July 23, 2019

Archives for February 22, 2016

e-Legislative Report: February 16, 2016

Welcome e-leg report readers to this week’s installment of the world under the Gold Dome. As always, we welcome your feedback, thoughts, comments and questions. This news report is designed to keep you up to date on activities at the capitol that are of interest to the bar association and to lawyers across practice areas.

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

CBA Legislative Policy Committee

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

LPC Meeting Update

The following bills were discussed by the LPC. Other bills of interest from that agenda are tracked and updated below.

HB 16-1078 Local Government Employee Whistleblower Protection
The bill prohibits a county, municipality, or local education provider from imposing any disciplinary action against an employee on account of the employee’s statements to any person about the local government that the employee reasonably believes to show: a violation of a state or federal law, a local ordinance or resolution, or a local education provider policy; a waste or misuse of public funds; fraud; an abuse of authority; mismanagement; or a danger to the health or safety of students, employees, or the public. The bill permits an employee to file a written complaint with the office of administrative courts, for referral to an administrative law judge, alleging that a local government has imposed disciplinary action that violates this prohibition and seeking injunctive relief and damages. Employees who lose the administrative hearing may file a civil action in district court. The employee protection does not apply if the disclosure was false or made with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity thereof, or if it was of a protected public record or confidential information that was not reasonably necessary to show one or more of the identified circumstances. Administrative law judges are given jurisdiction to hear, determine, and make findings and awards on all these whistleblower cases. The director of the office of administrative courts is required to establish rules to govern these proceedings and hearings.
The LPC voted on the recommendation and request of the Government Counsel and Labor & Employment Law sections to oppose the bill.

HB 16-1154 Employer Definition Clarify Franchisee Status
The bill clarifies that the definition of “employer” only includes a person who possesses authority to control an employee’s terms and conditions of employment and actually exercises that authority directly. The bill specifies that a franchisor is not considered an employer of a franchisee’s employees unless a court finds that a franchisor exercises a type or degree of control over the franchisee or the franchisee’s employees not customarily exercised by a franchisor for the purpose of protecting the franchisor’s trademarks and brand.
The LPC voted to support the bill on the recommendation and presentation of the Franchise subsection of Business Law section.

HB 16-1232 Sunset DOR Private Letter Ruling & General Information Letter
Currently, the executive director of the department of revenue (department), or the executive director’s designee, is charged with issuing, on written request from a taxpayer, private letter rulings (binding determinations regarding the tax consequences of a proposed or completed transaction), and Information letters (nonbinding statements providing general information regarding any tax administered by the department). This duty is currently scheduled to sunset on September 1, 2016. The bill continues the requirement of the department to issue these letters until September 1, 2023. The bill also specifies that the department must track the total state full-time equivalent (FTE) personnel positions necessary and the hours dedicated by each FTE for the issuance, declination, modification, or revocation of all information letters or private letter rulings.
The LPC voted to support the bill and testify in favor of continuing the practice. The bill will be heard in committee next week.

SB 16-115 Electronic Recording Technology Board
The bill creates the electronic recording technology board (board) in the department of state. The board, which is authorized to issue revenue bonds, is established as an enterprise. So long as it constitutes an enterprise, the board is not subject to any provisions of section 20 of article X of the state constitution. The board sunsets in 6 years, but prior to that sunset, it is subject to a sunset review. The board is authorized to impose a surcharge of up to $2 on all documents that a clerk and recorder receives for recording or filing. If imposed, counties are required to collect the surcharge on behalf of the board and transmit it to the state treasurer for deposit in the newly created electronic recording technology fund (fund). The board is required to: develop a strategic plan incorporating the core goals of security, accuracy, sequencing, online public access, standardization, and preservation of public records; determine functionality standards for an electronic filing system that support the core goals; issue a request for proposal for electronic filing system equipment and software that will be available to counties on an optional basis; develop best practices for an electronic filing system; provide training to clerks and recorders related to electronic filing systems; and make grants to counties to establish, maintain, improve, or replace electronic filing systems for documents that are recorded with a clerk and recorder. In awarding grants, the board is required to give priority for grants to counties that do not have sufficient revenue from the surcharge proceeds to maintain their existing electronic filing systems. The money in the fund is continuously appropriated to the board to be used for these purposes. The bill repeals the secretary of state’s powers to ensure uniformity related to electronic filing systems, which powers become the board’s responsibility, and requires the department of state to prepare an annual report that is published online about the grants that the board made in the prior fiscal year. The bill also extends the one-dollar surcharge that a county clerk and recorder is currently required to collect and use for the county’s core or electronic filing system for 9.5 years. The definition of “electronic filing system” is expanded to include elements of the “core filing system,” which term is repealed.
The LPC voted on the recommendation of the Real Estate Section, which has been involved with the creation and drafting of the bill, to support the bill and testify in favor of its passage in committee.

