March 22, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: BAA Did Not Err in Determining Contiguous Parcel was “Vacant Land”

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Martin Trust v. Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, February 7, 2019.

Taxation—Property Tax—Residential Property—Vacant Land.

The Martins bought two adjacent parcels of land in La Plata County. The east parcel (the residential parcel) contains the Martins’ home on a .62-acre lot, and the west parcel (the adjacent lot) is an unimproved .72-acre lot that adjoins the residential parcel’s western boundary. For tax year 2014, the Martin Family Partnership, LLLP (the partnership) held the title to the adjacent lot and the Martins held the title to the residential parcel as joint tenants. The partnership and the Martins thereafter transferred title to both parcels to the Martin Trust (the Trust), which held the titles for tax years 2015 to 2016.

The County Assessor classified the adjacent lot as vacant land for tax years 2014 to 2016, and the Trust sought to have it reclassified as residential. It appealed the Assessor’s decision to the Board of Equalization of La Plata County and the Board of County Commissioners of La Plata County (collectively, the Boards). The Boards denied both appeals. The Trust appealed those decisions to the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA). The BAA upheld the County Assessor’s 2014 classification of the adjacent lot as vacant land, finding that the parcels were not under common ownership because they were separately titled and the owners were “separate and distinct legal entities.” For the 2015 to 2016 classifications, the BAA partially granted the Trust’s appeal, stating it was persuaded by the Trust’s claim that there would be a loss of views if a residence was constructed on the adjacent lot. But the BAA determined that only two-thirds of the adjacent lot was used as a unit in conjunction with the residential parcel for maintaining views from that parcel, and on that basis, it ordered that only the two-thirds portion of the adjacent lot be reclassified as residential.

On appeal, the Trust contended that the BAA erred when it concluded that the adjacent lot was vacant land for tax year 2014 and partly vacant land for tax years 2015 to 2016. Conversely, the Boards contended that the BAA erred when it reclassified the adjacent lot as residential land for tax years 2015 to 2016. The majority concluded that for two contiguous parcels of land to both qualify as “residential land” (1) one parcel must have a residence on it, (2) the other must have a man-made structure or water rights that are an integral part of the use of the residence on the neighboring parcel, and (3) the land must be used as a unit in conjunction with the residential improvements on the parcels. Further, the requirement that contiguous parcels be used as a unit does not include the “use” of vacant land by looking across it at objects beyond the land. Here, there is no evidence that there are any structures on the adjacent lot that are an integral part of the residence on the residential parcel. Therefore, the adjacent lot does not qualify as residential land.

The BAA’s order for tax year 2014 denying residential land designation regarding the adjacent lot was affirmed, and the order for tax years 2015 to 2016 granting such designation for the adjacent lot was reversed. The case was remanded for issuance of an order consistent with the majority’s opinion.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Limitations Period for Invalidating Conservation Easement Tax Credit Begins when Donor Claims Credit

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in State of Colorado v. Medved on Monday, January 14, 2019.

Conservation Easement Tax Credits—Statute of Limitations.

The supreme court held that the statute of limitations period within which the Colorado Department of Revenue (the Department) may invalidate a conservation easement (CE) tax credit begins when the CE donor first claims the CE tax credit.

In this case, the transferees of a portion of CE tax credit claimed the credit before the donor/transferor did. The Department later disallowed the credit in its entirety. The transferees argued that the statute of limitations period began when they claimed the credit and that the Department disallowed the credit too late. The Department asserted, in accordance with its regulation, that the period began when the donor/transferor claimed the credit and that the disallowance occurred before the period expired.

C.R.S. § 39-22-522(7)(i) states that the CE donor shall “represent[] and bind[] the transferees with respect to . . . the statute of limitations.” Based on the plain language of the statute, the Court concluded that the statute of limitations period begins only when the CE donor first claims the CE tax credit. Thus, the limitations period here had not expired when the Department disallowed the claimed credit. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: City Improperly Imposed Use Tax on Purchases from Wholesalers that were Later Sold at Retail

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Big Sur Waterbeds, Inc. v. City of Lakewood on Thursday, October 4, 2018.

Sales and Use TaxDisplayed Furniture—Primary Purpose of Purchase.

The City of Lakewood (Lakewood) imposes use tax on tangible personal property purchased at retail and used in the city. The use tax does not apply to wholesale purchases (i.e., purchases for resale to others). Big Sur Waterbeds, Inc., Denver Mattress Co., LLC, and Sofa Mart, LLC (collectively, plaintiffs) purchase furniture tax-free from wholesalers worldwide and resell it in stores, including in Lakewood. At each Lakewood store, plaintiffs provide a showroom where they display furniture for customers to peruse and try out. Plaintiffs also maintain warehouses where they store the bulk of their inventory. Plaintiffs ultimately sell all the furniture, including the displayed furniture, and fill customer orders from either the warehouses or the showrooms. Plaintiffs’ customers pay Lakewood’s sales tax on each purchase.

Lakewood assessed use tax on plaintiffs’ purchases of displayed furniture from 2012 to 2015, on the theory that plaintiffs purchased the displayed furniture at retail for their own use in advertising their products. Plaintiffs challenged the assessments in the district court, which entered judgment in their favor.

