Eye on the Legislature

March 6, 2017

   Sanctuary jurisdictions have received significant media coverage since the new president took office, primarily because of the “threat” or “promise” to withhold massive federal funding to those jurisdictions. Not a great deal of detail has been offered on just how much in actual dollars is at risk, but evidently, Colorado legislators were concerned about the possibilities which resulted in House Bill 1134.

HB 17-1134 was drafted to be considered during the 2017 legislative session. Titled Holding Colorado Government Accountable for Creating Sanctuary Jurisdictions Policies,” HB 1134 was to be known as the “Colorado Politician Accountability Act,” (a lengthy one – 21 pages), “addressing sanctuary jurisdictions being a matter of statewide concern and make findings about how sanctuary policies are contrary to federal law and state interests.”

HB 1134 would have created a number of crimes a victim could use as a basis for a civil action for compensatory damages against a jurisdiction and against the elected officials of the jurisdiction who were responsible for creating the policy to operate as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The bill had numerous other provisions meant to protect American citizens from illegal aliens, but alas, it was postponed indefinitely (killed) on February 23rd. 

Look for such a bill to return in some similar form and substance once legislators, city and state officials realize the gravity/amount of federal $$$’s the federal government can withhold.

Senate Bill 17-117:  The legislative declaration of SB 117 includes these findings by the General Assembly regarding industrial hemp:

  1. In Colorado, industrial hemp is a recognized agricultural product pursuant to Article 61 of Title 35 of the Colorado Revised Statutes;
  2. Even federal law recognizes the importance of industrial hemp for agricultural purposes by authorizing the use of industrial hemp for agricultural research purposes in Section 760b of the “Agricultural Act of 2014,” Public Law 113-79;
  3. As stated in Colorado’s Water Plan, protecting the beneficial use of water for agricultural production is one of Colorado’s core water values; and
  4. Given the importance of protecting water use for agricultural production in Colorado and the inclusion of industrial hemp as a valued agricultural product, it should be recognized that an owner of an agricultural water right shall not be denied use of his or her water right if the water subject to the agricultural water right is used for industrial hemp growth or cultivation.

    SB 117 “confirms that a person with an absolute or conditional water right decreed for agricultural use can use that water for the growth or cultivation of industrial hemp if the water right holder is registered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp for commercial or research and development purposes.

Lead Sponsors of Senate Bill 17-117:  Senator Don Coram, (R-Archuleta, Dolores, LaPlata, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, San Juan, San Miguel), 866-4884; and Representative Marcus Catlin (R-Delores, Montezuma, Montrose, San Miguel) 866-2055.

Senate Bill 17-109:  In 2014, Colorado’s hemp industry came in under a registration program for industrial hemp growers administered by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Farmers in states with industrial hemp legislation are allowed to grow and harvest hemp in conjunction with their state departments of agriculture, under the 2014 federal farm bill.

For those still back in the dark ages, “industrial hemp means a plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, containing a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.”

Reingrossed SB 109 requires the Commissioner of Agriculture to create a working group to study the feasibility of including hemp products in animal feed (see SB 117 for provisions on water rights and growing hemp). Conclusions and legislative recommendations are due by December 31, 2017 from a working group created by SB 109 to study the feasibility of including hemp products in animal feed.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 17-109:  Senator Kerry Donovan (D-Chaffee, Delta, Eagle, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Lake, Pitkin) 866-4871; and Representative Jeni James Arndt (D-Larimer) 866-2917. 

House Bill 17-1147:  Colorado has approximately three dozen community corrections programs in the state which are overseen by several state government entities. The community corrections programs are based in local communities and operated by private providers, non profit organizations, and local governments:  the Division of Criminal Justice (in the Department of Public Safety), Parole Officers within the Department of Corrections and Probation Officers within the Judicial Department.

HB 1147 clarifies that the purpose of community corrections programs is to: 

  1. further the purposes of sentencing and improve public safety by reducing future crime through research-based policies, practices, programs and standards;
  2. prepare, select and assist people transitioning from incarceration to the community through supported partnerships with local community corrections boards;
  3. set individualized conditions of community supervision and provide services and support to assist people in addressing risks and needs; and
  4. reduce risks and needs and ensure compliance with conditions of placement to achieve a successful discharge from community corrections supervision.

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1147:  Representative Lang Sias (R-Jefferson) 866-2962; and Senator Daniel Kagan (D-Arapahoe) 866-4846.   

House Bill 17-1197:  There seems to be a never-ending stream of legislation involving marijuana.  The Colorado Farm Products Act was adopted prior to the passage of Amendment 20, Amendment 64 and subsequent regulatory legislation regarding medical and retail marijuana. As such, the purchase and storage of marijuana was not contemplated in the drafting of the Act.

Enactment and passage of HB 1197 means marijuana will be excluded from the definition of farm products in the Colorado Farm Products Act, thereby exempting marijuana businesses from the licensing and bonding requirements. That Act requires businesses purchasing and storing agricultural products to be licensed and bonded by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA).

Here is some of the background information presented by the legislative council staff necessitating HB 1197:

  1. Under the Colorado Farm Products Act, dealers and brokers who purchase farm products are subject to enforcement action by the Colorado Department of Agriculture;
  2. The majority of transactions between medical marijuana cultivators and infused products manufacturers and marijuana establishments (dispensaries) would not be subject to the act because marijuana businesses are required to share common ownership;
  3. Some transactions between marijuana cultivation facilities and retail marijuana infused products manufacturers and retail marijuana stores may be subject to the act because they are not required to share ownership;
  4. Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, it may not be possible for marijuana businesses to comply with the Act’s bonding requirement because many banks and insurance companies are not willing to supply bonds or letters of credit to marijuana businesses; and
  5. the CDA does not currently hold marijuana businesses to the requirements of the act and has not received funding to do so.

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1194:  Representative Joann Ginal (D-Larimer) 866-4569. No sponsor as yet in the Senate.

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