These are all of the legal system bills proposed in the 2021 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.

Senate

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

MEGA

SB21-271 Misdemeanor Reform PASSED AMENDED

MAJOR

SB21-073 Civil Action Statute Of Limitations Sexual Assault SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB21-088 Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act PASSED AMENDED

MEDIUM

SB21-080 Protections For Entities During COVID-19 KILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE
SB21-124 Changes To Felony Murder SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED

MINOR+

SB21-002 Extending Limitations On Debt Collection Actions SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB21-006 Human Remains Natural Reduction Soil SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB21-017 Sexual Contact By An Educator PASSED VERY SIGNIFICANTLY AMENDED
SB21-061 Claims For Economic Damages Incurred By Minors KILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE AMENDED
SB21-064 Retaliation Against An Elected Official SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB21-143 Uniform Collaborative Law Act SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED

MINOR

SB21-030 Criminal Theft Of Rental Property SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB21-121 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act SIGNED INTO LAW
SB21-162 Colorado Uniform Trust Code Part 5 SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
SB21-171 Uniform Fiduciary Income And Principal Act SIGNED INTO LAW

TECHNICAL

HB21-1004 Colorado Uniform Electronic Wills Act (Gardner (R), Lee (D)) [Snyder (D), Soper (R)]

From the Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Allow for the creation, execution, and revocation of wills electronically.

Description:

Takes the template provided by the Uniform Law Commission for electronic wills and adapts it to Colorado law. This allows someone to electronically sign (and have their attestors and a notary electronically sign) their will. It also allows these electronic wills to be revoked, just like a physical one, either through a subsequent will or through a physical act that was made with deliberate intent (like deleting it) by the individual or by someone directed by the individual (this other person has to be in the physical presence of the will writer). The bill also allows people to create certified paper copies of an electronic will by attesting under penalty of perjury that it is a complete and true copy.

Additional Information:

The attestors have to either be physically present with the will writer at the time of signature or they have to be the physical or electronic presence of the notary. All must be residents of the state and physically located in it at the time of signing.

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The pandemic has focused us on the need to be able to do these documents electronically, but really in 2021 we are more than capable of doing an official document like a will electronically. Most of the arguments against this bill can also be applied to paper wills, they are just potential issues with the entire system.

In Further Detail: We do a lot of business electronically, including sensitive business that requires a signature and witnesses. There is no good reason to not include wills. Even when we come out of the pandemic it will still help those who have difficulty in physically traveling to a notary or lawyer. And many of the objections people have to this are actually just as valid when you consider traditional paper wills. Those can be altered after the fact, they can be lost, and people involved in them can be pressured before appearing in front of a notary. As for the file format issue, it is generally poor legislative practice to dictate things as specific as filetype since we cannot see what the future may bring. And PDFs can be edited too, if sometimes with more difficulty than Word files. The Uniform Commission on state laws spends a lot of time and effort coming up with these bills and they think through the potential implications.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The bill has insufficient safeguards against alteration, storage issues, and loss. This is a pretty new template from the Uniform Commission and we need to wait until it is in better shape.

In Further Detail: An electronic document can be more easily edited after the fact than paper and the bill makes no security provisions for these documents and no provisions over who needs to keep the file. It doesn’t even specify format for the file. It does not address procedures for lost or accidentally deleted (and unrecoverable) files. This is a pretty new template from the Uniform Commission and has only been adopted by one other state. It may need more time before it’s really ready.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1004

HB21-1022 Surrogacy Agreements (Ginal (D)) [Froelich (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

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. Modernize state laws around surrogacy.

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:

To enter into an agreement, at least one parent must reside in the state or the birth must be anticipated to occur in the state or the assisted reproduction procedure must take place in the state.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Our surrogacy and donor related pregnancy laws need updating to protect all parties involved
  • This is based upon the revised 2017 Uniform Parentage Act from the uniform law commission, so it a standardized approach used in other states as well

In Further Detail:

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: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1022

HB21-1026 Allow Foreign Protected Series Do Business In Colorado [Baisley (R), Tipper (D)]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Recognize foreign protected series business in Colorado and treat them like their organizing structure requests, which is as separate businesses for the sake of liability from each other and their parent organization

Description:

These corporations are able to operate as a single organization that exist under one master umbrella company but they separate out liabilities among their sub-organizations. So a lawsuit against one sub-organization, or series member would not be able to touch the assets of any other sub-series member of the master organization.

The bill also recognizes that the jurisdiction over the protected series is the jurisdiction in which the master company was established.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Several other states recognize these companies and they already operate in Colorado, we just don’t have a good way to regulate them in Colorado as they are. Recognizing them in this manner may increase the number of such businesses operating in the state and bring more jobs to Colorado
  • The concept behind this structure is to try to separate the bad actions of one series member from the rest, for example a chain of stores where one store breaks consumer protection laws

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • These types of structures are bad for the public good because they allow organizations to hide and funnel liability and prevent consumers from being made whole from bad actions
  • The federal government has changed the law in such a manner that it is unlikely that these protective series will even exist in one year

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1026

HB21-1031 Jurisdiction To Modify Family Law Orders On Appeal (Lee (D), Gardner (R)) [Daugherty (D), Woog (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Reverse the effects of a 2020 state supreme court decision that held that courts do not have jurisdiction to modify parenting time or decision-making orders for changed circumstances when there is a pending appeal in the case.

Description:

In essence this reverts back to practice before the 2020 court decision In re: The Parental Responsibilities Concerning W.C. which held courts lacked the statutory authority to make these changes during a pending appeal. They include: modify child support or maintenance orders, make or modify an order granting or denying parenting time rights, modify an order allocating decision-time responsibilities, exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction, and modify an order concerning allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.

Basically if a court makes a ruling and one parent appeals the ruling and then, while the appeal is pending, files motions to modify the original ruling based on changed circumstances, can the court rule on the new motions? Before the 2020 case the answer was yes.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This restores a status quo that was working just fine and fits with the court’s finding that absent statutory authority, a court cannot rule on a motion to modify an order that is being appealed. So with statutory authority, courts can do this
  • The reason for allowing this is that circumstances surrounding children change rapidly and the best interests of the child must come first. Waiting for an appeal to finish before being able to alter the circumstances may not be in the best interests of the child
  • The court and the arguments against are imaging a world of confusion that simply did not exist. We know this because this was the system in place and it was working fine

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The court also found practical reasons to make this ruling. Under the old system (and this bill), you essentially have dueling courts. The original court is considering changes to the ruling it made that another court is considering on appeal. The appeals court may be wasting its time if the trial court’s original ruling is moot. The trial court may be wasting its time on a ruling the appeals court is going to overturn. And if the court of appeals affirms an order the trial court has already modified, which order gets followed?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1031

HB21-1039 Careless Driving Serious Bodily Injury [Larson (R), Titone (D)]

KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

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:

It is a class 1 misdemeanor, 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. Current law for seriously injuring or killing someone while driving in a careless manner when the person is not an vulnerable individual is also a class 1 misdemeanor, but no automatic suspension or requirement to attend driver school.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • It should not matter if the person who was hurt was vulnerable or not, we need to get drivers who are this careless off the streets and into training to prevent future tragedies

In Further Detail: 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:

Bottom Line:

  • Current penalties for this crime are largely similar to what the bill proposes. It is overboard to remove a license for a year and force attendance at driver school

In Further Detail:

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 HB21-1039

HB21-1069 Enforcement Of Sexual Exploitation Of A Child (Fields (D), Gardner (R)) [Carver (R), Roberts (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $1,894
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • 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
  • Tasks state law enforcement 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.

Description:

5% of new surcharge goes to courts for administrative costs, 95% goes to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. 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. For those charged with multiple crimes, each crime to be punished separately.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • 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 HB21-1069

HB21-1074 Immunity For Entities During COVID-19 [Bradfield (R)]

*This bill is identical to SB080*

KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Make entities immune from damages resulting from exposure, loss, damage, injury, or death from COVID-19 unless it is proved that they failed to comply with public health guidelines or acted with gross negligence or willful or wanton acts or omissions

Description:

Bill does not abrogate or limit any already existing immunity. Entities include individuals and pretty much any other type of organization you can think of. Bill is repealed two years after the governor lifts the state of emergency for COVID.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • COVID is a nasty opponent and we all know that even if you follow all of the rules and do your best, it is still possible to contract it. The bill ensures that people and organizations that follow the rules and do their best are not punished unfairly.
  • There is also a competitiveness angle here, well over half the states in the country have COVID liability laws of some sort. Not having one here could be a problem
  • Even frivolous lawsuits can do damage

In Further Detail: You can wear a mask (or two!), practice good social distancing, adhere to all state health rules, and still get COVID. It’s less likely of course, which is why everyone should do all of those things, but it is still possible. Any person or organization or business that does everything right but gets unlucky should not be punished. And this is narrowly tailored liability. Some of the more famous public examples of businesses showing utter disregard for employer safety, like the meat packing company in Colorado at the beginning of the pandemic, would not qualify for immunity under this law. Any sort of violation of public health requirements would not qualify. And given that over half the states in the country (and counting) already have COVID liability laws of some sort, Colorado may be at a competitive disadvantage if it doesn’t have one in terms of attracting businesses to the state. And even failed, frivolous lawsuits can have damaging impacts on businesses: both to the reputations and bottom line.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Lawsuits that this bill are trying to protect against would be pretty hard to succeed anyway—how are you going to prove where you got COVID? Thus far we haven’t seen very many of them
  • Public health orders are simply not robust enough to provide full protection—a lot of it is couched as suggestions
  • Since current law already covers civil liability, what we would really be doing here is sending a message about safety—the wrong one

In Further Detail: To some degree this is likely to be much ado about nothing. How is someone going to prove where exactly they got COVID? That would be step one in any liability suit. But even if we get past that hurdle, you already have to prove wrongdoing by the other party in a civil suit. You don’t simply get to win by virtue of having got COVID. So any business that is doing things right doesn’t have to worry about losing a flurry of COVID related lawsuits. And the frivolous ones are likely to just get tossed out of court. So why not just shrug and move on? The reliance on public health orders makes accountability in obvious cases more problematic. Public health orders have wildly varying levels of specificity and in some cases are couched more as suggestions. They are also aimed more at the public and less at specific business activities. But most importantly, there is a message being sent here. Do the bare minimum and you cannot be sued. That is the wrong approach. We are so close to being on the other side of this, we need to bear down and get through the next few months to widespread vaccination, not relax at the last minute.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1074

HB21-1091 Sentencing Juveniles Transferred To Adult Court (Buckner (D)) [Daugherty (D), Lynch (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Align state laws around juveniles convicted as an adult so that they are not subject to mandatory minimum sentencing.

