These are all of the legal system bills proposed in the 2019 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

House

Click on the House bill title to jump to its section:

MAJOR

HB19-1263: Offense Level for Controlled Substance Possession SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB19-1327: Authorize and Tax Sports Betting Refer under Taxpayers' Bill of Rights SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED

MEDIUM

HB19-1092: Animal Ban for Cruelty to Animals Conviction SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB19-1148: Change Maximum Criminal Penalty One Year to 364 Days SIGNED INTO LAW
HB19-1155: Additions to Definition of Sexual Contact SIGNED INTO LAW
HB19-1251: Age of Marriage and Emancipation Procedure KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB19-1267: Penalties for Failure to Pay Wages SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB19-1316: Modernizing Marriage Laws for Minors SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED

MINOR

HB19-1030: Unlawful Electronic Sexual Communication SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB19-1128: Lottery Intercepts SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB19-1144: Court Facility Dog for Child Witness Testimony KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1167: Remote Notaries Protect Privacy KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR
HB19-1182: Attorney General Representation of Department of Revenue in License Appeals KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR
HB19-1220: Court Facility Dog During Witness Testimony SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB19-1229: Electronic Preservation of Abandoned Estate Documents SIGNED INTO LAW
HB19-1289: Consumer Protection Act SIGNED INTO LAW SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
HB19-1303: No Liability If Landowner Grants Free Access Land KILLED BY BILL SPONSOR
HB19-1310: Interest on Orders of Restitution SIGNED INTO LAW SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
HB19-1315: Admissibility of Statements by a Juvenile SIGNED INTO LAW
HB19-1324: Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation SIGNED INTO LAW
HB19-1334: Ban Posting Images of a Suicide SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED

TECHNICAL

HB19-1180: Correcting the Definition of Police Working Horse SIGNED INTO LAW

Senate

Click on the Senate bill title to jump to its section:

MAJOR

SB19-050: District Attorney Office Salary KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-182: Repeal the Death Penalty KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR

MEDIUM

SB19-049: Statute of Limitation Failure Report Child Abuse SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB19-071: Child Hearsay Exception SIGNED INTO LAW
SB19-175: Serious Bodily Injury Vulnerable Road User Penalties SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB19-185: Protections for Minor Human Trafficking Victims SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB19-201: Open Discussions about Adverse Health Care Incidents SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB19-223: Actions Related to Competency to Proceed SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED

MINOR

SB19-014: Organized Retail Theft Prevention SIGNED INTO LAW HEAVILY AMENDED
SB19-036: State Court Administrator Reminder Program SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB19-043: Increasing Number of District Court Judges SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB19-047: Remove Unauthorized Persons from Vacant Land KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-084: Revised Uniform Law Remote Notarization KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-088: Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED

SB19-100: Unauthorized Disclosure of Intimate Images Act SIGNED INTO LAW
SB19-105: Colorado Uniform Directed Trust Act SIGNED INTO LAW
SB19-109: Adjust Damages Limitations for Inflation SIGNED INTO LAW
SB19-187: Commissions on Judicial Performance SIGNED INTO LAW
SB19-217: Healthcare Provider Liens KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR
SB19-237: Consumer Protection Act Damages KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

HB19-1030 Unlawful Electronic Sexual Communication (Rankin, Zenzinger) [Soper, Roberts]

AMENDED: Significant

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Creates the crime of unlawful electronic sexual communication, when a person in a position of trust electronically communicates sexually explicit content to a minor, so long as the minor is at least four years younger and between ages of 15 and 18. Position of trust is defined elsewhere in statute as a parent or someone acting in place of a parent. Includes communication over computers or computer networks, telephone or data networks, text messages, and instant messages. Crime is a class 6 felony, 1 year to 18 months in prison and fine of $1,000 to $100,000.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Sexual predators will attempt to groom their potential victims through exposing them to sexually explicit material after gaining a position of trust. No minors should be sent this material. Current law only protects those under 15, this extends the law up to age 18.

Arguments Against:

Position of trust is generally pretty liberally applied as someone responsible for the child’s health, welfare, education, or supervision. This makes it a class 6 felony for an 18 year-old to send sexually explicit messages to a 17 year-old if the 18 year-old is a position of trust, like an older brother with a slightly younger brother where nothing nefarious is intended and the communication is not out of the ordinary in their relationship. The prohibition on sexually explicit material in text form is overly broad and could sweep up all sorts of communication that is not grooming or nefarious.

Four years is too wide a gap, we don't want 20 year-olds sexting 16 year-olds.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1030

HB19-1092 Animal Ban for Cruelty to Animals Conviction (Ginal) [A. Valdez]

AMENDED: Significant

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Bans a person convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty from owning an animal of any kind for 5 3-5 years, a person convicted of felony animal cruelty from owning an animal of any kind for 10 years, and the court may ban a juvenile adjudicated a delinquent for an animal cruelty crime from owning any kind of animal for 5 years. The court may remove or not require either ban if the defendant's treatment program recommends against it. Also provides a mental health program as a court-ordered treatment possibility. If an animal is killed due to the underlying crime, court is mandated to require a comprehensive evaluation to determine the causation. Punishment is an unclassified misdemeanor of $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for the second or subsequent violations.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Under current law a person can be convicted of animal cruelty one day and go buy an animal the next. It makes sense that we should not immediately hand a helpless animal over to someone convicted of cruelty to animals. The clock starts after conviction, so the rehabilitation period is defined and the same for any individual, regardless of any incarceration.

Arguments Against:

This is too draconian and one-size-fits all. There is no room for the sworn statement of a treatment provider that the individual is rehabilitated and again ready to own an animal. There is no room for the court to exercise judgment based on the type of cruelty the individual was convicted of, their remorse (or lack thereof), and any mitigating factors.

This has no teeth. There is no database for someone selling an animal to easily lookup someone’s status and of course no requirement to do so. The only time we are likely to discover that someone has violated the requirements of this bill is when the person is again being cruel to animals. And now it has no defined punishment for violating the court order.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1092

HB19-1128 Lottery Intercepts (Fields, Smallwood) [Kraft-Tharp, Saine]

From the Legislative Audit Committee

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Allows lottery winnings to be intercepted for payment of outstanding criminal court fines, fees, costs, or surcharges.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Common sense here, if someone owes the state money for criminal activity, we should not be sending them any lottery winnings until they have paid up.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1128

HB19-1144 Court Facility Dog for Child Witness Testimony [Sullivan]

KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Allows judges to permit a trained court facility dog to accompany a child under 12 who is testifying. The judge must determine that the testimony would result in serious emotional distress or trauma for the child and must instruct the jury on the role of the dog.

Long Description:

Allows judges to permit a trained court facility dog to accompany a child under 12 who is testifying. The judge must determine that the testimony would result in serious emotional distress or trauma for the child and must instruct the jury on the role of the dog. The judge can order the dog removed at any point. A written motion must be filed at least 14 days prior to trial to be valid.

Arguments For:

Testifying in court can be a traumatic experience for a child, particularly when testifying about abuse. Having a trained dog (and these dogs are well-trained) at their side is something many experts recommend and have found to be an effective tool to help keep a child as calm as possible under the circumstances.

Arguments Against: 

There is numerous case law around the subject of comfort for the witness, that should be our guide not statutory regulation, which includes dogs being allowed in the court room in some instances. There are also other alternatives for comfort to animals, testimony from chambers or comfort items hidden from the jury. These are decisions for the courts, not for the legislature.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1144

HB19-1148 Change Maximum Criminal Penalty One Year to 364 Days (Gonzales) [Herod]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Changes maximum jail penalty for class 2 misdemeanor, misdemeanors without a fixed penalty, and municipal ordinance violations from one year to 364 days.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

This extra day carries great weight with US immigration laws and can be the difference between being removed from and staying in the country. This change ensures that non-citizens convicted of less serious charges will not be subject to deportation. To be clear, this is about people who are here legally, but not citizens of the United States.

