December 13, 2018

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

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

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

Signed

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

Vetoed

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

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

Bills Signed Modifying Public Trustee Foreclosure Process, Lowering Mandatory Parole for Certain Felonies, and More

On Monday, April 23, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed 20 bills into law. To date, he has signed 169 bills and sent one to the Secretary of State without a signature. Some of the bills signed Monday include a bill modifying the Public Trustee Foreclosure process, a bill lowering mandatory parole for certain felonies, a bill allowing discretionary parole of special needs offenders, and more. The bills signed Monday are summarized here.

  • HB 18-1008 – “Concerning the Financing of the Division of Parks and Wildlife’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating an Aquatic Nuisance Species Stamp for the Operation of Motorboats and Sailboats in Waters of the State, Increasing Penalties Related to the Introduction of Aquatic Nuisance Species into the Waters of the State, and Combining Two Separate Funds Related to the Aquatic Nuisance Species Program into One Fund,” by Reps. Daneya Esgar & Jeni James Arndt and Sens. Kerry Donovan & Don Coram. The bill updates a legislative declaration concerning aquatic nuisance species to encourage the federal government to dedicate sufficient funding and resources to the detection, prevention, control, and eradication of aquatic nuisance species for federally owned or managed aquatic resources and water infrastructure in Colorado.
  • HB 18-1025 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to the Regulation of Alcohol Beverages from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, to a New Title 44 as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sens. John Cooke & Bob Gardner. The bill creates Title 44 and relocates laws related to the regulation of alcohol beverages to the new Title 44.
  • HB 18-1029 – “Concerning Lowering the Period of Mandatory Parole from Five Years to Three Years for Certain Felony Offenses,” by Rep. Mike Weissman and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. Under current law, the length of a mandatory parole sentence for a class 2 and 3 felony is 5 years. The bill lowers the length of mandatory parole for a class 2 felony if the offense is not a crime of violence and a class 3 felony to 3 years.
  • HB 18-1047 – “Concerning Technical Modifications to the ‘Fair Campaign Practices Act’ to Facilitate its Administration,” by Rep. Susan Lontine and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill makes technical modifications to the “Fair Campaign Practices Act” (FCPA) to facilitate its administration.
  • HB 18-1065 – “Concerning Discipline of a Department of Human Services Employee when the Employee is Found to have Mistreated a Vulnerable Person,” by Reps. Susan Beckman & Janet Buckner and Sens. Kent Lambert. Current law specifies when an employee of the Department of Human Services will be suspended or dismissed after being charged with specified criminal offenses. However, the Department has encountered difficulty in suspending, dismissing, or otherwise disciplining employees through the administrative process when the employee was involved in an egregious incident of mistreatment of a vulnerable person but was not convicted of a criminal offense. The bill specifies that in considering a disciplinary action against an employee for engaging in mistreatment, abuse, neglect, or exploitation, against a vulnerable person, the appointing authority shall give weight to the safety of vulnerable persons over the interests of any other person.
  • HB 18-1098 – “Concerning the Expanded Ability of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to Finance the Remediation of Oil and Gas Locations,” by Reps. Lori Saine & Matt Gray and Sen. Vicki Marble. Under current practice, expenditures by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to address the mitigation of adverse environmental impacts of oil and gas operations are paid from the environmental response account of the oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund, and the year-end balance of the account transfers into the fund. The bill specifies that the year-end balance of the account remains in the account.
  • HB 18-1109 – “Concerning Discretionary Parole of Special Needs Offenders,” by Rep. Mike Weissman and Sen. John Cooke. The bill makes several changes to the process of determining parole for special needs offenders.
  • HB 18-1191 – “Concerning a Local Authority’s Ability to Alter Speed Limits Within the Local Authority’s Jurisdiction,” by Rep. Faith Winter and Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & John Kefalas. Current law requires county and municipal authorities (authorities) to conduct a traffic investigation or survey before increasing or decreasing the speed limits within the authority’s jurisdiction. The bill allows the authority to also consider certain other factors.
  • HB 18-1227 – “Concerning the Authority of the Real Estate Commission to Issue Licenses for an Initial Period of Less than Three Years,” by Reps. Leslie Herod & Cole Wist and Sen. John Cooke. The bill authorizes the Real Estate Commission to issue licenses that expire on December 31 of the year of issuance.
  • HB 18-1242 – “Concerning the Salary Categorization of Locally Elected Officers in Specified Counties,” by Reps. KC Becker & Donald Valdez and Sens. Larry Crowder & Randy Baumgardner. Current law categorizes each county for purposes of establishing the salaries of elected county officials in the county. The statutory salary amounts are adjusted every 2 years for inflation and take effect for terms commencing after any change is made. The bill modifies the categories of 4 counties with the accompanying percentage increase in salary.
  • HB 18-1254 – “Concerning the Modification of the Foreclosure Process on Property that is Encumbered by a Deed of Trust,” by Rep. Kevin Van Winkle and Sen. Jim Smallwood. The bill makes several modifications to the public trustee foreclosure process, including eliminating the authority of the holder’s attorney to specify a newspaper for publication, allowing an amended combined notice to be omitted in certain circumstances, modifying the amounts of deposits required for fees and costs of the public trustee, and more.
  • HB 18-1327 – “Concerning the All-Payer Health Claims Database, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill authorizes the General Assembly to appropriate general fund money to the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to pay for expenses related to the all-payer health claims database.
  • HB 18-1330 – “Concerning a Supplemental State Payment Relating to Certain Office-Administered Oncology-Related Drugs for Qualified Providers under the Medical Assistance Program who Experienced a Reduction in Reimbursement Payments in the 2017-18 State Fiscal Year as a Result of the Implementation of the Federal Final Rules for Covered Outpatient Drugs, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill authorizes a supplemental payment of state-only money to providers under the medicaid program of certain office-administered drugs relating to oncology who experienced a decrease in aggregate reimbursements in the 2017-18 fiscal year as a result of the implementation of the federal department of health and human services final rule for covered outpatient drugs, 81 FR 5169, published in the federal register on February 1, 2016.
  • SB 18-014 – “Concerning Requiring the Department of Corrections to Disclose the Location of Inmates who are Relocated to Facilities Outside of the State,” by Sens. Rhonda Fields & John Cooke and Reps. Cole Wist & Leslie Herod. The bill states that if the Department of Corrections relocates an inmate for incarceration or contracts with another state for the incarceration of an inmate in a penal institution in another state, then not later than 48 hours after such relocation, the Department shall notify the prosecuting attorney and any registered victim of crimes for which the inmate is serving his or her sentence of the name and location of the penal institution where the inmate is to be housed, with certain exceptions.
  • SB 18-026 – “Concerning Measures to Make Sex Offender Registration More Effective,” by Sen. Daniel Kagan and Reps. Pete Lee, Leslie Herod, and Yeulin Willett. The bill makes several changes to the sex offender registration process.
  • SB 18-055 – “Concerning the Crimes Against Children Surcharge in Cases Involving Trafficking of Children,” by Sen. Tim Neville and Reps. Kevin Van Winkle & Edie Hooten. Current law requires each person who is convicted of a crime against a child to pay a surcharge to the clerk of the court for the judicial district in which the conviction occurs. The bill adds the crime of human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude to the definition of crime against a child for purposes of the surcharge.
  • SB 18-149 – “Concerning Records of the Board of Directors of the Denver Health and Hospital Authority,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Reps. Matt Gray & Leslie Herod. The bill specifies that certain reports, statements, agreements, bonds, guidelines, manuals, handbooks, and accounts of the authority are public records. The bill also specifies that the content of an electronic medical record system and individual medical records or medical information are not public records.
  • SB 18-151 – “Concerning Department of Education Research to Develop Bullying Prevention Policies,” by Sens. Rhonda Fields & Kevin Priola and Reps. Janet Buckner & James Wilson. The bill requires the Department of Education to research approaches, policies, and practices in other states related to bullying prevention and education, and to develop a model bullying prevention and education policy after considering its research.
  • SB 18-174 – “Concerning Liability of Entities that Provide Services to Persons with Developmental Disabilities in Residential Settings,” by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Lang Sias. The bill defines ‘case management agency’ and adds a case management agency to the definition of ‘provider’ that provides services and supports to persons with developmental disabilities. The bill requires providers and service agencies to operate pursuant to department of health care policy and financing rules.
  • SB 18-188 – “Concerning Agricultural Commodities, and, in Connection Therewith, Adding Millet to the Definition of an Agricultural Commodity and Allowing the Commissioner of Agriculture to Determine Marketing Order Public Announcement Requirements,” by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Jon Becker. The bill adds millet to the definition of an agricultural commodity in the “Colorado Agricultural Marketing Act of 1939.” The bill removes the requirement that marketing order issuance, suspension, amendment, or termination be posted in the office of the commissioner of agriculture and published in a newspaper.

