June 23, 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.

Bills Signed Changing Definition of “Similar Coverage” for Workers’ Compensation Coverage of Certain Commercial Vehicle Operators and More

On Friday, May 4, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed 12 bills into law. To date, he has signed 223 bills and sent two to the Secretary of State without a signature. The bills signed Friday include a bill changing procedures for recalls of directors of special districts, a bill changing the definition of “similar coverage” for workers’ compensation purposes for certain operators of commercial vehicles, and more. The bills signed Friday are summarized here.

  • SB 18-076 – “Concerning a Ban on Vote Trading,” by Sen. Kevin Lundberg and Rep. Jovan Melton. The bill makes it a misdemeanor criminal offense for a person to trade a vote or offer to trade a vote with another elector in this state or a person in another state in exchange for the other person’s vote for or against a particular candidate, ballot issue, or ballot question.
  • SB 18-143 – “Concerning Measures to Increase Revenue for the Parks and Wildlife Division, and, in Connection Therewith, Setting Certain Hunting, Fishing, Parks, and Recreation Fees,” by Sens. Steven Fenberg & Don Coram and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & James Wilson. The bill makes several changes to the statutes in the “Hunting, Fishing, and Parks for Future Generations Act.”
  • SB 18-178 – “Concerning the Definition of Similar Coverage for Workers’ Compensation for Certain Operators of Commercial Vehicles,” by Sen. Jim Smallwood and Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp. Current law requires independent operators of commercial vehicles to have workers’ compensation or a private insurance policy that provides similar coverage. The bill changes ‘private insurance policy’ to ‘occupational accident coverage insurance policy’ and specifies the requirements for when such a policy may be considered as providing similar coverage.
  • SB 18-207 – “Concerning Authority for the Department of Human Services to Retain Amounts from Certain Cash Funds for its Indirect Costs,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Rep. Bob Rankin. The bill authorizes the department of human services to retain money for its indirect costs, based on a federally approved cost allocation plan, from the older Coloradans cash fund and the nurse home visitor program fund.
  • HB 18-1040 – “Concerning Incentives for Provision of Sex Offender Services in the Department of Corrections,” by Rep. Adrienne Benavidez and Sen. Rhonda Fields. The bill requires the department of corrections to monitor the number of inmates who need sex offender treatment or services and the number who are not receiving such treatment or services, develop an incentive plan to contract for more mental health professionals to provide sex offender treatment or services in difficult-to-serve geographic areas, and report to the joint budget committee the number of inmates needing treatment or services, the number not receiving the treatment or services, and the impact of the incentive plan.
  • HB 18-1235 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Regulation of Custom Meat Processors, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2017 Sunset Report of the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Reps. Chris Hansen & Hugh McKean and Sen. Ray Scott. The bill implements the recommendations of the Department of Regulatory Agencies in its sunset review and report on the ‘Custom Processing of Meat Animals Act.’
  • HB 18-1240 – “Concerning the Continuation of a Grant Program to Prevent Motor Vehicle Theft, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Sunset Review Recommendations of the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Reps. Jeff Bridges & Jon Becker and Sen. John Cooke. The bill continues the automobile theft prevention authority and the automobile theft prevention board until 2029.
  • HB 18-1265 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Stroke Advisory Board in Accordance with the Recommendation in the Department of Regulatory Agencies’ 2017 Sunset Report,” by Reps. Susan Lontine & Susan Beckman and Sen. Larry Crowder. The Bill implements the recommendation in the department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review of the stroke advisory board by continuing the board but imposes a 10-year sunset period rather than continuing the board indefinitely, as was recommended.
  • HB 18-1268 – “Concerning the Procedures to Recall a Director of a Special District,” by Rep. Matt Gray and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill requires the court as defined for the special district to appoint a designated election official to oversee the recall election. The director and the director’s spouse or civil union partner cannot serve as the DEO. The bill requires that recall petitions must be approved as to form by the DEO before being circulated.
  • HB 18-1305 – “Concerning a Voluntary Contribution Designation Benefiting the Young Americans Center for Financial Education Fund that Appears on the State Individual Tax Return Forms,” by Reps. James Coleman & Patrick Neville and Sen. Tim Neville. The bill creates the Young Americans Center for Financial Education fund in the state treasury. A voluntary contribution designation line for the fund will appear on the state individual income tax return form for the 5 income tax years following the year that the executive director of the Department of Revenue certifies to the revisor of statutes that there is space on the form and the fund is next in the queue.
  • HB 18-1329 – “Concerning a Supplemental State Payment to Qualified Providers of Durable Medical Equipment who Experienced a Decrease in Reimbursement in the 2017-18 State Fiscal Year as a Result of the Implementation of the Federal ’21st Century Cures Act,’ and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Bob Rankin and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill authorizes a supplemental payment of state-only money to qualified providers of durable medical equipment who experienced a decrease in reimbursement in the 2017-18 state fiscal year as a result of the implementation of the federal ’21st Century Cures Act.’
  • HB 18-1338 – “Concerning Transfers to Address the Reduction of Revenues in the Severance Tax Operational Fund,” by Rep. Bob Rankin and Sen. Kent Lambert. Under current law, money is transferred from the severance tax operational fund to certain cash funds to benefit programs that are commonly referred to as the tier 2 programs. On June 30, 2018, the bill requires the state treasurer to transfer money to the operational fund from specified cash funds to recoup money that was previously transferred in this fiscal year for tier 2 programs.

