Eye on the Legislature

 April 4, 2016
Colorado's General Assembly meets each year for 120 days. A recently introduced House Concurrent Resolution (HCR 16-1001) will make a number of modifications to the operations of the General Assembly if passed.
If passed by the house of introduction, the secretary of state will submit to the registered electors of the state on November 8, 2016 a ballot title as follows:
•             "Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning modifications to the
operations of the general assembly, and, in connection therewith, decreasing the maximum length of regular sessions of the general assembly from one hundred twenty calendar days to ninety calendar days in even-numbered years and to sixty calendar days in odd-numbered years, limiting the number of bills and resolutions that a member of the general assembly may introduce during a regular session of the general assembly, establishing a biennial budget process, and establishing the process for consideration of the general appropriation bill?"
Concurrent resolutions either propose amendment to the state constitution or consider ratification
of amendments to the U. S. Constitution. A two-thirds vote is required in the Senate and House of
Representatives to propose amendments to the Colorado constitution.
The idea of further limiting the number of bills and resolutions that members of the general assembly may introduce during a regular session of the general assembly has always been  a worthwhile idea to this ten-year observer of the general assembly. House Bill 16-1389: Titled"Safety Procedures for Children During the Collection of Photographic Evidence of Child Abuse or Neglect,"HB 1389 modifies current law in the"Colorado Children's Code"that allows certain specified medical professionals and law enforcement officials who reasonably believe a child has been abused or neglected to take or cause to be taken color photographs of the areas of trauma visible on the child so that those photographs may be used as evidence of the child abuse or neglect.
Defined in the bill are the terms "visible in plain sight" and"private area of child" and"specified procedures
and restrictions for obtaining photographic evidence of a child's body, with separate standards specified
for government employees and for certain health professionals not employed by government." Parental consent to take photographic evidence of the private area of a child is required if the child is aged 15 to 18,
or there must be a court order. There are exceptions to this restriction for medical emergencies in the case of government employees and for bona fide medical purposes for non-governmental health professionals.
Sponsors of House Bill 16-1389: Representative Janak Joshi (R-El Paso) 866-2937. No sponsor as yet in the Senate. House Bill 16-1331: The topic of HB 1331 is"Policies on Juvenile Shackling in Court" which can only be
described as controversial. The legislative declaration points out the need for such a bill:

  1. The purpose of the juvenile justice system is to provide a rehabilitative and not solely punitive approach to juvenile delinquency, and the indiscriminate use of physical restraints on a juvenile undermines the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile justice system;
  2. The national center for mental health and juvenile justice suggests that the use of physical restraints on a juvenile can be traumatic and psychologically harmful; and
  3. The use of physical restraints, such as handcuffs, chains, irons, or straitjackets, during a court

proceeding is particularly problematic in light of the need for the court to focus on the rehabilitation of and
positive interaction with the juvenile.
The general assembly set forth that "it is the responsibility of the court to determine what least restrictive alternative is used by a law enforcement officer when a juvenile is before the court for a hearing regarding a juvenile delinquency action, consistent with the goals of the "Colorado Children's Code."
HB 1331 "mandates that restraints – including handcuffs, chains, shackles, irons or a straight jacket – must be taken off a juvenile before a court proceeding unless the court determines on the record that restraints are necessary to prevent physical harm to the juvenile or another person, disruptive courtroom behavior by the juvenile or the juvenile from fleeing the courtroom.
The Committee on the Judiciary passed HB 1331 without amendment and referred it to the Committee on
the Whole with favorable recommendation.
Lead Sponsors of House Bill 16-1331: Representative Susan Lontine (D-Denver, Jefferson ) 866-2966; and Senator Michael Merrifield (D-El Paso) 866-6364. House Bill 16-1275: Offshore tax shelters are often the focus of government investigations but they seem to flourish and live on, with legions of expensive tax attorneys staying one step (or many) ahead of
With HB 1275, Colorado legislators are making an effort at collecting taxes on money earned in Colorado
that is shifted to tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes, in order to reduce their state income
tax liability, estimated to generate an estimated $20.4 million in 2016-2017, $49.4 million in 2017-2018 and $70.2 million in 2018-2019. That revenue would be exempt from TABOR limits and used to help fund
elementary and secondary public school education.
While there is no precise definition of tax haven, five factors are included in the bill for the Department of Revenue (DOR) to use when determining which countries are tax havens:

  1. has laws or practices that prevent effective exchange of information for tax purposes with other governments on tax payers benefiting from the tax regime;
  2. has a tax regime that lacks transparency so that the details of legislative, legal, or administrative

provisions are not open and apparent or are not consistently applied among similarly situated taxpayers, or so that information needed by tax authorities to determine a taxpayer's correct tax liability, such as
accounting records and underlying documentation is not adequately available;

  1. facilitates the establishment of foreign-owned entities without the need for a local substantive presence or prohibit these entities from having any commercial impact on the local economy;
  2. explicitly or implicitly excludes the jurisdiction's resident tax payers from taking advantage of the tax regime's benefits or prohibits enterprises that benefit from the regime from operating in the jurisdiction's domestic market; or
  3. has created a tax regime that is favorable for tax avoidance, based on an overall assessment of relevant factors, including whether the jurisdiction has a significant untamed offshore finance or other

services sector relative to its overall economy.
HB 1275's legislative declaration points out that "tax haven users benefit from the markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law in Colorado, and all of those benefits are supported in one way or another by tax dollars, but these corporations then use tax havens to escape supporting these public structures and benefits. Ultimately ordinary tax payers end up picking up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes or cuts to public spending priorities."
The legislative impact analysis explains just how the Department of Revenue finds such tax evaders. By ferreting out corporations that file a "combined"income tax return which is a state filing method used by

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