As required in Joint Rule 24 (b)(1)(D), the Legislative Council is meeting November 15, 2017, to review and approve bills recommended by interim study committees during the 2017 interim. Approved interim committee bills do not count against the five-bill limit for the prime sponsors of the bills.
All of the interim and statutory committees that met during the 2017 interim are listed here—there were several. One of the committees—the Legislative Interim Committee on School Finance—has been meeting, but has not recommended any bills at this point. This committee is exempt from the requirement of submitting its recommended bills to the Legislative Council, so it may yet prepare and introduce bills for the 2018 legislative session.
This week’s article summarizes the bills recommended by the following committees:
- County Courthouse and County Jail Funding and Overcrowding Solutions Interim Study Committee
- Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension Reform Commission
- Sentencing in the Criminal Justice System Interim Study Committee
- Transportation Legislation Review Committee
- Wildfire Matters Review Committee
- Young and Beginning Farmers Interim Study Committee
Next week, LegiSource will summarize the remaining committees’ recommended bills and report on the actions taken by Legislative Council.
County Courthouse and County Jail Funding and Overcrowding Solutions Interim Study Committee
The County Courthouse and County Jail Funding and Overcrowding Solutions Interim Study Committee met five times over the 2017 interim. At the October 23, 2017, meeting, the committee considered and voted on each of the eleven bill drafts and one resolution draft that it had requested at the previous meeting. A majority of the committee members recommended only the following three bills and one resolution for consideration by the Legislative Council:
Bill A: Concerning the provision of financial assistance to counties for county facilities.
Current law tasks the underfunded courthouse facility cash fund commission with evaluating grant applications and issuing grants to counties for underfunded courthouse facilities through master planning services, matching funds, or leverage-grant funding opportunities, or for addressing emergency needs due to the imminent closure of a court facility.
The bill changes the name of the commission and the fund and expands the commission’s responsibilities to include jails in addition to court facilities. Additionally, the bill allows the commission to issue grants for up to 50% of a county’s annual voter-approved debt service on any county-approved financing of the construction or remodeling costs of a court or jail facility. The bill also creates a low-interest loan program, which the commission will administer, whereby counties may apply for low-interest loans to finance the capital construction or remodeling costs of a court or jail facility.
Bill B: Concerning the amount that the department of corrections is required to reimburse a county or city and county for the confinement and maintenance in a local jail of any person who is sentenced to a term of imprisonment in a correctional facility.
Under current law, the General Assembly establishes in the annual general appropriations bill the amount that the department of corrections must reimburse a county or city and county for a portion of the costs incurred in confining and maintaining in a local jail a person who is sentenced to a term of imprisonment in a correctional facility. The bill establishes this amount in statute as $108.78 per day.
Bill C: Concerning a program to facilitate conducting judicial proceedings via networking technology.
The bill directs the division of criminal justice within the department of public safety, in consultation with the office of the state court administrator, to operate a program that implements telephonic or internet-based networking software to enable county courts and district courts to conduct judicial procedures with remote participants. The bill sets forth a timeline by which the division must first solicit requests for proposals from prospective software vendors and then select and contract with one or more software vendors for the purposes of the program.
Resolution A: Concerning the Medicaid eligibility of individuals being held in a correctional facility but who have not been convicted of a crime.
The resolution acknowledges House Resolution 165, introduced in the United States House of Representatives on January 3, 2017, which would remove limitations on Medicaid benefits and other federal benefits for individuals in custody pending disposition charges. In the resolution, the members of the General Assembly strongly urge the United States Congress to amend the law concerning Medicaid eligibility of incarcerated individuals so that persons who are detained in state and local facilities but have not been convicted of a crime retain their Medicaid eligibility until conviction.
To review the bills and resolution recommended by the County Courthouse and County Jail Funding and Overcrowding Solutions Interim Study Committee, please visit the committee’s website. For questions concerning the legislation, please contact Richard Sweetman.
Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension Reform Commission
The Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension Reform Commission met once during the 2017 interim for an annual briefing from the Fire and Police Pension Association (FPPA) and to consider two bills recommended by the FPPA Board of Directors (Board) for introduction during the 2018 legislative session. Based on the Board’s recommendations, the commission recommended the following two bills:
Bill A: Concerning the statewide standard health history form that members of the fire and police pension association complete when commencing employment.