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

Bills Signed Regarding Ground Water Commission Approval of Aquifer Storage and Recovery Plans, Repealing Procedures to Fill Municipal Vacancies, and More

On Monday, April 9, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed 12 bills into law. To date, he has signed 126 bills into law and sent one to the Secretary of State without a signature. The bills signed Monday include a bill to increase transparency in higher education statutes concerning military service, a bill repealing procedures to fill vacancies in candidate nominations for municipal elections, a bill allowing the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission to roll-over its year-end balances in order to facilitate financing, and more. The bills signed Monday are summarized here.

  • SB 18-107 – “Concerning the Repeal of Procedures to Fill Vacancies in Candidate Nominations for Elections Conducted under the ‘Colorado Municipal Code of 1965,'” by Sen. Rachel Zenzinger and Rep. Dan Thurlow. The bill repeals the process by which a vacancy in nomination may be filled for an election conducted under the ‘Colorado Municipal Code of 1965’ and makes conforming amendments.
  • HB 18-1098 – “Concerning the Expanded Ability of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to Finance the Remediation of Oil and Gas Locations,” by Reps. Lori Saine & Matt Gray and Sen. Vicki Marble. Under current practice, expenditures by the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission to address the mitigation of adverse environmental impacts of oil and gas operations are paid from the environmental response account of the oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund, and the year-end balance of the account transfers into the fund. The bill specifies that the year-end balance of the account remains in the account.
  • HB 18-1112 – “Concerning Covered Health Care Services Provided by a Pharmacist,” by Reps. Jon Becker & Daneya Esgar and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill requires a health benefit plan to provide coverage for health care services provided by a pharmacist if the services are provided within a health professional shortage area and the health benefit plan provides coverage for the same services provided by a licensed physician or advanced practice nurse.
  • HB 18-1134 – “Concerning Eligibility of Kindergarten Students Funded through Early Childhood At-risk Enhancement Positions,” by Reps. Brittany Pettersen & James Wilson and Sens. Michael Merrifield & Beth Martinez Humenik. If a district chooses to use early childhood at-risk enhancement (ECARE) positions to enroll children in the district’s full-day kindergarten program, children using the ECARE positions must satisfy at least one of the eligibility requirements of the Colorado preschool program.
  • HB 18-1145 – “Concerning the Repeal of Laws Regulating Ballot Issue Petition Circulators that have been Permanently Enjoined from Enforcement,” by Rep. Edie Hooten and Sen. Dominick Moreno. The bill repeals laws ordered permanently enjoined from enforcement in Independence Inst. v. Gessler , 936 F. Supp. 2d 1256 (D. Colo. 2013).
  • HB 18-1148 – “Concerning the Prohibition Against a Carrier Requiring Step Therapy for Covered Persons with Stage Four Advanced Metastatic Cancer,” by Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill prohibits a carrier that issues a health benefit plan that covers treatment for stage four advanced metastatic cancer from requiring a cancer patient to undergo step therapy prior to receiving a drug approved by the United States food and drug administration if use of the approved drug is consistent with best practices for treatment of the cancer and as long as the drug is on the carrier’s prescription drug formulary.
  • HB 18-1172 – “Concerning Money Allocated from an Appropriation from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund to a Designated Managed Service Organization to Implement its Community Action Plan,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill amends the ‘Increasing Access to Effective Substance Use Disorder Services Act’ to clarify that a designated managed service organization (designated MSO) may use money allocated to it from the marijuana tax cash fund for expenditures for substance use disorder services and for any start-up costs or other expenses necessary to increase capacity to provide such services and may allow allocations to roll forward.
  • HB 18-1199 – “Concerning a Process for the Ground Water Commission to Use for Approving Aquifer Storage-and-Recovery Plans, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring that the Ground Water Commission Promulgate Rules Governing its Implementation of the Process,” by Reps. Marc Catlin & Barbara McLaughlin and Sen. Don Coram. The bill authorizes a person to apply to the ground water commission (commission) for approval of an aquifer storage-and-recovery plan and requires the commission to promulgate rules governing the application process and the requirements that an aquifer storage-and-recovery plan must meet to be approved.
  • HB 18-1228 – “Concerning Increasing Transparency in Higher Education Statutes Relating to Military Service,” by Reps. Justin Everett & Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Sen. Leroy Garcia. The bill creates a new article 7.4 in title 23, Colorado Revised Statutes, with the article heading ‘Military Members, Veterans, and Dependents’, in order to locate physically within the same article, whenever practicable, higher education provisions relating to the military.
  • HB 18-1238 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Wildland-Urban Interface Training Advisory Board, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Recommendations of the 2017 Sunset Report by the Department of Regulatory Agencies,” by Reps. Dominique Jackson & Marc Catlin and Sen. Vicki Marble. The bill implements the recommendation of the Department of Regulatory Agencies to sunset the wildland-urban interface training advisory board.
  • HB 18-1246 – “Concerning Updates to the “Colorado Nursery Act”, and, in Connection Therewith, Modernizing the Act and Protecting Agriculture from Pests, Diseases, and Noxious Weeds,” by Rep. Jessie Danielson and Sen. Don Coram. The bill updates the ‘Colorado Nursery Act’, last amended in 2009, to protect nursery stock.
  • HB 18-1293 – “Concerning Payment of Expenses of the Legislative Department,” by Reps. Crisanta Duran & Patrick Neville and Sens. Kevin Grantham & Lucia Guzman. The bill makes appropriations for matters related to the legislative department for the 2018-19 state fiscal year.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Oil and Gas Commission’s Warrantless Inspections of Locations Does Not Violate Constitution

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Maralex Resources, Inc. v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Thursday, March 22, 2018.

Administrative Law—Constitutional Law—Fourth Amendment—Search and Seizure—Warrantless Search—Administrative Search.

O’Hare was the president of Maralex, a Colorado corporation licensed to conduct oil and gas operations in the state. Maralex operated over 200 oil wells in Colorado. Maralex operated wells located on the O’Hares’ ranch. The O’Hares owned both the surface and mineral rights, but leased the mineral rights to Maralex. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) obtained an administrative search warrant authorizing entry and inspection of certain Maralex locations, and after conducting inspections, COGCC issued multiple notices of alleged violations to Maralex and O’Hare. After an administrative hearing, the COGCC issued an order finding violation (OFV), concluding that Maralex had violated several rules, and Maralex was assessed a penalty of $94,000. Maralex and the O’Hares sought judicial review of COGCC’s order. The district court denied their request for injunctive and declaratory relief and affirmed the OFV in full.

On appeal, Maralex and the O’Hares contended that COGCC Rule 204 permitting unannounced, warrantless searches of oil and gas locations violated the U.S. and Colorado Constitutions. There are exceptions to the requirement that searches be conducted pursuant to a warrant issued upon probable cause. One exception is in the context of administrative searches made pursuant to a regulatory scheme of a closely regulated industry. A warrantless inspection conducted pursuant to a regulatory scheme of a closely regulated industry is reasonable if (1) the scheme is informed by a substantial government interest, (2) it is necessary to further that government interest, and (3) the scheme provides a “constitutionally adequate substitute” for a warrant. The Court of Appeals concluded that the oil and gas industry is closely regulated; the state has a substantial interest in regulating oil and gas operations; warrantless searches are necessary to further the state’s substantial interest in the safe and efficient operation of oil and gas facilities; and COGCC’s inspection regime provides a constitutionally adequate substitute for a warrant. Therefore, warrantless inspections made pursuant to Rule 204 do not violate either the Colorado or U.S. Constitution.

The O’Hares also raised constitutional challenges to Rule 204 in their capacity as surface owners of land including oil and gas locations subject to COGCC oversight. They first contended that Rule 204 is unconstitutional as applied to surface owners because, unlike operators of oil and gas locations, they have an expectation of privacy in the property searched. In this case, the O’Hares granted Maralex a very broad set of rights under the surface agreement. By granting the corporation an unlimited easement on the surface estate, the O’Hares substantially lessened any objective expectation of privacy in the property over which they willingly transferred access and control rights to Maralex. The Court also rejected the O’Hares’ broader challenge to the facial constitutionality of Rule 204 as to all surface owners, concluding that where a surface owner grants a mineral lessee a broad surface easement, warrantless entry of the surface estate would not necessarily violate the surface owner’s rights.