Description:

Currently it depends on how the case proceeds. If the juvenile is charged first in juvenile court and then has it transferred, they are subject to mandatory minimums. If the juvenile is charged first as an adult, then they are not. The mandatory minimum exception does not apply to class 1 felonies or more serious sex related offenses.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is about aligning our laws. We’ve recognized that even when we decide we must try juveniles as adults they are still juveniles and some flexibility in sentencing should apply, except for the most severe cases. So it shouldn’t matter how the case got into the adult court system

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1091

HB21-1093 Remedies In Class Actions Consumer Protection Act (Rodriguez (D)) [Woodrow (D)]

KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Changes the state’s consumer protection act to allow successful class action lawsuits to collect actual damages and reasonable attorney fees and costs. Clarifies that they can also get injunctive relief as allowed by law

Description:

Currently private individuals can only sue under the consumer protection law as individuals, not as class action, if they want to win anything.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We got to our current situation on a fluke, a ruling in 2012 based on a legal change in 1999 that was not intended to remove the ability of consumers to do class action suits
  • Our current situation is therefore that it is basically impossible for private citizens to get relief under the consumer protection act—no class action cases and the bar for filing individual cases is so high that we’ve had almost none of them
  • Relying on state enforcement means we are subject to the whims of political fortune in the attorney general’s office, the only realistic source for public litigation, and the bandwidth of that office in terms of how many suits it can handle

In Further Detail: Current law has been interpreted by the courts since 2012 as to not allow class action lawsuits that sought damages or recovery of legal fees under the state’s consumer protection act at all, since the current law excludes them from damage recovery. That exclusion was added to the law in 1999—there was a 13 year gap where class actions continued because it was not the intent of the 1999 law to do away with class action suits under the consumer protection act. This bill restores the ability for class action suits to collect damages, get injunctive relief, and get attorney fees covered under class action lawsuits. Individual claims are extremely difficult to bring under the consumer protection act—you have to prove a public impact from the negative action, not just that it damaged you. That of course is best suited for class action suits, which we’ve basically made impossible to file. That’s why we’ve had almost none. So in essence we have a non-functioning consumer protection act right now for consumers. We should not be relying on the attorney general’s office to protect our consumers—consumers should be able to sue on their own and not be subject to the whims of a politically held office. District attorneys simply don’t have the bandwidth to handle big consumer protection cases and that’s why we never really see them doing it. Colorado is also a severe outlier in this law, 40 other states allow consumer class action suits under the consumer protection act. As for the worries about businesses, we are merely going back to the scheme Colorado used to function under. It was fine then and it will be fine now.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The attorney general’s office can handle these complaints that deal with harm to multiple individuals and has been doing so very robustly
  • Class action suits generally result in longer processes and smaller damages than cases brought by the state, so they are actually less preferable for getting consumers the relief they deserve

In Further Detail: The attorney general is capable of handling these complaints and in fact has been doing so with great vigor and if the attorney general is not doing the job district attorneys can pick up the mantle. We’ve had a balance in the state for years of public action for public wrongs and private action for individual wrongs. That balance has served us fine. So that brings us the question, what’s the harm? Many other states do allow class action suits under their consumer protection acts. The damage is two-fold, first, companies get sued a lot more, in a lot more marginal cases, which drastically drives up legal costs for those companies. Second, consumers get more money out of state-brought cases than they do from class action cases—where because of the amount of legal work involved a lot of the rewards end up going to the lawyers in legal fees.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1093

HB21-1136 Judicial Division Retirees Temporary Judicial Duties Compensation (Lee (D), Gardner (R)) [Tipper (D), Carver (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: $723,564
Fiscal Impact: Negligible this year beyond appropriation, $738,000 next year

Goal:

  • Tweak the time frames and pay-rates for retired judges who can perform assigned judicial duties in exchange for increased pension benefits. Previously was at least 60 days and 20% of current judge’s salary for the retiree’s position or at least 90 days and 30%. The bill makes it 20 and 6.7%, 30 and 10%, 60 and 20%, or 90 and 30%

Description:

Bill also removes requirement that retired judges who didn’t enter into an agreement to perform these services when they retired can only do so within 30 days of each anniversary date of their retirement.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • We have cases piling up all over the state, in large part due to COVID. Allowing for shorter time frames can bring more retired judges into the fold to attack the problem. The requirement that such an agreement occur close to the anniversary date of retirement is not helpful in any circumstance

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1136

HB21-1179 Canadian Domestic Violence Protection Orders (Gardner (R)) [Duran (D), Rich (R)]

From the Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws

KILLED ON HOUSE CALENDAR

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Require Colorado law enforcement and judges to enforce Canadian domestic violence protection orders.

Description:

For law enforcement, if an officer has probable cause to believe the someone has a valid Canadian domestic violence protection order and it has been violated, they are to proceed just as they would if a US domestic violence protection order had been violated. This does not require presentation of the actual Canadian certificate. If the officer determines that the person violating the protection order didn’t receive proper notification of the order, the officer must make reasonable efforts to inform that individual of the order and its terms (including providing a physical copy of the order if available) and allow that individual a reasonable amount of time to comply. Officer must also notify the victim of available local victim services.

For courts, they can issue an order enforcing or refusing to enforce Canadian orders just like orders from other states. They must enforce the order if it identifies the protected person and the person the order is issued against, it is valid and in effect, the court that issued it had proper jurisdiction, the person the order is against was given reasonable notice and the ability to defend themselves in court, and in ex parte orders, reasonable time will be given to do so. A valid Canadian order is to be valid on its face but it can be contested on the basis of not adhering to the requirements listed above.

People can register Canadian orders in Colorado by presenting a copy to a court or responsible agency. No fee may be charged. Inaccurate, expired, or unenforceable orders may be corrected or removed.

Qualified immunity is granted to all state officers attempting in good faith to carry out registration or enforcement of these orders.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Canada has laws quite similar to ours and already recognizes US domestic protection orders. The differences are not enough to outweigh the safety of individuals who need these orders and the bill contains due process protections
  • This uniform law has already been passed by other states and has been in operation in at least one state since 2017

In Further Detail: With the large amount of travel and commerce between the US and Canada, there are plenty of Canadians here in Colorado at varying times. They deserve protection from domestic abuse just like anyone else. Canada itself already acknowledges this by enforcing protection orders from Colorado in Canada. While our legal systems are not exactly the same, this is also true of various states in the US and the differences are not large enough to outweigh the benefit. Because protection orders are in place when a dangerous situation exists in a domestic situation and those are precisely what are most likely to end up with someone following another individual from Canada to the US. The bill also doesn’t allow for enforcement if the individual it is supposed to protect against had their due process violated by not being able to defend themselves in court. This uniform law has been in existence for several years, since at least 2017 in at least one US state, so it clearly can work in the US legal system. As for officer discretion, they have to use that all the time in enforcing our laws. It is not clear why this case would be so wildly different—and in any case they have qualified immunity for their actions.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The probable cause here is murky—if there is no copy of the order how is the officer to know there is a valid order?
  • We already have a process for validating foreign protection orders that involves quite a bit of due process, there is no reason to change that just for Canada, which for all of its similarities is still much more different than another US state

In Further Detail: The probable cause provision here is quite wide and brings in far too much discretion for the officers. It is generally accepted standard procedure for someone with a protection order to carry it on them at all times, we should adhere to that here. But even given that, we already have a process in state law to deal with foreign protection orders and they involve more due process than simply accepting the order on its face. Canada is still a different country, despite its similarities to ours, much more so than just another US state, and it should not get preferential treatment over other foreign nations in our laws.