Arguments Against:

Non-citizens who commit crimes certainly should be subject to deportation, whether it’s a minor crime or not. Being here is a privilege and these people forfeited it by breaking the law.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1148

HB19-1155 Additions to Definition of Sexual Contact (Lundeen, Foote) [Michaelson Jenet, Carver]

WARNING: DESCRIPTION IS GRAPHIC

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Adds knowing emission or ejaculation of semen onto the victim and knowingly causing semen, blood, urine, feces, or other bodily substance to contact the victim if that contact is for sexual gratification or abuse to the definition of sexual contact for defining a sex crime.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Some sexual predators get off not on touching their victims (which is already covered in the definition) but on using bodily fluids in the manner the bill describes. This is no less a violation of the victim and deserves to be treated in the same manner as physical contact.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1155

HB19-1167 Remote Notaries Protect Privacy (Rodriguez, Holbert) [Duran, Carver]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR

Short Description:

Allows notaries to remotely notarize electronic documents so long as they use a system that conforms to standards established by the secretary of state.

Long Description:

Allows notaries to remotely notarize electronic documents so long as they use a system that conforms to standards established by the secretary of state. This can be done for an individual outside of Colorado so long as the remote notarization does not violate the laws of the place the individual lives. Anything related to elections and wills is forbidden. Notarizations must occur in a real-time session in a piece of technology that requires secure authentication and it must enable remote presentation of the proof of the individual’s identity if the notary does not personally know them. It also must be tamper-evident, meaning that it will display evidence of being altered. The bill also goes into detail on precisely how the notarization session must proceed.


Arguments For:

Our lives are going digital and electronic documents that require notarization should be able to be notarized without needing to seek out a notary in person. It’s just common sense.

Arguments Against:

Tamper-proof systems don’t really exist and seem unlikely to in the future. It’s just the way things are. Requiring in-person notarization keeps the process from being hacked. We only require notaries for really important documents, just the kind of things that may be attractive to hackers.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1167

HB19-1180 Correcting the Definition of Police Working Horse [Geitner] TECHNICAL BILL

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Fixes the definition of working police horse, previous definition included “certified” but there is no certification for working police horses.

Long Description: n/a

HB19-1182 Attorney General Representation of Department of Revenue in License Appeals [McCluskie, Roberts]

KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

Goal: To require the attorney general to represent the state in department of revenue license appeals.

Short Description:

Requires the attorney general to represent the state in department of revenue license appeals. Someone from the attorney general’s office can appear remotely by any court authorized means of electronic participation.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Our current setup is unique and unusual. The Attorney General represents all of the other state agencies in the appeals process. With modern technology it does not make sense to continue to put the brunt of this work on our counties. Most of this work can be done electronically. This change is supported by DAs and the Attorney General.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1182

HB19-1220 Court Facility Dog During Witness Testimony (Fields) [Sullivan]

AMENDED: Moderate

SIGNED INTO LAW

BILL IS VERY SIMILAR TO HB19-1144

Goal: To increase usage of support dogs for witnesses who need them when testifying.

Description:

Allows judges to permit a trained court facility dog to accompany a witness who is testifying if the preponderance of the evidence suggests it is necessary and there is no other valid means of comforting the witness. The judge must instruct the jury on the role of the dog. The judge can order the dog removed at any point. A written motion must be filed at least 14 days prior to trial to be valid.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Testifying in court can be a traumatic experience for someone who has suffered abuse and must testify about it. Having a trained dog (and these dogs are well-trained) at their side is something many experts recommend and have found to be an effective tool.

Arguments Against:

There is numerous case law around the subject of comfort for the witness; that should be our guide not statutory regulation, which includes dogs being allowed in the court room in some instances. There are also other alternatives for comfort to animals, testimony from chambers or comfort items hidden from the jury. These are decisions for the courts, not for the legislature.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1220

HB19-1229 Electronic Preservation of Abandoned Estate Documents (Gardner, Lee) [Roberts, Snyder]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To electronically preserve in a state database signed estate documents wills that have been abandoned by their creators.

Description:

Provides a procedure for determining if an estate documents wills is abandoned with a custodian (lawyer or financial institution), including a diligent attempt to contact them, and if so, the process for creating an electronic version to be filed in a secure state database. These documents are only accessible to their creators with verifiable identification and payment of a fee.

Additional Information:

Diligent search includes calling, e-mail, conducting an Internet search, and mailing a letter. If the creator does not claim the documents within 90 days of the mailed letter and the custodian isn’t required to transfer the documents to someone else, the custodian can submit it to the state for electronic keeping. The custodian must make the electronic document, under rules created by the state, and submit it along with all information known about the creator and information about the document. Original document to be destroyed after state verifies receipt. State to create index of filings, by creator name. If creator is alive, they can ask for the document to be destroyed or to view it. Either case involves a fee and proof of identity. Upon death the state can produce the documents as required by legal proceedings upon request. Records may be deleted 100 years after they were filed.


Arguments For:

Attorneys right now are required to store these original paper documents in perpetuity which creates problems of course in terms of just mountains of paper, but also when they want to retire. Documents that are not kept on paper already fall into a different category, so newer attorneys who do not have any paper documents aren’t keeping them that way now. The problem is attorneys who have the paper are currently required to keep it. This bill fixes that problem for wills while we determine the structure of the program. This program also exists in other states.

Arguments Against:

Not keeping the original document opens up a can of worms here, in the case of any dispute over the legitimacy of the estate document. The custodian of the document is submitting under the penalty of perjury, but of course it wouldn’t be the first time someone lied in order to get money.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1229

HB19-1251 Age of Marriage and Emancipation Procedure [Hansen, Landgraf]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Goal: To only allow emancipated minors over 16 ½ the ability to get married and to lay out a procedure for emancipation.

Description:

Currently minors between 16 and 18 can get married with either permission of all custodial parents or the court (with a designated procedure for court to follow) and those under 16 only with permission of all custodial parents and the court. Bill changes law so that only emancipated minors (by definition in the bill you must be 16 ½ years old to be able to be emancipated) can get married. They do not need court permission. To gain emancipation, bill lays out procedure involving a court filing with evidence the minor is capable of independence, has valid reasons for separating from parents, and can support themselves. Emancipated minor are treated like adults under the law except for ability to vote and purchase tobacco products.

Additional Information:

Information required in court filing for emancipation is:

  • Minor’s personal information (name, date of birth etc.) and proof they have lived in the state for at least six months
  • Name and address of each of the minor’s legal guardians
  • Statement if the minor is subject to any judicial proceedings in the country
  • Statement if the department of Human Services has ever investigated alleged abuse or neglect of minor
  • Statement of why minor is seeking emancipation
  • Specific facts to support that the minor is capable of independence, can support themselves financially, personally, socially, and educationally.
  • Proof of housing separate from guardians, proof of employment.

Court must provide minor with an attorney to serve as guardian ad litem and provide reasonable notice to the minor’s guardians of the hearing, which must be a maximum of 63 days after filing. Court must decide if it is in the best interests of the minor to be a legal adult. Emancipated minor must wait 35 days to marry after emancipation.


Arguments For:

Colorado is one of the 17 states in the country where there is no legal minimum age for marriage. To be sure, if you’re 15 you need a judge’s approval, but there’s a severely naïve sense behind these laws that parents will look out for their child’s best interests. Practice instead shows that the majority of minors married in the United States are girls who are getting married to adult men. Nationwide, 87% of the minors married between 2000 and 2015 were girls and 86% of minors who got married in that timeframe married adults. 40% of these adults were over 21 and 3%(!) were 30 or older). This didn’t happen in Colorado, but in Idaho in 2010 a 65 year-old man married a 17 year-old girl. In Colorado, 4,813 total children got married between 2000 and 2014, for a child marriage rate that was 12th in the country. In addition, a minor who gets married but is not emancipated is not a legal adult. This means they cannot file for divorce. The age of sexual consent in Colorado is also 17. There are clear and obvious problems with our current marriage laws that this bill solves. First, no one who isn’t 16 ½ should be getting married, period. If you can’t have a driver’s license without hours of demonstrated competence (required for those over 16 but not 16 ½), you can’t get married. Second, anyone minor that does get married needs to be an adult legally so they can manage their own affairs (including divorce). Finally, we need a more thorough grounding for emancipation procedures, which the bill provides.

Arguments Against:

While we obviously want to stop the exploitative and terrible cases that are highlighted in Arguments For, this bill goes too far. Under this bill a 17 year-old cannot marry another 17 year-old, even if they both live on their own and have the permission of all four parents and a court determines that this marriage is fine. We need to provide for some judicial discretion here and perhaps a judge needs to sign-off on all marriages involving a minor instead of those under 16. We also need to provide a way for a minor to get divorced. We need a minimum marriage age. But we don’t need to force all minors to gain emancipation in order to get married.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1251

HB19-1263 Offense Level for Controlled Substance Possession (Marble, Lee) [Herod, Sandridge]

AMENDED: Moderate

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To reduce illegal drug possession offense levels in numerous areas.