Maralex also challenged the COGCC’s order concluding that it violated multiple rules in relation to certain wells. The COGCC’s finding that Maralex violated Rule 204 on March 20, 2014 was arbitrary and capricious because the inspection supervisor agreed to delay the inspection until the next day. Thus, there was not substantial evidence to support COGCC’s determination that Maralex failed to provide access to its wells at all reasonable times. As to the remaining dates at issue, the evidence supports COGCC’s determination that Maralex violated Rule 204 for the duration of that six-day period.

The Court also found record support for COGCC’s determination that Maralex violated Rules 603.f, 905(a), and 907(a)(1).

The district court’s order affirming that part of the OFV concluding Maralex violated Rule 204 on March 20, 2014 and the corresponding penalty were reversed. In all other respects, the order was affirmed. The case was remanded for further proceedings.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Bills Modernizing Statutory Language, Requiring Rent Receipts from Landlords, and More Signed

On Thursday, March 22, 2018, the governor signed 25 bills into law. He also sent one  bill to the Secretary of State without a signature on Friday. To date, he has signed 81 bills and sent one to the Secretary of State without a signature. The bills signed Thursday include several bills modernizing and clarifying statutory language, as well as a bill requiring residential landlords to issue rent receipts, a bill adding two types of protection orders, and more. The bills signed Thursday and passed on Friday are summarized here.