On appeal, Lakewood contended that while plaintiffs’ inventory purchases were initially treated as exempt wholesale purchases, when a portion of this wholesale inventory was withdrawn for use as demonstration and promotion tools, the transactions were properly recharacterized as taxable retail transactions. Lakewood relied on its Initial Use Regulation and regulation 3.01.300(1)(b), pertaining to initial use of property, which focus on the primary purpose of the purchase. The court of appeals employed the “primary purpose” test from A.B. Hirschfeld Press, Inc. v. City and County of Denver, 806 P.2d 917, 918–26 (Colo. 1991), and determined that the totality of plaintiffs’ conduct indicates that they purchased the displayed furniture primarily for resale in an unaltered condition and basically unused. Because plaintiffs purchased the displayed furniture primarily for resale, not for their own use or consumption, the Initial Use Regulation does not apply. Similarly, regulation 3.01.300(1)(b), which pertains to tax-free purchases for resale that are later removed from inventory for the purchaser’s own use, does not apply because the displayed furniture was always available for resale and eventually sold. Therefore, Lakewood’s use tax does not apply to the retailers’ purchases and minor use of the furniture for display.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Special District Act Does Not Require Consent of Mineral Estate Owners to Expand Boundaries of District

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Bill Barrett Corp. v. Lembke on Thursday, September 6, 2018.

Preliminary InjunctionSpecial DistrictMineral EstatesPower to TaxSummary Judgment.

In 2009, the Sand Hills Metropolitan District (Sand Hills) included the 70 Ranch within its boundaries and began assessing ad valorem taxes on the oil and gas extracted from the mineral estate. Plaintiffs Bill Barrett Corporation and Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc., and intervenor Noble Energy, Inc. (lessees), challenged these taxes and obtained summary judgment in Weld County District Court. Both sides appealed. In that appeal, the division agreed with the district court that when Sand Hills included the 70 Ranch it was a material departure from its 2004 service plan, which required approval from the Weld County Board of County Commissioners. Because that approval had not been obtained, the division held that Sand Hills lacked taxing authority after 2009.

Following entry of the summary judgment and before the Sand Hills appeal was filed, Lembke and 70 Ranch, LLC (the LLC) (collectively, defendants) petitioned South Beebe Draw Metropolitan District (South Beebe) to include the 70 Ranch. Defendants owned the surface estate where all of lessees’ well heads are located. Lessees were not notified of this action. South Beebe resolved to include the 70 Ranch, and the Adams County District Court approved the inclusion. Lessees filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent South Beebe from taxing oil and gas that lessees produce from the mineral estate underlying the 70 Ranch. The trial court denied the motion and entered summary judgment that under C.R.S. § 32-1-401, the severed mineral estate underlying the 70 Ranch could not be included within South Beebe because all the owners and lessees of that estate did not petition for and consent to inclusion. Lessees obtained a temporary restraining order in the Weld County District Court that prohibited the Weld County Treasurer, who had collected the disputed taxes, from disbursing the monies to South Beebe. Venue was transferred to Adams County and, following an evidentiary hearing on lessees’ motion for a preliminary injunction, the court found lessees had not shown a reasonable probability of success on the merits and denied the motion. Later, the court entered a final judgment against lessees on their C.R.S. § 32-1-401 claim. Lessees appealed and asked that the status quo be preserved by enjoining the treasurer from disbursing taxes collected to South Beebe. A motions division granted the request.

On appeal, lessees argued that without their consent and that of the other mineral estate owners, the 70 Ranch, or at least the underlying mineral estate, could not have been included within South Beebe. South Beebe responded that because the mineral and surface estates were severed, only the surface owners needed to petition for and consent to inclusion, and all of them did. The court of appeals first held that mineral estate owners are “fee owners,” but lessees are not. Next, because the parties agreed and the record supports that not all of the mineral estate owners consented to the 70 Ranch’s inclusion, the court considered whether South Beebe’s services can benefit the mineral estate. Because lessees did not argue that the mineral estate owners would benefit from the inclusion, the court concluded that lack of consent by all mineral estate owners did not preclude South Beebe from taxing lessees. Consequently, the court affirmed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment as to lessee’s C.R.S. § 32-1-401(1)(a) claim.

Lessees also challenged the trial court’s ruling that lessees had not shown a reasonable probability of successfully establishing that South Beebe had violated C.R.S. § 32-1-207(2)(a) by failing to obtain Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approval for a material change in its service plan, because it had obtained approval from the planning commission. However, the court found that the actions of the planning commission and other officials did not satisfy the requirement that South Beebe had to obtain BOCC approval for a material modification of its service plan. Therefore, lessees have a reasonable probability of success in establishing that South Beebe did not obtain the requisite BOCC approval. Further, the trial court dissolved the temporary restraining order and denied a preliminary injunction on this ground alone, without considering the other factors set forth in Rathke v. MacFarlane, 648 P.2d 648, 651 (Colo. 1982).

Lessees also argued that it was error to conclude that South Beebe’s inclusion of the 70 Ranch was not a material modification. Boundary changes alone are presumptively not material modifications, and the court found that inclusion of the 70 Ranch was just a boundary change. Thus, the trial court acted within its discretion in ruling that lessees had not shown a reasonable probability of success in challenging inclusion of the 70 Ranch as an unapproved material modification.

Finally, lessees argued that under C.R.S. § 32-1-107(2), South Beebe could not levy and collect taxes to support services if those services are already being provided by another special district (in this case, Sand Hills). The court agreed with the trial court that the statute prohibits overlapping services, not merely overlapping territory. Here, no party asked the court to resolve the factual question of overlapping services, thus the question of whether the services were overlapping was not properly before the court.

