These are all of the legal system bills proposed in the 2020 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 or highlighted in yellow. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments; yellow highlights mean conference committee amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Mega, Major, Medium, Minor+, 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:

MEGA

MAJOR

HB20-1026 Create Twenty-third Judicial District SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB20-1150 Repeal House Bill 19-1263 Penalties For Drug Possession KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1296 Civil Action Statute Of Limitations Sexual Assault KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

MEDIUM

HB20-1102 Requirements For Jailhouse Witness Testimony KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1120 Enforcement Of Sexual Exploitation Of A Child KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1123 Grace Period Before Failure To Appear Warrant KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1187 Prevention Of Mail Theft KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1292 Uniform Parentage Act (2017) KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

MINOR+

HB20-1014 Misuse Of Human Reproductive Material PASSED SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
HB20-1054 Withdraw Plea Agreement If Condition Rejected KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB20-1060 Natural Organic Reduction Human Remains KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1096 Authorize Protected Series Of Limited Liability Company KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1118 Careless Driving Serious Bodily Injury KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

HB20-1121 Retaliation Against An Elected Official KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1152 Penalty For Weapons Possession Offenses KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1291 Uniform Collaborative Law Act KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
HB20-1316 Gestational And Genetic Surrogacy Agreements KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR
HB20-1348 Additional Liability Under Respondent Superior KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

MINOR

HB20-1013 Specify Procedure Ratify Defective Corporate Actions SIGNED INTO LAW
HB20-1130 Online Availability Of Judicial Opinions KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS
HB20-1148 Offenses Committed Against A Deceased Human Body SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED

TECHNICAL

HB20-1013 Specify Procedure Ratify Defective Corporate Actions (Lee (D)) [Snyder (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Provide a procedure in law for fixing defective corporate actions.

Description:

Creates a procedure for corporations to follow to fix actions taken that we done incorrectly and thus are not valid. This includes improper issuing of stock. This supplements existing common law procedures (procedures worked out by courts over time rather than relying on law). Judicial appeal of a ratification of a defective action is available for 120 days after the fix is made.

Auto-Repeal: None

Additional Information:

To follow this procedure the board of directors of a corporation must state what they need to fix and why, the date of the improper action and that they approve the fix of the improper action. If it relates to the initial selection of the board itself, then the majority of people who held the power at the time the board was chosen must take the same steps. If shareholder approval is required, then a majority of a quorum of shareholders must also approve with appropriate written notice beforehand. If the action involved issuance of stock, then people who received stock in error cannot vote. If shareholder approval is not required, shareholders must still be notified. If any filings were required for the initial erroneous action, they must be redone with an attachment explaining the defective action and fix.


Arguments For:

While we do have common law solutions that have built up over time to this problem, it is better to have a legal basis for fixing what generally amounts to administrative errors to provide standardization. This bill does that in a straightforward manner and provides a legal remedy for anyone who believes they would be harmed by the fix.

Arguments Against:

Our common law approach is fine, we don’t need more hoops for people to jump through.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1013

HB20-1014 Misuse Of Human Reproductive Material (Gardner (R)) [Tipper (D), Rich (R)]

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal: Provide legal framework to punish health care providers who knowingly use sperm or eggs from a donor the patient did not approve.

Description:

Allows parents and any children born as a result to bring civil action against a health care provider who knowingly used sperm or eggs for assisted reproduction from a donor that the patient did not expressly approve. Maximum damages of either reasonable compensation of injuries, pain, and distress, or $50,000. If the health care provider uses their own sperm or eggs without the patient’s informed consent itThis is a class 6 felony (1 year to 18 months in prison and fine of $1,000-$100,000) and an automatic unprofessional conduct under the license to practice medicine if convicted.

Additional Information:

Civil litigation does not preclude other people from following other remedies available in law. Separate action can be brought for each child born as a result of the unapproved procedure.

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Sadly this is necessary. The spread of DNA testing has brought this nasty issue to light. One doctor in the Netherlands fathered 56 children on women who used his clinic. Last year in Canada a doctor was found to have repeatedly used the wrong sperm (including at times his own) over decades of practice. Another in Indiana fathered at least 61 kids but got off on obstruction of justice because there was no law specifically prohibiting this activity. This is the appropriate level of punishment, sexual assault laws bring in lots of other components that are not appropriate here

Arguments Against:

This actually doesn’t go far enough. Texas has passed its own version of this law making it sexual assault. In the case of a doctor using their own sperm or eggs that is precisely what is happening here: unwanted sexual contact with no consent. And a doctor who knowingly does this should automatically lose their license, not just get tagged with unprofessional conduct.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1014

HB20-1026 Create Twenty-third Judicial District (Fields (D), Gardner (R)) [Van Winkle (R), Weissman (D)]

*This requires a 2/3 vote in both chambers*

AMENDED: Moderate

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Roughly $1 million per year in first two years, $1.4 million in year 3, $1.8 million in year 4, Arapahoe County likely to see increased annual costs, other three counties decreased.

Goal: Create a 23rd state judicial district consisting of Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln counties.

Description:

Effective in 2025, removes Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln counties from the 18th judicial district to create the 23rd state judicial district. Sets elections for both the new 18th and the 23rd districts and lowers the number of judges for the 18th district. Asks for counties and the judicial department to request the funding needed to make this transition in its budgeting process.

Additional Information:

The new 18th district will have 17 judges. The 23rd will have eight first seven, going up to eight by mid-2025. The 2024 general election will have district attorney races for both the 18th and 23rd districts. Judges who were in the 18th district but are no longer eligible can serve the rest of their term in the 23rd. Those who were in the 18th and are still eligible will stay in the 18th.


Auto-Repeal: Election process for transition auto-repeals July 2027.

Arguments For:

The number of districts in the state hasn’t changed for more than 50 years, although the state’s population increased by more than 3.5 million people during that time. The 18th district has grown the most and now has a population of over 1 million people while no other district has a population of over 750,000. In addition, the counties that would form the 23rd are paying in more than they are getting out of the 18th district, since the vast majority of crimes occur in Arapahoe County. The three counties that would make up the 23rd and Arapahoe also frankly have stark political differences and this switch would allow all parties involved to better shape the judiciary they want. All the counties involved support this change. It is past-time to rectify this situation and this bill lays out as smooth a process as possible for doing so. It also requires a 2/3 vote to clear each chamber, so this is a super-majority decision.

Arguments Against:

This large a change should not be made by the legislature, it should be left up to the citizens affected, those who reside in these four counties. Those who live in Arapahoe County are going to see an increase in the cost of providing all judicial services, potentially around $3 million or so each year and possibly more one-time costs to increase court infrastructure. We also should never draw up judicial districts to appease partisan interests.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1026

HB20-1054 Withdraw Plea Agreement If Condition Rejected [Soper (R), Roberts (D)]

KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow prosecutors to withdraw from plea agreements if a judge rejects part of it in the same way defendants can.

Description:

Allows prosecutors to withdraw from plea agreements if a judge rejects a specific part of it, in the same way that defendants currently can.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

A plea agreement can be a complicated thing and removing just one aspect of it can make it no longer acceptable. But right now defendants are the only ones that can pull out of an agreement if it no longer works. Prosecutors should have the same leeway.

Arguments Against:

Prosecutors usually hold most of the cards when it comes to plea deals and if something is going to be rejected by a judge, it will usually be to the defense’s advantage. Allowing prosecutors to then pull out could not only cause more cases clogging up the system but also remove one of the few edges defendants have.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1054

HB20-1060 Natural Organic Reduction Human Remains (Rodriguez (D), Marble (R)) [Titone (D), Soper (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: $20,000
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal: Allow reduction of human remains to soil as an option for final disposition.

Description:

Allows the usage of process called natural reduction that reduces human remains to soil as an option for final disposition. Regulate natural reduction process in same way funeral establishments are already. Bans selling or offering to sell natural reducation remains, comingling the natural reduction remains of two or more people without expressed written consent, or to use naturally reduced remains in a business in soil to produce food for human consumption. Violation of any of these is a deceptive trade practice.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

This process is more environmentally friendly than burial (which can leach chemicals into the ground) or cremation (which uses fossil fuels) and less expensive than the average burial. All the bill does is allow people who want to do this the choice. This method has been found safe by a study conducted by Washington State University and is already approved in Washington state.

Arguments Against:

It may be less expensive than a burial but it is more expensive than cremation. And it is too early to jump in, let's see how it goes in Washington state first.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1060

HB20-1096 Authorize Protected Series Of Limited Liability Company (Sonnenberg (R), Woodward (R)) [Baisley (R)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Minimal in first year

Goal: Allow for protected series LLCs in Colorado by enacting the Uniform Law Commission’s Uniform Protected Series Act.

Description:

Enacts the Uniform Law Commission’s Uniform Protected Series Act. All members of an LLC must vote to create a protected series LLC. Filing is done with the state as with other companies. Name must begin with company name and contain phrase protected series or P.S. initials. Only one registered agent required for all protective series. Assets must be identifiable and distinguishable from other assets and it must be clear which protective series it belongs to, including transaction history. If this is not clear, then the asset belongs to the overarching company and is available for liability purposes to creditors of all series. Use of alter ego and organizational liability that is currently applied to separate LLCs also applies to series LLCs (keeps people from segregating assets fraudulently and allows courts to ignore limited liability standards if this is done). Series LLCs can sue and be sued and are treated like regular LLCs by state law. They can be dissolved only by vote of all members (or if the parent company dissolves). They cannot acquire or be acquired or merge or convert on their own.