  • SB 18-005 – “Concerning Economic Assistance for Rural Communities Experiencing Certain Significant Economic Events that Lead to Substantial Job Loss in those Communities, and, in Connection Therewith, Authorizing the Department of Local Affairs to Coordinate Nonmonetary Assistance to Assist Rural Communities with Job Creation or Retention,” by Sens. Kerry Donovan & Ray Scott and Rep. Dylan Roberts. The bill authorizes the Executive Director of the Department of Local Affairs (Executive Director) or the Executive Director’s designee to coordinate the provision of nonmonetary resources to assist with job retention or creation in a rural community experiencing a significant economic event, such as a plant closure or layoffs, including industry-wide layoffs, that has a significant, quantifiable impact on jobs within that community.
  • SB 18-009 – “Concerning the Right of Consumers of Electricity to Interconnect Energy Storage Systems for Use on their Property,” by Sens. Kevin Priola & Stephen Fenberg and Reps. Faith Winter & Polly Lawrence. The bill declares that consumers of electricity have a right to install, interconnect, and use energy storage systems on their property, and that this will enhance the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid, save money, and reduce the need for additional electric generation facilities.
  • SB 18-010 – “Concerning the Requirement that a Residential Landlord Provide a Tenant with Specified Documents Relevant to the Landlord-Tenant Relationship, and, in Connection Therewith, Specifying Rent Receipts and Copies of any Written Lease Agreement as Documents that Must be Provided,” by Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Angela Williams and Rep. Tony Exum. The bill requires a residential landlord to provide each tenant with a copy of a written rental agreement signed by the parties and to give a tenant a contemporaneous receipt for any payment made in person with cash or a money order. For payments not made in person with cash or a money order, the landlord must provide a receipt if the tenant requests it.
  • SB 18-020 – “Concerning Mental Health Care Professionals who are Permitted to Perform Auricular Acudetox,” by Sen. Leroy Garcia and Rep. Daneya Esgar. The bill allows registered psychotherapists who have documented that they have undergone auricular acudetox training to perform auricular acudetox.
  • SB 18-046 – “Concerning Authorization to Increase the Minimum Donation Required to be Issued a Certificate that Qualifies a Person to be Issued a Group Special License Plate,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet & Faith Winter. The bill authorizes nonprofit organizations to increase by $10 the minimum donation for the issuance of special license plates.
  • SB 18-060 – “Concerning Protective Orders in Criminal Cases,” by Sen. Don Coram and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill adds 2 new potential protection orders to the list of options available to the court. They are an order prohibiting the taking, transferring, concealing, harming, disposing of, or threatening to harm an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by the alleged victim or witness; and an order directing a wireless telephone service provider to transfer the financial responsibility for and rights to a wireless telephone number or numbers to the alleged victim or witness if the alleged victim or witness satisfies certain criteria.
  • SB 18-069 – “Concerning Enforcement of Statewide Degree Transfer Agreements,” by Sens. Chris Holbert & Rachel Zenzinger and Reps. Alec Garnett & Jon Becker. If an institution of higher education admits as a junior a transfer student who holds an associate of arts degree, associate of applied science degree, or an associate of science degree that is the subject of a statewide degree transfer agreement, the institution shall not require the student to complete any additional courses to fulfill general education requirements.
  • SB 18-093 – “Concerning the Repeal of Obsolete Provisions in the Colorado Medical Assistance Program Relating to the Inactive Home- and Community-Based Services Waiver for Persons Living with AIDS,” by Sen. Dominick Moreno and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. The bill repeals the inactive home- and community-based services waiver under the Colorado medical assistance program for persons with health complexes related to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (persons living with AIDS waiver).
  • SB 18-101 – “Concerning Student Admission to Colorado State University – Global Campus,” by Sens. Chris Holbert & Nancy Todd and Reps. Millie Hamner & Kevin Van Winkle. The bill removes a prohibition on admitting first-time freshman baccalaureate students who reside in Colorado and who are under 23 years of age.
  • HB 18-1005 – “Concerning Notice of Postsecondary Course Enrollment Options Available to High School Students,” by Reps. Brittany Petterson & Jon Becker and Sen. Kevin Priola. The bill requires a notice to students and parents of postsecondary course opportunities to include information regarding the local education provider’s timelines that affect student eligibility to take these courses and a statement informing students that they may significantly reduce college expenses, increase the likelihood of completing college, and earn marketable workforce skills by taking concurrent enrollment courses.
  • HB 18-1023 – “Concerning the Nonsubstantive Relocation of Laws Related to Legalized Marijuana from Title 12, Colorado Revised Statutes, as Part of the Organizational Recodification of Title 12,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill creates Title 44 and relocates the statutes related to legalized marijuana from Title 12 to Title 44.
  • HB 18-1032 – “Concerning Access to Medical Records from the Department of Public Health and Environment’s EMS Agency Patient Care Database by Health Information Organization Networks,” by Reps. Chris Kennedy & Dan Thurlow and Sens. Rhonda Fields & Jack Tate. The bill requires the Department of Public Health and Environment to provide individualized patient information from the department’s EMS agency patient care database to health information organization networks for any use allowed under the federal “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.”