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

Bills Signed Allowing Out-of-State Workers in Colorado Access to Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Allowing Dispensary Employees to Sample Marijuana, and More

On Monday, April 30, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed 21 bills into law and sent one bill to the Secretary of State without a signature. To date, he has signed 204 bills and sent two to the Secretary of State without signature. Some of the bills signed Monday include the Long Appropriations Bill, a bill providing access to workers’ compensation benefits for out-of-state workers temporarily in Colorado, a bill requiring fingerprint-based background checks for employees with access to federal tax information, and more. The bills signed on Monday are summarized here.

  • HB 18-1069 – “Concerning the Allowable Uses of Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater, and, in Connection Therewith, Allowing Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater to Be Used for Toilet Flushing and Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Dan Thurlow and Sen. Don Coram. 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.
  • HB 18-1186 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Sunset Review Recommendations of the Department of Regulatory Agencies and Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. James Wilson & Judy Reyhar and Sen. Vicki Marble. The bill implements the recommendation of the department of regulatory agencies to concerning the Colorado youth advisory council and extends the sunset date to September 1, 2023.
  • HB 18-1259 – “Concerning Providing Marijuana Samples to Employees for Business Purposes,” by Rep. Matt Gray and Sen. Vicki Marble. The bill permits a medical marijuana optional premises cultivation licensee, a medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing licensee, a retail marijuana cultivation facility licensee, and a retail marijuana products manufacturing licensee to provide samples to managers for quality control and product development purposes. The bill specifies limits on the amount that can be provided as a sample per batch.
  • HB 18-1284 – “Concerning the Cost of Prescription Drugs Purchased at a Pharmacy,” by Reps. Janet Buckner & James Wilson and Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & John Kefalas. The bill enacts the ‘Patient Drug Costs Savings Act.’ The act prohibits a carrier that has a contract with a pharmacy or pharmacist, or a pharmacy benefit management firm acting on behalf of a carrier, from preventing a pharmacist from disclosing the cost of prescription drugs or requiring a pharmacy to collect a copay that exceeds the pharmacy’s costs.
  • HB 18-1308 – “Concerning an Exemption from the “Workers’ Compensation Act of Colorado” for Nonresident Employers whose Employees are Temporarily Working in Colorado,” by Reps. Tracy Kraft Tharp & Jon Becker and Sens. Owen Hill & Daniel Kagan. The bill establishes an exemption from the ‘Workers’ Compensation Act of Colorado’ for an out-of-state employer whose employees are working in Colorado on a temporary basis as long as the employer furnishes workers’ compensation coverage in the state in which the employee is regularly employed and the home state is contiguous to Colorado.
  • HB 18-1322 – “Concerning the Provision for Payment of the Expenses of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Departments of the State of Colorado, and of its Agencies and Institutions, For and During the Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 2018, Except as Otherwise Noted,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kent Lambert. This is the Long Appropriations Bill, which budgets for various monies to be applied to different state agencies.
  • HB 18-1323 – “Concerning Transfers of Money to a Newly Created Office of State Planning and Budgeting Youth Pay for Success Initiatives Account within the Pay for Success Contracts Fund, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Bob Rankin and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill requires the state treasurer to transfer specified amounts from the general fund and the marijuana tax cash fund to a newly created Office of State Planning and Budgeting Youth Pay for Success Initiatives account within the pay for success contracts fund for state fiscal years 2018-19 through 2021-22.
  • HB 18-1324 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Governor’s Commission on Community Service, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill codifies the existing governor’s commission on community service, which was created through executive order.
  • HB 18-1325 – “Concerning Measures to Address Coverage Gaps in the Statewide Digital Trunked Radio System, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Millie Hamner & Bob Rankin and Sen. Kent Lambert. The statewide digital trunked radio system (DTRS) provides interoperable radio communications that allow personnel from multiple agencies in different levels of government to rapidly share information and coordinate efforts in emergency situations. The General Assembly established the public safety communications trust fund for the acquisition and maintenance of public safety communications systems, including the DTRS.
  • HB 18-1326 – “Concerning Support for Persons Interested in Transitioning from an Institutional Setting, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing Appropriations,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill directs the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to provide community transition services and supports to persons who are in an institutional setting, who are eligible for Medicaid, and who desire to transition to a home- or community-based setting.
  • HB 18-1328 – “Concerning the Children’s Habilitation Residential Waiver Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing an Appropriation,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sens. Kent Lambert & Dominick Moreno. The bill directs the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to initiate a stakeholder process for purposes of preparing and submitting a redesigned children’s habilitation residential program waiver for federal approval that allows for home- and community-based services for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have complex behavioral support needs.