Every member of the FPPA, at the commencement of employment, must complete a health history on a statewide standard health history form (form). The bill clarifies several aspects of the form. Specifically, the bill specifies that all newly hired members are required to fill out the form; clarifies that the employer must require newly hired members to complete and file the form; authorizes the Board to adopt an electronic format for completing and filing the form; and specifies that a member who omits or conceals, rather than fraudulently conceals, a material fact concerning his or her health history on the form may be disqualified from receiving disability or survivor benefits.
Bill B: Concerning employer entry into the fire and police pension association defined benefit system.
Current law allows an employer that is affiliated with the FPPA and that provides a money purchase plan for its employees to apply to the Board to cover some or all existing members of the money purchase plan under either the statewide hybrid plan or the statewide defined benefit plan, both of which are part of the defined benefit system (system). Current law requires the employer to apply to the Board separately for each plan. In addition, the employer may apply to cover only existing employees under the statewide hybrid plan or the statewide defined benefit plan.
The bill allows an employer that provides a money purchase plan to apply to the Board, with a single application, to cover some or all of the existing members of its money purchase plan in the system. In addition, the bill allows an employer that provides a money purchase plan to apply to the Board to cover all new employees hired on or after a date certain and who are members of the FPPA to participate as a group in either the statewide hybrid plan or the statewide defined benefit plan through the system. The bill eliminates certain statutory requirements in connection with an employer’s participation in the system and repeals the separate application process for entry into the statewide defined benefit plan.
To review the bills recommended by Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension Reform Commission, please visit the committee’s website. For questions concerning the legislation, please contact Nicole Myers.
Sentencing in the Criminal Justice System Interim Study Committee
The sentencing in the Criminal Justice System Interim Study Committee met seven times over the interim and at those meetings heard from over 60 witnesses on a wide range of topics related criminal sentencing. At its bill request meeting, the committee voted to authorize the drafting of a whopping 19 bills. During the bill-drafting period, three of the requests were withdrawn. When the committee met to vote on the bill drafts, it considered 12 of the remaining 16 bills, withdrawing four more bills. Of those 12 bills, the committee voted to recommend five bills to the Legislative Council:
Bill A: Concerning granting judicial discretion to sentence a defendant to an indeterminate or determinate sentence for a sexual offense, and, in connection therewith, requiring the criteria and basis for the sentencing decision to be articulated on the public record.
Currently, a court must sentence certain sex offenders to an indeterminate sentence, up to the remainder of the sex offender’s life. The bill allows the court to choose either the indeterminate sentence or a determinate sentence in those cases. The bill addresses the factors related to punishment and treatment that a court must consider when deciding between an indeterminate and a determinate sentence. The court must specify its reasons on the record for the type of sentence it imposes.
Bill B: Concerning clarification of sentences for habitual criminal.
The bill repeals the provision that requires a court to sentence a person who has been convicted of two prior felonies within 10 years of the commission of another felony to the department of corrections for a term of three times the maximum of the presumptive range for the level of felony last committed.
Under current law, a court must sentence a person convicted of a felony who has been convicted of three prior felonies to four times the maximum of the presumptive range of the last felony. The bill changes the provision so that it applies only to a person who is convicted of one of a list of felonies and has three prior convictions relating to the listed felonies. It requires the court to sentence the person to between two and three times the maximum of the presumptive range for the felony for which he or she is being sentenced, unless the court finds that the case is exceptional and involves extenuating circumstances. If the court finds extenuating circumstances, it may sentence the person to a lesser term, to community corrections, or to probation, but the court must notify the state court administrator of the extenuating circumstances justifying such a sentence. A person sentenced as a habitual offender is eligible for parole after he or she has served 75% of the sentence imposed, less any earned time granted.
Bill C: Concerning the extension of the repeal of the Colorado commission on criminal and juvenile justice.
Current law repeals the Colorado commission on criminal and juvenile justice, effective July 1, 2018. The bill extends the repeal date to July 1, 2028.
Bill D: Concerning lowering the period of mandatory parole from five years to three years for certain felony offenses.
Under current law, the length of a mandatory parole sentence for a class 2 or 3 felony is five years. The bill reduces the length of mandatory parole for a class 2 or 3 felony to three years.
Bill E: Concerning requiring the Colorado commission on criminal and juvenile justice to contract for a study of effective criminal sentencing practices.
The bill directs the Colorado commission on criminal and juvenile justice (commission) to contract for a study of the most effective criminal sentencing practices available. The commission must establish an advisory committee to review the study and make recommendations regarding changes to the Colorado sentencing scheme based on the study.