  • HB 18-1045 – “Concerning the Application of Silver Diamine Fluoride to Dental Patients,” by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill allows a dental hygienist to apply silver diamine fluoride under the direct or indirect supervision of a dentist.
  • HB 18-1050 – “Concerning Competency to Proceed for Juveniles Involved in the Juvenile Justice System,” by Rep. Jonathan Singer and Sen. Rhonda Fields. The bill establishes a juvenile-specific definition of ‘competent to proceed’ and ‘incompetent to proceed’ for juveniles involved in the juvenile justice system, as well as specific definitions for ‘developmental disability’, ‘mental capacity’, and ‘mental disability’ when used in this context. The bill clarifies the procedures for establishing incompetency, as well as for establishing the restoration of competency.
  • HB 18-1051 – “Concerning Statutory Provisions Enacted to Promote the Extinguishment of Unattended Fires,” by Reps. Millie Hamner & Terri Carver and Sens. Don Coram & Michael Merrifield. The bill states that any person who starts or maintains a campfire commits the offense of leaving a campfire unattended if he or she knowingly or recklessly fails to reasonably attend the campfire at all times or fails to thoroughly extinguish the campfire before leaving the site.
  • HB 18-1052 – “Concerning Local Education Providers’ Receipt of Concurrent Enrollment Courses from a Two-year Institution of Higher Education Outside of the Institution’s Approved Service Area when the Institution Approved to Serve the Local Education Provider Declines to Provide Concurrent Enrollment Courses,” by Reps. Paul Lundeen & Jeff Bridges and Sen. Nancy Todd. The bill requires the commission to establish a policy that allows a 2-year institution of higher education to provide a concurrent enrollment program or course to a local education provider that is not within its college service area if the designated 2-year institution of higher education chooses not to provide a concurrent enrollment program or course requested by the local education provider.
  • HB 18-1066 – “Concerning Clarifying that the Law Enforcement and Defense Counsel Exemption for Sexual Exploitation of a Child Crime Does Not Change the Discovery Procedures for Sexually Exploitative Material,” by Reps. Yeulin Willett & Mike Foote and Sen. John Cooke. The bill clarifies that the sexual exploitation of a child statute does not change the discovery procedure for sexually exploitative materials and that the defendant and defense counsel personnel are not allowed to receive copies of the materials.
  • HB 18-1073 – “Concerning Water Districts’ Ability to Enter into Contracts Regarding their Water-related Assets,” by Rep. Matt Gray and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill authorizes water districts, including water activity enterprises, to enter into contracts for water and the capacity in works and allows the contracts to be based on municipalities’ authority to contract for water and sewer facilities.
  • HB 18-1095 – “Concerning Educator Licenses Issued to Military Spouses,” by Reps. Terri Carver & Jeni James Arndt and Sens. Bob Gardner & Nancy Todd. The bill exempts military spouses from a requirement that teaching or special services experience be continuous, and instead requires 3 years of experience within the previous 7 years.
  • HB 18-1117 – “Concerning Liens that Attach to Personal Property that is Stored at a Self-service Storage Facility,” by Reps. Kevin Van Winkle & James Coleman and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill modifies the law governing the statutory lien that an owner of a self-storage facility has for the occupant’s late payment of rent or other charges.
  • HB 18-1141 – “Concerning the Removal of Outdated References in Statute to ‘Early Childhood Care and Education Councils,'” by Rep. Edie Hooten and Sen. Rachel Zenzinger. The bill removes outdated references in statute to “early childhood care and education councils.” The term is no longer used. Instead, these entities are referred to as “early childhood councils.”
  • HB 18-1142 – “Concerning Modernizing Language in Statutory Sections that Refer to Paupers,” by Reps. Edie Hooten & Dan Thurlow and Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Rachel Zenzinger. The bill modernizes the language in statutory sections by replacing the terms ‘pauper’ and ‘paupers’ with ‘indigent’ or ‘indigent persons’.
  • HB 18-1183 – “Concerning the Continuation of the Regulation of Home Food Service Plans Pursuant to the “Sale of Meat Act”, and, in Connection Therewith, Implementing the Department of Regulatory Agencies’ Sunset Review Recommendation to Repeal the Act,” by Reps. Edie Hooten & Kim Ransom and Sen. Randy Baumgartner. The bill implements the recommendation of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, as contained in the Department’s sunset review of home food service plans, by repealing the ‘Sale of Meat Act’, thereby eliminating the regulation of home food service plans by the department of agriculture.
  • HB 18-1210 – “Concerning Peace Officer Status for the Administrator of Judicial Security in the Colorado Judicial Department,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. John Cooke. The bill designates an administrator of judicial security in the Colorado judicial department as a peace officer who must be certified by the peace officer standards and training board.
  • HB 18-1249 – “Concerning the Requirement that the State Treasurer Distribute any Federal Funds Related to the Naval Oil Shale Reserve Land to Specified Counties or their Federal Mineral Lease Districts,” by Reps. Bob Rankin & Millie Hamner and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. If the state receives any federal mineral lease revenue from oil and gas production on naval oil shale reserve land that was set aside prior to January 1, 2009, and withheld by the federal government, then instead of depositing the money in the mineral leasing fund the state treasurer is required to distribute the money to certain counties or a related federal mineral lease district.