  • HB 18-1331 – “Concerning Expanding the Use of Open Educational Resources at Public Institutions of Higher Education, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating the Colorado Open Educational Resources Council, Creating a Grant Program to Support the Creation and Use of Open Educational Resources, and Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Dave Young & Bob Rankin and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. The bill creates the Colorado open educational resources council in the Department of Higher Education and assigns tasks to the new council.
  • HB 18-1332 – “Concerning Creation of a Grant Program to Support Collaborative Educator Preparation Initiatives to Address the Teacher Shortage in Colorado, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Millie Hamner & Bob Rankin and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill creates in the Department of Higher Education the collaborative educator preparation grant program to support joint initiatives among educator preparation programs, alternative teacher programs, school districts, boards of cooperative services, and public schools for preparing and placing educators.
  • HB 18-1333 – “Concerning Part C Child Find Responsibilities of State Departments, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill defines ‘early intervention evaluations’ as evaluations performed pursuant to part C child find. The bill requires the state Department of Human Services and the Department of Education to enter into an interagency agreement to study the administration of early intervention evaluations. The departments are required to enter into the agreement by October 1, 2018, and to report the results of the study performed pursuant to the agreement to the joint budget committee by June 30, 2019.
  • HB 18-1334 – “Concerning an Extension of the Transitional Jobs Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill extends the transitional jobs program for five more years.
  • HB 18-1336 – “Concerning the Repeal of the Local Government Retail Marijuana Impact Grant Program,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kent Lambert. On July 1, 2019, the bill repeals the local government retail marijuana impact grant program, under which the Department of Local Affairs awards grants to eligible local governments for documented marijuana impacts.
  • HB 18-1337 – “Concerning a Veterans One-stop Center in Grand Junction, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Millie Hamner & Bob Rankin and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill provides that on and after November 1, 2018, the Division of Veterans Affairs in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs may operate a veterans one-stop center in Grand Junction for the purpose of providing a central and accessible location where veterans, service members, and their family members in the western portion of the state may have access to assistance and resources.
  • HB 18-1339 – “Concerning a Requirement for Fingerprint-Based Criminal History Record Checks for Individuals with Access to Federal Tax Information, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Bob Rankin and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill requires fingerprint-based criminal history record checks for every applicant, contractor, employee, or other individual who has or may have access to federal tax information received from the federal government by a state agency in accordance with federal Internal Revenue Service Publication 1075.
  • SB 18-066 – “Concerning an Extension of the Operation of the State Lottery Division Beyond July 1, 2024,” by Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg & Leroy Garcia and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Cole Wist. The bill extends the scheduled termination on July 1, 2024, of the state lottery division in the Department of Revenue to July 1, 2049.
  • SB 18-195 – “Concerning a Requirement that the Money in the Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Fee Cash Fund be Appropriated Annually rather than Continuously Appropriated,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Rep. Bob Rankin. Current law specifies that money in the healthcare affordability and sustainability fee cash fund is continuously appropriated to the Colorado healthcare affordability and sustainability enterprise for specified healthcare related purposes. Beginning with state fiscal year 2018-19, the bill makes the expenditure of money from the fund by the enterprise subject to annual appropriation by the General Assembly.
  • SB 18-202 – “Concerning the Exemption of the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps Fund from the Maximum Reserve,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill exempts the Colorado firefighting air corps fund from the maximum reserve, which currently limits the year-end uncommitted reserves in the cash fund to 16.5% of the amount expended from the cash fund during the fiscal year.

Additionally, on Monday, the Governor sent one bill to the Secretary of State without a signature. That bill was HB 18-1093, “Concerning the Allowable Uses of Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater, and, in Connection Therewith, Allowing Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater to Be Used for Food Crops and Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Jeni James Arndt and Sen. Don Coram. The bill codifies rules promulgated by the water quality control commissio 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.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Workers’ Compensation Claimant Need Only Prove Either Wage Loss or Disability for TPD

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Montoya v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office on Thursday, February 2, 2018.

Workers’ Compensation—Medical Incapacity—Temporary Partial Disability.

