February 22, 2016

   Seems each session, a bill gets postponed indefinitely (also known as killed) that causes ordinary citizens to scratch their head in amazement or disgust. House Bill 16-1108, sponsored by Represent Kathleen Conti (R-Arapahoe), is such a piece of legislation that falls into that category here early in the session.

   House Bill 1108, postponed on February 4, was titled "Concerning the Obligation of a Seller of Residential Real Property to Disclose the Prior Use of the Property for Indoor Horticultural Operations." Take note of the term "indoor horticultural operations " as you read further.

   While the title of the bill does not make mention of the growth of marijuana plants, the legislative declaration specifically addresses a number of reasons for the need of such a piece of legislation, and does not use the term "indoor horticultural operations." This statement sums it up:  "The General Assembly declares that it is in the public interest to require the seller of a home in which seven or more large plants have been grown to disclose this fact to potential buyers." The reasons include:

  • Due to the recent increase in the number of home marijuana-growing operations for recreational purposes, the ease of obtaining a medical marijuana card, the availability of the affirmative defense based on asserted medical necessity, and the budgetary and practical limitations on enforcement of the six-plant limit, many single-family homes in Colorado are now being used for the cultivation of more than six marijuana plants;
  • A mature marijuana plant is large, often over five feet in height, and like many other large plant, its cultivation requires significant amounts of water in addition to any fertilizers, pesticides, artificial light, and increased heat that the owner may use to promote growth; and
  • When such an operation is conducted inside a residential space, the resulting increases in temperature and humidity and the introduction of chemicals may make the residence unusually susceptible to mold and other biological contaminants as well as unhealthy accumulation of chemicals not normally found in a home.

   Peculiarly, the fiscal impact analysis by the Colorado Legislative Council staff makes no mention of marijuana, instead referring to the subject activity as "indoor horticultural operations." Hum …

The fiscal impact analysis states: This bill "requires a seller of residential property to disclose if seven or more plants capable of attaining a height of three feet or a diameter of two feet were grown on the property using pesticides or fertilizers."

Exemption from disclosure can only be gained "if the property is inspected and certified by a qualified inspector." At length criteria are provided in the bill for powers and duties of the state board of  health for procedures for testing for contamination, evaluating contamination and establishing the cleanup standards for cleanup of residential structures in which indoor horticultural operations, and related training therefor.

Senate Bill 16-013, titled "Statutory Changes Related to the Office of the Child Protection Ombudsman," makes changes to Colorado statutory law. The background for SB 013 is creation of the Office of the Child Protection Ombudsman in 2010 "to serve as an independent and neutral organization to investigate complaints and grievances about child protection services, make recommendations about system improvements, and serve as a resource for persons involved in the child welfare system." SB 15-204 (effective January 1, 2016) transferred the Ombudsman's Office into the Judicial Department as an independent agency.

Among the provisions of SB 013 is clarifying that the Child Protection Ombudsman Board (board) is advisory in nature, shifts certain policies and procedures from the board to the Ombudsman's Office, clarifies certain duties and the relationship between the Ombudsman's office and the Judicial Department, and also specifies that the ombudsman cannot be subpoenaed by independent parties to testify in proceedings concerning allocation of parental responsibilities.

Lead Sponsors of Senate Bill 16-013:  Senator Linda Newell (D-Arapahoe) 866-4846; and Representative Jonathan Singer (D-Boulder) 866-2780.

Senate Bill 16-056:  Title "Broadening Protections of the State Whistleblower Protection Law for State Employees Who Disclose Confidential Information to Certain State Entities that have Legal Requirements to Preserve the Confidentiality of the Information Disclosed," SB 056 is yet another attack on and an attempt to weaken the Colorado Open Records Act.

SB 056 "expands whistleblower protections by creating review agencies to determine if information about state operations or conduct provided by a state employee is protected from inspection under the Colorado Open Records Act( CORA) or any other provision of law. 

Designated as whistleblower review agencies are the Office of Legislative Legal Services, the Department of Law (the Attorney General's office) and the Commission on Judicial Discipline, and "permits a whistleblower to disclose information to a review agency from public records that are confidential under other provisions of law."

For those unfamiliar with these agencies, the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline is "responsible for disciplinary proceedings to enforce sections of the Colorado Constitution, which provide that a justice or judge of any court of record may be disciplined or removed from office for misconduct, or may be retired for a disability that interferes with the performance of his or her duties. The commission is part of the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel within the Supreme Court/Court of Appeals in the Judicial Department," and funded by annual attorney registration fees and law examination application fees.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 16-056:  Senator Kent D. Lambert (R-El Paso) 866-4835. No sponsor as yet in the Senate.  

House Bill 16-1112:  Titled "The Creation of the Training Veterans to Train Their Own Service Dogs Pilot Program," HB 1112 creates a pilot program in the Department of Human Services (DHS) that will identify up to ten eligible veterans to pair with dogs selected by qualified trainers.

Program participants will foster, train and ultimately use the dogs as their own service or companion animals, and those who graduate from the program with a trained dog will be eligible, if willing to identify, foster and train a subsequent dog for another eligible veteran who is unable to complete one or more parts of the process due to physical limitations.

The bill also sets forth the criteria and guidelines for DHS to initiate and use to implement the program, with annual report program outcomes and any program evaluation conducted provided to select committees of the General Assembly.

Lead Sponsors of House Bill 16-1112:  Lois Landgraf (R-El Paso) 866-2946; and

Senator Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Conejos, Crowley, Custer, Huerfano.

House Bill 15-1021:  HB 1021 is another one that seems to have gotten out of the gate without some reasoning for its introduction. Titled "Providing the Opportunity to Collect Identifying Information for Applicants for State-Issued Cards," the bill includes no legislative declaration for its necessity, but is an amendment to the Colorado Revised Statutes.

The bill "requires the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR) to modify the application process for drives' licenses and state-issued identification cards," with revised applications for these documents to include the opportunity for an applicant to self-identify his or her race or ethnicity. Such information will not be printed on the card but rather the information must be maintained in the stored information on the card's magnetic strip, accessible to law enforcement equipped with magnetic strip card readers.

Certain other personal information is gathered on a voluntary basis such as emergency contact information or an applicant's willingness to be an organ donor, with some being printed on the license, permit or identification card, and "other information is stored in the division's driver's license system (DLS), which is available immediately to any law enforcement agency equipped with magnetic card readers.

Sponsors of House Bill 16-1021:  Representative Joseph A. Salazar (D-Adams) 866-2918; and Senators Jessie Ulibarri (D-Adams) 866-4857 and Senator Ellen S. Roberts (R-Archuleta, Dolores, LaPlata, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, San Juan, San Miguel) 866-4884.    

The reader’s comments or questions are always welcome.  E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.

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P.O. Box 530
Black Hawk, CO