Description:

  • Reduces schedule I or schedule II controlled substances (except flunitrazepam or ketamine or gamma hydroxybutyrate) from a level 4 drug felony to a level 1 drug misdemeanor.
  • Moves unlawful possession of more than 6 ounces of marijuana or 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate from level 4 drug felony to level 1 drug misdemeanor.
  • Clarifies that someone cannot be arrested for petty offense of possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana.
  • Clarifies person may not be sentenced to jail specifically for 2nd offense of abusing toxic vapors.
  • Permits court to suspend useful public services part of sentence if it interferes with treatment or other probation requirements.
  • Sets level 1 drug misdemeanor punishment as up to 2 years probation, with up to 180 days in jail for probation violations, and maximum $1,000 fine. 3rd or subsequent offenses can lead to up to 364 days in jail.
  • Sets level 2 drug misdemeanor punishment as up to 1 year probation, with up to 120 days in jail for probation violations, and maximum $500 fine. 3rd or subsequent offenses can lead to up to 180 days in jail.
  • Creates county court drug program to provide grants to county courts to operate misdemeanor drug courts.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

The over criminalization of drug possession is one of the biggest problems in our criminal justice system. Drug possession is a health, not criminal problem, and needs to be treated as such. Obviously we need to get people the treatment they need, but merely having an illegal drug, even a more dangerous one, is not a reason to throw anyone in jail and potentially push them into a downward spiral. These are also laws that tend to disproportionately affect minorities. As a nice side-benefit, the state will save money from not having to care for as many inmates.

Arguments Against:

The possibility of going to prison serves as a deterrent. We don’t want people possessing these drugs, that’s why they are illegal. While of course rehabilitation is a prime goal of the criminal justice system, we also structure the system as punitive for a reason.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1263

HB19-1267 Penalties for Failure to Pay Wages (Danielson, Rodriguez) [Singer, Froelich]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To increase penalty for failing to pay wages and close a few loopholes in current law.

Description:

Increases the penalty for wage theft (refusing to pay wage claims or not paying the minimum wage) from a misdemeanor to simple theft, which is a felony when the amount is $2,000 or more. Removes exemption for businesses under chapter 7 bankruptcy or other court action resulting in limited control of assets and includes in definition of employee any person who performs work that is an integral part of the employer’s business and includes in definition of employer foreign labor contractors, officers or agents of an employer entity, and any person acting directly or indirectly in interest of an employer in relation to an employee.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

The Colorado human trafficking council’s 2018 report found that a bill enacted by the general assembly to recognize labor as a thing of value that can be subject to theft (so making it just like tangible objects) would aid law enforcement in combatting the crime of labor trafficking. Between 2015 and 2017 state prosecutors only filed one case for labor trafficking in part because of our current law. In addition to straight-labor trafficking (aka slavery), there are many people in the state who suffer from wage theft. In just six months in 2017, nearly 130 employers in Colorado were ordered to pay nearly $550,000 in back pay and penalties. This can come in many areas: nonpayment, underpayment, misclassification to avoid overtime payment, illegal deductions, and tip stealing. Multiple studies have found massive economic impacts on various states, including Colorado, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lost wages in our state. The exact number is nearly impossible to know, but we do know massive amounts of money are being drained out of our state economy and our state government (through lost tax revenue). This bill attempts to address this by increasing penalties and closing some loopholes to make sure that anyone who is knowingly stealing wages can be held accountable.

Arguments Against:

The broad categorization in the new definition, in particular the definition “any person acting directly or indirectly in interest of an employer in relation to an employee” could ensnare lots of people who simply work in HR departments and execute company policies they have no control over. It is also not clear why increasing a crime from a misdemeanor to a potential felony will result in more prosecutions. Clearly the tool is already available and if it isn’t being used, the bigger penalty may or may not result in more usage.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1267

HB19-1289 Consumer Protection Act (Foote, Gonzales) [Weissman]

AMENDED: Significant

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To provide greater protection for consumers from deceptive trade practices and unfair contract provisions.

Description:

Adds “recklessly” to the definitions of many of the violations of the consumer protection act (was just “knowingly”). Adds multiple contract clauses that would be considered unenforceable in a contract where the consumer or employee does not have the ability to negotiate terms (called a standard contract):

Requirement that claims be adjudicated more than 100 miles away from where contract was executed or where consumer or employee resides. Precondition to starting a legal claim that waives the consumer or employee’s rights to claims or damages or is reasonably likely to prevent assertion of a claim for more than 60 day. Requirement that a party to the contract be able to unilaterally select individual or entity who will resolve disputes. Term that attempts to award or limit costs or fees in a manner that is inconsistent with the law. A cost-shifting, fee-shifting, or loser pays term unless is applies only to claims brought groundlessly, frivolously, or in bad faith. Any other term that is found to be against public policy pursuant to common law

Additional Information:

Courts may decide to only remove the unenforceable terms or void the contract entirely. Must consider impact of decision on deterrence and if the contract terms were drafted in bad faith or maliciously. Bill also changes civil penalties for engaging in unfair or deceptive trade practices from $2,000 to $20,000 and if it was against an elderly person, from $10,000 to $50,000. Adds 8% interest to the damages calculation in civil actions.


Arguments For:

When it comes to consumer protection, strong deterrence is critical because many consumers are simply unaware of many of the potential violations against them or are not interested in pursuing action. And our current deterrence scheme is just not up to snuff, thus the large increase in penalties in the bill. Asymmetrical contracts are another source of problems, where the employer or consumer has no real ability to change the contract and are essentially at the mercy of whatever terms are inserted. We must ensure that these types of contracts do not close off legal avenues of redress, which is what the bill does. Finally, in certain areas recklessly acting without thinking about if what you are doing is wrong should be grounds for violating consumer trust.

Arguments Against:

Reckless is a loaded term and could be difficult to disprove when it comes to certain actions where the company honestly did not know they were misleading the public and honestly did not believe their actions were reckless. The contract provisions of the bill may cause undue burdens on companies with large geographic spreads and will encourage more lawsuits by letting people fire away more easily without concern for having to pay legal fees if they lose. This bill is just too burdensome for businesses.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1289

HB19-1303 No Liability If Landowner Grants Free Access Land [Will, D. Valdez]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSOR

Goal: To completely remove any liability for a landowner that grants free access to use their land for recreation.

Description:

Currently landowners that grant free access to their land for recreational use are immune from any liability for injuries unless the injury is a result of the landowner’s willfull and malicious failure to guard or warn against a known dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on the land likely to cause harm. This bill removes that exception.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

It’s a problem for landowners to allow access to their land if they are on the hook for all liability. This is particularly true for hunting and fishing.

Arguments Against:

Willfull and malicious actions seem like things we should not let people off the hook for. Note the word “and”, which means in order to be liable the landowner has to be both willfull and malicious. A very high standard to meet already. In this case it shouldn’t matter that the landowner didn’t charge any money, they willfully and maliciously omitted information that led to injury. They should remain on the hook.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1303

HB19-1310 Interest on Orders of Restitution () [Melton, Gonzales-Gutierrez]

AMENDED: Very Significant

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To decrease interest on orders of restitution and create some exceptions for when interest accrues.

Description:

Decreases interest on orders of restitution from 8% to 3% and prevent interest from accruing when someone is in jail or current on any agreement to make periodic payments, or if they are a juvenile.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Orders of restitution are designed to get money from one party to another. They are not supposed to be pushing people in a mountain of extra debt. 8% interest is excessive, while 3% does a better job of both protecting the financial interests of the damaged party (which isn’t getting their money all at once) and protecting the paying party from complete ruin. We also cannot expect people to pay everything while they are in prison and cannot earn an income and should not charge interest if payments are being made on-time.

Arguments Against:

You have to pay an order of restitution because you have wronged someone to the extent that they got a court order against you. It may not be the most convenient thing in the world but you have done wrong and need to do right, fast. If you cannot do right immediately, then the wronged party is owed extra compensation, no matter the circumstances.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1310

HB19-1315 Admissibility of Statements by a Juvenile (Gonzales) [Gonzales-Gutierrez, Michaelson Jenet]

AMENDED: Technical

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To ensure that statements by juveniles are made in the company of adults who do not have interests adverse to the juvenile.