Bottom Line:

  • This erodes our attempt to end qualified immunity for police officers, just passed last year. Qualified immunity has unfortunately fallen to the absurd, where an officer is exempt from all sorts of bad behavior simply because it has not been specifically adjudicated by a court, for example a case was thrown out where an officer allowed a police dog to attack a surrendered suspect who was sitting down—because the relevant case banning such behavior involved a suspect who was lying down

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1179

HB21-1188 Additional Liability Under Respondeat Superior (Gonzales (D)) [Kennedy (D)]

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

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:

In essence this again makes employers liable for negligent acts or omissions as a respondent superior (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.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The Ferrer v Okbamicael case 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:

Bottom Line:

  • 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 HB21-1188

HB21-1300 Health-Care Provider Liens For Injured Persons (Smallwood (R), Zenzinger (D)) [Weissman (D), Neville (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Put some rules around health care liens to ensure that people who need them aren’t being charged extra amounts or fees, that they aren’t being given to debt collection agencies (absent fraud), and that only money actually won in court or via insurance goes to the lien. If there’s no money, then the injured person is off the hook. Also establishes a pecking order for liens (first-come, first-serve).

Description:

Health care liens are used when someone is injured through the wrongful or negligent actions of someone else and cannot pay their medical bills. A lien is basically dibs on any potential future court awarded money or insurance money.

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

If a lien is created, it only gets paid to the extent the individual actually receives any money (from court or insurance). If the individual gets no money, they are not obligated to pay the lien. If they get less money than the total lien, all of it goes to the lien but the individual is not obligated to pay more. If there are multiple liens filed on a single incident, then they get paid in first-come, first-serve manner. Only filing with the secretary of statefollowing the rules of the state's lien registration act gets you in line, this is not required by law for a lien, but if a lien is not filed with the secretary of state it will lose out to others that are (if applicable).

No surcharges, finance charges, or interest can be added to a lien. Provider must also inform individual of any common ownership interest between the holder of the lien and the individual’s legal counsel and with the provider. Must provide an itemized billing statement for the lien upon request. This does not apply to a debt collection agency who has been assigned a lien to collect on, but liens cannot be sent to debt collector unless there is fraud. Liens are not loans and healthcare providers who enter into them are not payers of benefits.

None of this affects hospital liens.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

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

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

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

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1300

HB21-1309 Criminal Trial Continuances COVID-19 Pandemic (Lee (D), Gardner (R)) [Roberts (D), Carver (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

Temporarily give courts the power to delay jury trials in victim’s rights cases (most severe crimes) and DUIs by up to a year by up to 6 months, unless the defendant is in custody then the maximum delay is three months if the delay is due to COVID related backlogs in the system. If this happens the defendant must be given bail terms they can meet for anything under a class 3 felony and for crimes higher than that, unless they need to be held without bail in order to protect society.

Description:

Allows courts to grant continuances of trials due to delays caused by COVID. No more than two Only one continuance of a maximum of 6 months each per case unless the defendant is in custody, in which case the maximum delay is three months. Case must be a jury case involving a victim’s rights crime or a DUI, There must not be a courtroom nor a transfer courtroom available due to backlog caused by COVID, and the continuance must serve the interests of justice in terms of impact on both the prosecution and the defense. Court must prioritze proceeding to trial for cases where a mistrial was declared due to COVID, the defendant is in custody, or the crime was a victim's rights crime. If such a continuance is issued, courts must reconsider bond if a defendant is in jail because they cannot satisfy their current bond conditions within 7 days. Court must change conditions of bond so that defendant can be released for anything below a class 3 felony, and for class 3 felonies or higher crimes, unless court finds the defendant is a significant risk to the community and that no bond or conditions of release are sufficient to protect against such risk.

The allowance of this bill is temporary and expires on April 29, 2022.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: July 2023

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Across the state about 14,600 jury trials have piled up during the pandemic. The state usually handles 2,700 a year. State law requires a trial within 6 months, and this is just not physically possible right now in a lot of cases. We’ve had some creative solutions (judges declaring mistrials to reset the clock by 90 days) but the fact is we need to allow for more time in some of these cases. The bill limits itself to severe cases and makes proper precautions to ensure defendants aren’t forced to sit in prison for all of this extra time except in the most extraordinary circumstances. It is not ideal, but it beats the alternative which is to simply throw out a lot of cases (or in effect do so through bargain basement plea deals that don’t serve the interests of justice) and probably at the same time a lot of ineffective counsel (on both sides) as overtaxed lawyers attempt to juggle too many cases at once

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • The right to a speedy trial is a fundamental one in our innocent before proven guilty society, where being charged with a crime is a sort of limbo state where you are treated as a quasi-criminal. This bill allows for a delay of up to a year for a case, which is simply far too long. We are already brining in extra retired judges thanks to another bill in this session and we probably should have prosecutors who are more willing to give more favorable plea deals to get cases cleared out without requiring a trial instead of messing around with delays

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB21-1309

SB21-002 Extending Limitations On Debt Collection Actions (Winter (D), Gonzales (D)) [Herod (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: Loss of $1.1 million in court filing fees

Goal:

  • Extends an existing limitation on debt collection (created last year due to the pandemic) set to expire on February 1 to June 1. This allows people experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 to suspend extraordinary collection actions. It also exempts up to $4,000 in a debtor’s bank accounts until the same June 1 date.

Description:

As part of this program, creditors must first send a written notice (specified precisely in the bill) to the debtor letting them know they can defer the collection. Debtors do not have to prove hardship.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • People already struggling who are then hit by COVID-related hardship cannot pay and we must keep them from further spiraling
  • This cancels no debt, it just delays payment
  • Our economy is not in any way normal yet, we don’t expect widespread vaccination until summer

In Further Detail: This program was designed to prevent people from spiraling into even more severe economic difficulties, including potential homelessness and loss of other property, during our severe pandemic, which of course only exacerbates our economic problems. It doesn’t cancel any debt, people still owe it, it just delays collection until we are all on a more secure and normal footing. This is also a situation that just does not lend itself to complicated mechanisms to determine who is and is not actually suffering. Everyone will still get their money, they just need to wait a few more months.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Discriminates against creditors who need money too
  • Makes it too easy for debtors to claim COVID-related hardship with no proof required
  • Improving economic conditions and the vaccine mean this doesn’t need to be extended

In Further Detail: Keeping money out of creditors hands damages them too. Simply saying it’s just a few more months is not good enough, some creditors may need this money. And it is just way too easy for debtors to duck these payments. What person, given the opportunity to just say they are experiencing COVID-19 related hardship wouldn’t say so, no matter what the actual circumstances? There is no need to prove it at all. Finally, with the vaccine coming and more regular economic activity returning, this program, which never should have existed in the first place, should not be extended.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-002

SB21-006 Human Remains Natural Reduction Soil (Rodriguez (D)) [Soper (R), Titone (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

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 reduction 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. Adjusts existing laws dealing with burial, cremation, interment, and entombment to also encompass natural reduction.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This is a safe method already in use in Washington state: all this bill does is give people the option to use it

In Further Detail: 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:

Bottom Line:

  • We should wait a bit longer to get more information out of Washington state on how this is going in practice

In Further Detail: 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 SB21-006

SB21-017 Sexual Contact By An Educator (Hisey (R), Zenzinger (D)) [Larson (R), Bradfield (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Very Significant

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.Allows schools to fire employees for unethical conduct for sexual contact with a student, even if the student is over 18

Description:

Extends the crime of sexual assault upon a student to cover those who are over 18 but still in high school and names this offense abuse of public trust by an educator. Unlike the law for those 15-18, it is a class 1 misdemeanor with enhanced sentencing guidelines. Makes it an unethical act subject to suspension or firing to have sexual contact with a student, including those over 18. Consent is not a defense. Teacher must be at least four years older and not married to the student. Requires schools to notify state if an employee is dismissed for this reason.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • 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 lower much less, no criminal charges.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • 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 SB21-017

SB21-030 Criminal Theft Of Rental Property (Holbert (R)) [Van Winkle (R), Titone (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Re-establish theft of rental property as a separate crime from general theft. Penalties are the same as general theft (based on same standards of value) but rental property theft also requires restitution of lost revenue resulting from the owner not having their rental property Ensure that any restitution for theft ordered by the court includes consideration of any loss of revenue resulting from the failure of the defendant to return property

Description:

As in current law, theft of rental property is both stealing something against the wishes of the person that owns it and keeping rental property more than 72 hours beyond the agreed return time. The punishments are not listed here because they do not change at all from current law.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • The notion of restitution of lost revenue did not exist in the law prior to 2013, when separate laws around rental property theft were removed, so while it made sense back then to combine the two together, if we want to properly compensate rental property owners by acknowledging lost income, we need to separate it out again The real goal here is to get courts to consider lost income due to not having the property. The amended bill does just that.