Additional Information:

Quite honestly, this is a very dense 49 page bill. If you are an expert on corporate law, you will get far more of the nuts and bolts of how everything works by reading the bill than any attempt by us to translate it. The Description section provides the broad brush strokes of how this would work.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Series LLCs are the perfect solution for a company that wants to limit its liability to personal assets (and thus is interested in an LLC which does exactly that) but also wants to limit its liability across its assets. Right now, companies that wish to do this have to form a separate LLC for each company or asset. The series LLCs allow for the same construct, liability only occurs within one LLC, all under the umbrella of one company. This of course greatly increases the administrative burden of running the company and may encourage more companies to limit their liabilities in this manner who otherwise would not have. The bill was written with potential fraudulent activity in mind so it defaults to the way LLCs are handled in these cases. No one is going to be able to escape creditors or commit fraud any more easily than if they set up multiple LLCs. Since this is a Uniform Commission law, many states will likely adopt it in the coming years.

Arguments Against:

The benefits aren’t as great as they may seem at first glance. Each series LLC needs its own bank account and accounting and assets must be kept separate. States that don’t recognize series LLCs will not treat them like separate LLC holdings but rather one large LLC. So any activity required in other states will either result in one LLC or still require the filling of multiple LLCs. And right now these companies are new enough that they have not been really tested when it comes to bankruptcy, especially when it comes interstate issues of law. So this type of organizational setup is not for the faint of heart and most certainly not for a business that doesn’t know what it is doing. In fact, the Uniform Commission considered putting restrictions on what kinds of companies could even use this setup, as they were afraid of businesses who weren’t prepared for the complexity falling on their face. So since the burden is not lighter, just different, we should stick to our current LLC structure.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1096

HB20-1102 Requirements For Jailhouse Witness Testimony (Lee (D), Priola (R)) [Tipper (D), Soper (R)]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: $16,860
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal: Increase disclosure requirements for prosecutors who use jailhouse informant witnesses and require specific jury instructions on their credibility as well as pretrial hearings on their admissibility in murder and sexual assault cases.

Description: Requires district attorneys to keep detailed files on all uses of jailhouse informant witnesses and must disclose past use of a witness to the defense if the prosecutor plans to use a jailhouse witness in a case. This includes any incentives given to the witness for their cooperation. Judge must give jury instructions on considering specific factors for assessing credibility of jailhouse informants. For murder and sexual assault cases, any proposed use of a jailhouse informant must go through a pretrial hearing for the judge to determine if the preponderance of the evidence the testimony is reliable and can therefore be allowed in the case. If the court feels the witness’ safety might be at risk, it can order that only the defense attorneys receive these materials. Victims of the jailhouse witness must also be notified if a jailhouse witness receives any leniency in a case.

Additional Information:

A jailhouse witness is defined as a witness who is in prison at the time they offer testimony regarding statements made by a suspect or defendant and who is getting consideration in return for testimony (monetary, sentencing, immunity, etc.). This does not apply to co-defendants. Record district attorneys must keep includes: each case in which a jailhouse witness has been used by the state to testify, the substance of the testimony, and any benefits the witness requested or received. This information is only accessible to district attorneys and is not subject to the state’s open records act.

During discovery the prosecution must inform the defense of:

  • The complete criminal history of the witness, including any charges that are pending, were reduced, or dismissed as a result of a plea bargain, the cooperation agreement including any incentives for the witness
  • The substance, time, and place of any statement allegedly given by the defendant or suspect to the witness and the substance, time, and place of any statement by the witness implicating the suspect or defendant
  • If the witness ever recanted their testimony and if so, time and place, nature of recantation, and people who were present
  • Case name and number of any other criminal cases the witness testified in as a jailhouse witness as well as the substance of the testimony, and any cooperation agreement details, including incentives to the witness

Judge must include the following factors in jury instructions for assessing witness validity and for the judge determining admissibility of witness in murder or sexual assault cases:

  • Extent to which jailhouse witness testimony is confirmed by other evidence
  • Specificity of the testimony
  • Extent to which testimony contains details only know by the perpetrator
  • Circumstances under which information was originally provided by jailhouse witness including whether they were responding to leading questions


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Unfortunately these protections are not currently in place in our criminal justice system. And it is obvious that jailhouse informants have every incentive to lie. And prosecutors use the tool heavily at times to obtain convictions. Career criminals know all about how to abuse this process. One such man in California provided jailhouse witness testimony in as many as 40 cases. He had a system down to find recent cases of murder in the area, fake various identities to get pertinent case information over the phone from various sources (including victim’s families) and fabricate a “confession” from the accused based on all the information. Again, this man was used 40 times by prosecutors. A 2005 study by the Center on Wrongful Convictions found that jailhouse witness dependent prosecutions were a leading cause of wrongful convictions in capital cases. In over 15% of cases where later DNA testing exonerated the defendant, jailhouse witness testimony was used. So we must make sure that career informant’s history is known to the court and the defense before the trial, that in cases of murder and sexual assault we do an extra check by a judge, and the jury is put on their toes to properly evaluate the context of the witness. That should help us weed out the career informants, the prosecutorial misconduct, and ensure a fair trial.

Argument Against:

The rules of criminal conduct say that withholding evidence that could have swayed a jury against a guilty verdict amounts to prosecutorial misconduct. So withholding evidence that could impeach the credibility of a witness could already amount to misconduct without any new laws. The mere fact that witnesses get something in return is not enough to impeach witnesses entirely and overly focusing on it during jury instructions or in pretrial hearings where the prosecutors must prove the witness credible risks making it too difficult to use jailhouse witness testimony. This is a crucial tool for law enforcement and prosecutors. Sometimes difficult choices must be made about how to bring the people most responsible for a crime to justice and sometimes that includes cutting deals with others.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1102

HB20-1118 Careless Driving Serious Bodily Injury (Hisey (R)) [Larson (R), Titone (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal: Make crime of seriously injuring or killing someone while driving in careless manner apply to anyone injured or killed, not just a vulnerable individual.

Description:

Currently it is a 12 point license violation, automatic yearly suspension of license, and requirement to attend driver improvement school for a conviction of seriously injuring or killing a vulnerable individual while driving in a careless manner. This bill removes the vulnerable part and makes the penalties apply to serious injury or death of anyone caused by driving in a careless manner.

Additional Information:

Vulnerable road user was 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


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

It shouldn’t matter if the individual hurt was vulnerable or not, the key problem is the same: someone driving in a careless manner causing serious injury. That individual needs to be off the streets in the same way as someone who injuries a vulnerable person. The key here is the automatic license suspension and mandatory driver school. We obviously cannot go back in time to prevent the tragedy but we can try to stop another one from occurring.

Arguments Against:

We already have laws to deal with seriously injuring or killing someone with your car (causing bodily harm while carelessly driving is already a class 1 misdemeanor and already applies to injuring anyone). 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.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1118

HB20-1120 Enforcement Of Sexual Exploitation Of A Child (Gardner (R), Fields (D)) [Carver (R), Roberts (D)]

AMENDED: Significant

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: $6,226
Fiscal Impact: Negligible beyond appropriation

Goal: Update definitions of sexual exploitation of a child to reflect evolving technology, increase penalties for cases involving those under 12 and those physically violated or assaulted, and create grant fund from use additional fines on those found guilty to fund developing technology to take on computer-facilitated crimes.

Description:

Updates definitions of sexual exploitation of a child to reflect evolving technologies by more broadly defining possession to include any ability to view digital material. Also adds sexual intrusion to the explicit sexual conduct definition so as to cover non-intercourse sexual activities. Makes the crime an extraordinary risk crime (which carries higher penalties) if it involves a child who is under 12 or subjected to physical force or violence or subjected to sexual intercourse, sexual intrusion, or sadomasochism. Creates the Enhance Effective Investigation and Prosecution of Computer-Facilitated Sexual Exploitation of Children Grant Program. Tasks state law enforcement This is funded by a surcharge on all convicted of sexual exploitation of children crimes. Program to fund law enforcement agencies to assist with developing and acquiring necessary technology or expert resources to investigate and prosecute computer-facilitated crimes of sexual exploitation, funded by a surcharge on all convicted of sexual exploitation of children crimes. State can use 5% of grant funds for administration.

Additional Information:

For the grant program state must prioritize grantees that demonstrate a lack of technological or expert resources necessary to effectively investigate and prosecute computer-facilitated crimes of sexual exploitation. Fund can also receive gifts, grants, and donations. Surcharge is:

Class 3 felony, $2,000; class 4, $1,000; class 5, $500; class 6, $250. Juveniles are not required to pay.

Punishment increase for extraordinary risk crimes is: additional four years for class 3 felonies, two years for class 4, one year for class 5, and six months for class 6.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Sadly we have to keep up with the times when it comes to finding those who sexually exploit children and prosecute them. When we get into crime involving computers, the complexity level can rise, as those criminals who are sophisticated with technology can use it to hide their tracks. Law enforcement needs to be able to keep up and funding the program off of criminals who have committed this heinous crime is very appropriate. Cracking down more forcefully on those who commit the worst of these crimes is also appropriate.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1120

HB20-1121 Retaliation Against An Elected Official [Mullica (D), Soper (R)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible

Goal: Give elected officials and their families the same protection against retaliation as judges and their families.