Description:

Current law requires that to be admissible in court, any statement made by a juvenile must be made in the presence of certain adults. This bill takes that further by requiring that the adults must not have an interest adverse to the juvenile. Prosecution must prove this by a preponderance of the evidence if it is questioned in court.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Courts have found that right now it does not matter if the adult has interests contrary to the juvenile. Obviously this does not make sense, the point of having the adult there is to protect the juvenile. If the adult actually would like the juvenile to get into trouble that is a situation we want to avoid. As usual in our justice system, the burden of proof is on the prosecution.

Arguments Against:

Since we are trying to prove an abnormal situation here, the burden of proof should be on the defense, not the prosecution.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1315

HB19-1316 Modernizing Marriage Laws for Minors (Winter, Cooke) [Hansen, Landgraf]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To ban marriage for those under 16, require court approval for underage marriages and allow married minors certain rights separate from their parents and spouse.

Description:

Bans marriage for those under 16. For 16-17 year-olds, judge must appoint a guardian ad litem for the underage party to investigate the proposed marriage. Judge must determine the underage party is capable of assuming responsibilities of marriage and that the marriage is in their best interests. Underage proxy marriages are banned entirely. Clarifies that a married minor has right to live separate from parents, right to file motions and petitions in their own name (including divorce and leases for housing), and right to consent to own medical care.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Colorado is one of the 17 states in the country where there is no legal minimum age for marriage. To be sure, if you’re 15 you need a judge’s approval, but there’s a severely naïve sense behind these laws that parents will look out for their child’s best interests. Practice instead shows that the majority of minors married in the United States are girls who are getting married to adult men. Nationwide, 87% of the minors married between 2000 and 2015 were girls and 86% of minors who got married in that timeframe married adults. 40% of these adults were over 21 and 3%(!) were 30 or older). This didn’t happen in Colorado, but in Idaho in 2010 a 65 year-old man married a 17 year-old girl. In Colorado, 4,813 total children got married between 2000 and 2014, for a child marriage rate that was 12th in the country. In addition, a minor who gets married but is not emancipated is not a legal adult. This means they cannot file for divorce, among other problems. The age of sexual consent in Colorado is also 17. There are clear and obvious problems with our current marriage laws that this bill solves. First, no one who isn’t 16 should be getting married, period. If you can’t have a driver’s license, you can’t get married. Second, we need a judge to look at any minor who wants to get married and ensure this is in their best interests. Finally, anyone minor that does get married needs to be able to manage their own affairs (including divorce).

Arguments Against:

This goes a little overboard on the judicial side, we should allow a judge to appoint a guardian ad litem in these cases but also to not do so if the judge feels they understand the situation just fine without one.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1316

HB19-1324 Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (Foote) [Cutter, Bird]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To safeguard constitutional rights of people to petition, speak freely, associate freely, and otherwise participate in government free from the worry of frivolous lawsuits.

Description:

Makes any lawsuit dealing with a person’s exercising their right to participate in the public sphere subject to a special motion to dismiss the charges. The plaintiff must demonstrate that there is a reasonable likelihood they will win to avoid having the charges dismissed. If the charges are dismissed, plaintiff must pay all defense legal fees. All discovery motions are stayed until the motion is decided.

Additional Information:

Participation is defined as:

  • Written or oral statement made before any official proceeding
  • Written or oral statement made in connection with an issue under consideration by any official body
  • Written or oral statement made in a public place in connection with an issue of public interest
  • Any other conduct or communication exercising constitutional right to free speech in connection with a public issue or issue of public interest

Special motions cannot be used in cases:

  • Where the action is brought by the state enforcing a law or seeking to protect against imminent threat to public safety
  • An action where all of the following conditions exist:
    • Plaintiff does not seek relief greater than rest of general public
    • Action would enforce an important right affecting public interest and would confer a significant benefit on the general public
    • Private enforcement is necessary and places a disproportionate financial burden on the plaintiff in relation to their stake in the matter
  • Action brought against person primarily engaged in selling goods and services if:
    • Statement is representations of fact about that person’s business or a competitor
    • Intended audience is a likely buyer
    • This does not apply to journalists or owners of media or artists

Frivolous use of this motion can result in the court ordering the defense to pay the plaintiff’s attorney and court fees.

Arguments For:

Lawsuits like these are used to try to silence and harass critics by forcing them to defend meritless lawsuits, which even for cases that eventually get dismissed can take years and thousands of dollars. In addition, discovery can be halted, which can prevent fishing expeditions and further chilling of speech. Protections against these lawsuits exist in case law only, there is no legislative founding. 28 states across the country have laws like this on the books already. In the end, a diverse set of states across the country (from Texas to Massachusetts) have recognized that we should protect one of the most sacred rights we have as Americans, the right to freely speak and participate in our government and public square.

Arguments Against:

The government shouldn’t be given a blank exemption like this bill does. Governments can execute chilling lawsuits as well.

The bill veers too far in the other direction. Chilling can work both ways. The bill’s overly broad definition of public activity means that any troll smearing a private citizen on Twitter could use this special motion. To be sure there is a penalty for using it abusively, but chilling affects are all about preventing action through fear of another action, not about emerging victorious on the other end. Thus this may chill some absolutely meritorious lawsuits from proceeding.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1324

HB19-1327 Authorize and Tax Sports Betting Refer under Taxpayers' Bill of Rights (Donovan, Cooke) [Garnett, Neville]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To legalize sports betting in Colorado and send tax proceeds to the state water plan.

Description:

Send a measure to the state ballot in 2019 legalizing sports betting in Colorado in a limited number of locations (and limited number of websites) and tax net proceeds of sports betting 10%, sending the large majority of the proceeds to the state water fund. Only those entities who are already authorized to operate gambling in the state are allowed to have master licenses to operate sports betting (17 companies). Each master license is allowed one physical location contracted licensee and one website contracted licensee. Sports teams are prohibited from operating a license, as are anyone convicted of illegal gambling activities and anyone the state gambling commission deems is not of good character. High school sports and proposition bets for college sports are prohibited. Must be at least 21 to place a bet.

Additional Information:

Full list of prohibited sports bets is:

  • High school sports
  • Video game that is not sanctioned by a sports governing body
  • Proposition bets in college events

Fantasy sports are excluded from this bill. Certain individuals are banned from owning or working at a sports gambling company:

  • Athletes, coaches, referees, employees, or directors of sports governing bodies and any team in a sports governing body
  • Agents, unions, or union representatives that advocate for players, referees, or other personnel involved in sporting events
  • Person who holds position of authority over sporting event participants such as coaches, managers, and athletic trainers
  • Person with access to non-public information on any sports event overseen by that individual’s sports governing body
  • Person identified by the sports governing body or the state commission as someone with a conflict of interest

Direct or indirect owners of 10% or more of a sports team cannot place or accept any wagers on their sport. The commission is given authority to investigate and discipline license-holders for violating state rules and laws. The full list of ineligible people for holding a license are:

  • Person convicted of gambling offense or a crime involving misrepresentation
  • Person who has been professional gambler or gambling promoter
  • Person who has been a bookmaker
  • Person who the commission finds is not of good character
  • Teams and owners already described above

In submitting a license application, applicants must disclose:

  • Each board-appointed officer and each director
  • Each person who holds any voting or controlling interest of 10% or more, or in the case of the master licenses, any percentage owner
  • Each person who owns any non-voting or passive interest of 25% or more
  • All outstanding loans and lenders
  • Each holding, intermediary, or subsidiary company and their board-appointed officers and directors, owners of 10% or more and passive owners of 25% or more, and loans
  • All officers must submit to fingerprint background check

Master licensees must designate at least one key individual who must be present on premises whenever sports betting occurs. MasterAll licenses expire after two years and must be renewed. Master licensees can contract with the same company to provide both the physical and virtual contracted license or two separate companies. Online operators may operate only one individual website and associated app. All licensees must specify the portion of their facilities that are located in Central City, Blackhawk, or Cripple Creek where sports betting will take place. Any sports betting outside those areas must by placed through the customer’s own computer or phone. The three cities where gambling is allowed will also vote in November if they will permit sports betting inside their municipalities. All licensees must retain all betting records for at least three years and report any suspicious activity to the state. Individual information may be redacted for privacy by the state when sharing investigations with federal agencies. All records are confidential under penalty of triple damages if released by the licensee or its employees or the state. Must be inside Colorado to place a bet. Proceeds from the 10% tax are distributed as follows:

  • First the general fund is paid back for start-up costs related to sports betting
  • Then all ongoing administrative expenses are paid
  • Then 2% of the remainder is transferred to the state historical fund.Then 6% is sent to the "hold harmless" fund which can be used to pay-out revenue losses submitted to the commission's satisfaction from the state historical society, and the cities and counties where gambling occurs.
  • Then $130,000 is transferred to the office of behavioral health, of which $30,000 goes to the operation of a crisis hotline for gamblers and $100,000 goes to prevention, education, treatment, and workforce development of counselors certified in treatment of gambling disorders
  • All remaining funds are transferred to state water fund


Arguments For:

The sponsors believe there could be $4 to $10 million in annual tax revenue from legalizing sports gambling. It’s hard to have an exact figure because this is a black market right now, but there is no doubt it is a massive one. The nationwide estimate is $150 million in the black market (offshore gambling operations and more traditional bookies operating illegal gambling). And of course there are Coloradans who right now go to Las Vegas to make legal bets that would certainly save themselves the journey. And of course this won’t end all black market gambling, since the additional taxes and potential fees from the sports organizations will make it more expensive for local operators, which may pass that along in the form of higher vigs, but most people will opt for the security of knowing they will get their money if they win and are not committing a crime or consorting with criminals in order to place a bet. For where the money goes, the state water plan needs new sources of revenue, as oil and gas severance taxes and grown smaller and smaller. The water plan determines how to implement water supply planning solutions that meet Colorado’s future water needs while supporting healthy watersheds and the environment; robust recreation and tourism economies; vibrant and sustainable cities; and viable and productive agriculture. But it’s an ambitious $20 billion plan over the next 30 years and we’ll need every penny we can get. Water is a critical resource in dry Colorado and with climate change likely to make future droughts worse, we need all the help we can get.

Arguments Against:

Gambling is not a fun activity, it is a potential life ruiner. Sports gambling can make this worse because people think they have enough knowledge to win but in reality are setting themselves up for potential financial ruin. The bill makes a token gesture toward this by setting a few crumbs aside for gambling addiction treatment, but make no mistake: the state wants to profit off people losing money. Of course we aren’t going to stop the black market that currently exists, but that is no reason to encourage it and encourage people who don’t do sports gambling now because it is illegal. We haven’t decided to legalize something like cocaine, because although there is a big black market we don’t want to profit off something that is bad for people, full stop.

This is too restrictive, why are the 17 companies that operate in our three gambling cities being given a monopoly over sports gambling? This may result in much less competition (the maximum possible number of companies that can get a license in the state is 51) and that may result in a worse experience for consumers and higher fees, which may keep people in the black market who are already there.

This money shouldn’t go to the water fund. Our state highways and roads are also facing critical declining revenues (from the gas tax) and the revenue shortfall there is greater. Much of the billions in the water plan will come from a variety of sources, estimates are that we need $100 million of extra state funds a year. That sounds like a lot until you learn that we have an existing $7 billion transportation shortfall and roads break-down and need repairs so that is a moving target.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1327

HB19-1334 Ban Posting Images of a Suicide (Marble) [Saine]

AMENDED: Moderate

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To make it illegal to post images of a minor attempting to or committing suicide online.

Description:

Makes it a class 1 misdemeanor to post or distribute through social media or any other electronic means, an image or video or other reproduction of a minor attempt to commit or committing suicide if the posting is deliberate and malicious. Fictional and documentary postings, as well as those in the public interest, are excluded.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Beyond the obvious pain and suffering that these images and videos provide to the families and, in the case of a failed attempt, the individual themselves, there is also a wider public health reason for doing this. Suicides are highly contagious, in that someone who already has suicidal thoughts is much more likely to act up on them when presented with someone else’s suicide attempt or successful suicide. This bill can quite literally save lives by keeping visuals of these off of the Internet.

Arguments Against:

There is no exemption for fake attempts made as part of an artistic endeavor (like a movie, for instance).

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1334

SB19-014 Organized Retail Theft Prevention (Coram) [Carver, Tipper]

AMENDED: Very Significant

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Creates a new classification for theft from a retail location, called retail theft with special circumstances, a class 5 felony1 misdemeanor. This is when someone either at the time of theft has something that is designed to overcome security systems (like lined bags or tag removers) or utilizes an organized effort of multiple people with the intent of reselling items, acts in concert with two or more people to receive items they know were stolen, acts as an agent for an individual or people stealing from a retailer as part of a organized plan, or recruits people to an organized theft. Also requires secondhand gift card dealers to keep electronic records.

Long Description:

Creates a new classification for theft from a retail location, called retail theft with special circumstances, a class 5 felony1 misdemeanor. This is when someone either at the time of theft has something that is designed to overcome security systems (like lined bags or tag removers) or utilizes an organized effort of multiple people with the intent of reselling items, acts in concert with two or more people to receive items they know were stolen, acts as an agent for an individual or people stealing from a retailer as part of a organized plan, or recruits people to an organized theft. The court may consider if the accused is a repeat offender, used specialized devices to evade security systems, or if the property stolen is usually resold. The crime can move to a felony if the individual has a previous conviction for this crime of three or more separate times within a six-month period. The felony type depends on the total amount stolen: $2,000-$5,000 is class 6, $5,000 to $20,000 is class 5, $20,000 to $100,000 is class 4, $100,000 to $1,000,000 is class 3, and over $1,000,000 is class 2. Also requires secondhand gift card dealers to keep electronic records.

Arguments For:

We aren’t talking about petty shoplifting here but organized intent to steal from retail locations, frequently with the idea of reselling these items later. Without this new criminal definition, these crimes would be left to simply the value of the articles stolen and that may rarely rise to a felony level (over $1,000) and may frequently be what is commonly called petty theft (under $500). We need a way to distinguish a professional criminal intent and operation, especially with how popular (and easy to steal and resell) gift cards have become, and that is what this law does.This bill provides a database to track electronic gift cards.

Arguments Against:

This runs contrary to our fairly consensus view that we currently over punish for crimes and that our prisons are grossly overpopulated. A group of 19 year-olds who organize together to steal $20 worth of gift cards to resell later should not be treated like felons but that is exactly what this law would require. We currently rate the crime at the value of the item(s) stolen, not the intent or sophistication of the crime. It’s a good system and we should not change it.

The original version of this bill did a better job of cracking down on this type of theft. The amended version is too toothless to make a difference.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-014

SB19-036 State Court Administrator Reminder Program (Lee, Cooke) [Benavidez, Carver]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Requires state court administrator to create and run a reminder program to remind criminal defendants to appear at their scheduled hearings.

Long Description:

Requires state court administrator to create and run a reminder program to remind criminal defendants to appear at their scheduled hearings. Court administrator is to issue a request for proposal to choose a third-party vendor to develop and operate the program, but it may decide to develop the program itself without a third-party vendor. Administrator must prioritize the use of text messaging, but may use other methods such as e-mail and telephone, with at least two texts sent. Administrator must report back on the effectiveness of the program.

Arguments For:

The goal here is to significantly reduce the number of defendants who end up in jail solely because of a failure to appear in court. While we’d like to live in a world where people don’t forget to come to court, that just isn’t the case. Keeping people out of our jail system for stupid reasons is a good goal, and program, to have.

Arguments Against:

The state should not be spending money to protect people from their own negligence. If someone cannot be counted upon to appear in court when asked, that this their problem and failure, not the taxpayers.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-036

SB19-043 Increasing Number of District Court Judges (Lee) [Herod, Carver]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Increases the number of district court judges in the 1st, 8th, 10th, 13th, 17th, 18th, and 21st districts by one and the number of judges in the 4th and 19th by two, and the number in the 2nd by four.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

This just takes into account the workload requirements of the various districts in the state.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-043

SB19-047 Remove Unauthorized Persons from Vacant Land (Hisey) [Buentello]

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Extends the procedures that are used instead of an eviction to remove unauthorized people from residential property to also remove unauthorized people from vacant land.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

The same procedures that work to allow property owners to evict unauthorized people from actual housing will work to allow them to evict unauthorized people from vacant land. No one has the right to squat on land that does not belong to them, even if it is not being actively used. We cannot ask property owners to bear the brunt of the problem of homelessness. The procedure gives the person the ability to defend themselves in a court hearing so it is fair.