The bill that the governor sent to the Secretary of State without a signature was HB 18-1086, “Concerning Allowing Community Colleges to Offer a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing,” by Reps. Janet Buckner & Paul Lundeen and Sens. Tim Neville & Irene Aguilar.

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

Colorado Supreme Court: Petitioners’ Tort Claims for Airborne Asbestos Injuries Not Barred by Colorado Governmental Immunity Act

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Smokebrush Foundation v. City of Colorado Springs on Monday, February 5, 2018.

Colorado Governmental Immunity Act—Sovereign Immunity.

In this case, the Colorado Supreme Court reviewed the Colorado Court of Appeals division’s conclusion that petitioners’ claims against respondent city were barred under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA). Petitioners asserted a number of tort claims for alleged injuries resulting from airborne asbestos released during demolition activities on the city’s property in 2013 and from the subsurface migration of coal tar pollutants created by historical coal gasification operations on the city’s property. The division concluded that each of these claims was barred under the CGIA.

The supreme court first addressed whether petitioners’ asbestos-related claims fell within the waiver of immunity set forth in C.R.S. § 24-10-106(1)(c) for injuries resulting from the dangerous condition of a public building. The CGIA defines a “dangerous condition,” in pertinent part, as a physical condition of a facility or the use thereof that constitutes an unreasonable risk to the health or safety of the public and that is proximately caused by the negligent act or omission of the public entity in “constructing or maintaining” such facility. C.R.S. § 24-10-103(1.3). Because the complete and permanent demolition of a building does not come within the plain meaning of the terms “constructing” or “maintaining” a facility, the court concluded that the dangerous condition of a public building exception does not apply.

Next, the court addressed whether petitioners’ coal tar-related claims fell within the waiver of immunity set forth in C.R.S. § 24-10-106(1)(f) for injuries resulting from the operation and maintenance of a public gas facility when, as here, petitioners’ cause of action accrued after the CGIA’s enactment but the operation and maintenance of the facility that caused the injury occurred before that enactment. Because petitioners have established that (1) the facility at issue was a public gas facility, (2) petitioners’ claimed injuries from the coal tar contamination resulted from the operation and maintenance of that facility, and (3) petitioners’ coal tar-related claims accrued after the CGIA’s enactment, the court concluded that under the plain language of C.R.S. § 24-10-106(1)(f), the city waived its immunity for these claims.

Accordingly, court affirmed the portion of the division’s judgment requiring the dismissal of petitioners’ asbestos-related claims but reversed the portion of the judgment requiring the dismissal of petitioners’ coal tar-related claims.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Case Properly Remanded to State Court Under the Class Action Fairness Act

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Speed v. JMA Energy Company, LLC on Monday, October 2, 2017.

Plaintiff Speed filed a petition in the District Court of Hughes County, Oklahoma, asserting a class action against JMA Energy Company, alleging that JMA had willfully violated an Oklahoma statute that requires interest payments of revenue from oil and gas production. Speed further asserted that JMA fraudulently concealed from mineral-interest owners that JMA owed interest to the owners, intending to pay only those who requested the interest.

JMA removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, asserting that the district court had jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). Speed then filed an amended motion to remand the case to state court. The district court granted this motion, relying on an exception to CAFA that permits a district court to decline to exercise jurisdiction over a class action meeting certain prerequisites based on consideration of certain factors.

JMA appealed, challenging the district court’s remand order. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals found the district court properly considered the statutory factors and did not abuse its discretion by remanding to state court.

CAFA permits a class action to be brought in or removed to federal court if: (1) the proposed class includes at least 100 persons with claims; (2) the aggregate amount in controversy on all claims exceeds $5 million; (3) at least one proposed plaintiff and one defendant have diverse citizenship; and (4) the primary defendants are not governmental entities or officials against whom a federal court cannot order relief.

CAFA also recognizes three statutory exceptions. The exception at issue in this case is the discretionary exception. This exception allows a federal court to decline to exercise jurisdiction over a class action that is otherwise covered by CAFA based on six enumerated factors. The Tenth Circuit considered each factor in turn to determine if there was a legal error or other abuse of discretion by the district court.

The first factor is whether the claims asserted involve a matter of national or interstate interest. The Tenth Circuit found that JMA failed to explain how there could be a significant national interest in the mere allocation of interest between producers and royalty owners. The only thing national or interstate about this case is that some of the owners of Oklahoma property, who are basing their claims on alleged violations of an Oklahoma statute, happen to live in other states and receive their royalty checks there. The Tenth Circuit determined that was not enough to reverse the district court’s finding.

The second factor was whether the claims asserted would be governed by Oklahoma law or the laws of other states. The district court found JMA’s argument that a fraud claim against Oklahoma may be governed by the law of a different state unpersuasive and concluded that this factor weighed in favor of Speed’s motion to remand. The Tenth Circuit concluded that Oklahoma law controlled.