Description:

It is a class 4 felony to commit a crime of retaliation against a judge, which is a credible threat or harassment or harm to the judge, the judge’s family, or the judge’s property. The bill adds elected officials to this crime, making all the same acts a class 4 felony if done against an elected official, their family, or their property.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

We live in increasingly vitriolic and dangerous times and the amount of abuse and filth thrown the way of all of our elected officials is not acceptable. But at times it passed the point of acceptability and becomes flat out dangerous. Credible threats can fester more easily in our current age and can be taken up by those with behavioral health problems. We need to do more to keep our elected officials and their families safe or we may be facing a future where people choose not to serve out of fear of harm.

Arguments Against:

We have this protection against judges because they rule in cases where someone’s freedom is at stake and unfortunately criminals sometimes will resort to violence or threatened violence to get their way. The case is not the same for elected officials and finding the line could be extremely difficult. Elected officials themselves sometimes hurl vitriol at each other, including extremely charged language and sometimes charged imagery. Would they be guilty of violating this law? The tone of our politics certainly needs dramatic improvement but this is not the way.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1121

HB20-1123 Grace Period Before Failure To Appear Warrant (Lee (D)) [Lontine (D), Soper (R)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Minimal each year

Goal: Allow a grace period of 72 hours for someone who fails to appear in court to rectify the situation before a warrant for arrest is issued.

Description:

Requires courts to wait 72 hours before issuing a warrant for arrest for failure to appear in court. This does not include days when court is not in session. If the defendant presents themselves in the 72 hour window, the court cannot issue a warrant. Court can determine if the defendant must present themselves in person or if they may use other means to reschedule. Court must inform defendant or defense counsel of this 72 hour grace period if they contact court during the grace period. An estimated 68,500 cases per year involve issuance of a bench warrant for failure to appear in court.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

An arrest for failure to appear in court has several ripple effects. First, the defendant is likely headed to jail if this is a criminal case and will lose any collateral bail. This can be particularly problematic if the defendant used a bond company or loan to secure bail. Second, the defendant is an active fugitive, which brings in law enforcement in terms of trying to locate them. Instead of doing all of this right away, it makes sense to take a step back and see if the situation can be fixed quickly. It costs the state money to house someone in jail, it uses law enforcement resources to serve a warrant, and it costs the individual in question, potentially including their short-term freedom. Far better if we can fix a situation and move on. If not, then of course we can still utilize the tool of bench warrants to compel an appearance and appropriately punish the individual for failing to appear. Other states offer similar grace periods, the one in New York is 30 days, so 72 hours isn’t outrageous or out of the mainstream.

Arguments Against:

No harm, no foul does not necessarily apply here. This isn’t like missing an appointment at the dentist. The entire court system has prepared for the proceeding the defendant knew about and missed. This not only wastes time, but wastes resources. Having the ability to punish people who miss court dates is a crucial deterrent. If instead people know they have a 72 hour buffer to fall back on (and repeatedly so, there is no mechanism in the bill to deal with people who repeatedly miss court dates), then people are more likely to not worry about missing a required appearance. Judges have discretion currently, let them keep using it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1123

HB20-1130 Online Availability Of Judicial Opinions (Bridges (D), Hisey (R)) [Soper (R), Weissman (D)]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Minimal first year, negligible after that.

Goal: Put all opinions of the state supreme court and court of appeals online in a free and seachable format.

Description:

Requires each opinion of the state supreme court and the court of appeals to be published online in a free and searchable format starting in September 2021. By August 2026 all opinions issued prior to September 2021 must also be online in the same format March 2022. Any opinion of these courts that not designated for publication per state rules is not required to be published online.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

It’s 2020. The state constitution, state laws, state court rules, and state administrative regulations are all available online, free of charge in a searchable format. And opinions of the state supreme court and court of appeals are binding case law that lower courts must follow. And yet they are not online. Again, it’s 2020.

Arguments Against: n/a

HB20-1148 Offenses Committed Against A Deceased Human Body (Fields (D), Gardner (R)) [Soper (R), Singer (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible from increased prison costs

Goal: Increase the penalty for abuse of a corpse from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Description:

Changes the punishment for abuse of a corpse from a class 2 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony (3 months to 364 days in jail, $250-$1,000 fine to one year to 18 months in jail, $1,000-$100,000 fine). Clarifies that a defendant must be charged with either abuse of a corpse or body tampering but not both for a single incident.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The state was shocked by the enormous amount of wrongdoing at the Sunset Mesa Funeral home uncovered two years ago. The home was allegedly selling body parts without families’ permission, shipping them as far away as Saudi Arabia, and giving fake ashes to the families. Federal charges are still pending in this awful case and Colorado has already made it illegal for a funeral home to own more than 10% of a body broker business but there is more work to be done. Colorado ranks on the lower end of states when it comes to penalties for this crime and evidence indicates about 30 cases of abuse of corpses all over the state in the past five years. The victimization here is permanent, the families in the Sunset Mesa case have no idea where their loved one’s remains are, and most likely it is multiple places because bodies were chopped up and sent to different places. This deserves a felony charge, and the higher level of punishment that comes with it.

Arguments Against:

The state has already addressed the particular loophole on ownership that allowed something like Sunset Mesa to happen. But we are moving as a society toward less jail time, recognizing how far in the wrong direction the pendulum has swung, and part of that is not responding to terrible story of the day by ramming down harder on the punishment button. Criminal activity is wrong, but we have learned the hard way that throwing people in jail for increasingly longer amounts of time is not the solution in most cases. The only way to stay on that path is to resist the urge to make examples out of high profile cases. Leave things the way they are.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1148

HB20-1150 Repeal House Bill 19-1263 Penalties For Drug Possession [McKean]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Roughly $3.5 million at full implementation

Goal: To reverse a bill from last session and thus increase illegal drug possession offense levels in numerous areas.

Description:

Repeals HB19-1263, so everything described here reverses what that bill did and puts the law back to where it was prior to 1263’s passage.

  • Increases schedule I or schedule II controlled substances from a level 1 drug misdemeanor to a level 4 drug felony.
  • Moves unlawful possession of more than 6 ounces of marijuana or 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate from level 1 drug misdemeanor to level 4 drug felony.
  • Clarifies that someone can be arrested for petty offense of possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana.
  • Clarifies person may be sentenced to jail specifically for 2nd offense of abusing toxic vapors.
  • Prohibits 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 6-18 months imprisonment (was up to 2 years probation), and maximum $5,000 fine (was $1,000).
  • Sets level 2 drug misdemeanor punishment as up to 364 days imprisonment (was up to 1 year of probation), maximum $750 fine (was $500).
  • Repeals county court drug program to provide grants to county courts to operate misdemeanor drug courts.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

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. Jail also provides a perfect detox opportunity, as of course we don’t allow illegal drugs in prison. A chance for someone to really turn their life around.

Arguments Against:

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 by removing them from their community and branding them as a dangerous criminal. These are also laws that tend to disproportionately affect minorities. As a nice side-benefit, the state saves money from not having to care for as many inmates. We should not reverse the great progress we just made last year.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1150

HB20-1152 Penalty For Weapons Possession Offenses [Liston (R)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

AMENDED: Significant

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: $2.5 million over next five years

Goal: Requires any adult convicted of possession of a weapon by a previous offender or unlawfully carrying a weapon on school grounds to serve some amount of prison time.

Description:

Requires any adult convicted of possession of a weapon by a previous offender or unlawfully carrying a weapon on school grounds to serve some amount of prison time in the department of corrections. These are class 4 and class 6 felonies, respectively, and carry 2-6 year or 12-18 months of prison time as punishment.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Currently multiple offenses against carrying an unlawful weapon can result in no prison time. This bill only applies to a second offense, when someone has clearly not learned their lesson from the first time, for people who we have explicitly said should not own weapons and yet continue to do so. This bill is not about the underlying ban on carrying a weapon, anyone with a problem with that law should look to address that law. It is about people who are breaking the law, repeatedly, and ensuring they are actually punished for it. The practical experience right now with the law tends to be probation, even for a third conviction. That needs to change.

Arguments Against:

This doesn’t leave any wiggle room for judges. There can be a wide variety of different circumstances on a second offense. We also have learned from our experiences from the 1990s that mandatory sentencing (and mandatory consecutive sentences) are bad policy. This bill runs counter to the current understanding that we need more flexibility, not less. It also builds a bad law, which doesn’t let any felon (no matter the felony) carry any kind of weapon (including some knives) for their entire life (so forgery at 18 means you can never possess a weapon).

HB20-1187 Prevention Of Mail Theft [Liston (R)]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Create a state mail theft statute and punishment for taking, holding, concealing, or destroying mail addressed to another person with the intent to deprive them of their mail, with first offense being up to 364 days in prison and a fine and second and subsequent offenses are up to five years in prison and a fine.

Description:

Makes it an unclassified misdemeanor for someone to take, hold, conceal, or destroy mail addressed to another person with the intent to deprive them of their mail. First offense is up to 364 days in prison and/or a maximum fine of $500. Second and subsequent offenses are up to five two years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. It does not matter if the individual the mail is addressed to is alive or dead.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

We have a large problem with what is called “porch piracy” in the state (and really the country). As a society we increasingly have packages delivered to us and thus we are more vulnerable to this type of theft. This costs our society hundreds of millions of dollars a year in wasted or duplicative purchases. While it is true we have federal laws that requires relying on federal authorities. For our state theft laws, these are clearly not sufficient to deter porch piracy as it is a rapidly growing problem and we need stiffer penalties. Furthermore stealing off someone's porch is akin to stealing from their home (which would include a breaking and entering component, a felony) but under current law that is not the case. If you steal off a porch that is not breaking into the home. It is also not stealing from the mail receptacle (which is required for the federal crime).

