BY JEREMY SCHUPBACH
This article reviews the 2019 legislative session, focusing on bills of interest to the CBA.
The 2019 legislative session was another busy, involved, exciting, and exhausting session for the CBA. As a result of the 2018 elections, for the first time in over 60 years the elected statewide offices and the legislature were in the control of one party. Thus, the session was marked by big issues, contentious debates, and much posturing and partisan gamesmanship. During the session, the CBA promoted and helped pass two key bills to improve the practice of law and helped kill several dangerous and misguided attempts to harm various practice areas and the judicial branch. This was, without a doubt, one of the most challenging years for the CBA legislative team. But once again, hard work, dedication, and a little luck led us to a very successful outcome.
Unlike past years, where the House and Senate split political control, the Democrats controlled both chambers of the legislature, holding the House of Representatives over the Republicans by 41 to 24 seats, and the Senate by 19 to 16 seats.
The number of lawyer legislators remains below the state's historical average but increased from 13 to 15 members. This presents both opportunities and challenges as the CBA works with legislators on complicated measures and technical concerns on matters of law and seeks to educate the legislature about who we are and what we do.
The LPC's Role
The CBA develops public policy and takes positions on legislation through its Legislative Policy Committee (LPC), a committee of 13 members appointed by the CBA president and representatives of the sections. These 13 members—assisted by point people and leadership from each section—consider the merits of bills and decide whether the CBA should adopt a position, and, if so, what that position will be.
The 2019 Session in Brief
This year, only 589 bills were introduced during the session, with 339 passed and signed into law. This is a remarkably low number; typically 700 or more bills are considered by the legislature each session. Governor Polis vetoed five bills: Recreate Homeowners' Association Community Manager Licensing; Revised Uniform Athlete Agents Act 2015; Require License Practice Genetic Counseling; Project Management Competencies for Certain Contracts; and Tribal Entity Emergency Child Welfare Criminal History Check. Thematically, the bills vetoed all relate to the regulation of professions and trades, an area that Governor Polis's administration views carefully for necessity. All bills considered during the session are available on the Colorado General Assembly's website, http://leg.colorado. gov/bills.
CBA Legislative Action Summary
The CBA tracked and worked on 47 bills in the 2019 session. The Appendix to this article lists each bill by number, tide, CBA position on the bill, and outcome. The CBA opposed eight bills, supported 23 bills, monitored with no position six bills, and sought amendments to 22 bills—though we amended or changed some bills we supported or opposed to improve the quality of the legislation. We achieved our intended outcome on 43 bills, for a success rate of over 90%—an outstanding overall achievement for our LPC at the Capitol.
Major Legislation and Hot-Topic Bills
The 2019 session was framed by several main issues: oil and gas regulations; sex education; and the debate over the "Red Flag" (extreme risk protection orders, or ERPOs) legislation. In addition to the hot topic bills and contentious issues, the partisan gamesmanship between parties (e.g., having 2,000-page bills read at length to draw out the clock) reached nearly unprecedented levels, and it may be some time before things return to "normal" at the capitol. For the most part, the CBA monitored the issues and the accompanying bills without taking a position or weighing in.
SB 19-181: Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations
This was one of the most contentious bills of the session. SB 19-181 brings a major change to industry regulations and control over...