The third factor was whether the class action had been pleaded in order to avoid federal jurisdiction. JMA asserted that Speed attempted to avoid federal jurisdiction by excluding from the class any publicly traded companies and affiliated entities that produced, gathered, processed, or marketed oil and gas. The district court found this argument unpersuasive, reasoning that Speed had proposed a class that encompassed all the people and claims that one would expect to include in a class action. The Tenth Circuit agreed.

The fourth factor was whether the action was brought in a forum with a distinct nexus with the class members, the alleged harm, or the defendants. The Tenth Circuit found no abuse of discretion by the district court, as the factors of this case demonstrated the required nexus between Oklahoma and the class members, the alleged harms, and the defendant, including that the action was related to real-property interests in Oklahoma, the class members owned royalty interests in Oklahoma property, JMA is a citizen of Oklahoma, and the underlying alleged actions that gave rise to this suit took place in Oklahoma.

The fifth factor was whether the number of citizens of the state in which the action was originally filed is substantially larger than the number of citizens from any other state for plaintiffs in the class, and whether the citizenship of the other members of the proposed class was dispersed among a substantial number of states. The Tenth Circuit found the district court correctly determined that this factor weighed in favor of remand, as the number of Oklahoma citizens was about 2.5 times the number of citizens from any other state.

The sixth, and last, factor was whether, during the three-year period preceding the filing of the class action, one or more other class actions asserting the same or similar claims on behalf of the same or other persons had been filed. No other actions have been filed; therefore, this factor favors remand.

The Tenth Circuit determined that the district court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that each factor supported remand.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals AFFIRMED the decision remanding the case to state court.

Tenth Circuit: Appeal of Fracking Regulation Unripe Due to Uncertainty of Future

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in State of Wyoming v. Zinke on Thursday, September 21, 2017.

In this case, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is asked to decide whether the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acted beyond its statutory authority when it created a regulation that governed hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on lands owned by the United States.

As fracking has become more common, public concern has increased about whether fracking is contributing to contamination of underground water sources. The BLM responded by preparing a regulation that attempted to modernize the existing federal regulations governing fracking on lands owned by the United States by increasing disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking, updating the standards for wellbore construction and testing, and addressing management of water used in the fracking process.

The finalized, published fracking regulation attempted to regulate fracking in four ways: by (1) imposing new well construction and testing requirements; (2) imposing new flowback storage requirements; (3) imposing new chemical disclosure requirements; and (4) generally increasing BLM’s oversight of fracking.

Shortly before the fracking regulation was to take effect, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) filed a petition for review under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), opposing the new regulation. North Dakota, Utah, and the Ute Indian Tribe also intervened.

The petition for review asserted that the fracking regulation violated two provisions of the APA in two ways: (1) the regulation was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law; and (2) it was in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right.

The district court concluded that no statute authorized the BLM to regulate fracking. The district court reasoned that states may regulate underground injections of any substance, not the federal government. According to the district court, only the states could regulate fracking.

While the parties supporting the regulation brought an appeal, the BLM asked this court to hold these appeals in abeyance, explaining that President Trump’s Executive Order required the Department of the Interior to review its regulations, including the fracking regulation, for consistency with the policies and priorities of the new administration. Another Executive Order directed the Secretary of the Interior, as soon as practicable, to publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding the fracking regulation at issue. The Secretary of the Interior then stated that the BLM would rescind the regulation in full.

The issue addressed in this appeal is whether the BLM has the authority to regulate fracking on lands owned or held in trust by the United States and thereby to promulgate the fracking regulation. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the case was not ripe for review, as there was no hardship to the parties. The only harm suffered will be the continued operation of oil and gas development on federal lands, which represents no departure from the status quo since 2015. Further, the BLM will be able to proceed with its proposed rule rescinding the fracking regulation, and would face more uncertainty if these appeals were to remain under advisement. The appeal was held to be unripe and unfit for judicial review.

The Circuit dismissed the appeals, finding that the subject matter is unripe and the record is notably undeveloped or the future is particularly uncertain.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals DISMISSED the appeals as prudentially unripe, VACATED the district court’s judgment invalidating the fracking regulation, and REMANDED with instructions to dismiss the underlying action without prejudice.

Colorado Supreme Court: Taxpayer Entitled to File Statutory Claim for Relief After Expiration of Protest Period

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in OXY USA, Inc. v. Mesa County Board of Commissioners on Monday, November 13, 2017.

Tax Law—Taxpayer Error—Overvaluation

The supreme court holds that section 39-10-114(1)(a)(I)(A), C.R.S. (2017), allows abatement and refund for illegally or erroneously levied taxes based on overvaluation caused by taxpayer error. This result follows from the statute’s plain text that allows abatement for “overvaluation” without making a distinction between government- and taxpayer-caused overvaluations. The court rejects the court of appeals’ holding that Coquina Oil Corp. v. Larimer County Board of Equalization, 770 P.2d 1196 (Colo. 1989), and Boulder County Board of Commissioners v. HealthSouth Corp., 246 P.3d 948 (Colo. 2011), require a different result. Coquina was superseded by the 1991 legislative amendment that added “overvaluation” as a ground for abatement, and HealthSouth’s holding was limited to intentional taxpayer overvaluations. The supreme court reverses the judgment of the court of appeals and remands for further proceedings.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Class Did Not Cease to Exist When Settlement Entered

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in EnCana Oil & Gas (USA), Inc. v. Miller on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

Class Action Settlement—Arbitration Provision—C.R.C.P. 23—Survival of the Class.