Arguments Against:

Mail theft is a crime already, because theft is a crime. So it is based on the value of the item. More importantly it is also a federal crime to take someone’s mail in pretty much the same circumstances described in this bill (although this bill is bit broader, despite claiming to focus on porch piracy) with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A key difference is probably that federal crime requires actively intercepting someone else’s mail, whereas this bill might essentially criminalize throwing away mail that was not addressed to you, depending on how “intent to deprive” someone of their mail was interpreted. We are also developing private sector solutions to this problem, with timed deliveries and video doorbells. Furthermore you would need to steal quite a bit of stuff to earn a class 4 felony (five two years in prison) for regular theft. We could send sometime to five two years in prison just for stealing $100 worth of goods. So if we already have federal law and can charge someone with just plain theft under state law if necessary, why do we need additional, extremely punitive, criminal charges? If we need to tighten particular laws to target porch piracy specifically because federal laws are insufficient or state theft laws don't treat it severely enough than that would be a different bill, not this one.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1187

HB20-1291 Uniform Collaborative Law Act (Gardner (R)) [Tipper (D)]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Enact the Uniform Collaborative Law Act from the national Uniform Law Commission to create a legal structure for collaborative law process, a dispute where the parties try to solve it together without a 3rd party decision-maker like a court or mediator or arbiter.

Description:

Creates a legal structure for collaborative law process, which is a dispute the parties try to solve together, outside of a 3rd party decision-maker like a court or a mediator or arbiter. This only applies to civil cases. Both parties must agree to try the process in a written agreement. It cannot be ordered by a judge or contract. It can be terminated by either party at any time, and the parties can agree on only parts of their dispute and bring other parts to a 3rd party to judge.

Each side must have a lawyer and this lawyer cannot represent their client in any judicial proceeding on the same subject and neither can another lawyer from the same law firm unless the client can demonstrate they have low enough income and the law firm provides representation for free this is a work in progress, currently just reserved in the bill. This new lawyer must be completed separated from the collaborative process. For government entities, only the separation from the collaborative process is required. In both cases the written agreement must allow for this. Lawyers must make reasonable inquiries into whether one party in the case has a history of coercive or violent behavior with the other and cannot enter into the process if they do not believe a party’s safety can be adequately protected.

Communications in a collaborative process are inadmissible, except for threats, criminal activity, malpractice related to the collaborative process itself, abuse or neglect of a child or adult, or if a court determines the evidence is not otherwise available and relates to either a criminal charge or contract liability case.

Judges can dismiss proceedings that have been stayed to allow for a collaborative process but must provide a hearing from both parties prior to doing so. Judges may also issue protective orders to protect the safety of either party or a minor child. Collaborative lawyers may participate only in these types of hearings representing their client. Judges do not have to approve an agreement resulting from a collaborative process.

Additional Information:

Collaborative agreements must state the scope of the matter to be discussed and potentially determined. Both parties must sign any resolution. A party that wishes to end the process must either do so in writing or initiate action with a court. Process can continue if one of the lawyers is removed from the process so long as another lawyer is in place within 30 days. Both parties must agree. Income level required for getting another lawyer from the same firm to represent in court is based on the firm’s own qualifications for free representation. Parties in the process are required to make full disclosure to each other as requested, including updates to materials. Disclosure rules can be set by the two parties but must at minimum adhere to state civil procedure disclosure rules. Lawyers must provide full information to a potential client before agreeing to a collaborative process. This includes benefits and risks of the process and other potential dispute options, as well as the rules around representation in subsequent legal proceedings and how collaborative processes can be ended. Evidence in a collaborative process that is admissible in a civil case remains that way despite its use in the collaborative process. If a collaborative communication is found to be exempt from inadmissibility rules, it is to be redacted so as to only allow the relevant parts of the communications to be entered into evidence.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The use for this type of dispute resolution is obvious: family disputes and divorce proceedings are high on the list of activities where it really helps if you have a lawyer but do not necessarily need to be dragged into court proceedings or arbitration or mediation. Rather than rely on informal negotiations with clear sets of rules, this bill, from the commission on uniform state laws, sets out clear procedures to follow. This includes protection for parties at risk of harm, protection from the process being twisted to benefit one party in court, and the ability for any party at any time to withdraw and pursue other options. Multiple other states have adopted variants of this act, and the extent to which we have uniform rules for these proceedings in all states helps make disputes that cross state lines easier to resolve. While some states have reserved this process just for family disputes, it does make sense to make it available for anyone who wants to use it to resolve a civil complaint rather than go to court. The extent to which we can keep disputes out of court saves the judicial jurisdictions money. And if both parties can agree we are likely to get two parties happy with the outcome rather than just one (or even none). As a final failsafe, judges are not required to accept agreements, so that should protect against one side coercing the other into an obviously slanted agreement. Finally, it is important to note that these collaborative processes already occur in Colorado, this law merely provides legal guiderails.

Arguments Against:

This process works great for more run-of-the mill disputes. The problem comes when you have parties with vastly unequal power bases, either because of pure monetary considerations or because of interpersonal dynamics that do not rise to the level of a danger to someone’s safety (which would trigger the act’s protections) but nonetheless put one party a severe disadvantage to the other. This is likeliest to occur in family disputes, where one party can coerce the other into agreeing to this sort of collaborative process as either a delay tactic or a setting where they can run roughshod over the other (remember the lawyers here aren’t for negotiating on behalf of their clients to “win”, they are supposed to help guide to a solution everyone finds acceptable). The requirement that someone cannot use the same lawyer or law firm unless they have low enough income to qualify heightens the risk of one party running out the clock on the other, who must potentially then find an entirely new lawyer/law firm for a full-blown legal case.            An agreement would probably have to be pretty egregious for a judge to reject it, so that failsafe may not work in all cases.

HB20-1292 Uniform Parentage Act (2017) [Tipper (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Implement the Uniform Parentage Act from 2017, which changes many terms to gender neutral language to protect children born in same-sex marriages, creates requirements for surrogacy agreements, clarifies who can be declared a parent and how, recognizes de facto parents, establishes more detailed adjudication procedures, allows a woman to deny parental rights to the biological father in sexual assault cases, establishes procedures for genetic testing, establishes a paternal registry, adds some requirements to donor collection facilities,  and adds some details to medically assisted reproduction cases around parentage

Description:

All states in the US use the Uniform Parentage Act from 1973. It was updated in 2002 and then again in 2017. This bill updates Colorado laws to the 2017 update. This includes:

  • Changes many terms to gender neutral language to protect children born in same-sex marriages
  • Requirements for surrogacy agreements and identifying the biological mother (who provided the egg) as the child’s legal parent rather than the gestational mother. Surrogates must be at least 21 and must have given birth to at least one child. They must have completed both a physical and mental health evaluation given by licensed professionals and they must have their own legal representation. Each intended parent must meet the same requirements, minus having previously given birth of course. Agreement must be notarized and include information on how intended parents will cover health costs of surrogate. Must allow surrogate to make all her own medical decisions, including terminating the pregnancy. Intended parents assume responsibility for all children born out of the agreement.
  • Clarifies parent-child relationship. This includes assumption of parentage for non-married couples who later become married, ability for the non-birthing parent to be acknowledged through a legal document, and for the denial through a legal document. States there is no discrimination based on marital status. If a court terminates a parent’s rights, prohibits the court from identifying the individual as the child’s legal parent
  • Recognizes de facto parent, an individual who has regularly cared for a child’s basic needs and acted as a parent. Cannot be a paid foster parent. Must have established a bonded and dependent parent-child relationship with at least one legal parent’s approval and can demonstrate continuing this relationship is in the best interests of the child
  • Specific rules for proceedings to adjudicate parentage, including notice to all interested parties, procedures to object to genetic testing, the strong presumption of parentage once a child reaches two, and factors for court to consider when reaching a ruling in cases of competing claims of parentage. This includes the child’s age, length and nature of relationship of each party with the child, harm to the child if a relationship is not recognized, basis for each person’s claim to parentage, and other equitable factors
  • Allows a woman to preclude the biological father of a child conceived out of sexual assault from parental rights. Does require a court hearing and the father may still be required to pay child support. Does not require a criminal conviction
  • Establishes procedures for genetic testing, including that it cannot be used to challenge parentage of an individual who qualifies as a parent under this law or to establish the parentage of a donor, that a close relative can be used if a specimen is not available from an alleged genetic parent and the court finds the need for testing outweighs the legitimate interests of the individual to be tested. Class 1 misdemeanor to intentionally release identifiable specimen of another individual collected for genetic testing without the court’s permission
  • Establishes a parentage registry for men who wish to be notified of a proceeding for adoption or termination of parental rights regarding the man’s genetic child if they do not have a parent-child relationship. Registration must be done within 90 days of birth. The man can rescind his registration. The woman who gave birth is notified if the state registrar has her address. Registry is confidential and can only be accessed by courts, woman who gave birth, authorized state agencies, and the person in an adoption proceeding or terminating parental rights to the child that is the subject of the registration. In the latter case they must search the registry and obtain a certificate
  • Adds detail to the provisions for medically assisted reproduction including that a donor is not a parent and that an individual who consents to assisted reproduction with the intent to be a parent of the child conceived is a parent. This includes if this individual dies between the procedure and the birth of the child
  • Requiring sperm banks or fertility clinics to collect identifying information from donors and their medical history at the time of donation. They must provide the donor with information about their choice regarding disclosure to the child and collect a signed form with that choice (upon child’s request once they reach 18)

Additional Information:

This is a 79 page bill, so if you are interested in any particular section of it, we recommend reading the actual bill. It is beyond the scope of Engage to provide any further detail.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is a lot but the key points center around more detailed frameworks, equity for same-sex couples, and surrogacy agreements. The core of the update to this act is to support the well-being of all children, including those born to same-sex couples, unmarried parents, and children born through assisted reproduction. The revised act recognizes that a parent is not always the person who conceived a child but rather the person who cares for the child. When it comes to surrogacy, the act is designed to protect the surrogate and the intended parents through a legal contract that specifies all of their rights and responsibilities. It is also designed to ensure that both parties are old enough and healthy enough to undergo the experience. Adopting this act will put Colorado on increasingly equal footing with other states, some of whom have already adopted it. This allows for uniform treatment of parentage across the entire US.

