July 22, 2019

e-Legislative Report: Week Seven, February 27, 2012

The latest Legislative Video Update with Michael Valdez summarizes the Colorado Bar Association’s position on several bills, including Civil Unions, a bill concerning the Dissolution of Marraige, and Electronic Death Certificates.


CBA Legislative Policy Committee

The LPC did not meet on Friday, February 24. However, positions taken by the committee met on February 17 were omitted from last week’s newsletter due to this writer being out on sick-leave so this is an opportune time to catch you up on LPC positions taken. One position was taken on Wednesday, February 15.

SB 12-002 – Civil Unions
The LPC voted by conference call on Wednesday, February 15 to support SB 2 – Concerning Civil Unions. The Wednesday meeting was called because the bill suddenly appeared on the Judiciary Committee calendar late on Monday afternoon. The Civil Rights Committee had asked the LPC to take a formal “no position” on the bill; several sections countered with requests to the LPC to support the bill – with some needed technical corrections amendments. The sections supporting the bill were: Family, Juvenile, Elder, and Business (the Trust and Estate Section has since voted to support the bill). The LPC voted to support the bill but asked the sections to suggest and develop amendments to improve the bill. In a by-the-way note, this position is consistent with the position taken by the CBA Board of Governors in 2006 when the Board voted to support Referendum I – Domestic Partnerships. The bill passed the Judiciary and Finance Committees on February 15 and 16 respectively; the bill sits in the Appropriations Committee waiting to be calendared.

HB 12-1262 – Concerning Updates to UCC Article 9 “Secured Transactions”
At the request of the Business Law Section, the LPC voted to support HB 1262 – Updates to UCC Article 9. The bill contains needed updates to the 2001 statute that was adopted in Colorado. The ad hoc committee of the Business Law Section spent the last 24-months working through the amendments suggested by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Legislation (NCCUSL). The CBA testified in support of the bill on Thursday, February 23 and the bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee, unamended, on a 10-0 vote, with one excused. The next stop for the bill is the floor of the House on 2nd Reading.

HB 12-1256 – Formula for Maintenance in a Dissolution of Marriage Action
The Family Law Section was granted permission to oppose the legislation at the Capitol but the LPC also allowed the section to approach the sponsor to request the bill be pulled from consideration in this session and that a Task Force work over the summer to try to find a bill that all can agree upon. The sponsor, Rep. Beth McCann, agreed to table for 2012 and to the establishment of a Task Force on the issue that will be spearheaded by the CBA Family Law Section.

HB 12-1041 – Electronic Death Certificates
The Trust and Estate Section asked for permission to support HB 1041 – Concerning Electronic Death Certificates. The bill creates an electronic death registration system to allow persons who report death information to the Office of the State Registrar of Vital Statistics to do so electronically. The bill contemplates an alternative to the current paper based system that relies on the hand delivery of death certificates to required locations. We do not see a direct positive to practitioners but it should help their clients who sometimes have to wait for the paper filings to make their way through the hand delivery process. The bill is headed to the House floor after surviving the Appropriations Committee on Friday, February 24.

SB 12-002: Authorizing Civil Unions in Colorado

On January 11, 2012, Sen. Steadman introduced SB 12-002 – Concerning authorization of civil unions. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

The bill creates the “Colorado Civil Union Act” to authorize any two unmarried adults, regardless of gender, to enter into a civil union. Parties wanting to enter into a civil union apply to a county clerk and recorder for a civil union license. Certain persons may certify a civil union. After the civil union is certified, the officiant files the civil union certificate with the county clerk and recorder. A priest, minister, rabbi, or other official of a religious institution or denomination or an Indian nation or tribe is not required to certify a civil union in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion. The criteria for a valid civil union are set forth in the bill.

The executive director of the department of public health and environment and the state registrar of vital statistics shall issue forms necessary to implement the Act. Each county clerk and recorder submits records of registered civil unions to the office of vital statistics. A county clerk and recorder collects a fee for a civil union license, which fee is credited to the vital statistics records cash fund. The state registrar of vital statistics is authorized to set and collect an additional fee for verification of civil unions, which fee is credited to the vital statistics records cash fund. A county clerk and recorder collects a $20 fee to be credited to the Colorado domestic abuse program fund.

The bill lists the legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities that are granted under the law to spouses and states that the same shall apply in like manner to parties to a civil union.

The same processes that are provided in law for dissolution, legal separation, and declaration of invalidity of a marriage apply to dissolution, legal separation, and declaration of invalidity of a civil union. Any person who enters into a civil union in Colorado consents to the jurisdiction of the courts of Colorado for the purpose of any action relating to a civil union even if one or both parties cease to reside in the state. The courts are directed to follow the laws of Colorado in a matter filed in Colorado that is seeking a dissolution, legal separation, or invalidity of a civil union that was entered into in another state. The courts are authorized to collect docket fees for the dissolution of a civil union, legal separation of a civil union, and declaration of invalidity of a civil union.

The Act shall not be construed to create a marriage between the parties to a civil union or alter the public policy of this state that recognizes only the union of one man and one woman as a marriage. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the Act shall not be interpreted to require a child placement agency to place a child for adoption with parties to a civil union.

The Act includes a reciprocity and principle of comity section that states that a relationship between persons of the same sex that does not comply with section 31 of article II of the state constitution that is legally entered into in another jurisdiction is deemed in Colorado to be a civil union and that, under principles of comity, a civil union, domestic partnership, or a substantially similar legal relationship that is legally created in another jurisdiction is deemed to be a civil union for purposes of Colorado law.

A severability clause is included in the Act.

The executive director of the department of revenue is authorized to appoint a study commission to investigate and report on what changes in the law could be made to ensure equitable tax treatment and to allow parties to a civil union to file a joint state tax return without violating the federal tax laws. Until a statutory change is enacted to authorize the filing of a joint state tax return by parties to a civil union, the Act shall not be construed to permit the filing of a joint income tax return by the parties to a civil union.

A custodian of records is prohibited from allowing a person, other than the person in interest or an immediate family member of the person in interest, to inspect the application for a civil union license of any person; except that a district court may order the custodian to permit inspection of the license application for a civil union upon a showing of good cause.

A person who has entered into a designated beneficiary agreement under Colorado’s designated beneficiary statute is precluded from entering into a civil union with a different person. If both parties to a designated beneficiary agreement are eligible to enter into a valid civil union and subsequently enter into a civil union, the civil union certificate constitutes a superseding legal document that supersedes and invalidates the prior designated beneficiary agreement.

The bill makes other conforming amendments.

The bill takes effect October 1, 2012; except that the provision relating to the inclusion of a partner in a civil union as a dependent on a health insurance policy takes effect January 1, 2013.

Summaries of other featured bills can be found here.