SB 16-043 Student Loans Consumer Protections
The bill prohibits a private educational lender, as defined in the bill, from offering gifts to a covered educational institution, as defined in the bill, including public and private institutions of higher education, in exchange for any advantage or consideration related to loan activities or from engaging in revenue sharing. Further, the bill prohibits persons employed at covered educational institutions from receiving anything of  value from private educational lenders. The bill makes it unlawful for a private educational lender to impose a fee or penalty on a borrower for early repayment or prepayment of a private education loan and requires a lender to disclose any agreements made with a card issuer or creditor for purposes of marketing a credit card. The bill requires private educational lenders to disclose information to a potential borrower or borrower both at the time of application for a private education loan and at the time of consummation of the loan. The required disclosures are described in the bill and include, among other disclosures, the interest rate for the loan and adjustments to the rate, potential finance charges and penalties, payment options, an estimate of the total amount for repayment at the interest rate, the possibility of qualifying for federal loans, the terms and conditions of the loan, and that the borrower may cancel the loan, without penalty, within 3 business days after the date on which the loan is consummated.
The LPC voted to support this bill and to authorize the Juvenile Law section to testify in its favor in committee. This bill would help graduating lawyers, and future graduates, with the debt burden of school.

SB 16-084 Uniform Substitute Health Care Decision-making Documents
Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws. The bill adopts, with amendments, the “Uniform Recognition of Substitute Health Care Decision-making Documents Act” as Colorado law. The bill establishes the circumstances under which a substitute health care decision-making document (document) is valid in this state. A person may assume in good faith that a document is genuine, valid, and still in effect and that the decision-maker’s authority is genuine, valid, and still in effect. A person who is asked to accept a document shall do so within a reasonable amount of time. The person may not require an additional or different form of document for authority granted in the document presented. A person who refuses to accept a document is subject to a court order mandating acceptance of the document and liability for reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred in an action or proceeding that mandates acceptance of the document. A person is not required to accept a document under certain described conditions.
The LPC voted to remain neutral on the bill, while authorizing the Health Law section to testify as to the specific concerns it raised in the context of medical practices.

SB 16-047 No Detention For Juveniles Who Are Truant
The bill prohibits a juvenile detention facility from receiving or providing care for a juvenile who violates a court order to attend school unless the juvenile is also adjudicated for a delinquent act and remains under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for committing the delinquent act.
The LPC is concerned that the bill, by precluding a court from enforcing its own orders, is likely unconstitutional, and does not allow the judicial branch to complete the requirements and reports that were created by SB 15-184.

SB 16-103 Canadian Domestic Violence Protection Order Enforcement
Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws. The bill enacts the “Uniform Recognition and Enforcement of Canadian Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act” as recommended by the national conference of commissioners on uniform state laws. The bill allows a peace officer to enforce a Canadian domestic violence protection order. The bill allows a court to enter an order enforcing or refusing to enforce a Canadian domestic violence protection order. The bill provides immunity for a person who enforces a Canadian domestic violence protection order.
The LPC voted to support this bill on the recommendation of the Family Law section.

Updates regarding bills the CBA is currently focused on:

HB 16-1145 Documentary Fee For Residential Real Property
The CBA was able to propose an amendment to the bill that moved us to “neutral” on this bill. It will be heard in committee this week.

SB 16-013 Clean-up Office Of The Child Protection Ombudsman
This sponsor has agreed to remove the language that the CBA was concerned about. With this amendment, the CBA can officially monitor the bill going forward.

SB 16-071 Revised Uniform Athlete Agents Act 2015
The LPC asked that this bill be reviewed for comment by the Lawyers Professional Liability Committee. Once that review is complete, the LPC will revisit the act.

SB 16-088 Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access To Digital Asset Act
The CBA voted to support the bill as written and is monitoring the bill for any additional amendments that may impact it.

New Bills of Interest

These are a few new bills recently introduced. They have been sent to CBA sections for review and comment. If you have any questions about these or any other bills, please drop me a line. I’m happy to help you however I can.

SB 16-120 Review By Medicaid Client For Billing Fraud
The bill requires the department of health care policy and financing (department), by a certain date, to develop and implement an explanation of benefits for medicaid recipients. The purpose of the explanation of benefits is to inform a medicaid client of a claim for reimbursement made for services provided to the client or on his or her behalf, so that the client may discover and report administrative or provider errors or fraudulent claims for reimbursement. The bill specifies certain information that must be included in the explanation of benefits. Specifically, the explanation of benefits must include information regarding at least one method for a medicaid client to report errors in the explanation of benefits. The department shall work with medicaid clients and medicaid advocates to develop an explanation of benefits and educational materials that are understandable to medicaid clients. The explanation of benefits must be sent to clients not less than bimonthly, and the department shall determine the most cost-effective means for producing and distributing the explanation of benefits, which means may include e-mail or distribution with existing communications to clients.

