By Patti Dahlberg and Thomas Morris
The Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws (CCUSL) is Colorado’s delegation to the national Uniform Law Commission (ULC). The ULC is comprised of more than 300 commissioners appointed by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The CCUSL meets each year during the ULC’s July annual conference to identify a preliminary legislative agenda of approved uniform acts for potential introduction in Colorado. The CCUSL then typically hosts two to three public meetings at the state capitol to discuss its proposed legislation and to finalize its legislative agenda. The CCUSL sends advance notice of the meetings held in the capitol to interested parties, posts meeting information on the General Assembly and the CCUSL websites, encourages public testimony at the meetings, and broadcasts the meetings over the internet.
The CCUSL held meetings to discuss its legislative agenda on September 25, 2019, and December 9, 2019, and approved five uniform acts for introduction as commission bills during the 2020 legislative session. Two of the uniform acts approved for introduction were ULC acts newly approved at the 2019 July annual meeting, and the other three uniform acts were ULC-approved acts from prior years. The five uniform acts approved for introduction in 2020 in Colorado are:
- Uniform Automated Operation of Vehicles Act. This act covers the deployment of automated vehicles on roads held open to the public by reconciling automated driving with a typical state motor vehicle code. Many of the act’s sections – including definitions, driver licensing, vehicle registration, equipment, and rules of the road – correspond to, refer to, and can be incorporated into existing sections of a typical vehicle code. This act also introduces the concept of an automated driving provider (ADP) as a legal entity that must declare itself to the state and designate the automated vehicles for which it will act as the legal driver when the vehicle is in automated operation. The ADP might be an automated driving system developer, a vehicle manufacturer, a fleet operator, or another kind of market participant that has yet to emerge. Only an automated vehicle that is associated with an ADP may be registered. In this way, the Automated Operation of Vehicles Act uses the motor vehicle registration framework that already exists in states – and that applies to both conventional and automated vehicles – to incentivize self-identification by ADPs. By harnessing an existing framework, the act also seeks to respect and empower state motor vehicle agencies.
- Uniform Collaborative Law. This act, promulgated by the ULC in 2009 and subsequently amended in 2010, provides attorneys guidance in determining whether collaborative law is appropriate for a particular dispute or client. As a uniform state law, the act helps establish uniformity in core procedures and consumer protections, while minimizing the patchwork spread of varying approaches and definitions. The collaborative law process provides lawyers and clients with an important, useful, and cost-effective option for amicable, non-adversarial dispute resolution. Like mediation, it promotes problem-solving and permits solutions not possible in litigation or arbitration. Collaborative law is a voluntary process in which clients and their lawyers agree that the lawyers will represent the clients solely for purposes of settlement, and that the clients will hire new counsel if the case does not settle. The parties and their lawyers work together to find an equitable resolution of the dispute at hand, retaining experts as necessary. No one is required to participate, and parties are free to terminate the process at any time.
- Uniform Criminal Records Accuracy Act. Approved by the ULC in 2018, this act is designed to improve the accuracy of criminal history records, commonly called RAP sheets, that are frequently used in determining the eligibility of a person for employment, housing, credit, and licensing, in addition to their use for law enforcement purposes. The act imposes duties on governmental law enforcement agencies and courts that collect, store, and use criminal history records to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the RAP sheet. The act provides individuals the right to see and correct errors in their RAP sheet. Through use of a mistaken identity prevention registry, the act also provides a mechanism by which an individual whose name is similar to and confused with a person who is the subject of criminal-history-record information, a means to minimize the possibility of a mistaken arrest or denial of housing, employment, credit, or other opportunities.
- Uniform Parentage Act (2017). Colorado enacted the 1973 Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) in 1977. The 2017 version is an update of the 2002 revised act, which streamlined the UPA (1973), added provisions permitting a non-judicial acknowledgment of paternity procedure that is the equivalent of an adjudication of parentage in a court, and added a paternity registry. UPA (2002) included provisions governing genetic testing, rules for determining the parentage of children whose conception was not the result of sexual intercourse, and the option to authorize surrogacy agreements and establish the parentage of children born under the agreements. UPA (2017) changes include broadening the presumption, acknowledgment, genetic testing, and assisted reproduction articles to make them gender-neutral in order to better comply with the US Constitution. These updates seek to ensure the equal treatment of children born to same-sex couples, provide clarity to these families, and avoid unnecessary litigation. The 2017 version also provides for the establishment of de facto parents and precludes the establishment of a parent-child relationship by the perpetrator of a sexual assault that resulted in the conception of the child. It updates the surrogacy provisions to make them more consistent with current practice and includes a new article addressing the rights of children born through assisted reproductive technology to access medical information regarding any gamete providers without disclosing the identity of that provider without his or her permission.
- Uniform Registration of Canadian Money Judgments Act. This act creates an administrative procedure for the registration and enforcement of Canadian money judgments as an efficient alternative to filing a lawsuit for recognition and enforcement. Once the Canadian judgment is successfully registered in the state, the judgment is enforceable in the same manner as a judgment rendered in that state. It only applies to a Canadian judgment if it (1) grants or denies recovery of a sum of money; (2) is final, conclusive, and enforceable in Canada; and (3) its recognition is sought in order to enforce the judgment. It supplements the Uniform Foreign Country Money Judgments Recognition Act (enacted in Colorado in 2008) by providing an alternative method to seeking recognition and enforcement of a foreign judgment.
It is anticipated that CCUSL bills will be introduced starting in late January. For links to a commission bill’s information page as it is introduced and proceeds through the legislative process, go to the “Uniform Acts Approved For Introduction In 2020” section on the CCUSL Additional Information page and click on the appropriate link as it is posted.
Several uniform acts remain on the CCUSL agenda for discussion and consideration for introduction in future legislative sessions:
- Amendments to the Uniform Probate Code (2019)
- Revised Uniform Athlete Agents Act (2015) and 2019 Amendments
- Uniform Fiduciary Income and Principal Act
- Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act
- Uniform Trust Act, part 5
Other articles regarding the ULC and CCUSL:
- The Uniform Law Commission Works to Promote Uniformity of Law Among the States – August 6, 2015
- The Uniform Law Process Takes its Time – September 17, 2015
- The “C” in Uniform Law Commission – November 5, 2015