Arguments Against:

We do not have to adopt the act just because it is from the uniform commission. The surrogacy requirements may be too onerous for some couples and potential surrogates. The recognition of live-in boyfriends or girlfriends at birth may be too lenient if the relationship disintegrates after the age of 2 and the mother and child subsequently form a more lasting bond with another person who is more the true parent. The denial of parentage in a sexual abuse accusation case relies on the preponderance of evidence as determined by a judge, not the determination of a jury of peers. Men who decide not to have a parental relationship with their biological offspring shouldn’t get to put a marker into the system just in case they later want to stir up trouble for decisions made by the real parents.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1292

HB20-1296 Civil Action Statute Of Limitations Sexual Assault (Gonzales (D), Coram (R)) [Michaelson Jenet (D), Soper (R)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Remove all statutes of limitation for civil charges based on sexual offenses against children, including against people or entities that were not the perpetrators.

Description:

Removes the current six-year statute of limitations on bringing civil charges based on sexual offenses against children which begins when they turn 18 (previously child had to have a disability or be in a special relationship with perpetrator to pause time limit). This only applies to cases where the statute of limitations has not already run out (and future cases of course). Expands the statute of limitations provisions of civil action in this section to allow suit against people or entities that were not the perpetrator of the assault. Removes requirement that a plaintiff who is a victim of multiple sexual assaults establish which act in the series caused their injuries. Removes the limitation on damages to just medical expenses and legal fees if the plaintiff waits until 15 years or more after turning 18 to file suit. Removes requirement that action cannot be brought if the defendant is deceased or incapacitated. Bill also redefines sexual assault to mimic other sections of statute.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

There is no statute of limitations for criminal cases of sexual assault against a child because we recognize that these crimes are among the most difficult for a victim to come forward, to be believed, and to be willing to take action. It can take decades for all of this to occur for extremely understandable reasons. The median age of when survivors come forward is in their 40s. So it does not make sense to limit civil liability to six years. This is particularly true when gross organizational misconduct occurs, such as the Catholic Church shuttling known abusers from parish to parish. Victims must be given the right to full compensation and there must be full accountability. We cannot make this law retroactive (to include those where the statute of limitations has already run out) for two reasons. First, it might be unconstitutional under the Colorado constitution and it would put the whole law at risk, and second, we need to enshrine protections for victims now and that may not be possible if we try to also make the law retroactive. A separate attempt can be brought to make this retroactive while we protect all victims going forward. As for worrying about entities facing massive financial difficulties due to culpability: yes, that’s the point.

Arguments Against:

The burden of proof is lower in civil cases than in criminal ones and when we are dealing with crimes that allegedly occurred decades in the past that starts to really matter. Evidence could be gone, witnesses could be gone, and memories can be quite sketchy. Furthermore, this opens up the door to massive on-going litigation against entities, potentially including public entities, which could gum up our legal system and place enormous financial difficulties onto entities that do large amounts of public good, like the Church or education districts. There should be some sort of time limit, even if it is extended far into the future. Other states have picked specific ages, like 40 in California or 55 in New Jersey. We should do that at a minimum as well.


This will not help those whose statute of limitations has already run out, such victims of the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts or anyone else. Other states have allowed for two-year grace periods for past cases to come forward and file suit. While it is true that in general we do not make retroactive laws, this is one of those special circumstances that warrants an exception. If there are Constitutional problems, make the law severable and fight out that particular part in court. Or, we can just try to amend the Constitution itself.

HB20-1316 Gestational And Genetic Surrogacy Agreements (Ginal (D)) [Froelich (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Set requirements for surrogacy agreements for both sides, including age restrictions, health exams, and that the birth mother must have previously given birth, and specify the intended parents are the legal parents of the resulting children.

Description:

Replaces assisted reproduction elements of existing Uniform Parentage Act and replaces it with new requirements for surrogacy agreements. Identifies the biological mother (who provided the egg) as the child’s legal parent rather than the gestational mother. Specifies that donors have no parental rights. Surrogates must be at least 21 and must have given birth to at least one child. They must have completed both a physical and mental health evaluation given by licensed professionals and they must have their own legal representation. Each intended parent must meet the same requirements, minus having previously given birth of course. Agreement must be notarized and include information on how intended parents will cover health costs of surrogate. Must allow surrogate to make all her own medical decisions, including terminating the pregnancy. Intended parents assume responsibility for all children born out of the agreement. An individual who consents to assisted reproduction with the intent to be a parent of the child conceived is a parent. This includes if this individual dies between the procedure and the birth of the child. Allows for a party to get a judge to enforce all of the parental rules around surrogacy and donors if necessary. If a child was conceived under a surrogacy agreement that does not conform to this law the judge is given latitude to determine the rights and duties of the parties at the time of the execution of the agreement.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

The current version of our state law does not provide adequate protections for surrogacy or donor related medically assisted pregnancies. This bill is designed to protect the surrogate and the intended parents through a legal contract that specifies all of their rights and responsibilities. It is also designed to ensure that both parties are old enough and healthy enough to undergo the experience. Finally it definitely states who the legal parents are (and are not) as well as providing some legal guidelines.

Arguments Against:

This bill might not be necessary if HB1292 passes, as it includes nearly identical procedures in these areas (the source for both is the revised 2017 Uniform Parentage Act). The differences relate more to court proceedings, but since HB1292 contains comprehensive court adjudication instructions (again from the revised 2017 Uniform Parentage Act) it is probably best to just go with that bill and kill this one.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB20-1316

HB20-1348 Additional Liability Under Respondent Superior (Gonzales (D)) [Kennedy (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Set state law back to where it was prior to a 2017 state Supreme Court decision so that employers can be sued for poor employee management practices in cases where the employee committed an act of negligence against an individual while on the job, even if the employer admits the employee was working at the time (which makes the employer liable for damages).

Description:

Makes employers liable for negligent acts or omissions as a respondent superior (in essence for hiring and training the employee improperly) when employees are sued for actions taken during the course of their employment, even if the employer admits the employee did it while doing their duties as an employee. This includes discovery procedures. It is not a defense that one party’s negligence must combine another’s to result in the action being sued about. Blame is to be apportioned and no party can be liable for larger than their amount of blame, unless the employer is also directly responsible for the action.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This in effect overturns the Ferrer v Okbamicael case, in which the state Supreme Court found in 2017 that employers were not in fact liable for these types of lawsuits. This in effect established new law in Colorado (the fact that it exists elsewhere is not proof that we should have it here) and bars people from holding employers accountable for negligent practices in hiring, supervision, or training. In essence, an employer says “yes, the employee did it” and then is off the hook for poor management practices that directly contributed to the incident. This bill rectifies this and puts Colorado law back where it was prior to the decision.

Arguments Against:

The court in fact found these claims “redundant and wasteful” since the employer’s admission of the employee’s actions already results in the employer paying damages for the employee’s actions, and they can be used to do a lot of digging into employee backgrounds to find “proof” that the employer was negligent in hiring the employee in the first place. We don’t need more lawsuits in our court systems attempting to wring even more funds out of companies and this court ruling was an adoption of what is called the “McHaffie” rule (based on a case in Missouri) that multiple states and federal courts have adopted.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB1348

SB20-059 Sexual Assault On A Student By An Educator (Hisey (R)) [Larson (R)]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Extend crime of sexual assault upon a student to cover those who are 18 but still in high school.

Description:

Extends the crime of sexual assault upon a student to cover those who are over 18 but still in high school. Like the law for those 15-18, it is a class 3 felony if it is part of a pattern of sexual contact and it is a class 4 felony if it is not. Unlike the law for those 15-18, it is a class 1 misdemeanor with enhanced sentencing guidelines. Consent is not a defense. Someone convicted of this crime has no parental rights for any child born as a result of the sexual contact. Teacher must be at least four years older and not married to the student.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This closes a bit of a loophole, because someone who is 18 is legally an adult but if they are still in high school they have every bit the same dynamic with a teacher as someone who is 17, including all of the power dynamics and authority, which makes it impossible for the 18 year-old to legally consent to sexual activity with a high-school teacher. But we also recognize that this not the same level as the same activity with a minor, so the possible punishment is less.