Arguments Against:

This could present a problem for homeless individuals, who already have great difficulties in finding a place to sleep. We have to consider this problem in the real world, not an idealized one, and we can’t simply wish the homeless out of existence or constantly drag them into court. Without real housing solutions for them, closing down vacant lots could significantly narrow the options for some of these people.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-047

SB19-049 Statute of Limitation Failure Report Child Abuse (Fields) [Michaelson Jenet]

AMENDED: Moderate

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Changes the statute of limitations for failure to report child abuse by mandatory reporter from 18 months to five 3 years.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Eighteen months is not always enough time for prosecutors. This bill was sparked by a case in the Cherry Creek School District where by the time prosecutors were aware of the failure (a clear one, not a case where there was confusion about what was actually going on), 18 months had already gone past. The case squeaked through on some legal chicanery (the prosecutor argued that the statute reset every day, because the administrators have an obligation to report every day) that may not survive appeal and certainly will not be replicable everywhere. Mandatory reporting in schools is a mess, as a Denver Post investigation found last year, with at least three lawsuits settled with millions of dollars in fines paid out by school districts. We owe it to our children to have a wider standard here.

Arguments Against:

This does nothing to fix the problems with failing to report that the Post identified, which is that many of the mandatory reporters don’t know the law and are not given any training. A 2015 survey by the Department of Human Services found that 70% of mandatory reporters didn’t know they were mandatory reporters. And even from those that did, 30% didn’t know what the proper steps to report were. There also can be delays while administrators determine the actual facts of a case. The case that this is all based upon, in the Cherry Creek district, has moved forward under the current law.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-049

SB19-050 District Attorney Office Salary (Gardner)

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Changes how district attorneys and assistant district attorneys are paid from a combination of statutes and county commissioner board decisions to tying the salaries to judges in the district. Also changes who pays the salary, requiring the state to pay a large percentage of ADA salaries.

Long Description:

Changes how district attorneys and assistant district attorneys are paid from a combination of statutes and county commissioner board decisions to tying the salaries to judges in the district. DAs would have a minimum salary set at the level of a full-time district judge in their district. ADAs would be set to a minimum of the salary of a full-time county court judge. The DA would be able to designate one chief deputy, whose salary would be set to a minimum of a full-time district magistrate. Also changes who pays the salary, requiring the state to pay 80% of ADA salaries and 50% of chief deputy salaries. State already pays 80% of district attorney salaries. Bill also requires each county board of commissioners to make a one-time, irrevocable decision to require any ADA hired after the decision to become a member of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association. If this is done, then the state would pay 80% of the employee contribution. Existing employee contributions would continue to be paid by the employee.


Arguments For:

Larger counties in the state are doing fine with the current scheme but smaller rural counties can struggle. The district attorney in the third district last year refused to take up some cases after Huerfano and Las Animas counties were unable to meet his budget request. We need to offload the burden from the counties and onto the state, which can easily afford the extra money in its budget. Public safety should come first.

Arguments Against:

Colorado does just fine by its DAs. That third district issue is much more complicated than the district attorney is making it out to be. The counties say they will not provide him with more money until he accounts for what he has already spent and say he did not attend budget hearings and is refusing face-to-face meetings. In other words, it has nothing to do with our statewide funding mechanisms and everything to do with a local political spat. The fiscal analysis conducted by the nonpartisan Legislative Council says that the bill would cost the state over $6 million a year by 2021. This is half money saved from the counties, although of course we are also increasing salaries in some cases.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-050

SB19-071 Child Hearsay Exception (Fields) [Roberts]

AMENDED: Technical

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Expands the exception for under 13 child hearsay to admit an out-of-court statement made by a child from domestic violence and child abuse cases to any proceeding where the child is alleged to be a victim or any proceeding where the child describes all or part of an offense of unlawful sexual behavior.

Long Description:

Expands the exception for under 13 child hearsay to admit an out-of-court statement made by a child from domestic violence and child abuse cases to any proceeding where the child is alleged to be a victim or any proceeding where the child describes all or part of an offense of unlawful sexual behavior. These are all only admissible if the court determines that the circumstances of the statements provide sufficient reliability and the child either testifies or is unavailable as a witness and there is corroborative evidence.


Arguments For:

Courts surroundings are intimidating for anyone, let alone a child. In trying to elicit a complete statement from a child, a prosecutor may appear to put words and ideas into the child’s mouth. This exception allows the child to still tell their story in a way that does not violate the rights of the accused. It makes sense to expand it to instances where the child him or herself is a victim, the most traumatic experience possible, or where they can provide key evidence of unlawful sexual behavior.

Arguments Against:

Hearsay is a critical component of our legal system because it directly involves the right of the accused to confront their accuser. In a case of hearsay, the defense (or in some cases the prosecution) is not able to directly confront the statement and ask questions about it, in other words to test it under cross-examination. None of this is possible if the child does not testify at all, the jury is not able to see the child as a witness and make a determination of reliability. In our zeal to protect children we cannot lose sight of the rights of the accused.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-071

SB19-084 Revised Uniform Law Remote Notarization (Gardner)

From Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Enacts the 2018 amendments to the "Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts", drafted by the Uniform Law Commission, which authorize notaries public to perform a notarial act on behalf of an individual who is not in the notary's physical presence. To do this a notary must use an electronic system that conforms to standards established by rules of the secretary of state, including using communication technology and keeping an audio-video recording of the notarization for at least 10 years.

Long Description:

Enacts the 2018 amendments to the "Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts", drafted by the Uniform Law Commission, which authorize notaries public to perform a notarial act on behalf of an individual who is not in the notary's physical presence. To do this a notary must have personal knowledge of the individual’s identity, have satisfactory evidence of identity of remotely located individual by oath or affirmation of a witness, have used two different types of identity proofing, and created an audio-visual recording of the notarization. For individuals outside the US, the act of making the statement or signing the record must not be prohibited by the foreign state. The technology must conforms to standards established by rules of the secretary of state. Notaries must pre-clear their recording technology with the secretary of state before performing any remote notarizations.


Arguments For:

Our lives are going digital and electronic documents that require notarization should be able to be notarized without needing to seek out a notary in person. It’s just common sense.

Arguments Against:

Tamper-proof systems don’t really exist and seem unlikely to in the future. It’s just the way things are. Requiring in-person notarization keeps the process from being hacked. We only require notaries for really important documents, just the kind of things that may be attractive to hackers.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-084

SB19-088 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (Gardner) [Tipper, McKean]

From the Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws

AMENDED: Moderate

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Replaces the current unclaimed property act with a uniform version as adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 2016 with state-specific amendments. In addition to promoting uniformity among states, this revised version also responds to current transactions and practices, particularly electronic records.

Long Description: N/A

Arguments For:

This is a clear adoption of a national standard for unclaimed property and just brings Colorado in line with other states (and where other states will be) when it comes to the nuts and bolts of unclaimed property: what it is, how it should be handled, and what the system is for claiming it or disposing of it. It is important for us to keep our laws up-to-date with changing technology so that they are equipped to handle all situations.

Arguments Against:

Updating the law is fine, but Colorado shouldn’t be taking some cookie cutter solution from a national conference just so our laws are nearly the same as a bunch of other states.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-088

SB19-100 Unauthorized Disclosure of Intimate Images Act (Gardner) [Tipper]

From the Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Adopts the Uniform Civil Remedies for Unauthorized Disclosure of Intimate Images Act, which grants individuals whose body is shown in whole or in part in an intimate image and has suffered harm from the disclosure or threatened disclosure of that image without their consent to a cause for civil action and, if the court rules for them, recovery of the greater of economic and noneconomic damages or $10,000, as well as the amount equal to the gain made by the defendant from the image(s), and punitive damages and legal fees. There is a four six year statute of limitations. This replaces the state’s current, similar law.

Long Description:

Adopts the Uniform Civil Remedies for Unauthorized Disclosure of Intimate Images Act, which grants individuals whose body is shown in whole or in part in an intimate image and has suffered harm from the disclosure or threatened disclosure of that image without their consent to a cause for civil action and, if the court rules for them, recovery of the greater of economic and noneconomic damages or $10,000, as well as the amount equal to the gain made by the defendant from the image(s), and punitive damages and legal fees. There is a four year statute of limitations. This replaces the state’s current, similar law. Differences between current law and this law include: the inclusion of the threat to disclose images as cause for a lawsuit, inclusion of money made by the defendant off the image(s) as potential awards to the victim, the four six year statute of limitations (which does not start until the person is an adult, regardless of when the action occurred), the ability for the plaintiff to use a pseudonym in the lawsuit, and that the victim’s consent to the creation of the image or previous disclosure of the image or if the image was in a public place does not establish consent for the defendant.