In Further Detail: Theft of property that you own but are not renting out is quite different from theft of rental property. Rental property brings in income and losing access to the income is a definable loss which should be made whole. Current law is not equipped to do this, so it makes sense to again separate out rental property theft to ensure people are made whole.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • People who have things stolen they are not renting out can also easily suffer immediate financial harm due to the theft. Current law can handle this through sentencing, which already includes potential restitution, so we don’t need a whole different category of law to deal with lost rental income in particular

In Further Detail: It’s a bit dicey to claim that someone who lost their personal property for a period of time was not affected financially simply because they didn’t rent it out. Stolen vehicles, stolen clothing, stolen computers, it’s easy to come up with a list that will have negative and immediate financial repercussions. Since we can already deal with this in current law through potential restitution, we can already deal with lost rental income in the same manner.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-030

SB21-061 Claims For Economic Damages Incurred By Minors (Story (D), Gonzales (D)) [Woodrow (D), Daugherty (D)]

KILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Allow minors to bring claims for damages in civil court. These must be losses that will occur before the minor becomes an adult. Parents or guardians are still permitted to recover damages on behalf of the minor

Description:

This includes medical expenses. Losses cannot be awarded to one person, so the minor and the parents cannot double-dip on the same loss. Bill also changes the statute of limitations for civil claims against health care institutions and health care professionals. Right now it is two years and includes an exemption for claims brought on behalf of minors under 8. The bill keeps that exemption and adds one for if the action is brought by the minor themselves. In that case the statute of limitations is when they turn 18. But only if the minor brings the case, if the parent or guardian sues, they must adhere to the two-year timeframe.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This addresses a bit of a loophole in our current structure, which actually relies entirely on common (that is to say, unwritten and determined by years of court precedents) law which says that ONLY a parent or guardian may bring these sorts of actions. It ensures that no one takes two bites at the apple while allowing minors whose parents or guardians refuse (or who don’t have a legal parent or guardian) to protect themselves

In Further Detail: The bill explicitly states that any common law precedent is to be discarded. Because there are times, and they may not be frequent but they do exist, where a child has been clearly harmed but no parent or guardian is willing or able to step up and get the economic relief the child deserves. The bill makes sure that everyone only gets one chance at this, no suing first by the child and then by the parents or vice versa. And it ensures that minors have ample time to take advantage of this: a nine-year old is not going to be equipped to sue someone on their own, but a 15 year-old might. As for the idea of letting a minor wait until becoming an adult through an extension of the statute of limitations—we want to avoid trying cases many years in the future as much as possible. This bill does the best we can to minimize that time gap.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Our common law suits us fine here, a minor is just not able to make the sort of decisions suing another individual or company require. There are other ways to ensure they can still get justice if it proves necessary

In Further Detail: We recognize people under 18 as minors because we recognize they are unable to make decisions like adults do. And the decision to sue someone, and then decisions required to execute such a maneuver, definitely fall into the adult category. We have other ways to get at the rare cases where a minor is denied justice: a different exemption to the statute of limitations that starts the two -year clock upon turning 18 for things that happened when they were a minor would accomplish the same goal, getting justice for minors who need it, while keeping the idea that suing someone is the province of adults. The time gap is unfortunate, but the bill already recognizes that we are likely going to be dealing with large time gaps in some cases anyway, so adding a few extra years shouldn’t hurt much.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-061

SB21-064 Retaliation Against An Elected Official (Garcia (D), Cooke (R)) [Mullica (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: $71,524 over next five years
Fiscal Impact: None beyond appropriation

Goal:

  • Give elected officials and their families the same similar protection against retaliation as judges and their families. It is a class 4 6 felony if a credible threat is done and a class 1 misdemeaner otherwise, the official’s family or property.

Description:

For a threat to be considerered credible, a reasonable person would have to be in fear for their safety or their immediate family's, or someone the official has a continuing relationship with. The threat does not have to be directly expressed.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • 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 and very dangerous

In Further Detail: 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:

Bottom Line:

  • This is going to be a very hard needle to thread, elected officials frequently hurl vitriol at each other

In Further Detail: 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? Would that be a first amendment problem? The tone of our politics certainly needs dramatic improvement but this is not the way.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-064

SB21-073 Civil Action Statute Of Limitations Sexual Assault (Danielson (D), Coram (R)) [Michaelson Jenet (D), Soper (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Remove all statutes of limitation for civil charges based on felony or class 1 misdemeanor 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 felony or class 1 misdemeanor 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. Removes the limited waiver of doctor-patient privilege and medical information that previously occurred when such lawsuits are filed that allowed the doctor or psychologist who treated the individual to be called as a witness. Bill also redefines sexual assault to mimic other sections of statute.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • There is no statute of limitations for criminal cases of sexual assault against a child because it can take decades for the victim to be ready to come forward, so it does not make sense to have one for civil cases
  • Gross institutional conduct should also be brought to justice, such as the Catholic Church knowingly ignoring what was happening some of their parishes
  • Filing a lawsuit should not automatically waive all of your privacy privileges

In Further Detail: 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 and is fact being done with SB088. As for worrying about entities facing massive financial difficulties due to culpability: yes, that’s the point.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Burden of proof is lower in civil cases than in criminal cases—and with events occurring so far in the past that can really matter
  • This could destroy some institutions, including public entities, that do large amounts of public good
  • Other states have chosen to have some sort of time limit, even if it is far into the future

In Further Detail: 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.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-073

SB21-080 Protections For Entities During COVID-19 (Woodward (R)) [Bird (D), Bradfield (R)]

KILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Make entities immune from damages resulting from exposure, loss, damage, injury, or death from COVID-19 unless it is proved that they failed to comply with public health guidelines or acted with gross negligence or willful or wanton acts or omissions

Description:

Bill does not abrogate or limit any already existing immunity. Entities include individuals and pretty much any other type of organization you can think of. Bill is repealed two years after the governor lifts the state of emergency for COVID.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • COVID is a nasty opponent and we all know that even if you follow all of the rules and do your best, it is still possible to contract it. The bill ensures that people and organizations that follow the rules and do their best are not punished unfairly.
  • There is also a competitiveness angle here, well over half the states in the country have COVID liability laws of some sort. Not having one here could be a problem
  • Even frivolous lawsuits can do damage

In Further Detail: You can wear a mask (or two!), practice good social distancing, adhere to all state health rules, and still get COVID. It’s less likely of course, which is why everyone should do all of those things, but it is still possible. Any person or organization or business that does everything right but gets unlucky should not be punished. And this is narrowly tailored liability. Some of the more famous public examples of businesses showing utter disregard for employer safety, like the meat packing company in Colorado at the beginning of the pandemic, would not qualify for immunity under this law. Any sort of violation of public health requirements would not qualify. And given that over half the states in the country (and counting) already have COVID liability laws of some sort, Colorado may be at a competitive disadvantage if it doesn’t have one in terms of attracting businesses to the state. And even failed, frivolous lawsuits can have damaging impacts on businesses: both to the reputations and bottom line.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Lawsuits that this bill are trying to protect against would be pretty hard to succeed anyway—how are you going to prove where you got COVID? Thus far we haven’t seen very many of them
  • Public health orders are simply not robust enough to provide full protection—a lot of it is couched as suggestions
  • Since current law already covers civil liability, what we would really be doing here is sending a message about safety—the wrong one

In Further Detail: To some degree this is likely to be much ado about nothing. How is someone going to prove where exactly they got COVID? That would be step one in any liability suit. But even if we get past that hurdle, you already have to prove wrongdoing by the other party in a civil suit. You don’t simply get to win by virtue of having got COVID. So any business that is doing things right doesn’t have to worry about losing a flurry of COVID related lawsuits. And the frivolous ones are likely to just get tossed out of court. So why not just shrug and move on? The reliance on public health orders makes accountability in obvious cases more problematic. Public health orders have wildly varying levels of specificity and in some cases are couched more as suggestions. They are also aimed more at the public and less at specific business activities. But most importantly, there is a message being sent here. Do the bare minimum and you cannot be sued. That is the wrong approach. We are so close to being on the other side of this, we need to bear down and get through the next few months to widespread vaccination, not relax at the last minute.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-080

SB21-088 Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act (Danielson (D)) [Michaelson Jenet (D), Soper (R)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: $2,336,193
Fiscal Impact: About $4 million a year in near future, then $1.2 million a year

Goal:

  • Allows civil lawsuits against organizations that managed youth programs for first degree misdemeanor or any felony sexual misconduct against minors if the organization either knew or should have known about the risk of sexual misconduct in its program and did not take action or warn participants. Can also bring suit against the individual. There is no statute of limitations on this lawsuit and the law is retroactive: it applies to any conduct in the past after 1959 so long as suit is filed before 2025

Description:

Specifically organizations either knew or should have known about a specific person who was an employee or volunteer and did not take any action to monitor or supervise that person or exclude them from contact with minors or the organization knew or should have known about systematic risk and did not make an effort to make changes or inform participants.

For programs that operate in multiple states, sexual misconduct against a minor in another state is a factor in determining if the organization should have been aware of the risk of sexual misconduct in their program.

Programs that take reasonable action to address risk of sexual misconduct, that conduct an evaluation to determine if their action was effective, or give adequate warnings to participants and their families of the risk of sexual misconduct are not liable.

Youth programs are defined as operated by an individual or an organization that provide activities, trips, or events for minors with adults who are placed in positions of responsibility, trust, or supervision over the minors, regardless of the location, length, or goals or format of the program. It also includes any transportation, lodging, or unscheduled events associated with the program. Public entities are also included, as are schools.

Damages in these cases are not to be proportioned out to victims, and triple damages are to be awarded if the court finds that the organization knew an individual was a risk and intentionally or recklessly failed to disclose or warn participants in the program. Interest on a claim does not begin to accrue until a case is filed in court. Reasonable attorney fees are also to be awarded in successful claims but not to defense attorneys if the case is dismissed prior to trial. Maximum amount that can be recovered from a public entity is set to the same as other actions, $350,000 for injury to one person and $900,000 for injury to multiple people. For private entities, $450,000 $500,000 unless clear and convincing evidence is presented that the defendant knew or should have known the person in their employ was at risk of commiting sexual misconduct to a minor. Courts may add on damages in addition to jury awards but in case is the total to exceed $1 million.

Public officials enjoy no indemnity from this law and no contract can waive liability from it.

Additional Information:

Sexual misconduct includes: any kidnapping, false imprisonment, enticement or luring of child, anything defined as unlawful sexual behavior in state law, anything defined as child abuse in state law, showing obscenity to a minor, exposing yourself, human trafficking, or any federal sex offenses.


Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Gross institutional conduct should be brought to justice
  • The bill is constructed so as to provide immunity to organizations that have addressed past wrongs adequately
  • The circumstances here are unique and override usual considerations about retroactive laws. The crime in question here is also a new crime, so we aren’t retroactively changing statute of limitations

In Further Detail: 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. This is particularly true when gross organizational misconduct occurs. Victims must be given the right to full compensation and there must be full accountability. But the bill does allow for organizations that have taken full steps toward change to be immune. While it is true that in general we do not make retroactive laws, this is one of those special circumstances that warrants an exception. The crime in question here is also a new crime, so we are not changing the statute of limitations for an existing crime and then attempting to apply that new standard backward. As for worrying about entities facing massive financial difficulties due to culpability: yes, that’s the point. Look at the Catholic Church, which was held to account all over the country—it survived the financial damage but also was forced to make wholesale changes. The changes to the bill removing the exact standards of what it means that a program knew or should have know about the risk of sexual misconduct gives our courts more flexiblity. The debate over whether or not a particular defendant meets the criteria belongs in court.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Burden of proof is lower in civil cases than in criminal cases—and with events occurring so far in the past that can really matter
  • This could destroy some institutions, including public entities, that do large amounts of public good
  • Other states have chosen to have some sort of time limit, even if it is far into the future

In Further Detail: 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. Other states have also allowed for two- or four-year grace periods for past cases, instead of a blanket pass for all-time.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-088

SB21-121 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (Hansen (D), Priola (R)) [Bockenfeld (R), Bird (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Make financial organization loyalty cards exempt from the unclaimed property act. Reverts the changes made in 2019 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:

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.

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

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • 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:

Bottom Line:

  • This law was changed in 2019 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 SB21-121

SB21-124 Changes To Felony Murder (Lee (D)) [Weissman (D)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Moderate

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: No immediate fiscal impact

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. Also removes some defenses that are allowed: that the defendant had no reasonable grounds to believe that the other participant in the crime was armed, and that 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. Specifies that enhanced sentencing can only be used if the defendant either: used, possessed, or threatened to use a deadly weapon; or caused serious bodily injury to someone

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). 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.

Bill also makes conforming changes to ensure juveniles tried as adults are subject to same rules.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Current law treats the actual murderer and the person who was just part of a different crime the same: this is not right
  • The bill still provides avenues for enhanced sentencing if necessary and Courts and juries still have discretion. Prosecutors will still have plenty of leverage to obtain plea deals

In Further Detail: 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 hurt anyone yourself or were waiving around a weapon, 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:

Bottom Line:

  • This could make it harder for prosecutors to negotiate plea deals
  • Someone was killed in the commission of a felony crime: we should not shed too many tears for the defendant

In Further Detail: 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 SB21-124

SB21-143 Uniform Collaborative Law Act (Gardner (R)) [Tipper (D), Snyder (D)]

From the Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

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. This only applies to civil cases

Description:

Creates a legal structure for collaborative law process. 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. 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.

Bill only applies to cases arising from family or domestic relations law, including marriage, divorce, dissolution, annulment, property distribution, child custody, child visitation, child parenting time, alimony and maintenance, child support, adoption, parentage, premarital, marital, and post-marital agreements.

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. 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: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • Rather than rely on informal negotiations that frankly already occur without legal guardrails, this bill sets out clear procedures for trying to stay out of court in these types of disputes
  • Multiple other states have already adopted variants of this law and uniformity helps in proceedings that cross state lines
  • The bill has a failsafe: judges aren’t required to accept agreements

In Further Detail: 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:

Bottom Line:

  • This may not work well when there are two parties with vastly unequal power bases or interpersonal dynamics that put one party at a significant disadvantage to the other

In Further Detail: 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.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-143

SB21-162 Colorado Uniform Trust Code Part 5 (Gardner (R)) [Snyder (D), Soper (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Enact Part 5 of the Uniform Trust Code (rest was enacted, with Colorado-specific amendments, in 2018) which deals with spendthrift clauses in trusts (keeps creditors from accessing the assets in a trust), giving them the force of law in Colorado (unlike some uniform laws, this does not replace any existing state laws)

Description:

Spendthrift provisions are only valid if they restrain both voluntary (from the trust beneficiary) and involuntary (from creditors) transfer of the trust’s interest. In other words they cannot just prevent creditors from seizing assets. They must also prevent the beneficiary from spending them or pledging them as collateral. Trustees can make authorized distributions out of the trust for the beneficiary’s benefit. These are also immune to seizure by creditors.

Once a beneficiary receives their trust assets, they lose protection from creditors. Real or tangible property is not considered received if the trust still owns it, even if the beneficiary is using it or living in it.

The bill excludes the power of spendthrift provisions from child support and judgment creditors who have provided essential services for the protection of the beneficiary’s assets. The bill includes an exception to the exception (fun!) for special needs trusts, supplemental needs trusts, or similar trusts where invalidating the spendthrift provision could make the individual ineligible for public assistance programs.

Creditors can get claims on future distributions out of the trust, dibs of sorts for when the spendthrift terms no longer apply.

Things are a bit different for claims made on the person who created the trust. Their creditors can get access to trust assets, regardless of spendthrift provisions. For revocable trusts (where the person who created it can destroy it), everything in the trust is available to creditors. For irrevocable trusts, creditors can get access to the maximum amount that can be distributed out of the trust for the creator’s benefit. In other words, whatever money in the trust that the creator can still access for their own use.

Bill also clarifies that trust property is not subject to any personal obligations of a trustee: so no creditors for the trustee cannot seize trust assets, regardless of any spendthrift provisions.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • All of this is pretty standard practice for spendthrift clauses and trust assets. Without it, the entire concept of spendthrift clauses is useless. The whole point is to protect the beneficiary from themselves, so they cannot lose the trust assets. This is generally done when someone does not trust the financial judgment of the beneficiary, so clearly an individual who may end up with creditors
  • This was not included in 2019 with the rest of this uniform law because key stakeholders still wanted to sort a few things out (like the child support exemptions). This bill represents their work

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-162

SB21-171 Uniform Fiduciary Income And Principal Act (Gardner (R)) [Snyder (D), Soper (R)]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Appropriation: None
Fiscal Impact: None

Goal:

  • Modernize rules allowing investments for maximum total return whether return is in form of income or appreciation of principal
  • Allow trustees convert traditional income principal accounting trust to more flexible and efficient unitrust
  • Guidance changes on investment practices for various classes
  • Updated approach putting emphasis on total return of portfolio between current beneficiaries and the remainder

Description:

The bill replaces our current uniform fiduciary law with a new uniform fiduciary law, approved by the uniform commission on state laws and with Colorado specific amendments.

Additional Information: n/a

Auto-Repeal: n/a

Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This was last changed in 2001, so the time has come to update the law. The law we are changing is based on a uniform law itself, so it is not new or radical to use uniform law as a basis for our fiduciary laws. These revisions allow for us to modernize our trust laws to account for modern accounting practices around investments of income, distributions, and an emphasis on total returns. The bill was thoroughly reviewed and approved by the state bar association over a period of two years, including specialists in fiduciary and trust law.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • Only two other states have adopted this new version of the uniform law, we could wait and see how the law plays out there before changing it here

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-171

SB21-271 Misdemeanor Reform (Gonzales (D), Gardner (R)) [Roberts (D)]

PASSED

AMENDED: Minor

Appropriation: $95,340
Fiscal Impact: $250,000 this year, $535,000 next year. Slight negative impact to state revenue into future. Somewhat unknown on overall scale but likely net positive due to reduction in prison times at local level.

Goal:

Overhauls the entire state misdemeanor crime and penalty definitions by reducing from 3 misdemeanors and 2 petty offenses to 2 misdemeanors, 1 petty offense, and a new classification of civil infraction. Punishments for each category are reduced across the board. Numerous crimes are reclassified in this structure (generally downward) and several crimes removed entirely (generally because the crime fits into a larger overall category, like theft, and doesn’t need special treatment). Good behavior sentence reduction amounts are also reduced slightly, with less ability to add on by local sheriffs.

Description:

Overhauls the entire state misdemeanor crime and penalty definitions. Right now there are three classifications of misdemeanors and two classifications for petty offenses. The bill changes that to two and one, and adds a new classification of civil infraction. Numerous crimes are reclassified within this structure, see Additional Information for more detail. In general most unlawful disclosure of information misdemeanors are downgraded from class 1 to class 2 as are many provisions dealing with operating without a proper license. Most driving related misdemeanors are reclassified as traffic violations. Most of the crimes dealing with something valuable (like theft) are reclassified in a sliding scale from petty offense to level 2 felony, with less than $300 being a petty offense, $300-$1,000 a class 2 misdemeanor, $1,000 to $2,000 a class 1 misdemeanor, $2,000 to $5,000 a class 6 felony, $5,000 to $20,000 a class 5 felony, $20,000-$100,000 a class 4 felony, $100,000 to $1 million a class 3 felony, and over $1 million a class 2 felony.

Several crimes are also removed entirely, in general this is because the crime can fit into a larger overall category and doesn’t need special treatment (an example is theft of motor vehicle parts, which would be treated just as theft by the bill).