Arguments Against:

The bottom line is that someone who is 18 is an adult. That is where we have decided to draw the line. This means we believe they are capable of a great many things someone who is 17 is not, and that includes consent to sexual activity. The fact that they are still in school doesn’t change this.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-059

SB20-064 Authority Attorney General Challenge Fed-Reviewed Mergers And Antitrust (Foote (D)) [Soper (R), Tipper (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow the state attorney general to challenge business mergers and acquisitions that have already been reviewed and not challenged by federal agencies.

Description:

Removes the ban on the attorney general from using state law to challenge a business merger or acquisition that has already been reviewed and not challenged by the federal government.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is not a new thing, other states have the ability to use this tool, in particular as the federal government lately seems uninterested in enforcing anti-trust laws. In industry after industry we see just a few companies gobbling up their competition. Monopolies or even industries with just a few key players are terrible for consumers. With almost no alternatives, they cannot exert their usual market pressure on companies, forcing them to behave when it comes to pricing, innovation, customer service, and even flat out legality. Giving Colorado the tool to step in and protect its citizens when the federal government refuses will help Colorado consumers. One of the key hurdles states face in pursuing these claims without the federal government is lack of resources. The more states than can pool together, like those attempting to stop the Sprint and T-Mobile merger that was hand-waived by an extremely industry friendly FCC, the higher likelihood of success.

Arguments Against:

We have experts in the federal government to handle this for a reason: we don’t want political animals like attorney generals (frequently a launching pad to other offices for politicians) bringing pure politics into what should be a reasoned decision based on facts. Not all mergers are anti-competitive, to the contrary sometimes a merger can bring greater innovation and products to a market through a pooling of key resources. In the Sprint and T-Mobile case, for instance, the federal government thinks merging the two companies will bring greater coverage to rural areas. What we also do not need is the state of Colorado engaging in costly legal battles that it is unlikely to win. Although the fiscal note rates no impact, it assumes any additional lawsuits can be accommodated by existing funds in the attorney general’s office. That may not be the case in actuality. In addition to the great disparity in resources and tools available to states and the federal government (plus the huge mismatch in resources between big businesses and states), the fact that a merger has received federal approval is likely to make it much harder to win a court case.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-064

SB20-075 Competency Evaluations By Advanced Practice Nurses (Crowder (R))

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation:None
Fiscal Impact: Not out yet

Goal: Allow advanced practice nurses who specialize in psychiatric mental health and meet other criteria to provide competency evaluations for determining if a defendant can stand trial.

Description:

Expands the list of people able to do competency evaluations to determine if a defendant is competent to stand trial to include advanced practice nurses who specialize in psychiatric mental health and meet other criteria determined by state board of nursing.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

We are failing to meet our requirement to provide a competency to proceed evaluations within 28 days of a judge’s order. People cannot get the mental health care they need until they have this evaluation and instead must sit in jails that are ill-equipped to help them. The state has been repeatedly fined for failing to adhere to legal requirements in this area and part of the problem is not enough people eligible to perform these competency hearings. In the health care field in general we are turning more and more to highly trained advanced practice nurses to fill gaps and lower costs. A properly trained advanced practice nurse could help fill the gaps in this system as well. The bill requires specialization in mental health and trusts the experts on the state board of nursing to figure out the additional qualifications necessary to ensure we can trust the evaluations to be accurate. The people who already are eligible to perform these evaluations do have a vested interest in keeping the group as exclusive as possible, so we should not accept their judgments in this area without deeper thought and not dismiss out of hand that other medical professionals can learn how to do these exams.

Arguments Against:

Evaluations for competency to stand trial are complicated and require advanced knowledge and training. This is not simply making a DSM diagnosis. The defendants are not clients and thus the relationship is quite different. A different understanding is required for juveniles than for adults. And the capacity to understand what is happening is not a simple matter at all. We recognize this by having pretty high standards for doctors already. Physicians must have training in forensic assessments. Psychologists must either have training or be in training under the supervision of a psychologist with training. That is the extent of the current list. This bill would add advanced practice nurses who specialize in psychiatric mental health and undefined other criteria. If anything the standards should be much higher for advanced practice nurses, not lower. This is not the solution to the backlog, which is really more about restorative services than competency hearings. We passed two mammoth bills last session to address this, including providing money spent on training more people in forensic evaluation. Let that process work and if necessary, provide more money for more training. But do not lower the bar on something this important.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-075

SB20-080 Consumer Protection Act Damages (Rodriguez (D)) [Woodrow (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: 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 liability is for the amount of actual damages sustained by the class and reasonable attorney fees.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

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 SB20-080

SB20-088 Evidentiary Rules When Interference With Witness (Fields (D)) [Roberts (D), Soper (R)]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Allow evidence and testimony that would have come from a witness if a party to a criminal case wrongfully makes that witness unavailable.

Description:

If a party to a criminal case wrongfully makes it so a witness is unavailable, this bill makes their evidence and testimony admissible, so long as the adverse party is given notice and the opportunity to challenge the admissability in court. The court then determines, out of the jury’s presence, that the unavailability was due to the actions of the party to the case by a preponderance of the evidence. This does not permit the presentation of character evidence that would be otherwise inadmissible under state law.

Additional Information:

The party trying to get the evidence included does not have to show:

  • That it was the sole intent of the bad actor to wrongfully cause the witness or prospective witness’ availability or that the bad actor committed a criminal offense
  • That any statements are reliable
  • That the bad actor was under indictment or pending trial
  • That the declarant was scheduled to be a witness at the time of the interference


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

While we do have criminal penalties for witness tampering, and they are appropriately serious, there is no ability to get the testimony or evidence that should have been presented into the trial. The state Supreme Court has ruled that hearsay evidence is not admissible in these cases, although courts in other states have found differently and practice much like this bill is in effect in multiple state. This in effect allows someone who interferes with a witness or evidence to get the benefits of that interference. That is clearly not fair, so this bill allows for a judicial overview to see if that interference can be proved by the preponderance of the evidence and keeps the bad actors from tainting their trial.

Arguments Against:

This runs contrary to the practice of criminal law in our country. Banning hearsay is a fundamental tenet of our judicial system because we believe that both parties should have the right to cross-examine witnesses and evidence. Of course no one should tamper with witnesses in a case, but we also have laws to deal with that crime. Witness tampering is a class 4 felony in Colorado. Admitting the evidence anyway, with no ability to challenge it directly, is in essence trying to have two wrongs make a right.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-088

SB20-093 Consumer And Employee Dispute Resolution Fairness (Foote (D), Fenberg (D)) [Jackson (D), Weissman (D)]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Make it easier for consumers and employees to challenge partiality of arbitrators, require more detailed disclosure from arbitrators, and make several contract provisions that limit redress ability unenforceable.

Description:

Creates the Consumer and Employee Dispute Resolution Fairness Act, which makes several changes to the arbitration process between consumers, employees, and companies. None of the arbitration clauses apply to collectively bargained agreements or those conducted by a self-regulatory organization, like the American Arbitration Association.

  • Prohibits any waiver of ability to challenge impartiality of arbitrator in contract and requires a signed document from all parties to waive this ability. Gives 28 days for a party to challenge impartiality from receiving information about arbitrator, so long as all information was properly provided.
  • Requires specific disclosures by arbitrators in addition to already existing requirements of financial or personal interests in outcome and current or previous relationship with either party: if the arbitrator has been paid more than $500 by anyone associated with either party for non-arbitration services; any experience working in same industry or representing same industry as either party; any relationship with anyone the arbitrator knows may provide coverage for the award; all arbitration done in past five years, including names of parties involved and results, modified to protect any confidential information. Arbitrator can ask questions of either party in order to provide full and correct disclosure.
  • Provides list of standards for impartiality, including failing to disclose information in a timely manner or at all, having a conflict of interest that would disqualify a judge or attorney, arbitration may be directly adverse to the arbitrator’s non-arbitration business or client, significant risk of ability to preside over arbitration will be limited by the arbitrator’s responsibility to its non-arbitration client or former client or another third party or the arbitrator itself, and any of the disclosures the bill requires arbitrators to make.
  • Requires arbitration service providers to make extensive data available on its website to any parties in a dispute at no charge for all of the arbitrations done in the last five years. Bill provides that any attorney-client information or other privileged information can be withheld but the withholding must be disclosed. If the partiality of the arbitrator is challenged then any withheld information must be made available to judge.
  • Removes ability of appellate courts to review civil actions where a judge has denied motion to compel arbitration or otherwise concluded arbitration agreement in unenforceable until after final judgment in case
  • Adds multiple items that cannot enforced if placed into standard contracts: (where there is no negotiation, take it or leave it 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 days outside Colorado; 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. All of these are considered deceptive trade practices.
  • Provides set of remedies for courts to follow if they find portions of a contract unenforceable.

Additional Information:

Arbitrator disclosures must be at least 14 point type and given separately to each party.

