Eye on the Legislature

April 17, 2017

House Bill 17-1229:  As the world gets more technologically advanced, existing laws require updating/amending. Workers’ compensation law in Colorado will be upgraded to cover post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for certain Colorado workers if HB 1229 is passed and enacted.

Under current law, PTSD is not covered by workers’ compensation insurance for peace officers, emergency medical service providers and firefighters (public safety professionals) unless an event outside of the employee’s typical job responsibilities caused the PTSD.

HB 1229 makes changes to the workers’ compensation law in these significant ways:

  1. requires mental impairment claims to be proven by evidence; and
  2. evidence must be supported by the testimony of a licensed psychiatrist rather than a physician or a psychologist.

   HB 1229 defines a psychologically traumatic event in two ways:  a) generally outside of a worker’s usual experience that would evoke significant symptoms of distress in a worker in similar circumstances; or b) an event within a worker’s usual experience only when the worker is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist after:

  1. experiencing an attempt by another person to cause the worker serious bodily injury or death through the use of deadly force;
  2. witnessing a death or the immediate aftermath of a death, of one or more people as the result of a violent event, or
  3. repeatedly witnessing the serious bodily injury (or immediate aftermath) of one or more people as a result of am intentional act or of an accident.

   Workers compensation for state employees is handled through a number of different methods with state agencies paying into the Workers’ Compensation Fund based on risk and actuarial analyses, with fund sources for these payments dependent on each agency’s individual fund split.

Lead Sponsors of House Bill 17-1229: Representatives Jonathan Singer (D-Boulder) 866-2780, and Jon Becker (R-Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Yuma) 866-3706; and Senators John Cooke (R-Weld) 866-4451, and Nancy Todd (D-Arapahoe) 866-3432.

House Bill 17-1277:  The number of individuals convicted for fleeing the scene of an accident resulting in injury to, serious bodily injury to, or death of any person from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2016 was 271 individuals. That number is estimated to increase to 300 individuals per year if HB 1277 passes and is enacted.

HB 1277 authorizes the state Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to “suspend a driver license if it has been found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the driver involved in an accident causing serious bodily harm or death to any person failed to stop at, as close as possible to, or immediately return to the scene of the accident.”

Under HB 1277, law enforcement is allowed to serve such a suspension notice to the driver personally. Suspension  can also be made if the driver did not meet the requirements in law to remain at the scene of the accident until he or she gave all necessary information and rendered assistance or, if no police officer is present, immediately reporting the accident to law enforcement and after rendering assistance.” Of course, a driver may request a review of the DMV’s determination.

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1277:  Representative Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Eagle, Routt) 866-2923; and Senator Martinez Humenik (R-Adams) 866-4863.

House Bill 17-1287:  TitledAchieving a Vision for Education in Colorado,” HB 1287 “initiates a statewide effort to establish a vision for public education in Colorado and to create a strategic statewide education plan to achieve the vision.”

The portion of the bill’s title, “Achieving a Vision” is telling in that the bill “establishes three committees to achieve the work, and requires the use of a third-party facilitator to help coordinate and support the committees.”

By September 1, 2017, the steering committee is required to issue a request for proposals for a third-party, nonprofit, non-advocacy organization with experience in education policy to serve as a facilitator for the project, with duties of the facilitator spelled out in HB 1287.

Lead Sponsors of HB 171-1287:   Representatives Millie Hamner (D-Delta, Gunnison, Lake, Pitkin, Summit) 866-2952, and Bob Rankin (Garfield, Moffat, Rio Blanco) 866-2949; and Senators Kevin Priola (R-Adams) 866-4855, and Andy Kerr (D-Jefferson) 866-4859.

House Bill 17-1204:  Juveniles charged as adults always generates a great deal of publicity, and many are heart wrenching.

Titled “Juvenile Delinquency Record Expungement,” HB 1204 makes a number of changes to gaining access to juvenile delinquency records and the eligibility and process for expunging those records.

Current law provides that “public access to such records is permitted when a petition is filed that alleges a juvenile committed an offense that would constitute unlawful sexual behavior or a crime of violence if committed by an adult.”

Significant changes provided for in HB 1204 are:

  1.  public access to arrest and criminal records will be available whenever a judge orders a juvenile to be charged as an adult;
  2. opens certain records, with juvenile consent, to nonprofit organizations providing free legal representation or an attorney of record;
  3. provides that private attorneys may be charged a reasonable fee per use or a monthly fee for electronic access to records; and
  4. removes lower level offenses from the list of those from which prosecuting attorneys must notify and provide records to a juvenile’s school principal.

   Expungement of a juvenile’s records is modified extensively. Current law provides a person “may petition for expungement of juvenile delinquency records after a waiting  period of one to five years, depending on the context of the case and offense.”

HB 1204 changes that provision and requires the court to automatically expunge all records in a juvenile delinquency case within 42 days, following a review to determine the performance of the juvenile while supervised, and whether any pending cases exist, after the following takes place:

  1.  a finding of not guilty at trial;
  2.  dismissal of the petition in its entirety; or
  3.  the completion of a juvenile sentence for a petty offense or a class 2 or 3 misdemeanor if that offense is not a sex offense, does not involve domestic violence, and is not a level 2 drug misdemeanor.

   Certain records covered by HB 1204 are eligible for expungement, and the court is required to give a written advisement of the right to, time period and process for expengement at the time of adjudication. Detailed circumstances as to expungement are set forth in the bill, so look for serious changes to those when the bill goes through committee hearings.

Sponsors of House Bill 17-1204: Representative Pete Lee (D-El Paso) 866-2932. No sponsor as yet in the Senate.

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