The summary judgment on lessees’ C.R.S. § 32-1-401(1)(a) claim was affirmed. The order denying lessees’ motion for a preliminary injunction was vacated. The case was remanded for the trial court to make findings on the remaining Rathke factors and reconsider whether to enter a preliminary injunction. The temporary injunction will remain in effect until the trial court enters its renewed ruling on the motion for preliminary injunction.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Assessor Authorized to Reevaluate Property in Non-Tax Year if Original Assessment Incorrect when Originally Done

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Thibodeau v. Denver County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, August 23, 2018.

Revaluation of Taxes—Incorrect Original Valuation—Equal Protection—Colorado Constitution’s Uniformity Clause.

Thibodeau purchased a residence in 2013. Earlier that year, the property was valued at $803,800 for ad valorem tax purposes. In 2014, it was revalued at $1,169,700. Thibodeau unsuccessfully protested the increase with the City and County of Denver Assessor’s Office before petitioning for abatement from the Denver County Board of Commissioners, sitting as the Denver County Board of Equalization (BOE). He argued that it was error to reassess the property in an intervening year because no unusual condition existed. The BOE rejected his claim and upheld the reassessment.

Thibodeau appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA), which concluded that the mischaracterization of the property’s condition as average, rather than good, had led to an incorrect 2013 assessment, and therefore the assessor was permitted to correct the assessment in the intervening year.

On appeal, Thibodeau argued that the BAA erred in upholding the reassessment because C.R.S. § 39-1-104(11)(b)(1) only allows redeterminations in intervening years when unusual conditions exist, and no unusual conditions existed. C.R.S. § 39-1-104(11)(b)(1) authorizes assessors to correct incorrect property assessments in intervening years to set the value at what it would have been set in the assessment year had the mistake not occurred. Further adjustments cannot be made absent proof of an unusual condition. Here, the assessor’s records indicated that the property had not been remodeled since its construction in 1938. But after the assessment was completed in 2013, the property was listed for sale with pictures and a description showing renovations and remodeling. Thibodeau did not present evidence that the BOE’s corrected value was incorrect. Conversely, there was competent evidence that the original assessment was incorrect due to a misidentification of the condition of the property. Accordingly, the assessor was permitted and required to correct the assessment in 2014.

Thibodeau also argued that the BOE’s off-cycle reassessment violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Here, no fundamental right or suspect class was implicated. The assessment was based on discovery of an incorrect determination of the property’s condition, not because of the property’s sale, and similarly situated properties also undergo the sales verification process. The court of appeals found no equal protection concerns.

Thibodeau further argued that the revaluation violated the Colorado Constitution’s Uniformity Clause. The protections of this clause are coextensive with the federal Equal Protection Clause, and because there was no equal protection violation, this argument failed as well.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Board Correctly Ruled that Contiguous Vacant Parcel Not “Used As a Unit” Within Residential Parcel

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Twilight Ridge, LLC v. Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, July 27, 2018.

Property Tax—C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a)Used as a UnitVacant Land.

The Robinsons are the sole members of Twilight Ridge, LLC (Twilight), a Colorado limited liability company. In 2013 Twilight purchased two contiguous platted parcels of land in La Plata County. The first parcel has a home on it (the Residential Parcel). The second parcel is a 0.763 acre buildable but undeveloped lot (the Subject Parcel).

The La Plata County Assessor classified the Subject Parcel as vacant land. Twilight appealed the decision for the 2014 to 2015 tax years to the Board of County Commissioners of La Plata County and it appealed the decision for the 2016 tax year to the Board of Equalization for La Plata County, arguing to both bodies (collectively, the County) that the Subject Parcel should be reclassified as residential land. The County upheld the County Assessor’s classification.

Twilight appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA). At a consolidated hearing, Mr. Robinson testified that he and his wife bought the two parcels together so that the Subject Parcel would give them privacy, serve as a buffer to prevent any potential house built on the subject property from impeding their views, and provide a place for their grandchildren to play when they visited. Further, although he was currently offering only the Residential Parcel for sale, Robinson intended to sell both parcels together.

Twilight also offered testimony by the Colorado Division of Property Taxation’s deputy director, who was designated by the Property Tax Administrator (PTA) to testify regarding the Division’s policies as embodied in the PTA’s Assessors’ Reference Library (ARL). The County provided the testimony of its appraisers, who had visited the parcels and seen no activity or evidence of use on the Subject Parcel when she visited. The La Plata County Assessor also testified that using the Subject Parcel as a place for children to play and protect a view were “incidental” uses and not the “integral” use of the Subject Parcel in conjunction with the residential improvements that would warrant classifying it as residential. The BAA upheld the County’s classification.

On appeal, Twilight argued that the BAA misconstrued the “used as a unit” element of C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a) and made clearly erroneous findings of fact. The BAA’s conclusion that Twilight did not satisfy its burden of proving that the Subject Parcel was used as a unit with the residential parcel is consistent with the ARL and the testimony at the hearing that “used as a unit” contemplates integral, not merely incidental, use.

The orders were affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Landowner’s Potential Future Sale of Lot Irrelevant to Determination of Whether Property Residential

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Hogan v. Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, June 14, 2018.

Property Tax—Residential Property.