For penalties, right now a class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by 6 to 18 months in jail and a potential fine of $500 to $5,000. The bill changes this to a maximum of 364 days in jail (going under one year exactly avoids some immigration issues) and a potential fine of up to $1,000. Right now a Class 2 misdemeanor is punishable by 3 months to 364 days in jail and a potential fine of $250-$1,000. The bill changes this to a maximum of 120 days in jail (6 months) and a potential fine of up to $750. Class 3 misdemeanors, which the bill eliminates, are currently punishable by up to 6 months in prison and a potential fine of up to $750. So essentially when it comes to punishment, Class 1 is the old class 2 and class 2 is the old class 3. Class 1 petty offenses are currently punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a potential fine of up to $500. Class 2 petty offenses have varying penalties that depend on the actual crime. In the bill, a petty offense is punishable by up to 10 days in jail and a potential fine of up to $300. The new civil infraction is punishable only by a fine, of up to $100.

For civil infractions, arresting officers must give the penalty notice and release the individual. No taking to jail or court. Hearings will be held in county courts.

Amount of time someone can be held if they are deemed incompetent to proceed lowered from 50% of the maximum prison term for their most serious offense to 30%.

Good behavior sentence reduction times also overhauled. It was 1 day for each 15 on the sentence, bill changes it to 7 days for each 30, calculated on a pro-rated basis all of which is subject to forfeiture if the inmate violates rules and regulations of jail. In addition, a 3 day deduction for every 30 days can be earned if the county sheriff designates them as a trusty prisoner (used to be 13 for every 30) and is engaged in work (either in our outside of the prison) so long as the work is performed in a credible manner and the individual conducts themselves appropriately (again was 13 for every 30 as a separate possible deduction). Also a maximum of three additional days per extraordinary action taken, as defined by the local sheriff.

Adds working to provide child or family care services that are reasonable to support the immediate needs of the family as a condition for leaving the county jail during working hours, as well as behavioral health treatment and a reentry program.

Additional Information:

Crime removed: defrauding an innkeeper, failure of witness to appear, defacing a cave, knowingly marrying a bigamist, refusing to aid a police officer to make an arrest, inducing a prisoner to absent themselves from work, aiding escape for someone who is under legal custody for a civil process, refusal to yield party telephone line (ask your grandparents), requirement for warnings in telephone directories, bestowing a degree without authorization of organization or school by state, theft or violation of library property, introducing liquor to the polls, destruction of property or hinderance of officers or wrongful entrance to fairgrounds, tampering with motor vehicle equipment without knowledge of owner, and theft of motor vehicle parts

Upgrades statutory sexual assault from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony.

Tampering with statewide voter registration system, unlawfully refusing a ballot, violating law not to handle electronic or electromagnetic voting equipment or devices, voter intimidation, destroying or removing or delaying delivery of election records, and giving or promising money in exchange for votes are moved up in classification to a class 1 misdemeanor.

Second or subsequent pyramid scheme conviction penalties removed (was class 6 felony). Now same class 1 misdemeanor applies for all convictions.

Knowingly falsifies a repossessor bond application or misrepresents one dropped down from a class 1 to a class 2 misdemeanor

Interference with rules of the legislature, refusal to produce books or fail to attend appeals of administrative decision are dropped down to a petty offense.

Wage theft is changed from an unclassified misdemeanor to a scale depending on size of theft. Less than $300 is petty offense, $300-$1,000 is class 2 misdemeanor, $1,000 to $2,000 is class 1 misdemeanor, $2,000 to $5,000 is class 6 felony, $5,000 to $20,000 is class 5 felony, $20,000-$100,000 is class 4 felony, $100,000 to $1 million is a class 3 felony, and over $1 million is a class 2 felony.

Deliberate violations of unemployment rates when taking over a company (you have to assume their rates), downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Malicious removal of markings to locate underground facilities downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense. Violating laws around boiler placement and operation downgraded from in essence a class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense.

Defamation of one insurance company by another downgraded from in essence a class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense. Operating insurance without authorization from state downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Non-compliance by insurance company officers with orders of the state downgraded from in essence class 1 misdemeanor to class 2 misdemeanor.

Disclosing HIV test results downgraded from in essence class 1 misdemeanor to class 2 misdemeanor. Intentionally releasing results of genetic testing without written permission downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Releasing public health records and releasing immunization records downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Performing duties or exercising power of a credit union after receipt of suspension or removal order, or same thing with savings and loan association, downgraded from a class 1 misdemeanor to class 2 misdemeanor. 2nd and subsequent violations of laws around money transmitter agents downgraded to same penalty as first violation (class 2 misdemeanor). Violating real estate appraisal laws downgraded from a class 1 to a class 2 misdemeanor. Operating without a mortgage originator license downgraded from a class 1 to a class 2 misdemeanor. Abuse of property insurance (insurers or their agents accepting anything of value from people doing repairs on a claim) downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense. Violating rules around loan-finding (offering to serve as lender or agent to find a lender) downgraded from class 1 misdemeanor to petty offense. False statements to influence fire suppression system installation downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

2nd and subsequent violations of operating without a license for professions that require one downgraded to same penalty as first violation (class 2 misdemeanor). Was a class 6 felony for most. Various other professions were a class 1 misdemeanor.

Violating law against in essence unsanctioned boxing or MMA fighting in Colorado downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. State employee divulging confidential information in environmental audit report downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Purposely destroying someone else’s advanced medical directive without their consent or withholding an advanced medical directive or falsifying or concealing organ donor documents downgraded from a class 1 to a class 2 misdemeanor.

Menacing without a weapon is upgraded from a class 3 to a class 1 misdemeanor.

Second degree arson is given a sliding scale of punishments (currently a class 4 felony is damage is more than $100 and class 2 misdemeanor if not): petty offense if damage is less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if damage is $300-$1,000, class 1 misdemeanor if damage is $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if damage is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if damage is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if damage is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if damage is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if damage is greater than $1 million.

Fourth degree arson given similar treatment (class 2 for property endangerment of more than $100, class 3 if less currently). Petty offense if property danger is less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if property danger is $300-$1,000, class 1 misdemeanor if property danger is $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if property danger is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if property danger is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if property danger is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if property danger is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if property danger is greater than $1 million.

Adds potential for second degree burglary to become a class 2 misdemeanor (generally a class 4 felony) if the person knowingly violated a written notice by a retailer or a court order restraining them from entering a retail location during public hours. Third degree burglary is downgraded from a class 5 felony to a class 2 misdemeanor with the enhancement of controlled substances stolen downgraded from class 4 felony to class 1 misdemeanor. Mere possession of burglary tools is downgraded from a class 5 felony to a class 2 misdemeanor but if the tools were knowingly possessed to facilitate forceful entry crime remains a class 5 felony.

Specific extra crime of procuring food or accommodations without paying is folded into general theft. Theft thresholds are changed to: petty offense for less than $300 (lowest level used to be $50), class 2 misdemeanor for $300-$1,000 (upper limit here used to be $300), and class 1 misdemeanor for $1,000 to $2,000 (same upper limit here). Felony amounts are not touched.

Theft of trade secrets is downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Aggravated motor vehicle theft threshold between class 6 felony and class 1 misdemeanor changed from $1,000 to $2,000. Theft detection device sale downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Criminal mischief thresholds changed. Class 2 misdemeanor now less than $1,000 in damage (still more than $300), class 1 now $1,000 to $2,000 and class 6 felony now $2,000 to $5,000. Downgrades first degree criminal trespass from a class 5 felony to a class 1 misdemeanor, unless the dwelling is occupied in which case it is a class 6 felony.

First degree criminal tampering downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor as is defacing or destroying written property right documentation.

Criminal operation of a recording device in a movie theater downgraded from a class 1 misdemeanor to a civil infraction as is dealing in unlawful recording of a live performance and dealing in unlawfully packaged recorded articles. Trafficking in unlawfully recorded live performances downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Theft of cable services downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense.

2nd degree forgery and forgery of academic record downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Criminal possession of a 2nd degree forged instrument downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense. Faking rareness of an object to defraud someone downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Trademark counterfeiting altered. Now a petty offense if value of goods bearing counterfeit less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if value is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if value is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if value is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if value is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if value is greater than $1 million.

Adds some layers to criminal impersonation. Currently a class 6 felony no matter what. Now only a class 6 felony if impersonation opens the impersonated individual to civil or criminal liability. Class 1 misdemeanor if the activity only might subject to them civil or criminal liability, and class 2 misdemeanor otherwise.

New lower level of identity theft added as a class 2 misdemeanor (all is currently class 4 felony), except it is a class 6 if person possess three or more financial devices or identifying information of three or more people. Higher levels left at class 4. Criminal possession of a financial device and one or more identifying documents (of someone else) downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Pretending to be a member of the state patrol downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Second degree offering false documentation for recording (official public documents) downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Check fraud and defrauding a creditor or debtor changed to match the same value framework as seen elsewhere in the bill. Petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if value is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if value is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if value is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if value is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if value is greater than $1 million.

Issuing false financial statements downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor as is the lowest level of insurance fraud.

Knowingly not paying debts on a construction lien downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Second or subsequent mail fraud class 1 misdemeanor penalty removed. Now class 2 regardless.

Debt collector refusing to pay assigned debts to original creditor and concealment of property to avoid it being encumbered as is refusal to pay over proceeds of a security interest changed to match the same value framework as seen elsewhere in the bill. Petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if value is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if value is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if value is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if value is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if value is greater than $1 million.