Arguments For:

The proposed law is simply better than what we currently have. Including the money made of off posting the image, the right to use a pseudonym, inclusion of threatening to disclose as a right to sue, closing potential consent loopholes, all of these strengthen our current law and should be adopted. The statute of limitations is for when the action could be reasonably discovered, so it prevents someone from being fine with this sort of image being in the public and then changing their mind years later.

Arguments Against:

We do not have a four six year statute of limitations for civil actions. Abusive relationships are frequently not logical and orderly, it can take years for someone to realize the hold another person has over them and be free of it. In these cases the victim should be able to take action and get money and injunctive relief, even if it is years later. If the defendant feels this is a case of seeking revenge for something the alleged victim was fine with at the time, then the defendant is free to present that argument at trial.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-100

SB19-105 Colorado Uniform Directed Trust Act (Rodriguez) [Tipper]

From the Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Replaces current state law dealing with the administration of directed trusts (an investment trust where the trustee is directed by other trust participants in administering it) with a uniform state law version, amended to fit Colorado statutes.

Long Description:

Replaces current state law dealing with the administration of directed trusts (an investment trust where the trustee is directed by other trust participants in administering it) with a uniform state law version, amended to fit Colorado statutes. The bill includes provisions on judicial proceedings, trust directors’ powers, duties and liabilities of trust directors and directed trustees, and powers that are excluded from the bill.


Arguments For:

Our current laws just don’t have the detail required to deal with the various possibilities of directed trusts. Having a defined trust director (with defined flows of information involving the position) and defined judicial proceedings is an update we need. Plus our law will be more aligned with other states in the country.

Arguments Against:

Our current law is fine, there is no need to have a trust director, the trustees can work out this process of control on their own or if not, through our existing law.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-105

SB19-109 Adjust Damages Limitations for Inflation (Fenberg) [Garnett]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Adjust the limitations of damages for unlawfully serving alcohol, for noneconomic loss or injury, and for wrongful death to account for inflation and automatically adjusts these every two years in the future as well.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Anytime we can put automatic inflation adjustments into dollar amounts that should scale with inflation, we should do it. The alternative is to constantly find these things in statutes and adjust them. It is unclear that this will actually cause insurance rates to rise, North Carolina has no caps on these damages and the lowest insurance rates in the nation.

Arguments Against:

It is not a slam dunk that these penalties should always increase with inflation. In addition, having to find them and adjust them manually means we have to revisit the core decision on the amount. It’s possible we’ll find that it no longer makes sense and need to be raised or lowered dramatically.

Raising these damages may cause a rise in insurance rates.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-109

SB19-175 Serious Bodily Injury Vulnerable Road User Penalties (Foote) [Roberts]

AMENDED: Significant

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To increase penalties to drivers who cause serious injury to vulnerable people on or around roads.

Description:

Makes it a class 1 misdemeanor 12 point license violation to either seriously injure or kills a vulnerable individual (multiple different categories including pedestrians, skaters, bicyclists, police officers, emergency services personnel) while driving in a careless manner. Also must attend a driver improvement school and lose your license for a year. The department of revenue must consider issuing a restricted license to someone who needs to drive for work.

Additional Information:

Vulnerable road user is defined as:

  • Pedestrians
  • People engaged in roadwork along a roadway
  • Someone providing emergency services within a right-of-way
  • A police officer outside of their vehicle performing their duties in a right-of-way
  • Person riding or leading an animal
  • Person lawfully using a crosswalk, public right-of-way, or shoulder
  • Person riding any kind of bicycle, tricycle, or other pedal-powered vehicle
  • Farm tractor or other farm equipment
  • Skateboarder
  • Roller- or in-line skater
  • Person riding a scooter, moped, or motorcycle.
  • An animal drawn, wheeled vehicle
  • Someone in a sled
  • Someone in a wheelchair or other personal assistive mobility device
  • A baby stroller or non-motorized pull wagon


Arguments For:

It is already a crime to drive in a careless manner, this takes that existing violation and applies to injuring someone, where the current standard to be charged with a crime is the more difficult to prove “reckless manner” which requires proof that the driver consciously disregarded a risk. In other words, being a bad driver is a real defense for injuring someone while driving badly. For cases of “bad driving” we need to make sure the bad driver is getting the proper training they need until they are safe to be on the roads again.

Arguments Against:

We already have laws to deal with seriously injuring or killing someone with your car. This is all about overly punishing a driver who made an honest mistake and like most people, will think about that mistake more often than any driver improvement school could ever make them. Punishing them with the highest level misdemeanor is over the top.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-175

SB19-182 Repeal the Death Penalty (Williams, Gonzales) [Arndt, Benavidez]

KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR

Goal: To end use of the death penalty in Colorado.

Description:

Repeals the death penalty for any offenses charged in Colorado after July 1, 2019.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

The country is moving away from employing the death penalty, as evidenced by the recent repeal of the death penalty in seven states and the fact that a total of twenty states now do not impose the death penalty in their criminal justice systems. In addition, three states, including Colorado, have imposed an effective moratorium on the death penalty. This trend reflects a growing belief that the death penalty is not an effective penalty in a modern criminal justice system. The first problem with the death penalty is that as of 2015 for every 10 people who have been executed since 1973, one person has been exonerated from death row (national statistics). That is an unacceptable risk of the state putting to death an innocent person, and in fact, the odds are that an innocent person has been executed since 1973. The second problem is that the racial bias that pervades the criminal justice system finds a home here too. Study after study has found that the race is a significant factor in determining whether or not the death penalty is applied to a defendant. The third problem is that there absolutely no evidence that the death penalty provides any criminal deterrence, despite numerous studies of the subject. The fourth problem is that using the death penalty costs the state far more money than a life sentence. Colorado was found to spend about 15% more on death penalty inmates than on those in the general population. And while there are some victims’ families that find closure through the death penalty, there are others that do not. One set of victims should not gain precedence over the other, all things being equal and all things are decidedly not equal in this case.

Arguments Against:

The reason we have the death penalty is simple and it goes beyond cost considerations or deterrence. It is about justice. Justice for the victims and justice for society in cases where the underlying crime was so heinous that it merits the strongest possible response. As for deterrence, while there is evidence that the death penalty deters crime, it is important to note how hard this would be to prove. You would need to have individuals admit that they would have committed a crime but did not due to the death penalty (merely using crime statistics brings in a host of other variables). If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. DNA evidence has been an enormous factor in exonerations. We obviously have DNA now and did not in the past, so this should not be a factor in the future. And for the racial problems, this calls out for reform of our justice system, not changing our punishment structure.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-182

SB19-185 Protections for Minor Human Trafficking Victims (Fields, Lundeen) [Landgraf]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To protect minor victims of human trafficking from prosecution for their activities.

Description:

Creates immunity from prostitution-related offense if probable cause exists to believe that a minor was a victim of either human trafficking of a minor for involuntary servitude or for sexual servitude. Gives an affirmative defense for these victims for any non-level 1 felony criminal act if the minor can prove they were forced or coerced into engaging in the criminal act. Bill also establishes that anyone younger than 18 who engages in conduct that would be prostitution if they were an adult must be referred to appropriate social services department and if the officer suspects they may be a victim of human trafficking that the violation be reported to appropriate county or state levels.

Arguments For:

The old language gave the age of the individual as option to use as a defense against prostitution (and other crimes), this just flat out states what we all know: minors who commit acts that are considered prostitution are victims and needed to be treated as such. And that frequently minors in these situations are forced into other illegal acts and should be able to use their status a victim of human trafficking as a defense.

Arguments Against:

It can be extremely difficult to demonstrate human trafficking and many cases may fall outside of this bill's narrow scope of prostitution done by a minor leading minors who should not be charged and punished to continue to suffer.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-185

SB19-187 Commissions on Judicial Performance (Lee, Gardner) [Bird, McKean]

AMENDED: Technical

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To make some changes to how judges are evaluated by commissions on judicial performance and how vacancies on the commissions are handled.

Description:

Removes senior judges (retired judges who have temporarily returned to judicial duties) from evaluation by state commission on judicial performance. Clarifies language on people who are given surveys for performance evaluation and removes people for whom the judicial department does not have contact information. Clarifies the commission can use a matrix or scorecard to create evaluation and removes requirement that performance evaluation contains a performance standard threshold. Changes vacancy appointment on state or district commissions that are still open after 45 days from governor to state commission.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

We don’t need to go through all of the evaluation trouble for a retired judge who is just filling in temporarily.