The Hogans own three connected and contiguous parcels of land in Summit County (the County). Lot 1 has a home built on it. The Hogans built a deck extending from their home across the boundary line onto Lot 2. Lot 3 is located in a subdivision and has an underground sewer line and an unpaved driveway installed by the original developer of the subdivision, but otherwise remains undeveloped. The Summit County Assessor denied the Hogans’ request to reclassify Lot 3 as residential, determining it to be vacant land for purposes of taxation. The Hogans appealed, and the Board of County Commissioners of Summit County (Board) upheld the Assessor’s classification. The Hogans appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA), which upheld the Assessor’s classification.

On appeal, the Hogans asserted that the BAA erred in determining that Lot 3 was not “used as a unit in conjunction with the residential improvements.” The primary factor for determining property classification for property tax purposes is the property’s actual use on the relevant assessment date. Here, the BAA considered the likelihood of the parcel being conveyed separately, whether the parcel’s use was necessary or essential to qualify as integral, and whether the use of the parcel was active as opposed to passive. The BAA misapplied the law by relying on the possible future conveyance of Lot 3 as a separate unit without reference to how that possibility related to the Hogans’ current use of the parcel. The BAA further erred in interpreting the statute to require that the parcel’s use be a necessary or essential part of the residence. Finally, the use of the contiguous parcel need not be “active” as opposed to “passive.” Here, there is no evidence in the record that Lot 3 was used for a nonresidential purpose.

Lastly, the court of appeals rejected the BAA’s and the County’s arguments that the case could be affirmed on different grounds.

The BAA’s order was reversed and the case was remanded.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Lieutenant Governor Lynne Signs Final Bills of 2018 Legislative Session

On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne signed the final bills of the 2018 legislative session into law in Governor Hickenlooper’s absence. Lt. Gov. Lynne signed 35 bills into law. During the 2018 legislative session, 421 bills were signed into law, 9 were vetoed, and 2 were sent to the Secretary of State without a signature. The bills signed Wednesday are summarized here.