To review the bills recommended by the Criminal Justice System Interim Study Committee, please visit the committee’s website. For questions concerning the legislation, please contact Mike Dohr or Jeremiah Barry.
Transportation Legislation Review Committee
The Transportation Legislation Review Committee (TLRC) was busy this year fulfilling its duty to review transportation projects and operations and making legislative recommendations to the general assembly. This interim, fulfilling its duties entailed meeting with local government officials and experts in the fields of traffic and transportation and visiting completed and ongoing transportation projects in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Gunnison, Montrose, Glenwood Springs, Craig, Sterling, Fort Morgan, and many other places over the course of the interim.
The TLRC approved four bills for drafting, and, at its meeting November 2, voted to recommend two of those bills to the Legislative Council:
Bill A: Concerning a requirement that education to prevent human trafficking be included in the training to obtain a commercial driver’s license.
This bill requires that the training to obtain a commercial driver’s license include education to prevent human trafficking. In designing the training, the Department of Revenue will collaborate with organizations that specialize in recognizing and preventing human trafficking and other state agencies. The department must publish information about human trafficking for commercial driver’s license holders and trainees.
Bill B: Concerning the creation of a program to authorize private providers to register commercial vehicles as Class A personal property.
This bill directs the Department of Revenue to create a program through which private venders may register interstate commercial vehicles with the state. The program would include collecting any taxes or fees associated with the registration. To qualify, a private provider must be approved by the department, use appropriate software approved by the department, and submit evidence of financial responsibility. The department may deny, suspend, or revoke the authority to be a provider if the provider violates the law, makes a material misstatement in an application, or fails to perform.
Wildfire Matters Review Committee
The Wildfire Matters Review Committee held three hearings during the 2017 interim. At its hearings, the Committee received witness testimony and information on such issues as current state and county efforts to mitigate wildfires, available state monetary resources to coordinate fires, prescribed fire and mechanical forest treatment issues, air quality, insurance, current fire suppression efforts in Summit County and in the state of California, an examination of Utah’s wildfire program and related budget process, biochar technologies, fire prediction technology, and the Colorado Recovery and Resiliency Collaborative.
At its last meeting on October 27, 2017, the committee recommended two bills and one joint memorial to the Legislative Council:
Bill A: Concerning the wildfire matters review committee, and, in connection therewith, deferring the date on which the committee is scheduled to repeal.
This bill extends the date on which the committee is scheduled to expire from July 1, 2018, to September 1, 2025. This bill also deletes some obsolete statutory provisions under which the committee was directed to consider codifying a Colorado wildland and prescribed fire advisory commission, an entity previously created by executive order.
Bill B: Concerning statutory provisions enacted to promote the extinguishment of unattended fires.
This bill changes the penalty assessed by the counties for leaving a campfire unattended from a class 2 petty offense to a class 3 misdemeanor and makes the same change with respect to an unattended campfire on property under the control of the state divisions of parks and wildlife. This bill also repeals some obsolete notice provisions concerning unattended campfires.
Memorial A: Concerning the need for Congress to fund catastrophic wildfire response costs outside of federal forest management agencies’ normal budgets.
This joint memorial urges congressional funding of catastrophic wildfire response costs outside of federal forest management agencies’ normal budgets.
Young and Beginning Farmers Interim Study Committee
The Young and Beginning Farmers Interim Study Committee met twice during the 2017 interim, hearing extensive testimony on the problems facing young and beginning farmers and ranchers, especially the difficulties young farmers and ranchers face when trying to gain meaningful work experience. The committee requested the drafting of six bills for consideration and recommended one of those bills to the Legislative Council:
Bill A: Concerning the creation of the agricultural workforce development program.
The bill requires the Commissioner of Agriculture to create, by rule, the Agricultural Workforce Development Program. The legislation is modeled after an existing Colorado Department of Labor program for innovative industries. The Agricultural Workforce Development Program will provide incentives to agricultural businesses that hire interns. A qualified agricultural business may be reimbursed up to 50% of the actual cost of hiring a qualified intern. The rules creating the program must specify criteria to qualify agricultural businesses and interns. Internships must include at least 130 hours of work experience and cannot exceed six months in duration. The program is subject to appropriation and is scheduled to repeal on July 1, 2024.
To review the bill recommended by the Young and Beginning Farmers Interim Study Committee, please visit the committee’s website. For questions concerning the legislation, please contact Kip Kolkmeier.
Edit 11-13-2017: The summary for Bill A of the County Courthouse and County Jail Funding and Overcrowding Solutions Interim Study Committee was incorrect and has been updated.