Claimant worked as an interior designer for Ethan Allen Retail, Inc. Her pay was based entirely on commissions. Claimant suffered admitted work-related injuries. Although she was neither given work restrictions nor medically limited in her ability to work, her medical appointments caused her to be absent from the showroom floor and not be able to meet potential and current clients. Claimant sought temporary partial disability benefits (TPD) in a workers’ compensation action. She testified that the absences caused her to lose more than $20,000 in commission earnings. The administrative law judge (ALJ) awarded claimant TPD benefits to compensate her for the commissions she lost while attending medical appointments.

A panel of the Industrial Claim Appeals Office (Panel) set aside the award of TPD benefits, reasoning that disability benefits are only available if a claimant demonstrates both medical incapacity and temporary loss of wage earning capacity. Here, because the ALJ had found that claimant had no work restrictions and was able to perform her job duties, the Panel held she did not establish the requisite “medical incapacity” prong of disability and therefore, as a matter of law, was not entitled to receive TPD benefits.

On appeal, claimant contended that the Panel’s interpretation of “disability” was too narrow. The court of appeals concluded that although the concept of disability incorporates both “medical incapacity” and “loss of wage earnings,” a claimant need not prove both components to establish entitlement to disability benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The court then found that the evidence presented amply supported the ALJ’s finding that claimant’s wage loss was attributable to her work-related injury. The Panel erred in setting aside the ALJ’s decision.

The Panel’s decision was set aside and the case was remanded with instructions.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Workers’ Compensation Case Reversed Because Interpretation of Policy was Arbitrary and Capricious

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Owings v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co. on Tuesday, October 17, 2017.

The plaintiff in this case, Owings, suffered a disabling injury while on the job and was afforded long-term disability benefits by the defendant, United of Omaha Life Insurance Company (United). Owings disagreed with the amount and beginning date of his disability benefits and filed suit. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of United, and Owings appealed.

Owings injured his back at work on July 1, 2013 while moving a surgical chair and cabinet, which left Owings unable to lift, bend, stoop, carry, push, and pull, resulting in Owings experiencing long-term back pain and spasms. The same day of his injury, Owings met with Bratton, the Director of Human Resources at United, who informed Owings that his title would be changed and his salary reduced, effective immediately. Owings went home and did not work for the company thereafter. Owings then applied for short-term disability benefits with United. As part of his application, Owings described the incident and the date it occurred, as well as statements from his employer and treating physician, Dr. McClintick. Dr. McClintick listed the “Date symptoms first appeared” as July 1, 2013, also noting that Owings had been continuously disabled and unable to work from the same date. Bratton, however, completed and signed an “Employer’s Statement” form for United, where she stated that Owings disability resulted from a previous injury and his last day of work was July 2, 2013.

Owings applied for long-term disability and was approved, although the letter stated that Owings became disabled on July 3, 2013. Owings, through his attorney, sent a letter to United asking for the date of disability to be changed to July 1, 2013. In response, United asked for copies of all of Owings’ time sheets. Bratton emailed Union twice with conflicting dates on Owings’ last day, but ultimately concluded that Owings left work at some time on July 2, 2013. Relying on this information, United denied the request to adjust Owings’ disability date, explaining that July 3 was the first day Owings was unable to work, since his employer verified he had worked July 2. United would only pay Owings the discounted salary set forth by Britton on July 1st. Owings subsequently filed suit.

Owings’ complaint is governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). A benefits decision under an ERISA-governed plan is generally left to the discretion of the administrator in determining the terms of the plan and of determining eligibility. In this case, the policy afforded United the discretion and final authority to construe and interpret the policy. The Tenth Circuit then examined whether the benefits decision at issue was arbitrary and capricious, limiting the review to determining whether the interpretation of the plan was reasonable and made in good faith.

Owings asserted that United abused its discretion in interpreting the term “disability” when calculating the amount of his monthly long-term disability benefit under the policy. Owings argued that the policy defined disability by reference to the inability to perform at least one of the material duties of his regular occupation, whereas United omitted the phrase “at least one of” to modify the policy to include each and every job duty.

The Tenth Circuit found United’s definition of disability to be inconsistent with the plain language of the policy, which requires only that the injury prevent the employee from being able to perform one material duty of occupation. The Tenth Circuit therefore found United’s definition of disability arbitrary and capricious.

The next issue was that United prohibited an employee from being declared disabled on the last day that he or she worked. United argues that Owings performed his job with no impairment for at least part of the day on July 1, so the earliest possible date disability could begin was on July 2. The Tenth Circuit found that United’s explanation could not be inferred from the policy’s definitional section. Nothing in the policy supported United’s conclusion that an employee cannot become immediately disabled after working for part of the day.

A third issue was whether United erred in relying exclusively on the statements from Bratton. The Tenth Circuit found that the record established, without question, that United rejected Owings’ initial request to adjust his disability date, as well as his subsequent administrative appeal, due to Bratton’s statements. The Tenth Circuit held that United erred in blindly relying on Bratton’s statements, as the determination should not have been based on whether Owings worked on a particular day, but rather on which day he sustained his injury.

The Tenth Circuit found that it was undisputed that Owings became injured on July 1. Owings’ treating physician identified July 1 as the date Owings was first unable to work. The only work Owings did on July 2 consisted of using the company cell phone; he did not physically go to the workplace. For these reasons, the Tenth Circuit concluded that United acted arbitrarily and capriciously in interpreting and applying the policy language. Under plain and ordinary meaning of the policy language, Owings became disabled on July 1, 2013. The proper remedy was to reverse the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of United.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals REVERSED and REMANDED with directions to enter summary judgment in favor of Owings.

Discovering Discovery: Building Your Case, Deposition Tips, Expert Witnesses, and More

“Reduced to its essence, discovery is the process of identifying, collecting, producing and/or receiving relevant, nonprivileged materials in connection with pending or reasonably foreseeable litigation. With the advent of notice pleading, civil discovery provides access to the relevant information that litigants and their counsel require to make informed decisions about the merits of their case and the potential for settlement.” -Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer

Discovery is a crucial component of every litigation case. In the last 10 years, civil litigation has changed significantly. The proliferation of electronic data and new rules on both the state and federal level create increasingly difficult challenges for preserving, managing, and producing electronically stored information. Conducting discovery outside Colorado has become mainstream as civil litigation has become more national—even global.

This Friday, CBA-CLE will debut the newest title in our litigation library, Discovery in Colorado, at a full-day program, “Discovering Discovery.” Discovery in Colorado is a practical guide to discovery that brings to life the application of the Colorado and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governing the discovery process. Discovery in Colorado was written by a variety of different practitioners, overseen by Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang and Natalie Hanlon Leh, Esq. Attorneys and judges with backgrounds in private, in-house, and government practice authored individual chapters.

Learn different approaches to discovery and hear distinct perspectives from some of the most experienced trial attorneys and judges in Colorado. Each class attendee receives Discovery in Colorado, 1st Edition, as course materials. Explore the ever-changing state of discovery through this valuable course and companion book. Register using the links below, or call (303) 860-0608.

 

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CLE Program: Discovering Discovery

This CLE presentation will occur on Friday, July 28, 2017, at the CLE Large Classroom (1900 Grant St., 3rd Floor) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Register for the live program here and the webcast here. You may also call (303) 860-0608 to register.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here — Video OnDemandMP3 Audio

Colorado Supreme Court: Mutual Mistake of Material Fact Allows Reopening Workers’ Compensation Claim After Settlement

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in England v. Amerigas Propane on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.

Workers’ Compensation—Mutual Mistake of Material Fact—Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act.

In this case, the supreme court considered whether a provision of the mandatory form settlement document promulgated by the Director of the Division of Workers’  Compensation waives an injured employee’s statutory right under C.R.S. § 8-43-204(1) to reopen a settlement based on a mutual mistake of material fact. The court concluded that it does not because provisions of the form document must yield to statutory rights. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Erred in Concluding Injured Worker Not Entitled to UIM Benefits from Personal Insurer

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Ashour on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Personal InjuriesWorkers Compensation ActPersonal Automobile Insurance PolicyUninsured Motorist Benefits—Underinsured Motorist Benefits.

Ashour was an employee and co-owner of Nubilt Restoration & Construction (Nubilt). While employed with Nubilt, Ashour was severely injured when he was pinned by a 30-foot truck to a nearby tractor-trailer. The accident was caused by the negligence of his co-employee Peake, who failed to set the airbrake on the truck that rolled backward and pinned Ashour to the other vehicle. After the accident, Ashour submitted a claim to Nubilt’s workers’ compensation carrier and subsequently received benefits. He also submitted a claim to Nubilt’s corporate liability insurance provider and received a settlement for that claim based on a policy rider that allowed for coverage of workplace injuries. Ashour then made a claim under his personal automobile insurance policy with American Family Mutual Insurance Company (AFI) for underinsured (UIM) benefits to recover the remainder of his alleged damages. AFI then filed an action for declaratory relief as to whether Ashour was owed UIM coverage when the policy limited UIM benefits to situations where the insured was “legally entitled to recover” from the owner or operator of an uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle. The district court denied Ashour’s motion for summary judgment and granted AFI’s motion for summary judgment.

On appeal, Ashour contended that the district court erred by ruling, as a matter of law, that his claim for UIM coverage under his automobile insurance policy with AFI was precluded because he was not legally entitled to sue his employer or co-employee in tort for his injuries based on their immunity under the Workers’ Compensation Act of Colorado (the Act). Nubilt and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier are immune from suit by Ashour for his injuries sustained in the course and scope of his employment. By extension, co-employees are also immune from suit for injuries to a fellow employee arising out of the scope of employment. However, this exclusive remedy is limited to suits by an injured employee against his employer or co-employee; an injured employee may receive workers’ compensation benefits and bring suit against a third-party tortfeasor. Here, AFI’s uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy provides coverage where the tortfeasor is underinsured. Underinsured tortfeasors are those who are covered by insurance at the time of the accident. Thus, Nubilt and Peake are effectively underinsured in that Ashour received benefits up to Nubilt’s workers’ compensation insurance limits but still has additional damages from his workplace injury. It is the exhaustion of Nubilt’s and Peake’s limits of liability coverage (i.e., workers’ compensation insurance) that triggers AFI’s obligation to pay UM/UIM benefits. Therefore, Ashour’s claim for UIM benefits under his policy with AFI is not barred by the exclusivity provisions of the Act or by the “legally entitled to recover” language of the policy.

The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded with directions to enter summary judgment in favor of Ashour, declaring, as a matter of law, that AFI must provide coverage of UM/UIM benefits to Ashour upon his proof that Peake was at fault for causing his injuries and of the extent of his damages in excess of the coverage offered him under the Act.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Mutual Benefit Doctrine Supports Union Member’s Claim for Workers’ Compensation Coverage While at CBA Discussion Meeting

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Pueblo County, Colorado v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Workers’ Compensation—Injury at a Union Meeting—Mutual Benefit Doctrine.

Claimant was president of the local union. She worked for Pueblo County (employer). Union membership is required for workers in a bargaining unit, and union dues are deducted from workers’ paychecks. Participation in union meetings is voluntary. Claimant stayed after work for a union meeting, which was held immediately after claimant clocked out for the day and took place in a conference room in the building in which she worked. The purpose of the meeting was to review and revise the new collective bargaining agreement.

After the meeting, claimant walked to the adjacent parking lot where she normally parked for work. While getting in her car, she slipped on ice and injured herself. She filed a workers’ compensation claim for her medical expenses. An administrative law judge (ALJ) denied and dismissed the claim, finding the claimant “was not in the course and scope of her employment at the time of her injury.” The Industrial Claim Appeals Office (Panel) disagreed, finding the union activities were “sufficiently incidental” to claimant’s work “as to be properly considered as arising out of and in the course of employment.” It remanded to the ALJ to determine benefits. On remand, the ALJ ordered employer to pay all of claimant’s reasonable, necessary, and related medical expenses. The Panel affirmed.

On appeal, employer argued that the Panel erred in holding that the post-work injury sustained immediately following claimant’s attendance at a union meeting arose out of and in the course of employment. An injury arises out of employment when it originates in an employee’s work-related functions and is sufficiently related to those functions to be considered part of employment. It is not essential that an employee be engaged in an obligatory job function.

This was a case of first impression in Colorado but has been addressed in a number of other states. In general, injuries sustained during “unilateral union activities conferring, if any, only a remote or indirect benefit upon the employing enterprise” are not covered. However, the leading treatise recognizes a trend toward finding a mutual employer-employee benefit in actions of union officers. The court of appeals concluded that union activity cases in Colorado should be analyzed under the mutual benefit doctrine to determine compensability. This doctrine requires courts to examine the circumstances of each case to determine whether a union activity is of mutual benefit to the employer and employee. Here, where a union officer participated in a union meeting that served to facilitate ongoing negotiations between the union and employer concerning a new collective bargaining agreement, there was mutual benefit to employer and employee. Further, once mutual benefit is established, the location of the injury is not determinative. Accordingly, the injuries sustained were compensable.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: No Constitutional Violation by Using ALJs in Workers’ Compensation Proceedings

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Sanchez v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Workers’ Compensation Act of Colorado—Constitutionality—Separation of Powers—Equal Protection.

Claimant sustained a back injury at work lifting a hydraulic unit from his truck. Within two months he was back to work and placed at maximum medical improvement. Soon thereafter he complained of excruciating lower back pain, but both his original doctor and a specialist concluded that this new lumbar strain was not work-related but related to normal age-related degenerative changes.

Claimant sought temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits from the date of his injury and temporary total disability (TTD) benefits from when his low back pain flared up. An  administrative law judge (ALJ) rejected the request for benefits, finding that (1) his lower back pain was unrelated to his work injury, and (2) because he had continued working, claimant had not suffered a wage loss and was not entitled to either TPD or TTD benefits. The ALJ dismissed his requests. The Industrial Claim Appeals Office (Panel) affirmed but remanded the case to the ALJ to determine whether claimant was entitled to change his physician.

On appeal, claimant argued the separation of powers doctrine is violated by having workers’ compensation cases heard in the executive branch. In rejecting this argument, the court of appeals followed Dee Enterprises v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, which held that the statutory scheme for deciding workers’ compensation cases does not violate the separation of powers doctrine.

Claimant then argued his equal protection claims should be analyzed under the strict scrutiny standard. The court held that the rational basis test applies to equal protection challenges in the workers’ compensation context. Under that test, “a statutory classification is presumed constitutional and does not violate equal protection unless it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the classification does not bear a rational relationship to a legitimate legislative purpose.”

Claimant argued that his and other workers’ compensation litigants’ rights to equal protection were violated because workers’ compensation cases are not heard by judges. The court concluded that legitimate governmental goals provide a rational basis for employing executive branch ALJs and the Panel to decide workers’ compensation cases. The court rejected claimant’s contention that his right to equal protection was violated because his claim was heard by an ALJ and the Panel.

Claimant then contended that the Panel’s dual role as decision-maker and then-named litigant if a case is appealed “reeks of impropriety.” The requirement that the Panel be added as a party is not arbitrary and serves the purpose of the Workers’ Compensation Act of ensuring thorough and expeditious review and enforcement of ALJ and Panel orders.

Claimant also challenged on equal protection grounds C.R.S. § 8-43-404(5)(a)(II)(A), which exempts governmental entities and health care providers from providing an injured worker with a list of four physicians from whom the worker may seek medical care for his injury. The court concluded that a rational basis exists for excluding employees of those two types of employers from the four-physician referral requirement. Thus, there was no equal protection violation.

The court rejected claimant’s three non-constitutional arguments, which were that: (1) the exemption from the four-physician referral requirement did not apply because claimant’s employer did not meet the requirements of C.R.S. § 8-43-404(5)(a)(II)(A); (2) substantial evidence did not support the ALJ’s factual findings; and (3) the ALJ made numerous evidentiary errors.

The Panel’s order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Bills Signed Adding Disabilities to Bias-Motivated Harassment, Clarifying Vehicle Title Transfers on Death, and More

On Wednesday, May 3, 2017, the governor signed 14 bills into law. To date, the governor has signed 209 bills and vetoed one bill this legislative session. Some of the bills signed Wednesday include a bill to clarify the process for vehicle title transfers on death, a bill adding disabilities to bias-motivated harassment laws, a bill allowing mandatory reporters access to reports of abuse, a bill extending the agricultural water leasing pilot project, and more. The bills signed Wednesday are summarized here.