  • SB 18-015 – “Concerning the ‘Protecting Homeowners and Deployed Military Personnel Act,'” by Sens. Bob Gardner & Owen Hill and Reps. Dave Williams & Larry Liston. The bill directs a peace officer to remove a person from a residential premises and to order the person to remain off the premises if the owner or owner’s authorized agent (declarant) swears to a declaration making specified statements concerning ownership of the premises and the lack of authority for the person or persons who are on the premises to be there.
  • SB 18-038 – “Concerning the Allowable Uses of Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater, and, in Connection Therewith, Allowing Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater to be Used for Industrial Hemp Cultivation and Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Kerry Donovan & Don Coram and Reps. Daneya Esgar & Yeulin Willett. The bill codifies rules promulgated by the water quality control commission of the Colorado department of public health and environment concerning allowable uses of reclaimed domestic wastewater, which is wastewater that has been treated for subsequent reuses other than drinking water.
  • SB 18-068 – “Concerning Criminalizing False Reports,” by Sens. John Cooke & Kevin Van Winkle and Rep. Jeff Bridges. Under current law, there is a crime of false reporting to authorities. The bill creates a crime of false reporting of an emergency by criminalizing an act of false reporting to authorities that includes a false report of an imminent threat to the safety of a person or persons by use of a deadly weapon.
  • SB 18-225 – “Concerning the Definition of an Early College for Purposes of the ‘Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act,'” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. Under the existing statute, an early college is not subject to the requirements of the ‘Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act’. The bill amends the definition of ‘early college’ to specify that an early college must provide only a curriculum that is designed to be completed within 4 years and includes concurrent enrollment in high school and postsecondary courses such that, when a student completes the curriculum, the student has attained a high school diploma and a postsecondary credential or at least 60 credit hours toward completion of a postsecondary credential.
  • SB 18-245 – “Concerning the Disposal of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials,” by Sen. John Cooke and Rep. Jeni James Arndt. Current law allows the state board of health to adopt rules concerning the disposal of naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) only after the federal environmental protection agency has adopted rules concerning the disposal of NORM. The EPA has not adopted the rules. The bill repeals this prohibition and requires the state board to adopt rules, which must also regulate technologically enhanced NORM (TENORM), by December 31, 2020.
  • SB 18-250 – “Concerning the Provision of Jail-based Behavioral Health Services, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Bob Gardner & Kent Lambert and Reps. Pete Lee & Dave Young. The bill continues to allow the correctional treatment cash fund to be used to provide treatment for persons with mental and behavioral health disorders who are being served through the jail-based behavioral health services program.
  • SB 18-251 – “Concerning Establishing a Statewide Behavioral Health Court Liaison Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sens. Bob Gardner & Kent Lambert and Reps. Dave Young & Pete Lee. The bill establishes in the office of the state court administrator a statewide behavioral health court liaison program. The purpose of the program is to identify and dedicate local behavioral health professionals as court liaisons in each state judicial district to facilitate communication and collaboration among judicial, health care, and behavioral health systems.
  • SB 18-255 – “Concerning the Use of Electronic Formats in the Issuance of Certificates of Title for Vehicles,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Jeni James Arndt & Edie Hooten. Current law provides that a record may not be denied effect merely because it is electronic. The bill clarifies that this applies to documents needed to obtain a certificate of title and electronic signatures.
  • SB 18-259 – “Concerning the Taxation of Retail Marijuana by Local Governments, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Sen. Jim Smallwood and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill imposes general taxation requirements on local government.
  • SB 18-267 – “Concerning the Creation of the Justice Center Maintenance Fund,” by Sens. John Kefalas & Randy Baumgardner and Reps. Jon Becker & Chris Hansen. The bill creates the justice center maintenance fund that consists of money appropriated by the general assembly to the maintenance fund from the justice center cash fund to be used for controlled maintenance needs of the Ralph L. Carr Colorado judicial center.
  • SB 18-269 – “Concerning Providing Funding for Local Education Providers to Implement School Security Improvements to Prevent Incidences of School Violence, and, in Connection Therewith, Creating the School Security Disbursement Program,” by Sens. Tim Neville & Dominick Moreno and Reps. Patrick Neville & Jeff Bridges. The bill creates the school security disbursement program in the department of public safety. A school district, charter school, institute charter school, or board of cooperative services may apply for a disbursement by submitting an application to the department. A disbursement recipient may use the money for one or more of the purposes specified in the bill, which include building improvements to enhance security and training for school personnel.
  • SB 18-280 – “Concerning a Transfer from the General Fund to the Tobacco Litigation Settlement Cash Fund to be Allocated to the Programs, Services, and Funds that Currently Receive Tobacco Litigation Settlement Money,” by Sen. Kent Lambert and Rep. Millie Hamner. The bill requires the state treasurer to transfer $19,965,068 from the general fund to the tobacco litigation settlement cash fund on July 1, 2018. This money is allocated for the 2018-19 fiscal year to the programs, services, and funds that receive tobacco litigation settlement money to supplement the allocation of settlement money that those programs, services, and funds will otherwise receive.
  • HB 18-1042 – “Concerning the Creation of a Program to Authorize Private Providers to Register Commercial Vehicles as Class A Personal Property, and, in Connection Therewith, Making and Reducing an Appropriation,” by Reps. Jon Becker & Joann Ginal and Sens. Ray Scott & Rachel Zenzinger. The bill creates the expedited registration program. The program authorizes the department of revenue to promulgate rules authorizing private providers to register interstate commercial vehicles. The provider may collect and retain a convenience fee.
  • HB 18-1077 – “Concerning the Penalty for a Person who Commits Burglary to Acquire Firearms, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Larry Liston & Donald Valdez and Sens. Leroy Garcia & Ray Scott. In current law, second degree burglary is a class 4 felony, but it is a class 3 felony under 2 specified circumstances. The bill designates a third type of second degree burglary as a class 3 felony: that is, a burglary, the objective of which is the theft of one or more firearms or ammunition.
  • HB 18-1146 – “Concerning the Continuation Under the Sunset Law of the Measurement Standards Law,” by Rep. Jovan Melton and Sen. Don Coram. The bill implements the recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies in its sunset review and report on the measurement standards law by extending the law for 15 years.
  • HB 18-1156 – “Concerning Limitations on Penalties for Truancy,” by Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. Chris Holbert. The bill clarifies in the Colorado Children’s Code and in the ‘School Attendance Law of 1963’ that a ‘delinquent act’ does not include truancy or habitual truancy. A child who is habitually truant and who refuses to follow a plan to rehabilitate his or her truancy may be subject to various sanctions by the court in a truancy proceeding.
  • HB 18-1200 – “Concerning Cybercrime, and, in Connection Therewith, Criminalizing Using a Computer to Engage in Prostitution of a Minor, Criminalizing Skimming Payment Cards, Making Changes to the Penalty Structure for Cybercrime, and Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Paul Lundeen & Alec Garnett and Sens. Rhonda Fields & Don Coram. The bill changes the name of the crime computer crime to cybercrime. The bill makes soliciting, arranging, or offering to arrange a situation in which a minor may engage in prostitution, by means of using a computer, computer network, computer system, or any part thereof, a cybercrime.
  • HB 18-1218 – “Concerning the Definition of a Charitable Organization for Purposes of State Sales and Use Tax, and, in Connection Therewith, Removing the Limitation that a Veterans’ Organization Only Gets the Charitable Organization Exemption for Purposes of Sponsoring a Special Event, Meeting, or Other Function in the State, So Long as Such Event, Meeting, or Function is Not Part of the Organization’s Regular Activities in the State,” by Reps. Terri Carver & Jovan Melton and Sens. Nancy Todd & Larry Crowder. The bill makes state law consistent with federal law and will treat veterans’ organizations registered under section 501 (c)(19) of the federal internal revenue code the same way as veterans’ organizations registered under section 501 (c)(3) of the federal internal revenue code.