Knowingly creating duplicate receipts in warehouses downgraded from a class 6 felony to a class 2 misdemeanor.

Misdemeanor unauthorized use of a financial device thresholds altered to match same framework in bill: Petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000. Felonies not touched.

Equity skimming of financial vehicles altered to match same framework. Petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if value is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if value is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if value is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if value is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if value is greater than $1 million.

Misdemeanor cybercrime altered to same levels: petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000. Felonies not touched.

Bigamy downgraded from class 6 felony to class 2 misdemeanor.

Creates new layer to contributing to delinquency of a minor (all currently class 4 felony). Encouraging violation of state law where it is a felony victim’s rights crime (more serious crimes) is first degree, remains a class 4 felony. All other encouragement to violate laws is class 1 misdemeanor.

Patronizing a prostitute downgraded from class 1 misdemeanor to petty offense.

Removes extraordinary risk crime status from false reporting of an emergency while committing a crime (currently allows for tougher sentences). Adds new crime of false reporting of an identity to law enforcement which is a class 2 misdemeanor unless the false reporting substantially impedes an investigation in which case it is a class 6 felony.

Abuse of public records, unlawful sale of publicly provided services, and public servants requesting monetary compensation for services required to be performed for free or less than the request downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Aiding escape of someone being held for a misdemeanor or petty offense, knowingly escaping confinement if charged with a misdemeanor or a felony when the person does not leave the state downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

A public servant knowingly holding someone without cause against their will in the guise of official duties (like holding someone in jail without cause but pretending like you are acting legally) and first degree official misconduct by a public servant upgraded from class 2 to class 1 misdemeanor.

Failure to report unlawful use of force by a police officer downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

2nd degree perjury downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Layer added to tampering with physical evidence. Currently a class 6 felony regardless, bill adds that if the crime in question is a misdemeanor, tampering is a class 1 misdemeanor.

Upgrades discharging a weapon in a public place (with exceptions for target practice, hunting, or ritual at funeral), unlawfully aiming a weapon at another person, recklessly discharging a weapon, knowingly setting loaded trap designed to explode and leaving it unattended, possessing a firearm while intoxicated, and unlawful carry of a concealed weapon from class 2 misdemeanor to class 1. Upgrades carrying or using a weapon by a convicted felon (who are barred from such activity by law) from a class 6 to a class 5 felony and any such person who uses the weapon in commission of a crime is not eligible for probation or alternative sentencing. Downgrades violating required background checks for firearms sales by seller or not displaying notice that background checks are required from class 2 to class 1 misdemeanor.

Downgrades knowingly disturbing unmarked human burial from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor and knowing that such a thing is happening and not reporting it from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense.

Downgrades unlawfully stopping or hindering transportation services to the public from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense.

Upgrades refusing to allow police into property or failing to leave property on police orders when the officer has probable cause to believe a crime is being committed and knowingly holding or detaining someone hostage without use of a weapon from a class 2 to a class 1 misdemeanor.

Downgrades first offense of knowingly selling wiretapping or eavesdropping devices for known unlawful purposes from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense (but keeps second and subsequent offenses as class 5 felonies). Downgrades wiretapping of cordless telephone and eavesdropping from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Downgrades professional gambling from a class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor (obviously unlicensed).

Downgrades reckless or knowing setting of prairie lands or woods on fire from a class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense.

Violations of requirements around purchases of commodity metals is set to same scale as rest of bill. Petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if value is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if value is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if value is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if value is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if value is greater than $1 million.

Secondhand dealers of property violating recording requirements (think pawn shops) downgraded from class 1 misdemeanor to petty offense. Knowingly giving false information to secondhand dealers downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Pawnbrokers violating pawnbroker law downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Knowingly giving false information to a pawnbroker is set to same scale as rest of bill. Petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if value is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if value is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if value is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if value is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if value is greater than $1 million. (was a class 6 felony).

Unauthorized use of drip gasoline downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense.

Giving a hospital false information to obtain admittance or care downgraded from class 1 misdemeanor to petty offense.

Unauthorized trading in telephone records downgraded from class 1 misdemeanor to petty offense.

Helping someone located a protected person if the individual should reasonably know the restrained person is subject to court order prohibiting contact downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Fraudulent use of medical marijuana, theft of someone else’s medical card, tampering with a card, and releasing information from the medical registry downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Failure to pay taxes do or file return as required due to gambling activities, cheating at gambling, which includes using a device to calculate probabilities, and unlawful modification of gambling equipment downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Failure to pay winnings downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Non-employee access to state child abuse records and improper release of such records downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Divulging confidential student data from institutions of higher education downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Violating confidentiality of information provided to chief information officer of state downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Removes 2nd or subsequent offense enhanced penalty for violating athlete agent rules. Now a class 2 misdemeanor regardless (was class 6 felony).

Violating laws around public officials and contracts downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Offering bribes to state officials or state officials soliciting bribes for contracts downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Violating conflict of interest laws for county coroners downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense. County employees unlawfully purchasing tax liens is downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Notary public misconduct, willful impersonation of a notary public, and any violation of notary public law downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense.

Misdemeanor Medicaid fraud altered to same levels: petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000. Felonies not touched. Bribes for Medicaid services downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Conducting an event on a state highway without a permit downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Public posting of materials that are intended to discriminate against protected classes (race, gender, etc.) by denying them any rights or conveniences afforded the general public upgraded from in essence a petty offense to a class 2 misdemeanor.

Destroying historical or archaeological resources on government land without a permit upgraded from in essence a petty offense to a class 2 misdemeanor.

Illegally using the state seal downgraded from class 5 felony to petty offense. Unlawful use of the state department stamp downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense. Unlawful use of weights and measures seal of counterfeited of it downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to civil infraction.

Violation of public health orders downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Misrepresenting material information in a birth certificate downgraded from in essence a class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense.

False reporting or tampering with water quality control equipment downgraded from class 5 felony to class 2 misdemeanor.

Unlawful use of radioactive material upgraded from in essence a petty offense to a class 2 misdemeanor.

Unlawful retention of patient personal needs funds for funeral and burial expenses is set to same scale as rest of bill. Petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if value is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if value is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if value is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if value is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if value is greater than $1 million.

Trafficking in food stamps is set to same scale as rest of bill. Petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if value is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if value is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if value is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if value is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if value is greater than $1 million.

Improper release of CAPS information, knowingly falsely requesting a CAPS check, or knowingly providing inaccurate information for a CAPS check, downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Destruction of special district property upgraded from in essence a petty offense to a class 2 misdemeanor.

Unlawful hunting of black bears downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Running an illegal business on division of wildlife property downgraded from in essence a class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense.

Attempting to elude state wildlife officers upgraded from in essence a civil infraction to a class 2 misdemeanor. Intentional interference with lawful hunting, trapping, or fishing upgraded from in essence a civil infraction to a class 2 misdemeanor. Waste of edible game is upgraded from in essence a civil infraction to a class 2 misdemeanor. Allowing a dog to harass wildlife is upgraded from in essence a civil infraction to a petty offense. Using poisons, dynamite, explosives or similar such things for hunting is upgraded from in essence a civil infraction to a class 2 misdemeanor.

Failure to pay to the state money received from sale of registrations or passes for hunting or fishing is set to same scale as rest of bill. Petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if value is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if value is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if value is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if value is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if value is greater than $1 million.

Downgrades operating water skis, aquaplane, surfboard, inner tube, or similar such devices while under the influence from in essence a class 2 misdemeanor to a civil infraction.

Downgrades disclosure of confidential agricultural information by government officials from in essence a class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense.

Downgrades removing or disposing of embargoed pesticides from a class 1 to a class 2 misdemeanor.  Downgrades most serious violations of pesticide law from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanors and less serious violations from class 2 misdemeanors to petty offenses.

Downgrades violations of the state seed act from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanors.

Downgrades operating a custom meat processing facility without a license from a class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense.

Downgrades non-theft or fraud provisions of the commodities law from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanors.

Attempting to fraudulently obtain a license for sale or storge of farm products or failing to comply with state orders or hindering a state investigation or violating license sales volume limits or bonding requirements downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Downgrades tampering or drugging livestock from a class 1 to a class 2 misdemeanor. Violating the state’s alternative livestock laws downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Violating calf branding law upgraded from in essence a petty offense to a class 2 misdemeanor. Unlawfully butchering an animal belonging to someone else downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. In essence stealing livestock that were lawfully fenced (bit more complicated than that in law but has to do with bringing animals across property lines without permission) is upgraded from in essence a petty offense to a class 2 misdemeanor. Violating the livestock health act upgraded from in essence a petty offense to a class 2 misdemeanor. Violating transportation of livestock laws to do with inspection and proceeds of sale of meat upgraded from in essence a petty offense to a class 2 misdemeanor.

Animal shelter or pound violations of law downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Downgrades violations of pet animal facility law from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense.

Willful damage to someone else’s water property is upgraded from in essence a petty offense to a class 2 misdemeanor.

Removal of improvements from an encumbered property is set to same scale as rest of bill. Petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if value is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if value is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if value is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if value is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if value is greater than $1 million.

Failure to collect or pay taxes sales taxes in cases of dispute over exemption is set to same scale as rest of bill. Petty offense if less than $300, class 2 misdemeanor if $300-$1,000, class 1 if $1,000 to $2,000, class 6 felony if value is $2,000 to $5,000, class 5 felony if value is $5,000 to $20,000, class 4 felony if value is $20,000 to $100,000, class 3 felony if value is $100,000 to $1 million, and a class 2 felony if value is greater than $1 million.

Failure to affix tobacco product warning labels downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Violations of public utilities law downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense.

Unlawful contracting with motor vehicle carriers downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense.

Concealing wounding or killing of an animal by a train or car by destroying evidence is upgraded from in essence a petty offense to a class 2 misdemeanor.

Use of office supplies for personal purposes downgraded from in essence a class 2 misdemeanor to a civil infraction.

Adds another layer to vehicular homicide charges, reckless driving leading to vehicular homicide is a class 4 felony and doing so while seriously impaired by drugs or alcohol is a class 3 felony. That all stays the same, but the bill adds vehicular homicide while slightly impaired by drugs or alcohol and makes it a class 5 felony (no reckless driving here). The same new crime is added for vehicular assault (person survives). In this case, the new crime is a class 6 felony (reckless driving remains a class 5 and severe impairment a class 3).

Driving without a license downgraded from a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense to a class A traffic infraction. Driving with knowledge that your ability to do so is restrained for any reason other than DUI, DWAI, or UDD downgraded from unclassified misdemeanor to class A traffic infraction. For DUI, DWAI, or UDD, downgraded from in essence a class 2 misdemeanor to a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. Habitual offenders of driving while their license is revoked is downgraded from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 2 traffic misdemeanor. Aggravated driving in such a case is downgraded to a class 1 traffic misdemeanor. Driving when your license was revoked and a new license requires proof of financial responsibility for the future downgraded from in essence a class 2 misdemeanor to a class A traffic infraction. Driving without insurance downgraded from unclassified misdemeanor to class A traffic infraction. Driving a commercial vehicle without a proper commercial license downgraded from an unclassified misdemeanor to a class A traffic infraction. Unlawful performance of commercial driving tests is downgraded from in essence a class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense. Repeals class 1 misdemeanor offense for driving without a registration two or more times in 5 years. Violation of requirements around dealership plates downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to class A traffic infraction. Windows that don’t meet legal tinting law downgraded from unclassified misdemeanor to class A traffic infraction. Illegal use or possession of red and blue lights to mimic emergency vehicles downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Unlawful removal of sign in parking lot warning of towing downgraded from class 3 misdemeanor to class A traffic infraction. Counterfeiting emissions certification forms downgraded from in essence a petty offense to a class A traffic infraction except for emissions mechanics or inspectors who are in essence upgraded to class 2 misdemeanors. False use of disability signs or placards downgraded from unclassified misdemeanor to class A traffic infraction.

Violating state air pollution laws relating to personal vehicles in essence upgraded from class 2 petty offense (equivalent of civil infraction) to class A traffic infraction.

Knowingly disclosing information from the insurance database for unauthorized reasons downgraded from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class A traffic infraction.

Failure to comply with permitting rules for size and weight of manufactured homes on the road that relate to super-load permits upgraded from class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense to class 2 misdemeanor.

Violating state laws on careful approach to stationary vehicles near road that results in injury downgraded from class 1 misdemeanor to class 1 traffic misdemeanor. Downgrades traffic offenses from misdemeanors to class A traffic infractions. Downgrades violations of transfer of vehicle title law from in essence a petty offense to a class A traffic infraction.

Downgrades driving under influence misdemeanors from regular misdemeanors to traffic misdemeanors. Felonies stay the same. Tampering with approved ignition interlock devices (breathalyzer to start a car engine) downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Littering on the highway downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense. Abandoning a vehicle on public property or private property downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense. Downgrades law forbidding school bus drivers from letting kids off in unsafe places to cross streets from in essence class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense.

Violating laws to do with data on event data recorders in cars downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Theft of a license plate downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Violation of salvage title law downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Violation of requirements of vehicle repossession law by lienholders downgraded from class 2 misdemeanor to petty offense. Downgrades illegal odometer activity from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor, except for driving a car with a known illegal odometer which is reduced to a petty offense. Installing faulty airbags or other safety equipment downgraded from in essence a class 2 misdemeanor to a petty offense. Downgrades aiding and abetting violations of the state’s motor vehicle laws from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 2 misdemeanor. Upgrades unintentional transportation of hazardous materials without a permit from a misdemeanor traffic offense to a class 2 misdemeanor and downgrades intentional transportation from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Downgrades intentional obstruction of traffic that blocks access to public land without good cause from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor. Violation of state laws dealing with sale of motor vehicles or powersport boats downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.

Upgrades violation of tower marking laws that result in collision with tower resulting in injury or death from a class 2 to a class 1 misdemeanor.

Downgrades giving alcohol or marijuana to a minor from a class 1 to a class 2 misdemeanor. Unlawful disclosure of alcohol licensing records downgraded from class 1 to class 2 misdemeanor.


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Arguments For:

Bottom Line:

  • This bill is the result of a grand compromise of prosecutors, public defenders, and community activists who went through all of the state’s misdemeanors to decide what changes needed to be made. This bill is the result
  • At its core, the bill provides for lower prison terms for misdemeanor crimes and pushes down crimes that are at their core against property or are reckless or have to do with unauthorized disclosure to level 2, removes a lot of driving related crimes from this code into traffic violation code, and creates a sensible scale of damages for economic crimes that can be used for all of them (which also opens up high level felonies for some crimes)
  • This is in part in exchange for lessened ability to reduce sentence time for good behavior in prison, which was suffering from uneven application across the state since so much depends on the local sheriff
  • There may be individual provisions you disagree with but remember that this is a grand compromise, pulling at one thread may unravel the entire thing

In Further Detail: If you read through the entire Additional Information section, congratulations! If you didn’t, don’t worry, the Description gives the gist. And the background for this bill is actually pretty simple, even if the bill itself is 367 pages. Last year a group of prosecutors, public defenders, and community activists went through the entire set of over 1,100 misdemeanors in the state (and a few felonies too) and tried to decide what to with them, with a baseline goal of trying to reduce the chances of lower level misdemeanors pushing someone into a prison spiral they have difficulty escaping from. So this group also reclassified our offenses by basically taking a simple tack that is rarely deviated from: class 1 misdemeanors are crimes against people, class 2 against property or crimes of recklessness or against data, petty offenses are extreme low level crimes, and civil infractions aren’t really crimes at all, just actions that should get someone a ticket. Part of this too was getting most driving related crimes out of this system entirely and into the system designed for them: traffic offenses. Another part is creating a sensible scale of damage that we can apply to any crime dealing with valuables. That makes the rules extremely straightforward and actually opens up upper level felonies for some crimes. Part of the grand bargain that this bill represents also has to do with sentence time reduction. You may have noticed it is shorter under this bill than under current law. That was part of the exchange for shorter sentences, and part of an effort to ensure such reductions were applied evenly across the state. Right now local sheriffs have a lot of control over these reductions, the bill still gives some of that but at a greatly reduced scale with a cap on it. It is really important to think of the entire bill as one grand compromise as you look through individual provisions. You might come across one you don’t particularly care for and arguments could start over just about any change. But remember that the entire thing is a result of a months-long give-and-take so pulling at any one thread could unravel the entire thing. The bottom line is less prison time for more minor offenses (for the most part), more equal treatment of sentence reduction, and a simpler criminal code.

Arguments Against:

Bottom Line:

  • In our rush to worry about the future of the people who commit these crimes, we are running the risk of losing sight of what they actually did and the people affected. This bill drastically reduces punishments nearly across the board
  • The bill also removes a lot of distinctions made in specific crimes about punishment scales, a lot of thought and care went into coming up with these and the bill would throw that all away and just leave it up to a judge
  • The simplification also is too much when it comes to the generic value scale applied to crimes of value across the board—theft and 2nd degree arson and 4th degree arson all use the same scale. They shouldn’t

In Further Detail: The gist of this grand compromise is certainly less punishment. Remember that this isn’t simply moving around crimes from one level to another, the bill also drastically reduces the punishments at every level, in particular with jail time (for the most part, there are of course a few crimes that were elevated). We keep moving further and further down this track of trying to keep people who commit crime out of prison out of fear of what will happen in their future and not worrying about what they actually did or the people they affected. Look at petty offenses, for instance. The bill turns this from a potential 6 month prison stint, no doubt a big deal for anyone, to a maximum of ten days. Not to minimize prison, but less than 2 weeks is not a long time at all. And there can be some good that comes out of differentiated sentences, which is a lot of the erasing this bill does. Rather than specific provisions that were created to run in concert with the law the penalty applies to, we are going to move toward generic categories with all of the discretion about where to fall on the scale left to the judge. People didn’t just pick the numbers out of thin air, in each case they represented careful thought about how this particular crime fell on the spectrum of other crimes in the same category. We should keep those distinctions in law. This simplification can swing the other way too, all of those crimes that deal with valuable property where the $1 million cap gets you a class 2 felony. Surely all of those crimes are not in fact the same, even if the underlying value affected might be. Look at theft versus 2nd degree arson vs. 4th degree arson. The bill treats all four with the same scale—why even have 2nd degree arson vs. 4th degree arson if the thing we are going to care about most is the damage or potential damage—but these are not the same things. Current law recognizes this and treats them differently.


Bottom Line:

  • The carrot of sentence reduction is a great way to motivate prisoners to not only behave but participate in prison programming. The bill removes too much of this

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB21-271