June 24, 2019

Bills Regarding Job Protection, Authorization for Foreign Investments, Electric Vehicle Charging Stations, and More Signed by Governor Hickenlooper

As the 2013 legislative session winds down, bills continue to reach Governor Hickenlooper’s desk for review and signature. Since January 31, 2013, the governor has signed 169 bills.

Governor Hickenlooper signed the “Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act,” HB 13-1136, on Monday, May 6, 2013. HB 13-1136 – Concerning the Creation of Remedies in Employment Discrimination Cases Brought Under State Law, by Reps. Claire Levy and Joe Salazar and Sens. Morgan Carroll and Lucia Guzman, establishes provisions for complaining parties who have exhausted administrative remedies to bring actions in state court. It also allows claims to be brought by employees of companies with fewer than 15 employees, which are exempt under Federal anti-discrimination provisions.

On May 5, the governor signed one bill, SB 13-176 – Concerning Authorization for the State Treasurer to Invest State Moneys in Debt Obligations Backed By the Full Faith and Credit of the State of Israel. This bill was sponsored by Sens. Mark Scheffel and Morgan Carroll and Reps. Justin Everett and Angela Williams, and it authorizes the state treasurer to invest state moneys in Israeli bonds.

The governor signed 10 bills on Friday, May 3, 2013. Three of the ten bills signed are summarized here.

  • SB 13-126 – Concerning the Removal of Unreasonable Restrictions on the Ability of the Owner of an Electric Vehicle to Access Charging Facilities, by Sen. Lucia Guzman and Rep. Crisanta Duran. The bill requires landlords and common interest communities to allow unit owners to install electric vehicle charging stations on their own property.
  • HB 13-1167 – Concerning the Collection of Business Information by the Secretary of State, by Reps. Brittany Pettersen and Crisanta Duran and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill requires the Secretary of State to request certain demographic information from business owners, which will be available to the public on the Secretary of State website. The demographic information includes gender, race, veteran status, disability status, and NAICS code, and submission of the information is voluntary.
  • HB 13-1222 – Concerning the Expansion of the Group of Family Members for whom Colorado Employees are Entitled to Take Leave from Work under the “Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993″, by Rep. Cherylin Peniston and Sen. Jessie Ulibarri. The bill allows employees to take leave under FMLA to care for their partners in civil unions.

On April 29, 2013, the governor signed six bills. These included the long appropriations bill, three Joint Budget Committee bills regarding the General Fund, and a bill to allow students who complete high school in Colorado to qualify for in-state tuition classification (SB 13-033Concerning In-State Classification at Institutions of Higher Education for Students who Complete High School in Colorado, by Sens. Angela Giron and Mike Johnston and Reps. Crisanta Duran and Angela Williams.) Governor Hickenlooper also signed the budget bill, SB 13-230, on April 29.

On April 26, 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed 16 bills. Five of these are summarized here.

  • HB 13-1025 Concerning an Increase in the Amount of the Authorized Deductible for Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policies, by Rep. Spencer Swalm and Sen. Cheri Jahn. The bill increases the allowable deductible for employers’ workers’ compensation insurance policies.
  • HB 13-1123 – Concerning the Right of a Person to Waive Confidentiality Requirements Protecting Personal Work Information Obtained by the Department of Labor and Employment for Unemployment Benefit Claims to Permit the Department to Forward Certain Information to Potential Employers, by Rep. Tony Exum and Sen. Jim Kerr. The bill allows the Department of Labor and Employment to offer job seekers the opportunity to waive confidentiality so that their personal information may be made available to bona fide employers seeking employees.
  • HB 13-1258 – Concerning Local Government Involvement with Federal Immigration Issues, by Rep. Joe Salazar and Sens. Irene Aguilar and Morgan Carroll. The bill repeals C.R.S. Title 29, Article 29, which required local law enforcement officers to report any suspected illegal immigrants to federal immigration officials.
  • SB 13-048 – Concerning the Use of Highway User Tax Fund Moneys Allocated to Local Governments for Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure, by Sen. Nancy Todd and Reps. Max Tyler and Jeanne Labuda. The bill allows counties and municipalities to spend moneys received from the Highway User Tax Fund on transit-related projects.
  • SB 13-070 – Concerning the Purchase of Vehicles that Operate on Alternative Fuels for the State Motor Vehicle Fleet System, by Sen. Gail Schwartz and Reps. Ray Scott and Max Tyler. The bill requires the Department of Personnel and Administration to report on the number of alternative fuel vehicles purchased, the use of alternative fuel, and a plan to develop the infrastructure necessary to utilize more alternative fuel vehicles.

For a complete list of legislation signed into law by the governor in 2013, click here.

HB 13-1136: Establishing the Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2013 to Discourage Employment Discrimination

On January 18, 2013, Rep. Claire Levy and Sen. Morgan Carroll introduced HB 13-1136 – Concerning the Creation of Remedies in Employment Discrimination Cases Brought under State LawThis summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

Current law does not permit an award of compensatory or punitive damages or attorney fees and costs to a plaintiff who prevails in a complaint before the Colorado civil rights commission (commission) or in a lawsuit alleging a discriminatory or unfair employment practice under state law, even in cases of intentional discrimination. While federal employment antidiscrimination laws allow such damages in cases where intentional discrimination is found, and allows an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs, only employers who employ 15 or more employees are subject to federal law. Moreover, victims of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation are not afforded protections under federal law. Thus, employees who work for employers with fewer than 15 employees or who claim employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation are not allowed compensatory or punitive damages and cannot recover reasonable attorney fees and costs when they prove a case of intentional employment discrimination.

Additionally, current law precludes a claim of age discrimination by persons 70 years of age or older.

The bill establishes the “Job Protection and Civil Rights Enforcement Act of 2013,” which would allow the additional remedies of compensatory and punitive damages in employment discrimination cases brought under state law against employers where intentional discrimination is proven. These damages would be in addition to the remedies allowed under current law, namely, front pay, back pay, interest on back pay, reinstatement or hiring, and other equitable relief that may be awarded. Compensatory damages are to compensate a plaintiff for other pecuniary losses, emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses. If the plaintiff shows by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant engaged in a discriminatory or unfair employment practice with malice or reckless indifference to the rights of the plaintiff, the plaintiff may recover punitive damages.

The bill limits the amount of compensatory and punitive damages to the amounts specified in the federal “Civil Rights Act of 1991” and directs the commission or court to consider the size and assets of the defendant and the egregiousness of the intentional discriminatory or unfair employment practice when determining the amount of damages to award the victim.

When a plaintiff claims compensatory or punitive damages in a civil lawsuit, either party to the action is entitled to demand a jury trial. Additionally, the court may award the prevailing plaintiff reasonable attorney fees and costs and, if the court finds that the action was frivolous, groundless, or vexatious, the court may award attorney fees and costs to the defendant.

The bill removes the maximum age limit for purposes of age discrimination claims, thereby permitting persons 70 years of age or older to pursue a claim based on age discrimination.

The bill authorizes the commission to appoint a working group of employers and employees to assist in education and outreach efforts to foster compliance with laws prohibiting discriminatory or unfair employment practices.

The remedies available under the bill would apply to causes of action alleging discriminatory or unfair employment practices accruing on or after Jan. 1, 2015.The CBA LPC has voted to support this legislation. On Feb. 14, the Judiciary Committee amended the bill and referred it to the Appropriations Committee for consideration of the fiscal impact.