  • HB 18-1234 – “Concerning Clarification of the Laws Governing Simulated Gambling Activity,” by Reps. KC Becker & Paul Lundeen and Sen. Kent Lambert. The bill amends the definitions of key terms such as ‘gambling’, ‘prize’, and ‘simulated gambling device’ as used in the criminal statutes governing simulated gambling devices and specifies that unlawful offering of a simulated gambling device occurs if a person receives payment indirectly or in a nonmonetary form for use of a simulated gambling device.
  • HB 18-1302 – “Concerning the Allowance of the Department of Public Health and Environment to Waive Certification Requirements for Toxicology Laboratories that have been Accredited by an Entity Using Recognized Forensic Standards,” by Reps. Joann Ginal & Lois Landgraf and Sen. Vicki Marble. Current law allows the department of public health and environment to waive certain certification requirements for toxicology laboratories that are accredited by the American board of forensic toxicology or the international standards organization. The bill changes the waiver requirement to allow the department to waive certification requirements if the laboratory is accredited by an entity using nationally or internationally recognized forensic standards.
  • HB 18-1303 – “Concerning Exemption of Nonprofit Youth Sports Organization Coaches from the ‘Colorado Employment Security Act,'” by Reps. Cole Wist & Alec Garnett and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill exempts from the definition of ’employment’ under the ‘Colorado Employment Security Act’ nonprofit youth sports organization coaches if there is a written agreement between the coach and the organization that meets certain requirements, including a statement that the coach is an independent contractor.
  • HB 18-1313 – “Concerning the Allowance of a Pharmacist to Serve as a Practitioner under Certain Circumstances,” by Reps. Joann Ginal & Jon Becker and Sens. Irene Aguilar & Kevin Priola. The bill clarifies that a licensed and qualified pharmacist may serve as a practitioner and prescribe over-the-counter medication under the ‘Colorado Medical Assistance Act’ and a statewide drug therapy protocol pursuant to a collaborative pharmacy practice agreement.
  • HB 18-1314 – “Concerning Prohibiting the Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems to Obstruct Public Safety Operations,” by Reps. Joann Ginal & Polly Lawrence and Sen. John Cooke. The bill states that, as used in the existing criminal offense of obstructing a peace officer, firefighter, emergency medical service provider, rescue specialist, or volunteer, the term ‘obstacle’ includes an unmanned aircraft system.
  • HB 18-1335 – “Concerning the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, and, in Connection Therewith, Establishing Eligibility Requirements for All Counties and Creating a New Formula to Determine the Amount of Block Grants to Counties,” by Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kevin Lundberg. For providers under the Colorado child care assistance program, the bill requires the state department of human services, in consultation with the counties, annually to contract for a market rate study of provider rates for each county.
  • HB 18-1342 – “Concerning a Requirement that a Common Interest Community Created in Colorado Before July 1, 1992, Comply with a Provision of the ‘Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act’ that Allows a Majority of the Unit Owners in a Common Interest Community to Veto a Budget Proposed by the Executive Board of the Common Interest Community,” by Rep. Jovan Melton and Sen. Nancy Todd. The bill requires a common interest community that predates the Act to allow its unit owners to veto, by majority vote, a budget proposed by the common interest community’s executive board; except that the bill does not apply to a common interest community that predates the Act if the common interest community’s declaration sets a maximum assessment amount or provides a limit on the amount that the common interest community’s annual budget may be increased.
  • HB 18-1350 – “Concerning the Sales and Use Tax Treatment of Equipment Used to Manufacture New Metal Stock from Scrap or End-of-Life-Cycle Metals, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Sen. Kevin Priola. Purchases of machinery or machine tools to be used in Colorado directly and predominantly in manufacturing tangible personal property are currently exempt from state sales and use tax. Manufacturing is currently defined to include the processing of recovered materials. The bill expands the definition of recovered materials to include materials that have been derived from scrap metal or end-of-life-cycle metals for remanufacturing, reuse, or recycling into new metal stock that meets applicable standards for metal commodities sales.
  • HB 18-1363 – “Concerning Legislative Recommendations of the Child Support Commission, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Reps. Jonathan Singer & Lois Landgraf and Sen. Larry Crowder. The bill implements several recommendations from the child support commission.
  • HB 18-1373 – “Concerning the Use of the State Telecommunications Network by Private Entities Through Public-Private Partnerships, and, in Connection Therewith, Relocating Laws Related to the State Telecommunications Network from the Department of Public Safety’s Statutes to the Statutes Regarding Telecommunications Coordination within State Government,” by Reps. Jon Becker & Chris Hansen and Sens. Randy Baumgardner & John Kefalas. The bill authorizes private entities to use the state telecommunications network through public-private partnerships considered, evaluated, and accepted by the chief information officer and relocates laws related to the state telecommunications network from the department of public safety’s statutes to the statutes regarding telecommunications coordination within state government.
  • HB 18-1402 – “Concerning Authorization for the State Treasurer to Invest State Money in Investment Grade Securities Issued by Sovereign, National, and Supranational Entities,” by Reps. Polly Lawrence & Dave Young and Sens. Bob Gardner & Angela Williams. The bill authorizes the state treasurer to invest state money in securities issued by a sovereign, national, or supranational entity that are rated at least investment grade by a nationally recognized rating organization.
  • HB 18-1405 – “Concerning an Exception from the Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Persons Providing Legal Assistance to Area Agencies on Aging,” by Rep. Pete Lee and Sen. Bob Gardner. Under current law, staff, and staff of contracted providers, of area agencies on aging are mandatory reporters of the mistreatment of an at-risk elder or an at-risk adult with an intellectual and developmental disability. The bill creates a mandatory reporter exception for attorneys at law providing legal assistance to individuals pursuant to a contract with an area agency on aging, the staff of such attorneys at law.
  • HB 18-1410 – “Concerning Measures to Address Prison Population Increases,” by Reps. Pete Lee & Leslie Herod and Sens. Kevin Lundberg & Daniel Kagan. The bill requires the department of corrections to track the prison bed vacancy rate in both correctional facilities and state-funded private contract prison beds on a monthly basis. If the vacancy rate falls below 2% for 30 consecutive days, the department shall notify the governor, the joint budget committee, the parole board, each elected district attorney, the chief judge of each judicial district, the state public defender, and the office of community corrections in the department of public safety.
  • HB 18-1421 – “Concerning the Procurement Process for Major Information Technology Projects Undertaken by State Agencies, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation,” by Rep. Bob Rankin and Sens. Kent Lambert & Jack Tate. The bill requires internal process changes in connection with the procurement process for major information technology (IT) projects as specified.
  • HB 18-1422 – “Concerning Requirements for Marijuana Testing Facilities,” by Rep. Matt Gray and Sen. Cheri Jahn. The bill requires medical and retail marijuana testing facilities to be accredited pursuant to the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission 17025:2005 standard by a body that is itself recognized by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation by January 1, 2019.
  • HB 18-1429 – “Concerning the Exemption of the Workers’ Compensation Cash Fund from the Maximum Reserve,” by Rep. Millie Hamner and Sen. Kent Lambert. Prior to July 1, 2017, the workers’ compensation cash fund was exempt from the maximum reserve for a cash fund, which limits the year-end uncommitted reserves in a cash fund to 16.5% of the amount expended from the cash fund during the fiscal year. The bill once again exempts the workers’ compensation cash fund from the maximum reserve.
  • HB 18-1437 – “Concerning Eliminating the Requirement that a Person who Participates in College-level Academic Programs through the Correctional Education Program in the Department of Corrections must Bear Entirely the Costs Associated with such Programs,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sen. Tim Neville. Under current law, the correctional education program in the department of corrections is required to provide every person in a correctional facility who demonstrates college-level aptitudes with the opportunity to participate in college-level academic programs that may be offered within the correctional facility. The bill removes this stipulation concerning costs and states instead that such costs may be borne through private, local, or federally funded gifts, grants, donations, or scholarships, or by such persons themselves, or through any combination of such funding.