A certified class of Colorado oil and gas royalty owners (the Class) and EnCana Oil & Gas (USA), Inc. (EnCana) litigated, beginning in 2005, EnCana’s alleged underpayment of royalties on natural gas it produced. In 2008, EnCana and the Class entered into a settlement agreement that detailed payment of funds to settle past claims, established the methodology EnCana would use for future royalty payments, and included an arbitration clause. The district court’s final judgment approved and incorporated the settlement agreement, dismissed the 2005 case with prejudice, and reserved jurisdiction to enforce the agreement. In 2016, oil and gas royalty owners (Owners), purporting to act on behalf of the Class, filed a demand for arbitration alleging EnCana had underpaid royalties owed to Class members in violation of the settlement agreement. EnCana filed a new case in district court asserting that (1) the class ceased to exist when the 2005 case was dismissed with prejudice in 2008, and (2) the 2008 settlement agreement did not authorize arbitration on a class-wide basis. The district court found that the class had not ceased to exist and the claims should be resolved in class-wide arbitration, and entered summary judgment against EnCana.

On appeal, EnCana contended that the district court erred in finding that the Class continued after the case was dismissed. The court of appeals determined that the Class survived the 2008 dismissal because (1) compliance with the settlement agreement became part of the dismissal order, so the district court retains jurisdiction to give effect to the agreement; and (2) the agreement continues for the lives of the leases or royalty agreements covered by the settlement agreement and expressly burdens and benefits successors and assigns of the parties.

EnCana also claimed that the district court failed to satisfy C.R.C.P. 23. The district court did not err in declining to engage in further Rule 23 analysis after the 2008 dismissal and judgment approving the settlement agreement.

The court next rejected EnCana’s contention that Class counsel failed to provide sufficient notice of the arbitration demand.

EnCana then argued it was error to determine that the settlement agreement contained a contractual basis to conclude that EnCana and the Class agreed to class arbitration. EnCana asserted that because the arbitration clause is silent on class arbitration, the district court should have presumed that the parties agreed to bilateral arbitration only. The settlement agreement explicitly names all members of a certified class as a party to the agreement, frames the disputes in class- or subclass-wide terms, and provides relief on a class- or subclass-wide basis. The arbitration clause’s context thus demonstrates an agreement to class rather than bilateral arbitration. Further, to conclude that the settlement agreement evidenced that the parties contemplated engaging in approximately 5,850 individual arbitrations to resolve future disputes rather than a single class arbitration would be absurd.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Public Utilities Commission has Exclusive Jurisdiction Over Claims for Enforcement of Tariffs

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Development Recovery Co., LLC v. Public Service Co. of Colorado on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

Public Utility—Subject Matter Jurisdiction—Enforcement of Tariffs—Common Law Claims.

The Public Service Company of Colorado, d/b/a Xcel Energy Co. (Xcel), is a utility company regulated by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Development Recovery Company, LLC (DRC) was the assignee of claims from real estate developers who entered into extension agreements (agreements) with Xcel for the construction of distribution facilities to provide gas or electric service for homes in new developments. The agreements specified that they were governed by the PUC’s rules and regulations and referred several times to Xcel’s extension policies. The extension policies on file with the PUC are referred to as tariffs and provide that extension contracts are based on the estimate of the cost to construct and install the necessary facilities to provide the requested service. The tariffs explain in detail how construction costs and payments are to be handled.

DRC filed a complaint against Xcel alleging various common law claims and violation of C.R.S. § 40-7-102, related to an unspecified number of agreements between developers and Xcel over the course of 18 years. Xcel moved to dismiss, arguing that this matter was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the PUC or, alternatively, if the PUC did not have exclusive jurisdiction, the court should nevertheless refer the matter to the PUC under the primary jurisdiction doctrine. The district court agreed with Xcel on both grounds and dismissed the complaint.

On appeal, DRC argued that the district court has exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over DRC’s common law claims, asserting that the trial court erred in concluding that the substance of its claims is merely the enforcement of tariffs. The court of appeals noted that the PUC has exclusive jurisdiction in its constituted field, including enforcement of tariffs. The court concluded that all of DRC’s claims substantively involved enforcement of the tariffs (essentially, how costs were to be calculated and paid). Further, even if DRC has a cause of action under C.R.S. § 40-7-102, exhaustion of administrative remedies before the PUC is required.

DRC also asserted that the district court must have jurisdiction because only it can award the relief sought. DRC cannot confer subject matter jurisdiction on the district court simply by requesting relief in the form of damages. Further, the PUC has authority to order reparations where excessive charges have been collected by a public utility for a product or service, which is a potential remedy in this case.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: County Assessor Authorized to Retroactively Assess Property Taxes on Oil and Gas Leaseholds

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Kinder Morgan CO2 Co., L.P. v. Montezuma County Board of Commissioners on Monday, June 19, 2017.

Oil and Gas—Property Taxation—Statutory Construction.

The supreme court reviewed the court of appeals’ conclusion that the Montezuma County Assessor had statutory authority to retroactively assess property taxes on oil and gas leaseholds operated by Kinder Morgan, after the assessor determined that Kinder Morgan had underreported the wellhead selling price of CO2 gas produced at the leaseholds. The court considered whether this assessment was authorized under the statute permitting retroactive property tax assessments when, pursuant to C.R.S. § 39-5-125(1), “taxable property has been omitted from the assessment roll.” Given Colorado’s self-reporting scheme for property taxation of oil and gas leaseholds and the legislature’s amendments to that scheme—which describe the “underreporting of the selling price or the quantity of oil and gas sold [from a leasehold]” as a form of omitted property, C.R.S. §§ 29-1-301(1) and 39-10-107(1)—the court concluded that the assessor had statutory authority to issue the assessment in this case. The court further concluded that the Board of Assessment Appeals did not err in determining that Kinder Morgan had underreported the wellhead selling price of CO2. The court therefore affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.