HB 16-1258 Court Clerks Posting Of Service
Under current law, if a respondent in a domestic relations action cannot be personally served and is served by publication, the clerk of the court is required to post a copy of the process on a bulletin board in his or her office for 35 days after the date of publication. The bill gives the clerk the option of posting the service online on the court’s website rather than on a bulletin board.

HB 16-1261 Retail Marijuana Sunset
Sunset Process—House Finance Committee. The bill implements the following recommendations from the sunset report for the retail marijuana program: extending the retail marijuana code until September 1, 2019; stating that regulation of labeling, packaging, and testing is a matter of statewide concern; and repealing the following provisions from the retail marijuana code: the requirement that a licensee post a surety bond as condition of licensure; the requirement that the executive director deny a license based on a previous denial at the same location; the proscription on the placement and sale of marijuana-themed magazines; and the authority to promulgate rules prohibiting misrepresentation and unfair practices. The bill creates two new retail marijuana licenses, a retail marijuana transport license and a retail marijuana operator license, and gives the state licensing authority rulemaking authority over those licenses. The bill conforms language in the retail marijuana code to language in the medical marijuana code related to mandatory testing, the confidentiality of licensee information, and limited access areas.

Colorado Supreme Court: Announcement Sheet, 2/22/2016

On Monday, February 22, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court issued two published opinions.

Mulberger v. People

People v. Bonvicini

Summaries of these cases are forthcoming, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Trial Court Within Discretion to Terminate Parental Rights After Developing Treatment Plan

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of Z.P.S. on Thursday, February 11, 2016.

A.M.H.’s one-month-old infant, O.S., was found unresponsive and flown to Children’s Hospital, suffering from malnutrition. O.S.’s twin, M.J.S., was admitted at the same time as O.S., and was also suffering malnutrition and failure to thrive. The Phillips County Department of Social Services filed a dependency and neglect petition and assumed temporary custody of the twins and their siblings, three-year-old Z.P.S. and one-year-old N.S. Later, O.S., who had suffered brain damage from malnutrition, died after she was removed from life support.

Mother and father filed written stipulations that the children lacked proper parental care through their actions or omissions. Based on the stipulation, the court entered an order adjudicating the children dependent and neglected. One week later, the court held a dispositional hearing and entered a treatment plan for mother, which was later amended. At a later permanency hearing, the Department asked the court to terminate Mother’s parental rights based on a finding that no appropriate treatment plan could be devised. The court held a contested dispositional hearing at which it found that no appropriate treatment plan could be devised, and it terminated Mother’s parental rights. It allowed Father to relinquish his parental rights to children at the same hearing. Following a termination hearing, the court found by clear and convincing evidence that no appropriate treatment plan could be crafted for Mother because she had an emotional illness that was likely to render her unable to care for the children, M.J.S. had suffered serious bodily injury, and O.S. had died due to parental abuse and neglect.

On appeal, Mother challenged the trial court’s “no appropriate treatment plan” finding, arguing that (1) it was error for the court to find that no appropriate treatment plan could be devised after it had already approved one, and (2) the trial court erred by modifying the dispositional order by relying on information that was already before the court. The Colorado Court of Appeals evaluated whether the trial court had authority to enter a “no appropriate treatment plan” order after approving a treatment plan, and found that it did. The court of appeals noted that allowing the trial court to modify or enter new dispositional orders comports with the Colorado Children’s Code because it protects the best interests of the children. The court also held that the trial court was not required to modify the existing parenting plan before terminating parental rights.

The court of appeals similarly rejected Mother’s argument that the trial court erred in terminating her rights based on evidence that was before it at previous dispositional hearings. The court of appeals held that a trial court’s ability to modify a dispositional order is not limited to situations in which circumstances have changed. Mother also contended her due process rights were violated because the “no appropriate treatment plan” order precluded her from offering evidence of her compliance with the existing treatment plan. The court found no error, holding that Mother was on notice that the Department sought to terminate her parental rights and she was afforded ample opportunity to defend against termination.

The court of appeals affirmed the trial court.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 2/19/2016

On Friday, February 19, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued four published opinions and seven unpublished opinions.

C.M. v. Urbina

United States v. Batrez-Barraza

Hakan Agro DMCC v. Unova Holdings, LLC

Olson v. Carmack

Carbajal v. Lynn

Tolman v. Stryker Corp.

Aslan v. Colvin

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.