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

Colorado Court of Appeals: Determining Ownership Requires Examining Right to Possess, Use, and Control Property

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Kelly v. Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Property Tax—Residential Land—Common Ownership—Vacant Land—C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a).

Kelly purchased two adjacent parcels of land in Summit County. She built a home on one parcel and left the subject parcel vacant. Sometime later, Kelly placed the residential parcel in an irrevocable trust and the subject parcel in a revocable family trust. Kelly was the settlor, trustee, and beneficiary of both trusts.

For tax purposes, the Summit County Assessor classified the residential parcel as residential land but the subject parcel as vacant land, which is taxed at a higher rate. In 2016, Kelly appealed the subject parcel’s classification to the Summit County Board of County Commissioners, requesting that it be reclassified as residential under C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a), and sought a tax abatement for the tax years 2014 and 2015. The County denied the petition. The Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA) affirmed, finding that because the two parcels were owned by two separate trusts, they were not commonly owned and therefore the subject parcel did not qualify under the statutory section.

On appeal, Kelly contended that the BAA erred in concluding that the subject parcel was not residential land. She argued that the BAA misconstrued the “common ownership” element of C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a). The statute does not define common ownership, and the Property Tax Administrator has neither defined nor offered guidance to assessors on determining whether parcels are under common ownership. The BAA and the County interpreted “common ownership” to mean the same record titleholder. The court of appeals focused its analysis on the meaning of “ownership,” noting that ownership goes beyond mere record title and focuses on who has the power to possess, use, enjoy, and profit from the property. It concluded that ownership of contiguous parcels for purposes of C.R.S. § 39-1-102(14.4)(a) depends on a person’s or entity’s right to possess, use, and control the contiguous parcels. Here, the unchallenged testimony that Kelly was the beneficiary, trustee, and settler of both trusts established that Kelly held legal title to and was the equitable owner of both parcels. Further, Kelly testified that she only placed the parcels in the trusts on the advice of counsel for tax and estate planning purposes and that she possessed, controlled, and used the parcels before and after they were placed in trust. The Assessor testified that she considered the parcels separate simply because the names on the trusts were different. The court of appeals concluded that the parcels were under common ownership for tax years 2014 and 2015 and the BAA erred in denying the request to reclassify the subject property.

Kelly also argued that the BAA abused its discretion when it rejected the parties’ stipulation that the contiguous parcels element was not at issue. The BAA’s decision to reject the signed stipulation two months after the close of evidence and without notice to the parties was manifestly unfair.

The BAA’s order was reversed and the case was remanded with directions for the BAA to reclassify the subject parcel as residential land.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Single Notice Addressed to Married Homeowners Deemed Constitutionally Adequate

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Cordell v. Klingsheim on Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Tax Sale—Adequate Notice—Treasurer’s Deed—Due Process—Reinstatement Order.

The Cordells owned a tract of land in La Plata County. After they failed to pay taxes for several years, Heller purchased a tax lien for the property and assigned it to Klingsheim, who later requested a deed from the La Plata County Treasurer. Before issuing the deed, the Treasurer sent the Cordells a copy of the notice of application for a treasurer’s deed by certified mail. The notice was mailed to the Cordells in one envelope, using a New Mexico address listed for the Cordells in the county tax records. A return receipt was received indicating the notice had been received by Mr. Cordell’s mother. The Cordells did not redeem, and the Treasurer issued a treasurer’s deed to Klingsheim.

Sometime later the Cordells learned of the notice and filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that they were the owners of the property and the treasurer’s deed was void. The trial court ruled that the Treasurer had not made a “diligent inquiry” in attempting to notify the Cordells that their land might be sold to satisfy the tax lien and voided the deed. The alternative basis for the decision was that the deed was void because no “separate notice” was mailed to Ms. Cordell. The Court of Appeals previously affirmed the voiding order but did not address the “separate notice” argument. On certiorari review, the Colorado Supreme Court concluded that the Treasurer fulfilled the diligent inquiry duty and the Treasurer’s transmission of the notice by certified mail satisfied due process, and the Court reversed and remanded the case. On remand to the Court of Appeals, the Cordells requested the division to consider the separate notice argument. The division declined to do so, and a mandate was issued reversing the voiding order and remanding the case to the trial court. On remand, the trial court issued a reinstatement order without substantive analysis of its own.