Data provided by arbitration service providers must be in spreadsheet format and available via a conspicuous link titled “Consumer and Employee Case Information”. Must specifically include:

  • Name of non-consumer party and who initiated arbitration
  • Nature of the dispute by category: goods, credit, other banking or finance, insurance, health care, construction, real estate, telecommunications (including software and internet usage), debt collection, personal injury, employment, or other
  • Who won, what they won, and nature of disposition by category: withdrawal, abandonment, settlement, award after hearing, award without hearing, default, or dismissal without hearing
  • Total number of occasions the non-consumer or employer has been in arbitration or mediation provided by servicer
  • Names of attorneys representing parties
  • Dates of request for arbitration, appointment of arbitrator, and decision
  • If there was a hearing how it was conducted (in person, telephone or video conference, by documents only)
  • Name of arbitrator and all fee information, including percentage of fee allocated to each party and if any waivers were granted and if so, the amounts
  • Identities of individuals with ownership or financial stakes in arbitration firm

If a judge vacates an award based on partiality, must award reasonable attorney fees and other expenses incurred from earliest of: objection to partiality or disclosure failure.

For unenforceable provisions, judge to consider:

  • Whether severing the unenforceable term and enforcing the rest creates an incentive for drafters to include unenforceable terms in their contracts
  • Whether inclusion of the term might deter consumer or employee from asserting their rights or challenging the contract
  • The intentions and actual purposes of the parties, including whether the drafting party acted in bad faith

If a standard contract contains fee shifting or loser pays terms in contradiction of specific laws requiring attorney fees from one party, the provision is void. If an action has been dismissed or settled, there is no prevailing party.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is about fairness and transparency. Arbitration clauses are too ripe for abuse right now, which is a big problem because they are becoming more popular. Over the last 20 years the number of employees forced into arbitration has more than doubled and a recent study found that 81 of the country’s 100 largest companies use arbitration agreements. And with contracting frequently stating the company gets to choose the arbitrator, a 2015 federal study found 93% of companies win arbitration cases and recover 98% of their costs. In essence, if people are forced into arbitration through a contract (and thus cannot use the courts), we need to make sure they are being given the same sort of fair proceeding we would expect from a judge, who in this case is being replaced by the arbiter. Being able to determine if there are any troubling patterns with arbitration companies and non-consumer parties is a big part of this. The result of a lawsuit is publicly available, these results should be available too. 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.

Arguments Against:

This is a huge burden on the arbitrators, who have to maintain an extensive list of potential conflicts at all times, and a backdoor alley into the courtroom from lawyers who might want to increase their legal fees by challenging arbitrators. The bill also severely weakens bedrock confidentiality principles in a way that might not stand up to legal challenge. Attorney-client privilege, for instance, is only null when it involves a crime, not a personal relationship that may affect arbitration. Current disclosure standards are fine. The bill also forces out arbitrators with significant experience in an industry, the exact opposite of what you want when you are looking for a wise third-party. And it may cause a chilling effect on the actions of individual arbitrators who do not want to rule one way or the other too often to keep the stats looking good instead of just deciding on the merits. The contract provisions of the bill may cause undue burdens on companies with large geographic spreads and invite more lawsuits. This bill is just too burdensome for businesses and too friendly to litigious lawyers.

SB20-096 Remote Notaries Protect Privacy (Rodriguez (D), Holbert (R)) [Duran (D), Carver (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Minimal first year, then negligible

Goal: Allow remote notarization for electronic documents under certain circumstances and creates rules these notarizations must follow.

Description:

Authorizes notaries public to perform a notarial act on behalf of an individual who is not in the notary's physical presence for electronic documents only. To do this a notary must have satisfactory evidence of identity of remotely located individual, including oath or affirmation of a witness, have used two different types of identity proofing, and created an audio-visual recording of the notarization under certain circumstances. 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, including authentication procedures. Notaries must pre-clear their technology with the secretary of state before performing any remote notarizations. Remote notarizations cannot be used for anything to do with elections or wills. System or storage providers are prohibited from selling or offering personal information of remote individual except to complete the notarization act or transaction for which the notarization is being done, to comply with a court order, or just if the information is customers of the company in a potential sale.

Additional Information:

Real-time does allow for delays of a few seconds that are inherent in the method of communicating but the entire act must be done in one session. The notary must be in Colorado. Notary must confirm that the record used by the remote individual and the notary are the same. Notaries must maintain an electronic journal which contains each remote notarization performed.

Approved methods for confirming identity of remote person include:

  • Oath or affirmation of a credible witness who knows both the remote individual and the notary and is physical present with one of them during the notarization
  • Remote presentation and analysis of a government issued identification that contains both a signature and a photograph and at least one of the following:
    • Answers to a set of questions formulated from public or private data sources the remotely located individual has not previously provided an answer and meets secretary of state standards (like when you are asked to name a street you previously lived on)
    • A valid electronic credential that complies with secretary of state rules
    • Identity verification from a trusted third-party that complies with secretary of state rules
  • Any other method that complies with secretary of state rules

Recordings must be made if the remote individual is informed about the details of the storage of the recording and consents. It must be secured in compliance with rules set by secretary of state. Any information on the recording is inadmissible in court and all security rules that apply to a notary’s journal apply to the recording. It must include:

  • Information at the beginning to identify the notary, the date and time, description of the nature of the documents, identity of the remote individual, of any other witness, and the method of identification verification
  • Declaration by the remote individual that their signature is knowingly and voluntarily made
  • If the identification is made by personal knowledge of the notary, an explanation of how they know each other
  • If the witness is making the identification, statements on how the notary knows the witness and the witness knows the remote individual

Notaries must provide proof to the secretary of state that they have successfully completed any required training or examination.

System or storage providers must certify to secretary of state that they are complying with all rules around notarizations and those in this bill. They must maintain a business in Colorado.


Auto-Repeal: None

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. The bill provides sufficient protections against identification issues that may result from someone not being with the notary in-person and are in fact more robust in some scenarios than much of what is required if you simply drop in on a notary in-person. We will have a recording to refer to if something is later disputed and the systems must show if they have been tampered with. The bill also leaves a lot of latitude for the secretary of state to construct appropriate rules. It’s 2020, it’s time to bring this secure and limited form of digitization to the notary world.

Arguments Against:

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. It’s all well and good to know that a system has been tampered with, but what exactly was done and if you can reset to the status prior to the tampering is another. We are also leaving quite a bit in the hands of the secretary of state to determine, such as any training requirements, length of time to keep recordings, what to do if the remote individual objects to the recording, and so on.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-096

SB20-100 Repeal The Death Penalty (Gonzales (D), Tate (R)) [Arndt (D), Benavidez (D)]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Slight but hard to estimate

Goal: End use of the death penalty in Colorado.

Description:

Repeals the death penalty for any offenses charged in Colorado after July 1, 2020.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

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.


This should be up to the voters to decide.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-100

SB20-114 Registration Of Canadian Money Judgments Act (Gardner (R)) [Tipper (D)]

From the Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Negligible due to less court time

Goal: Allow judgments from Canadian courts on money similar leeway as decisions made in our states in the US for registering and enforcing them in Colorado.

Description:

Enacts the Uniform Registration of Canadian Money Judgments act, which would for court judgments involving Canadian money would take the place of current foreign-countries law. It allows someone seeking a Colorado court to recognize, and enforce, a judgment made in Canada by a Canadian court, to register the complete details of the judgment on a specific form. This registered judgment is then treated in the same manner as judgments from other states in this country, including a waiting period before terms can be enforced, notification of the person against whom the judgment is served, and the ability for that person to petition the court to have the judgment vacated.

Additional Information:

Court may stay the judgment while a petition to vacate is pending. If the petition is granted because the registration was faulty, the petitioner can refile it correctly.

Registration must include:

  • Authenticated copy of Canadian judgment
  • Name and address of person registering judgment and name and last-known address of person judgment is against
  • If the person registering the judgment is not the person who was awarded it, statement describing the register’s interest in the judgment that entitles them to seek its recognition and enforcement
  • If necessary, a description of the part of the judgment being registered
  • Amount of judgment, including interest accrued, actual judgment amount itself, and amount of attorney fees awarded in judgment
  • Amount of post-judgment fees and costs and attorney expenses claimed
  • Amount of judgment that has already been satisfied, if any
  • Certified translation into English if the judgment is not in English
  • Docket fee

Notice to the person against whom the judgment is filed must include:

  • Date of registration and court where it was registered as well as docket number
  • Name and address of person registering the judgment and, if applicable, their attorney
  • Copy of the registration
  • Notice that the person has 35 days after being served the notice to petition for vacating the registration and that the court may provide a shorter or longer time

Registrations can only be vacated if the person seeking to vacate it can prove grounds based on the Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act or that it was improperly registered.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

Right now anyone who wants to seek recognition and enforcement of a Canadian judgment must file a new lawsuit to have it recognized, like with any other foreign country. This is costly and inefficient, especially if the debtor does not even appear and a default judgment is entered. Because Canada is our biggest trading partner, there is a lot of cross-border economic activity and resulting litigation. The Canadian court system is similar to ours and both countries have deep roots in traditional English law. It therefore makes sense to treat Canadian judgments the same we treat judgments from other states: their laws may be slightly different than ours but we recognize the judgment as valid. There is a procedure for this to be contested. This law is part of a nationwide effort to bring uniformity to our state laws for legal procedures as much as possible and is backed by the Uniform Law Commission.

