the services are covered services under the person’s policy and the carrier provides payment for the service under the person’s policy in an amount that is reasonable and not nominal or de minimis.

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

Bills Limiting Evidence in Groundwater Appeals, Expanding Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, and More Signed

On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, Governor Hickenlooper signed 11 bills into law. To date, he has signed 158 bills this legislative session. The bills signed Tuesday include a bill limiting the evidence that may be submitted in appeals from groundwater decisions, a bill expanding the exception for possession of sexually exploitative material to prosecutors and others involved in investigations, a bill giving the juvenile court jurisdiction to decide parental responsibilities issues in juvenile issues, and more. The bills signed Tuesday are summarized here.

  • HB 17-1012“Concerning the Creation of a Pueblo Chile License Plate,” by Rep. Daneya Esgar and Sen. Leroy Garcia. The bill creates the Pueblo chile special license plate. In addition to the standard motor vehicle fees, the plate requires 2 one-time fees of $25.
  • HB 17-1110“Concerning Juvenile Court Jurisdiction Regarding Matters Related to Parental Responsibilities in a Juvenile Delinquency Case,” by Rep. Susan Beckman and Sen. Nancy Todd. The bill allows the juvenile court to take jurisdiction involving a juvenile in a juvenile delinquency case and subsequently enter orders addressing parental responsibilities and parenting time and child support in certain circumstances.
  • HB 17-1138“Concerning the Reporting of Hate Crimes by Law Enforcement Agencies,” by Rep. Joseph Salazar and Sen. Angela Williams. The bill requires the Department of Public Safety to include in its annual hearing information concerning reports submitted by law enforcement agencies about crimes committed in the state during the previous year, including but not limited to information concerning reports of bias-motivated crimes.
  • HB 17-1174“Concerning the Establishment of an Exception for Rural Counties from the Limitations on the Establishment of a Local Improvement District to Fund the Construction of a Telecommunications Service Improvement for Advanced Service,” by Rep. James Wilson and Sens. Lucia Guzman & Larry Crowder. The bill allows a rural county with a population of fewer than 50,000 inhabitants to establish a local improvement district to fund an advanced service improvement in an unserved area of the county.
  • HB 17-1193“Concerning the Installation of Small Wireless Service Infrastructure within a Local Government’s Jurisdiction, and, in Connection Therewith, Clarifying that an Expedited Permitting Process Applies to Small Cell Facilities and Small Cell Networks and that the Rights-of-Way Access Afforded Telecommunications Providers Extends to Broadband Providers and to Small Cell Facilities and Small Cell Networks,” by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Jon Becker and Sens. Andy Kerr & Jack Tate. The bill clarifies that the expedited permitting process established for broadband facilities applies to small cell facilities and small cell networks, and that the rights-of-way access afforded to telecommunications providers for the construction, maintenance, and operation of telecommunications and broadband facilities extend to broadband providers as well as small cell facilities and small cell networks.
  • SB 17-036“Concerning Groundwater,” by Sens. Don Coram & Ray Scott and Reps. Jon Becker & Jeni Arndt. The bill limits the evidence that a district court may consider, when reviewing a decision or action of the commission or state engineer on appeal, to the evidence presented to the commission or state engineer.
  • SB 17-068“Concerning Early Support for Student Success Through Access to School Counselors, and, in Connection Therewith, Serving All Grades Through the Behavioral Health Care Professional Matching Grant Program and the School Counselor Corps Grant Program,” by Sen. Nancy Todd and Rep. Jonathan Singer. The bill adds elementary schools to the list of public schools eligible to receive a grant through the behavioral health care professional matching grant program.
  • SB 17-088“Concerning the Criteria Used by a Health Insurer to Select Health Care Providers to Participate in the Insurer’s Network of Providers, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Angela Williams & Chris Holbert and Reps. Kevin Van Winkle & Edie Hooten. The bill requires health insurers to develop and use standards for selecting participating providers for its network and tiering providers if the insurer carries a tiered network.
  • SB 17-112: “Concerning a Clarification of the Effect of Statutes of Limitations on the Dispute Resolution Process when a Taxpayer Owes Sales or Use Tax to One Local Government but has Erroneously Paid the Disputed Tax to Another Local Government,” by Sen. Tim Neville and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill seeks to clarify the General Assembly’s intent when it enacted a dispute resolution process in 1985 to address a situation when a taxpayer paid a sales and use tax to one local government when it should have instead paid that disputed amount to a different local government.
  • SB 17-115“Concerning Possession of Sexually Exploitative Material by Persons Involved in Sexually Exploitative Material Cases,” by Sen. John Cooke and Reps. Mike Foote & Yeulin Willett. Under current law there is an exception to the crime of possession of sexually exploitative material for peace officers while in the performance of their duties. The bill expands the exception to a prosecutor, criminal investigator, crime analyst, or other individual who is employed by a law enforcement agency or district attorney’s office and performs or assists in investigative duties.
  • SB 17-137“Concerning the Continuation of the Colorado Health Service Corps Advisory Council,” by Sens. Nancy Todd & Michael Merrifield and Rep. Dominique Jackson. The bill continues the Colorado Health Service Corps Advisory Council indefinitely.

For a list of all of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2017 legislative decisions, click here.

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

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

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

April 4, 2017

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

March 30, 2017

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

March 23, 2017

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

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Property Used as Vacation Home and Listed on VRBO Properly Classified as Residential

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in O’Neil v. Conejos County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Real Property—Residential—Commercial—Ad Valorem Taxes—Burden of Proof.

James and Mary Ellen O’Neil purchased the subject property and built a log house on it for their use as a vacation home and as an inheritance for their sons. The house was initially classified for tax purposes as residential. After the O’Neils listed the property as available for short-term, overnight rental, the Conejos County Assessor (Assessor) reclassified the property, for ad valorem tax purposes, from residential to commercial. The O’Neils filed a petition for abatement with the Conejos County Board of Commissioners (County), which was denied, and then appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals (Board), which overturned the Assessor’s action and returned the property’s classification to residential for the relevant years.

On appeal, the County contended that the Board improperly classified the O’Neils’ property as residential. The County asserted as a procedural error that that the Board failed to apply the presumption in favor of the Assessor’s property classification. The Board’s order demonstrated that it implicitly applied the presumption in favor of the County, and the O’Neils met their burden of proof to overcome that presumption. On the merits, the Board determined that the proper classification of the property was “residential” because its “predominant and actual use was as a second home.” The Board’s determination had a reasonable basis in law and was supported by substantial evidence in the record.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Governor Hickenlooper Signs Bills Into Law

On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Governor Hickenlooper signed the first bills of the 2017 Legislative Session into law. The governor signed 26 bills on March 1, many of which were supplemental appropriations bills. The governor also signed 16 bills on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. To date, he has signed 42 bills into law. All of these bills are summarized here.

  • HB 17-1005“Concerning Modernization of Various Laws Relating to the Office of the State Auditor,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill updates various statutes pertaining to the office of the state auditor.
  • HB 17-1010“Concerning the Authority of the Colorado Dental Board to Promulgate Rules Based on Clarifications to Existing Laws that Relate to Collaborative Dental Agreements,” by Rep. Joann Ginal and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill clarifies that the Colorado dental board may promulgate rules for the use of lasers for dental and dental hygiene purposes within the defined scopes of practice and with appropriate supervision.
  • HB 17-1016“Concerning the Ability of an Urban Renewal Authority to Exclude the Valuation Attributable to the Extraction of Mineral Resources Located Within an Urban Renewal Area from the Total Amount of Taxable Property Subject to Division for the Purpose of Financing Urban Renewal Projects,” by Reps. Lori Saine & Matt Gray and Sens. Rachel Zenzinger & Beth Martinez Humenik. The bill permits the governing body of a municipality, as applicable, to provide in an urban renewal plan that the valuation attributable to the extraction of mineral resources located within the urban renewal area is not subject to the division of taxes between base and incremental revenues that accompanies the tax increment financing of urban renewal projects.
  • HB 17-1017“Concerning County Surveyors,” by Rep. Chris Kennedy and Sens. Cheri Jahn & Randy Baumgardner. The bill clarifies the specific duties of a county surveyor and provides that certain services may be provided at the surveyor’s discretion and when compensated by agreement between the surveyor and the board of county commissioners.
  • HB 17-1018“Concerning Extension of the Authorization for a Regional Transportation Authority to Seek Voter Approval for a Uniform Mill Levy on all Taxable Property within its Territory,” by Reps. Diane Mitsch Bush & Larry Liston and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill extends authorization for a regional transportation authority to seek voter approval for a uniform mill levy of up to 5 mills on all taxable property within its territory until January 1, 2029.
  • HB 17-1019“Concerning the Amounts Collected by a County Treasurer upon Redemption of Specified Property Interests from a Tax Sale,” by Rep. Donald Valdez and Sen. Don Coram. The bill requires any third party computer software costs to be included in the redemption amount for tax liens on real property.
  • HB 17-1020“Concerning Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems,” by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik. The bill amends provisions in current statute to provide for ongoing staff support for the task force concerning treatment of persons with mental illness in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
  • HB 17-1024“Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Pertaining to the Commission on Family Medicine,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill relocates laws pertaining to the commission on family medicine to Title 25.5, Colorado Revised Statutes, which pertains generally to the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.
  • HB 17-1025“Concerning the Repeal of Obsolete Laws Relating to Reapportionment of State Legislative Districts,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. Chris Holbert. The bill repeals obsolete laws related to drawing senate and house of representative districts, thereby removing 20,000 words from the Colorado Revised Statutes.
  • HB 17-1030“Concerning Updates to the 1921 Law Governing Irrigation Districts,” by Reps. Jeni Arndt & Jon Becker and Sen. Randy Baumgardner. The bill makes several amendments to the 1921 irrigation district laws.
  • HB 17-1047“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Local Affairs to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill addresses reporting requirements of the department of local affairs.
  • HB 17-1058“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Personnel to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Andy Kerr. The bill addresses reporting requirements of the Department of Personnel and Administration and changes repeal dates.
  • HB 17-1060“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill changes repeal dates and reporting requirements for certain Department of Health Care Policy and Financing actions.
  • HB 17-1067“Concerning Updating References to a National Standard Setting Forth Technical Criteria for Accessible Housing,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Andy Kerr. The bill updates references to a national standard for accessible housing criteria.
  • HB 17-1073“Concerning the Enactment of Colorado Revised Statutes 2016 as the Positive and Statutory Law of the State of Colorado,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Ray Scott. The bill enacts the 2016 Colorado Revised Statutes as the law of Colorado.
  • HB 17-1074“Concerning the Repeal of Obsolete Laws Relating to Redistricting of Congressional Districts,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. Chris Holbert. The bill repeals a law relating to Colorado’s congressional districts that has been rendered obsolete by the redistricting premised on the 2010 federal census.
  • HB 17-1078“Concerning the Repeal of the Colorado Family Support Loan Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Transferring Funds from the Colorado Family Support Loan Program to the Family Support Services Program to Provide Services for Families of Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities,” by Rep. Lois Landgraf and Sen. Don Coram. The bill repeals the Colorado family support loan fund and transfers any money remaining in that fund to a new fund created in the family support services program.
  • HB 17-1128“Concerning the Salary Categorization of Locally Elected Officials in Lake County,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kerry Donovan. The bill changes the salary categorization for locally elected officials in Lake County.
  • HB 17-1131“Concerning Contracting by the Colorado Student Loan Program for the Administration of the College Opportunity Fund Program,” by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Lori Saine and Sens. Kerry Donovan & Jim Smallwood. The bill permits the Colorado student loan program to enter into an agreement with the Department of Higher Education or another state entity to administer part or all of the college opportunity fund program.
  • SB 17-013“Concerning Authorization of the Board of Directors of the Fire and Police Pension Association to Develop a Multi-Employer Deferred Compensation Plan Document,” by Sen. Matt Jones and Reps. Kevin Van Winkle & Jessie Danielson. The bill authorizes the Board of Directors of the Fire and Police Pension Association to develop a multi-employer deferred compensation plan document to allow employers to join a multi-employer plan.
  • SB 17-018“Concerning a Correction to an Amending Clause in Senate Bill 16-146 Related to the Repeal of Part 14 of Article 4 of Title 25,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Rep. Jeni Arndt. The bill fixes an incorrect amending clause from Senate Bill 16-146, ‘Concerning Modernizing Statutes Related to Sexually Transmitted Infections’, that failed to repeal the entirety of part 14 of article 4 of title 25 prior to the repeal and relocation of sections in that part 14.
  • SB 17-020“Concerning the Establishment of a Uniform Approval Standard for Fire and Police Pension Association Statewide Plan Elections,” by Sen. John Cooke and Reps. Joann Ginal & Jovan Melton. The bill creates a uniform approval standard for modifications to FPPA pension plans by requiring that any modifications be approved by 65% of the members employed by the employer who vote in the election for the plan modification.
  • SB 17-044“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Regulatory Agencies to the General Assembly,” by Sen. Andy Kerr and Rep. Jeni Arndt. The bill makes several changes to the reporting requirements and repeal dates for the Department of Regulatory Agencies.
  • SB 17-052“Concerning Recommendations Related to Title 22 from the Department of Education to the Statutory Revision Committee,” by Sen. Andy Kerr and Rep. Dan Thurlow. The bill implements two recommendations related to Title 22 from the department of education to the statutory revision committee.
  • SB 17-058“Concerning the Authority of Certain Individuals to Purchase Alcohol Beverages for a Premises Licensed to Sell Alcohol Beverages for Consumption on the Licensed Premises,” by Sen. Randy Baumgardner and Rep. Jonathan Singer. The bill allows an employee or agent to purchase alcohol beverages on behalf of a hotel and restaurant licensee, tavern licensee, or lodging and entertainment facility licensee.
  • SB 17-159“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Department of Corrections,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Corrections.
  • SB 17-160“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Department of Education,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Education.
  • SB 17-161“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and State Planning and Budgeting,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and state planning and budgeting.
  • SB 17-162“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.
  • SB 17-163“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Department of Human Services,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Human Services.
  • SB 17-164“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Judicial Department,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the Judicial Department.
  • SB 17-166“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the to Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
  • SB 17-167“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Department of Personnel,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Personnel.
  • SB 17-168“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Department of Public Safety,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Public Safety.
  • SB 17-169“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Department of Revenue,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Revenue.
  • SB 17-170“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Department of State,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of State.
  • SB 17-171“Concerning a Supplemental Appropriation to the Department of Transportation,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Transportation.
  • SB 17-172“Concerning Funding for Capital Construction, and Making Supplemental Appropriations in Connection Therewith,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill makes supplemental appropriations for capital construction projects.
  • SB 17-173“Concerning Adjustments in the Amount of Total Program Funding for Public Schools for the 2016-17 Budget Year, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill appropriates $3,950 cash funds from the state education fund to align the hold-harmless full-day kindergarten funding with the change in total program funding.
  • SB 17-174“Concerning the Allocation of Money by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education for Tuition Assistance for Members of the National Guard,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill removes statutory provisions relating to the limit on appropriations and the commission’s allocation of money for the tuition assistance program.
  • SB 17-175“Concerning the Transfer of Money Between State Self-Insurance Funds at the Request of the Executive Director of the Department of Personnel,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill authorizes the Executive Director of the Department of Personnel to request the state treasurer to transfer money from another state self-insurance fund’s reserve balance to a fund with a deficiency.
  • SB 17-176“Concerning Authorization to Use Money in the Colorado State Titling and Registration Account to Issue Devices that Confirm that a Person has Registered a Motor Vehicle, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Rep. Bob Rankin. The bill authorizes the use of money in the Colorado state titling and registration account to be appropriated to purchase and issue license plates, decals, and validating tabs.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: County Assessor Complied with Urban Renewal Law by Immediately Assessing Base Tax

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in City of Aurora v. Arapahoe County Assessor on Thursday, February 23, 2017.

Urban Renewal Law—Delay in Start Date of Tax Increment Financing Period.

Colorado’s Urban Renewal Law (URL) authorizes the use of tax increment financing (TIF) to fund renewal projects for redeveloping blighted or slum areas. TIF uses recently assessed property values in an urban renewal area to establish a base tax value. As property values increase above the base value, increased tax revenues are allocated to the financing of the renewal project to pay down the debt against the project. The statute places a 25-year limit on TIF allocations to a renewal fund that runs from “the effective date of such a [TIF] provision.”

The City of Aurora (City) approved two urban renewal plans (the Plans) with multiple phases of redevelopment. The Fitzsimons Plan included four development phases and stated that TIF would begin immediately for the first two phases but be delayed for the second two phases. The Iliff Plan included two phases and provided for TIF to begin immediately for phase one and be delayed for phase two.

After the City approved the plans, the Arapahoe County assessor (Assessor) immediately calculated the base tax value for all development phases. The City and the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority (collectively, Aurora) filed a complaint against the Assessor, asking the court to order him to delay allocating TIF. The Assessor argued that he was complying with the URL, which does not permit a city to delay the start of TIF allocations. On cross-motions for determination of law, the district court entered an order in favor of the Assessor.

On appeal, Aurora first argued that the doctrines of waiver, preclusion, and estoppel barred the Assessor’s defense because the Assessor did not submit the issue to arbitration or appeal the Plans’ approval via a C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4) action. The court of appeals found that the URL’s statutory arbitration procedure does not apply to this dispute, thus the Assessor did not waive his right to assert his defense. The court did not consider Aurora’s Rule 106(a)(4) argument because it was not raised in the district court. The court determined that claim and issue preclusion were inapplicable to this case. Finally, because neither the Assessor nor the county were part of the URL’s public approval process, there was no merit in the argument that the Assessor’s defense was equitably estopped.

On the merits, the court found that the URL does not permit a municipality to alter or evade the 25-year time limit on a TIF provision by denominating parts of a plan “effective” after the plan is approved. The statute is clear that TIF cannot exceed 25 years from the date the provision is adopted, and a city cannot extend that time limit by denominating certain provisions “effective” on a date after they are actually approved.

The City also argued that adopting the urban renewal plans involved legislative acts within its home-rule powers. Adopting an urban renewal plan is not a legislative act. Even if approving an urban renewal plan was a legislative act, approving these plans would be beyond the City’s power because the plans conflict with the URL’s TIF timeline. Thus, even if the City’s acts were legislative, they would be invalid.

Aurora further argued that the Assessor and the court could not rely on or be bound by informal guidance from the Colorado Property Tax Administrator (Administrator). The Court did not give the Administrator’s guidance even persuasive weight.

The order and judgment were affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Lessee of Real Property Lacks Standing to Challenge Property Tax Determination

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Traer Creek-EXWMT LLC v. Eagle County Board of Equalization on Thursday, February 9, 2017.

Traer Creek-EXWMT (Traer) has been a lessee of property in Eagle County since 2002. Traer has reimbursed the property owner for property taxes each year since assuming the lease. On May 1, 2015, the Eagle County Assessor mailed a notice of valuation to the property owner. Traer initiated the statutory protest and adjustment process to challenge the 2015 valuation. The assessor declined to adjust the valuation, and Traer appealed to the Board, which also upheld the valuation. Traer appealed to district court.

The Board moved to dismiss under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(1) on the theory that a mere lessee does not have standing to challenge a property tax valuation of the sort issued by the assessor. The district court agreed and dismissed the case.

On appeal, Traer argued that because it “owns” a leasehold interest in the subject property, it has standing to protest the valuation. The Colorado Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that the relevant statutes convey standing only to the property owner/taxpayer. The court similarly rejected Traer’s argument that C.R.S. §§ 39-1-102(16) and (14) could be read to grant authority to a lessee to challenge a property valuation. The court concluded that the county assessor did not value Traer’s “property” — i.e., its leasehold interest — instead, the assessor valued the fee interest in the property. Therefore, Traer was not a “person” whose “property has been valued too high.”

Traer also argued it had common law standing because it pays taxes on the property and because the owner had granted it agency authority to challenge the valuation. The court noted that Traer’s argument failed at the outset because when a statute limits standing, the court may not disregard the statute by employing common law notions.

The district court judgment was affirmed.

HB 17-1127: Exempting Feminine Hygiene Products from Sales Tax

On January 26, 2017, Rep. Susan Lontine and Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik introduced HB 17-1127, “Concerning a Sales Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products.”

The bill creates a state sales tax exemption, commencing January 1, 2018, for all sales, storage, and use of feminine hygiene products. The bill further specifies that local statutory taxing jurisdictions may choose to adopt the same exemption by express inclusion in their sales and use tax ordinance or resolution.

The bill was introduced in the House and assigned to the Finance and Appropriations committees. The bill is scheduled for hearing in the House Finance Committee on February 13, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.

SB 17-039: Allowing Income Tax Credits for Private Schooling and Home-Based Education

On January 11, 2017, Sen. Kevin Lundberg introduced SB 17-039, “Concerning the Creation of Income Tax Credits for Nonpublic Education.”

The bill establishes a private school tuition income tax credit for income tax years commencing on or after January 1, 2018, that allows any taxpayer to claim a credit when the taxpayer enrolls a dependent qualified child in a private school or the taxpayer provides a scholarship to a qualified child for enrollment in a private school and the private school issues the taxpayer a credit certificate for either enrolling a dependent qualified child in the private school or providing a scholarship to a qualified child for enrollment in the private school.

The credit may be carried forward for 3 years but may not be refunded, and the department of revenue is granted rule-making authority. In addition, the credit may be transferred, subject to certain limitations. The amount of the credit is:

  • For any qualified child attending a private school on a full-time basis as described in the state board of education rules, an amount equal to either the tuition paid or the scholarship provided to a qualified child, as applicable, or 50% of the previous year’s state average per pupil revenues, whichever is less; and
  • For any qualified child attending a private school on a half-time basis as described in the state board of education rules, an amount equal to either the tuition paid or the scholarship provided to a qualified child, as applicable, or 25% of the previous year’s state average per pupil revenues, whichever is less.

The bill also establishes an income tax credit for income tax years commencing on or after January 1, 2018, that allows any taxpayer who uses home-based education for a qualified child to claim an income tax credit in an amount equal to:

  • $1,000 for a taxpayer who uses home-based education for a qualified child who was enrolled on a full-time basis as described in the state board of education rules in a public school in the state prior to being taught at home; and
  • $500 for a taxpayer who uses home-based education for a qualified child who was enrolled on a half-time basis as described in the state board of education rules in a public school in the state prior to being taught at home.

The credit may be carried forward for 3 years but may not be refunded. In addition, the credit may be transferred, subject to certain limitations.

The bill was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Finance Committee. It is scheduled for hearing in committee on February 7 at 2 p.m.

SB 17-057: Creating the Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise

On January 13, 2017, Sen. Lucia Guzman introduced SB 17-057, “Concerning the Creation of an Enterprise that is Exempt from the Requirements of Section 20 of Article X of the State Constitution and Related Statutory Provisions to Administer a Fee-Based Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Program for Hospitals.”

The bill creates the Colorado healthcare affordability and sustainability enterprise (enterprise) as a type 2 agency and government-owned business within the department of health care policy and financing (HCPF) for the purpose of participating in the implementation and administration of a state Colorado healthcare affordability and sustainability program (program) on and after July 1, 2017, and creates a board consisting of 13 members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate to govern the enterprise. The business purpose of the enterprise is, in exchange for the payment of a new healthcare affordability and sustainability fee (fee) by hospitals to the enterprise, to administer the program and thereby support hospitals that provide uncompensated medical services to uninsured patients and participate in publicly funded health insurance programs by:

  • Participating in a federal program that provides additional matching money to states;
  • Using fee revenue, which must be credited to a newly created healthcare affordability and sustainability fee fund and used solely for purposes of the program, and federal matching money to:
  • Reduce the amount of uncompensated care that hospitals provide by increasing the number of individuals covered by publicly funded health insurance; and
  • Increase publicly funded insurance reimbursement rates to hospitals; and
  • Providing or contracting for or arranging advisory and consulting services to hospitals and coordinating services to hospitals to help them more effectively and efficiently participate in publicly funded insurance programs.

The bill does not take effect if the federal centers for medicare and medicaid services determine that it does not comply with federal law.

The enterprise is designated as an enterprise for purposes of the taxpayer’s bill of rights (TABOR) so long as it meets TABOR requirements. The primary powers and duties of the enterprise are to:

  • Charge and collect the fee from hospitals;
  • Leverage fee revenue collected to obtain federal matching money;
  • Utilize and deploy both fee revenue and federal matching money in furtherance of the business purpose of the enterprise;
  • Issue revenue bonds payable from its revenues;
  • Enter into agreements with HCPF as necessary to collect and expend fee revenue;
  • Engage the services of private persons or entities serving as contractors, consultants, and legal counsel for professional and technical assistance and advice and to supply other services related to the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise, including the provision of additional business services to hospitals; and
  • Adopt and amend or repeal policies for the regulation of its affairs and the conduct of its business.

The existing hospital provider fee program is repealed and the existing hospital provider fee oversight and advisory board is abolished, effective July 1, 2017.

The bill specifies that so long as the enterprise qualifies as a TABOR-exempt enterprise, fee revenue does not count against either the TABOR state fiscal year spending limit or the referendum C cap, the higher statutory state fiscal year spending limit established after the voters of the state approved referendum C in 2005. The bill clarifies that the creation of the new enterprise to charge and collect the fee is the creation of a new government-owned business that provides business services to hospitals as an enterprise for purposes of TABOR and related statutes and does not constitute the qualification of an existing government-owned business as a new enterprise that would require or authorize downward adjustment of the TABOR state fiscal year spending limit or the referendum C cap.

The bill was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Finance Committee.

Colorado Court of Appeals: County Lacked Authority to Impose Special Tax on Recreational Marijuana

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in City of Northglenn v. Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, December 15, 2016.

County Special Sales Tax—Retail Marijuana—Home Rule Cities—Standing.

In 2014, Adams County (County) voters approved a resolution authorizing the County to levy a countywide special sales tax on retail marijuana. Three home rule cities (Cities) in the County challenged the tax, claiming that it was unauthorized by Colorado law. The Cities sued the County, seeking an injunction and declaratory judgment against the tax, and the County moved to dismiss for lack of standing and for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The district court held that the Cities had standing and concluded that there was sufficient legislative authority to support the countywide special sales tax. The court converted the County’s motion for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted into a motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment to the County.

On appeal, the County argued that the district court erred in determining that the Cities had standing to bring their claims. Here, the County’s special sales tax likely would harm the fiscal interests of the Cities by reducing their tax revenues. In addition, the fiscal integrity of a home rule city is a legally protected interest of the city, and the tax would harm the fiscal integrity of the Cities. Thus, the district court correctly held that the Cities had standing.

The Cities argued that the retail marijuana sales tax did not expressly grant the County authority to impose a special sales tax and, therefore, the tax was invalid. A county has no power to impose a tax unless the General Assembly or the Colorado Constitution directly authorizes it. Here, the County made no claim of authority under the Colorado Constitution, and the retail marijuana sales tax did not grant the County express authority to enact its special sales tax. Because the County did not have either constitutional or statutory authorization to impose a special sales tax on retail marijuana, the Adams County special sales tax is invalid.

The judgment was reversed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Treasurer Should Use Diligent Efforts to Notify Occupant of Property Tax Deed

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Red Flower, Inc. v. McKown on Thursday, November 3, 2016.

Kevin McKown owned 320 acres of farmland in rural Baca County. From 2004 to 2011, he had an oral sharecrop agreement with Don Lohrey to farm the property. Lohrey visited the property every week or two to check on his crops, but he lived about ten miles away. McKown failed to pay his county property taxes, and the county treasurer sold tax liens for the real property and the mineral rights. Red Flower bought the liens in November 2007. In August 2010, Red Flower applied for treasurer’s deeds. The treasurer unsuccessfully attempted to notify McKown and published notice in the local paper in September 2010. In December 2010, she issued the deeds to Red Flower.

The following year, Red Flower filed a C.R.C.P. 105 action to quiet title to the property. McKown appeared and defended on the grounds that the tax liens were defective due to insufficient notice to himself and Lohrey. The district court determined the treasurer had made a diligent inquiry to find McKown, and a division of the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling, but remanded for determination of whether the treasurer had complied with the separate requirement to notify the property’s occupant, Lohrey. On remand, the district court struggled with the statutory language, and ultimately concluded that the treasurer’s notice to Lohrey was deficient and the tax deeds were void.

Red Flower appealed, arguing that the district court’s construction cannot be squared with the language or intent of the statutory scheme. The court of appeals agreed with Red Flower that the district court’s reasoning was incorrect as to the mineral deed. After analyzing C.R.S. § 39-11-128, the court concluded that it was illogical to require the treasurer to put forth more effort to locate the occupant of the property than the property owner. The court, however, noted that it was presumed that the occupant of the property could be found on the property. The court found that the district court correctly concluded that treasurer need not conduct “diligent inquiry” to determine the location of the occupant, but it erred in determining that the treasurer had some limitless duty to locate the occupant. The court instead may simply serve notice to occupants at the property. Because Lohrey was not an actual occupant of the property, but the parties stipulated to his occupancy, the court of appeals remanded for a determination of whether the treasurer made a “diligent inquiry” as to his whereabouts before conveying the mineral deed.

As to the real property deeds, the court of appeals found an error in publication. The court noted that the statute requires publication once a week for three weeks, and publication must take place not more than five months nor less than three months before the tax deeds may issue. Because the tax deeds issued less than three months after publication, the notice was deficient. The court declined to say the deeds were void, since the taxing authority had jurisdiction to issue them, but instead determined the deeds were voidable. The court affirmed summary judgment to McKown as to the real property deed.

The court of appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.