On appeal of the reinstatement order, the Cordells argued that the trial court was not required to reinstate the treasurer’s deed on remand because the Supreme Court’s holding reached only one of the two grounds on which the trial court rested the voiding order. Neither the Supreme Court nor the trial court reached the separate notice issue. Because the issue was not resolved, the Court of Appeals considered whether the trial court’s failure to consider the issue warrants reversal. Here, the Cordells were married and both were receiving mail at the same address. The Court concluded that notice mailed to both record owners in a single piece of mail is constitutionally adequate. Thus, the reinstatement of the treasurer’s deed on remand was proper.

The reinstatement order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Including Landowners in Special District Violated Owners’ Rights to Due Process

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Landmark Towers Association, Inc. v. UMB Bank, N.A. on Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Special District—Taxation—Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights—Due Process—Injunction—Uniform Tax Clause of the Colorado Constitution—Mill Levy—Misappropriation of Bond Sales.

A developer created the Marin Metropolitan District, a special district, to comprise two separate projects, the Landmark Project and the European Village Project. The developer created the District as a means to use owners of condominiums in the Landmark Project to pay for improvements in the European Village Project. As part of his application to Greenwood Village for approval of the District, the developer submitted a Service Plan. Using dubious means and without notice to the Landmark Project buyers, the developer and his associates then voted in an election to organize the District and approve bonds and “taxes” to pay for the bonds. The District sold bonds to Colorado Bondshares. UMB Bank, N.A. held the bond sales proceeds in trust. Among other things, the Service Plan capped the debt service levy for the bonds at 49.5 mills, but the District imposed a levy of 59.5 mills. The developer drew on the funds, but the European Village Project infrastructure was never built.

Landmark Towers Association, Inc., a homeowners association, sued UMB, Bondshares, and the District (collectively, defendants), challenging the creation of the District. Landmark asserted that the special district can’t levy Landmark owners’ properties to pay for bonds issued by the special district, which funded improvements on other property, because the election organizing the special district, approving the bonds, and approving the levies paying for the bonds violated the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and the Landmark owners’ rights to due process. The district court ruled that the election was illegal; Landmark is entitled to injunctive relief preventing the District’s levy; the District’s mill levy rate exceeds the legal limit; Landmark owners are entitled to a refund of excessive assessments; and Landmark owners are entitled to a “refund” of misappropriated bond sale proceeds. It enjoined the District from trying to collect levies from the Landmark owners and ordered that the owners may recover bond proceeds misappropriated by the District’s creator under TABOR.

On appeal, defendants asserted that the district court erred in finding that including the Landmark Project in the District violated the Landmark owners’ rights to due process. Specifically, defendants argued that the levy was a tax, and property subject to a tax does not need to receive any benefit in return for the tax payments. Colorado law is clear that imposing a special assessment on property that doesn’t specially benefit from the funded improvements violates the due process rights of those property owners. Here, the Landmark project was included in the District only to use it as a payment source for improvements to other property, and Landmark receives no benefit from those improvements. Further, the “tax” is in substance a special assessment because it doesn’t defray the general expenses of government but funds a private venture’s infrastructure. Because the Landmark owners derive no benefit from the improvements, the special assessments violated the owners’ rights to due process.

Defendants also argued that the district court erred in weighing the equities in imposing the injunction. The district didn’t abuse its discretion in balancing the equities.

Defendants further contended that the injunction violated the Uniform Tax Clause of the Colorado Constitution because it means that only some of the property in the district can be taxed. First, it is undisputed that defendants raised this issue for the first time in their motion for reconsideration, which was too late. Second, the Uniform Tax Clause applies only to taxes, not special assessments. Third, the injunction doesn’t obligate the District to do anything with respect to other persons or property outside the Landmark Project. Fourth, the violation of the Landmark owners’ rights to due process under both the U.S. and Colorado Constitutions entitles them to the injunctive relief they request, as a matter of law. Therefore, the district court correctly ruled on this issue.

Defendants also contended that the district court erred in ruling that the District may not levy property taxes in excess of 50 mills. The mill levy rate imposed by the District exceeds that allowed by the statutorily required service plan approved by the City of Greenwood Village. Furthermore, it did not comply with the District’s Service Plan or the financing plan. Therefore, the 59.5-mill-rate levy was illegal.

Finally, defendants contended that the district court erred in ruling that the misappropriation of bond sale proceeds violated TABOR and in ordering a refund of those proceeds because the bond proceeds aren’t “revenue.” The bond proceeds at issue are borrowed funds, not “revenue” within the meaning of the relevant TABOR provision. Further, they aren’t subject to refund because they were lent to the District by a private, outside entity and not collected from property owners. Therefore, the owners may not recover bond proceeds misappropriated by the District’s creator under TABOR. Nor may the owners recover those misappropriated funds under other provisions of the Colorado Constitution because the District is not subject to those provisions. Therefore, the district court erred in ordering refunds of the misappropriated money.

The portion of the judgment ordering TABOR refunds was reversed. The remainder of the judgment was affirmed and the case was remanded.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

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.