  • HB 17-1150“Concerning Disallowing a Court from Granting Bail After Conviction to Offenders who have Committed Certain Felony Crimes,” by Rep. Clarice Navarro and Sen. Owen Hill. The bill adds to the list of crimes for which bail is not allowed a second or subsequent conviction for stalking that occurs within 7 years after the date of a prior offense for which the person was convicted; stalking when there was a protection order, injunction, or condition of bond, probation, or parole or any other court order in effect that protected the victim from the person; and any offense that includes an act of domestic violence if the defendant at the time of sentencing has been previously convicted of three or more prior offenses that included an act of domestic violence.
  • HB 17-1185“Concerning Reports of Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect,” by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Jim Smallwood. The bill adds officials and employees of county departments of health, human services, or social services to the list of mandatory reporters and specifies that if a mandatory reporter continues to be involved with the child for whom he or she has filed a report, the reporter is entitled to access to records and reports of the abuse or neglect.
  • HB 17-1188“Concerning Bias-Motivated Harassment,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sens. Dominick Moreno & Don Coram. The bill adds physical or mental disability and sexual orientation to the categories described in the harassment statute to make the statute consistent with Colorado’s law concerning bias-motivated crimes.
  • HB 17-1213“Concerning the Transfer of a Vehicle Title Upon the Death of the Vehicle’s Owner,” by Rep. Kevin Van Winkle and Sen. Chris Holbert. The bill amends the law regarding transfers of vehicle titles on death by clarifying that the Division of Motor Vehicles shall oversee the process, and clarifying that a personal representative or successor is not liable for obtaining a new certificate of title or for transferring title to the vehicle absent actual knowledge of the existence of a valid, unrevoked beneficiary designation form.
  • HB 17-1217“Concerning the Governance Structure of the State Historical Society,” by Reps. Faith Winter & Lori Saine and Sens. Jim Smallwood & Kerry Donovan. The bill repeals certain obsolete provisions of the statutes governing the structure of the State Historical Society and changes the language from establishing the council to allowing the board to establish the council.
  • HB 17-1219“Concerning an Extension of the Agricultural Water Leasing Pilot Program Administered by the Colorado Water Conservation Board,” by Reps. Jeni Arndt & Barbara McLaughlin and Sens. Kerry Donovan & Larry Crowder. The bill extends the agricultural water leasing pilot program.
  • HB 17-1233“Concerning Protection of the Historical Consumptive Use Analysis of a Water Right Involved in a Water Conservation Program,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill applies a rule statewide that provides that the reduced water usage that results from participation in a government-sponsored water conservation program will not be considered in analyzing the historical consumptive use of the water right.
  • SB 17-148“Concerning the Continuation of the Office of Boxing in the Division of Professions and Occupations in the Department of Regulatory Agencies, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2016 Sunset Report of the Department of Regulatory Agencies and Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Kevin Priola and Rep. Alec Garnett. The bill continues the Office of Boxing and vests the Director of the Division of Professions and Occupations with licensing authority.
  • SB 17-214“Concerning the Creation of the Voluntary Firefighter Cancer Benefits Program,” by Sens. Leroy Garcia & Jim Smallwood and Reps. Brittany Pettersen & Tony Exum. The bill allows an employer to participate in a voluntary firefighter cancer benefits program, as a multiple employer health trust to provide benefits to firefighters by paying contributions into the established trust.
  • SB 17-227: “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to Attorneys-at-Law from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Sen.  Bob Gardner and Rep. Mike Foote. The bill relocates Article 5 of Title 12, “Attorneys-at-Law,” to a new Article 93 in Title 13, Colorado Revised Statutes.
  • SB 17-247“Concerning the Qualifications of Electricians, and, in Connection Therewith, Allowing Only persons who have Passed the Written Residential Wireman’s Examination to Act as Residential Inspectors and Waiving the Continuing Education Requirement During the First License Period for an Electrician who Passed the Appropriate Written Examination,” by Sen. Kevin Priola and Rep. Don Coram. The bill waives the continuing education requirement, otherwise applicable upon every renewal or reinstatement of an electrician’s license, for the first renewal or reinstatement of the license of an electrician who passed the appropriate written examination in connection with his or her initial license application.
  • SB 17-258“Concerning the Use of Open Educational Resources in Public Institutions of Higher Education, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Kevin Lundberg and Rep. Bob Rankin. The bill creates the Open Educational Resources Council in the Department of Higher Education. The bill directs the Department to contract with an entity to evaluate the existing use of open educational resources by public institutions of higher education.
  • SB 17-259“Concerning a Transfer of Money from the General Fund to Cash Funds Administered by State Departments for the Protection of the State’s Natural Resources,” by Sen. Kevin Lundberg and Rep. Bob Rankin. The bill requires the state treasurer to transfer money from the general fund to certain state departments.
  • SB 17-268“Concerning an Increase in the Number of Pharmacy Technicians a Pharmacist may Supervise,” by Sens. Andy Kerr & Jim Smallwood and Reps. Joann Ginal & Kim Ransom. The bill allows a pharmacist to supervise up to 6 pharmacy technicians.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is Not State Employers’ Liability Law

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in City of Lakewood v. Safety National Casualty Corp. on Thursday, March 9, 2017.

42 U.S.C. § 1983—Indemnification—Defense Costs—Insurance—Employer Liability Law.

A City of Lakewood (City) police officer was killed by friendly fire, and his widow filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the City and various fellow officers had violated the deceased officer’s rights under the U.S. Constitution. The City sought indemnification for its own defense costs and those of the officers named in the lawsuit, which the City has an independent statutory duty to cover. The insurance company, Safety National Casualty Corporation, denied coverage. The district court concluded that a § 1983 claim did not arise under an employer liability law of any state and granted summary judgment for the insurance company.

On appeal, the City contended that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the insurance company because the policy unambiguously covers all defense costs incurred by the City in connection with the § 1983 lawsuit. Specifically, the City argued that the § 1983 municipal liability claim must be covered by the employers’ liability portion of the policy because it is a claim based on work-related injuries that falls outside the ambit of the workers’ compensation laws. However, this overstates the scope of the coverage under the policy. By the policy’s plain terms, the common law claims must arise under the laws of Colorado or “other State(s).” Section 1983 is not a law of Colorado or any other state. Therefore, the City’s defense costs, which were sustained because of liability imposed as a result of the widow’s § 1983 claim, did not arise from a state workers’ compensation or employers’ liability law and were not covered by the policy.

Next, the City contended that it was entitled to reimbursement for amounts it paid to cover the fellow officers’ defense costs. The policy’s definition makes clear that the term “Employee” refers to the injured employee, not to an employee potentially responsible for the injury. “Loss” means payments by the City to the injured employee and the employee’s dependents. Therefore, the City’s indemnification payments to the officers named in the lawsuit do not qualify as losses under the policy and the City is not entitled to reimbursement from the insurance company.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.