Arguments Against:

In general you don’t want a commission appointing its own members, so the current law giving this duty to the governor instead of the state commission makes more sense.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-187

SB19-201 Open Discussions about Adverse Health Care Incidents (Pettersen) [Kipp, McKean]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To allow health care providers and facilities the ability to candidly communicate with patients and families after an adverse health care incident without fear of lawsuits.

Description:

A health care provider or facility may provide a patient or family written notice of the desire to enter an open discussion, which is a discussion where all communications are privileged and confidential and thus inadmissible in court or arbitration proceedings. Patient or family must agree in writing. Notice must contain information about the patient and family’s rights to medical records, have legal counsel present during discussion, and that the discussion does not extend deadline for filing a lawsuit. Provider may offer compensation to the patient or family in the discussion (this must be in writing) and may require patient or family to sign documents relinquishing right to sue. The case is not reported to national reporting or state agencies if money is accepted in an open dialog and does not go on the provider's record.

Additional Information:

The offer for open discussion must come within 180 days of either the incident or knowledge of it. Health care providers or facilities that participate in an open discussion may also provide de-identified information about the incident to any patient-centered nonprofit organization for use in patient safety research and education. Participating in this open discussion does not make materials that would be subject to discovery or subpoena “safe”, they can still be part of future litigation. Only materials specifically prepared for the open discussion would be considered confidential.


Arguments For:

This is a consensual way for both parties to engage in frank discussion that can avert lawsuits. Providers and facilities can explain what happened, and how they intend to prevent it in the future, and offer just compensation outside of concerns about civil damages and courtrooms. This could be particularly true where the provider and/or doctor do not believe they were negligent and do not want a mark on their permanent record. Because patients and families are required to be advised of their rights at every step of the way and just participating in the conversation doesn’t affect patient’s and family’s ability to use litigation later, the bill doesn’t close off opportunities for patients and families. There are also some patients and families who are not interested in litigation but just want to know what happened and are looking for closure. Right now facilities and providers are afraid to have any sort of frank conversation with any family, no matter what is said, due to fear of future litigation.

Arguments Against:

The way the bill is written would preclude incidents where the patient and the provider had come to an agreement from being reported to national reporting and state reporting agencies. This means that the incidents would not be reported and searchable for future potential patients. This could stack the deck even further against patients and families in cases of malpractice. A provider or facility could have an “open” discussion where they tell the family that the incident was someone’s fault, was avoidable, and sorry, but here’s some money take it or leave it. If the family decides not to take the money (or if none is even offered), then the same people who sat at that table and accepted fault could claim in court that there was no fault and there would be no recourse. It would be impossible to prove perjury since all the information in the discussion is completely confidential and inadmissible, so you can’t prove that the later statements under oath are lies (there is no perjury exception in the bill). And while the facility or provider is required to notify the patient or family that they have the right to counsel, it is not hard to imagine a scenario where a patient or family does not fully understand the situation, particularly if there are language barriers, and ends up signing over their right to sue for a relative pittance.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-201

SB19-217 Healthcare Provider Liens (Foote, Tate) [Snyder, Bockenfeld]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED ON SENATE CALENDAR

Goal: To create rules around healthcare liens created in situations where an individual was injured as the result of negligence or wrongful act of another person.

Description:

Before a healthcare lien is created, provider must advise injured individual about their payment options, including creating a lien against money received as result of court claim, use of insurance benefits, other payment arrangements, or some combination of all three. Must also advise that if health insurance is obtained in future, option to bill future charges to insurance. If lien is created, amount must not exceed actual charges at standard fee schedule. Amount of lien is not admissible in court. Liens must not be reduced through post-verdict set-offs or sales of the lien. Does not affect hospital liens.

Additional Information:

No surcharges, finance charges, or interest can be added to a lien. This does not apply to a debt collection agency who has been assigned a lien to collect on. Liens are not loans and healthcare providers who enter into them are not payers of benefits. Liens cannot be sent to debt collector unless there is fraud.


Arguments For:

People in Colorado who are injured through someone else’s action should receive timely and thorough medical care, even if they do not have insurance. So providers sometimes agree to delayed payment in exchange for a lien on lawsuit awards or settlement funds, but there are no rules right now preventing providers from tacking on fees or from reducing compensation to the injured party because the lien was sold to someone else. This bill fixes these problems for non-hospital care (hospital liens already have their own statutory regulations).

Arguments Against:

Liens of these sorts are a great benefit to people who need immediate medical attention in a situation where they are likely to get some sort of settlement or lawsuit winnings. The lien company is taking the risk here, if there ends up being no settlement or lawsuit winnings then they are left out in the cold. With that risk should come more freedom to operate.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-217

SB19-223 Actions Related to Competency to Proceed (Lee, Gardner) [Weissman, Landgraf]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To improve the process around competency to proceed evaluations, judgments, and restoration and fulfill promises the state has made in court proceedings.

Description:

Lowers time limits for second competency to proceed evaluation requests and evaluations. Sets requirements for competency evaluation timing and place, location of restoration attempts and allowed duration of such efforts, and timelines to release those still deemed incompetent from custody. Requires department to create an electronic system to track status of defendants for whom competency evaluations or competency restoration have been ordered. Requires department to create a committee of clinical experts to create a placement guideline to determine where competency evaluations should occur. Requires department to create a partnership with an institution of higher education to develop and provide training in forensic evaluation, including competency and sanity. Requires all district attorneys, public defenders, and alternate defense counselors to take this course, paid for by state.

Additional Information:

  • Requires in-custody competency evaluations to be completed within 21 days of the order for an evaluation and out-of-custody evaluations to be done within 42 days. Bond in these cases must include requirement for cooperating with out-of-custody evaluations.
  • Sets conditions upon which a court can require an in-patient evaluation, if this is ordered then the defendant must be admitted to the program within 14 days and transported to the facility within 21 days.
  • Requires competency reports to offer an opinion on, if the defendant is deemed incompetent, the probability that they will attain competency within a reasonable time frame and if restorative services are appropriate.
  • Tier 1 defendants, who are deemed to need immediate in-patient restorative care because they pose a danger to themselves or others, must be admitted to inpatient restoration within 7 days, tier 2 within 28. Gives power to the executive director to request less restrictive facilities for restoration. Court must rule within 14 days.
  • Requires defendants deemed incompetent to proceed to be released after being held for ½ of the maximum prison term for their most serious charge. Requires judicial review within 91 days of commitment for someone deemed incompetent to proceed with a complete report required from entity treating defendant. If defendant is still deemed incompetent, additional reviews required every 91 days until four have been completed, then every 63 days until court determines restoration is not likely.
  • Requires release from custody and charges dismissed if charges are for a non-violent misdemeanor and been in custody for six months; for non-violent class 5 or 6 felonies, one year; class 4 non-violent felonies, two years. Someone can object to this release and request a hearing.


Arguments For:

The state was sued in 2011 because we were doing so badly in providing timely competency hearings. There was a settlement, but it wasn’t implemented well and the state entered mediation with several groups. This bill is part of the attempt for the state to live up to what it has just recently promised in that mediation. The terms in the bill are basically what the state has agreed to do through this legal process, if this bill does not pass we are otherwise leaving the state open to further litigation for violating due process. And as a bonus, we'll be doing better by those in our society who have a mental illness and get caught up in the criminal justice system.

Arguments Against:

The bill does direct an appropriation for training, but does not mention any other funds. It’s not like the state has been happily denying due process for fun, we clearly lack the resources to do this correctly. Funding for upping the process to the timelines laid out in the bill will have to come from somewhere.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-223

SB19-237 Consumer Protection Act Damages (Rodriguez) [Roberts]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Goal: To clarify that the $500 damages that may be awarded in private civil litigation for a violation of the state consumer protection act is per violation, not total, and that in a class action suit damages may be awarded to the class.

Description:

Clarifies that the $500 damages that may be awarded in private civil litigation for a violation of the state consumer protection act is per violation, not total, and that in a class action suit damages may be awarded to the class.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

The intent here is clear, that $500 is the award per violation. But the statute did not say that so it left it open for interpretation that is not matching that intent. This bill simply fixes this problem, as well as the damages in a class action suit issue.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-237