Arguments Against:

We don’t need to jump to adopt this just because other states may, or because a commission thinks it is a good idea. We examine it on the merits, and there are reasons why we might not want to jump in. First, however similar it might be, Canadian law is not American law. Other states have different laws than Colorado but all of us exist under US federal law. We therefore should not automatically grant Canadian judgments the same latitude as other states. And second, this law does not provide adequate protection for the person for whom the judgment is against. The court is given a set amount of time to allow for petition but then also given the leeway to alter that time with no guidelines provided for when this would be appropriate. The court may stay the judgment while the petition is heard but again, no guidelines are given. So taking these two together a court could drastically reduce the amount of time for the petitioner to respond and refuse to stay the judgment, making the petitioner liable to pay the person who registered the complaint while it is still be adjudicated in US court.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-114

SB20-146 Financial Organizations Unclaimed Property Act (Priola (R)) [Bockenfeld (R)]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal: Make financial organization loyalty cards exempt from the unclaimed property act. Reverts the changes made last year to demand, savings, or time deposits when it comes to abandonment by creating multiple exceptions to the five-year rule centered on activity done by the owner.

Description:

Makes financial organization loyalty cards exempt from the unclaimed property act. Reverts the changes made last year to demand, savings, or time deposits when it comes to abandonment by creating multiple exceptions to the five-year rule centered on activity done by the owner.

Additional Information:

Exact exemptions are:

  • Owner of the deposit has increased or decreased its value
  • Owner has communicated with banking or financial institution concerning the property, either in writing or as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file
  • Owner owns another property with the institution and has done either of the first two actions with the property

Financial organization loyalty card is defined as a record given with or without direct monetary consideration, under an award, reward, benefit, loyalty, incentive, rebate, or promotional program established by a financial organization for purposed of rewarding a relationship with the sponsoring entity. Includes a record that may be monetized.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For: Loyalty cards are already exempted, so it makes sense to include financial organization loyalty cards as well. The old way of looking at these accounts also made more sense, as it considered activity by the owner with the institution as proof the account was not abandoned.

Arguments Against:

This law was changed last year to the uniform version as adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. In other words, a ton of work and thought went into the proper handling of unclaimed property. We should stick with those experts.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-146

SB20-181 Measures On Incompetent To Proceed (Lee (D)) [Weissman (D)]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Need new note

Goal: Require higher burdens of proof before providing restoration services to those previously found to be unlikely to ever be found competent to stand trial, make it harder to hold people found incompetent in custody for lower level crimes, gives judges more discretion in dismissing cases for those found incompetent with no likelihood of ever being able to stand trial, and study how to better keep those with severe neurocognitive health disorders out of the justice system.

Description:

If an evaluation of a defendant that has previously been found to be incompetent to proceed to a trial with low likelihood of that changing contradicts this finding and says the defendant is competent to proceed, the evaluator must address what has changed since the previous evaluation (must have been within five years of the other evaluation to trigger this requirement). If the defendant was diagnosed with a moderate to severe intellectual or developmental disability, traumatic brain injury, or dementia, then if any evaluator at any point states there is substantial probability of regaining competency they must address why this case is different than other ones with these conditions. And if a defendant has been found incompetent to proceed three or more times over the previous three years that must be noted in any subsequent evaluation.

In all three of these cases, a court hearing is required prior to any restoration services being performed based on an evaluation they are likely to succeed. This must be within 35 days of receiving the evaluation and the presumption must be that the defendant cannot be restored to competency with treatment (so burden of proof is on other side). If the court finds that there no substantial probability of restoration then the case must be dismissed and follow the course set out by law for either release or commitment to a mental health facility. If the court finds there isn’t sufficient evidence to make a no restoration ruling, then the defendant can start restoration treatment. The case must be reviewed again after 91 days and there must be clear and convincing evidence of progress or the case gets dismissed (same proceedings as above).

If the case is a misdemeanor level or below, the court must set a bond hearing within 7 days of defendant being found incompetent to proceed. Court must coordinate with relevant liaisons and teams during this time frame so they can be prepared to offer appropriate supports if the defendant is released. The assumption that must be overcome at the hearing is that the defendant should be released on personal recognizance (no money or conditions).

Municipal courts must dismiss cases when defendant is found incompetent to proceed or when civil commitment procedures are initiated. Bill also removes an exception to ability for court to dismiss charges in incompetent to proceed cases for victim’s rights act crimes (most severe crimes we have, generally involving violence, death, or sexually based crimes). This leaves it up to the judge in all cases. Bill also creates a committee to study impacts of enhanced sentencing laws on people with certain health conditions that make imprisonment difficult, in particular how to keep first-responders safe and how to keep people with these conditions from unnecessary involvement in the justice system. Report due by November 15, 2020.

Additional Information:

Commission members to be appointed by state court administrator. Health conditions include: mental health, intellectual or developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and other neurocognitive health disorders such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Six member commission is composed as follows:

  • Member representing state district attorneys’ council
  • Member representing state public defender’s office
  • Member representing a local law enforcement agency
  • Member representing a first responder agency
  • Member representing an advocacy organization for people with behavioral health conditions
  • Member representing someone with one of these health conditions impacted by enhanced sentencing or a family member

Committee is to outline budgetary, legislative, regulatory, and best-practice recommendations. Study must look at impact of enhanced sentencing on the people with health conditions and deterrent effect, if any, on assaults on first responders. Committee must solicit feedback from community, including clinicians, consumers, advocates, hospitals, first responders, and victims. Relevant state committees must provide data as needed.


Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is about managing resources. The state was sued in 2011 because we were doing so badly in providing timely competency hearings. There was a poorly implemented settlement that resulted in mediation and a huge bill last year to try to fix some of the problems. But of course the state isn’t denying hearings or restoration services for fun, we lack resources. So it is important to ensure that we are not misusing these resources on cases where there truly is low likelihood of restoration or the level of the crime is so low that we should not bother, such as municipal cases. This bill creates a system to regard out-of-the-blue or out-of-the-ordinary claims of possibility of restoration with skepticism so we can hold back some resources until we are sure they may make a difference. Giving the power to the courts to find the most appropriate way to handle these cases, even for severe crimes, where the defendant is probably never going to be competent to stand trial, will help us make better use of our resources for defendants who may be competent to stand trial with treatment. We remain an innocent before proven guilty country and if someone cannot stand trial we cannot prove guilt. That means we have to find alternatives to simply locking someone up. And this includes the most severe crimes. Locking up someone who is accused of a crime with no mechanism for them to prove themselves is the same as finding them guilty without a trial.

Arguments Against:

Victim’s Rights Crimes are a constitutionally mandated protection for the victims and their families. No judge should be able to simply dismiss the charges in these cases and then decide on their own the path forward. Of course if someone cannot stand trial then there isn’t anything we can do about that. But someone who is cannot proceed to trial who is accused of violently harming another individual should not be out on the streets. We cannot prove them guilty of course but we also cannot say they are not guilty. They therefore must held in some sort of facility to protect the public and possibly themselves.


The bill may ease backlogs around use of restorative services but it is adding additional court proceedings to the process and we have a backlog around those as well. So it might make one problem better while making another worse.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB20-181

SB20-191 Changes To Felony Murder (Lee (D)) [Weissman (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Not yet released

Goal: Change punishment for co-conspirators in felony crimes where someone is murdered during the commission of a crime by a different participant from a class 1 felony to a class 2 felony, while removing some defenses that are allowed and adding some mitigating factors for enhanced sentencing.

Description:

Currently someone can be charged with felony 1 first-degree murder if someone is killed by someone else in the joint commission of several different felony crimes (like robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault). This bill changes this to a level 2 felony but also removes two defenses people can give for the death. One is that the defendant had no reasonable grounds to believe that the other participant in the crime was armed and the other is the defendant tried to extricate themselves from the commission of the crime as soon as they realized the other participant was armed and likely to hurt someone. Clarifies that the enhanced sentences (at least midpoint and up to twice the maximum of the range) for this particular crime only apply if the defendant either: used, possessed, or threatened to use a deadly weapon; used threats, intimidation, or force during the crime; caused serious bodily injury to someone; or knew that a co-participant intended to use or threaten to use a weapon during the crime. Penalty for class 2 felony is 8-24 years in prison with $5,000 to $1,000,000 in fines. Class 1 is life in prison.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: None

Arguments For:

This is fairly simple: right now if someone is part of committing a felony crime that results in the murder of another person, that individual and the actual murderer both get class 1 first-degree murder charges. This is not someone who planned to kill anyone and not someone who actually killed anyone. That is not right and this bill fixes it by lowering the penalty one step down to a class 2 felony. At the same time, it is no longer valid to argue that you didn’t know someone else had a weapon or that as soon as you realized it you tried to get out of the situation. We are still holding you responsible at the class 2 level. Now if we need to enhance the sentencing, the bill gives an avenue for that too: if you did know that this might happen or were waiving around a weapon yourself, we are going to treat you more harshly. Courts and juries still have discretion and prosecutors can still use leverage to get plea deals in exchange for cooperation against the actual killer (twice the maximum of a class 2 felony is 48 years in prison). But we will not treat this person the same way as the actual killer.

Arguments Against:

This has the potential to make it more difficult for prosecutors to use a key part of their leverage in these situations to get the defendant to flip on their confederates so we can ensure conviction of the actual killer. Prosecutors have the threat of life in prison versus a reduced sentence due to a plea bargain. And let’s not lose sight of the basic fact here: someone was killed in the commission of another felony crime. So we should not shed too many tears for the defendant who decided to commit a felony and as a result someone else lost their life. Maybe not directly, but the defendant contributed to the situation and is morally culpable, which is what the current law recognizes. Remember there is a potential here to reduce a sentence from life in prison to 8 years.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB191