Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – April 2019

Senate Bill 19-172:
Titled “Crimes Related to An At-Risk Person, and In Connection Therewith, Creating the Crimes of Unlawful Abandonment and Unlawful Confinement,” SB 172 is has yet to have its first committee hearing, despite its significance.

The legislative declaration states that “abuse and neglect of senior citizens, people with disabilities, and other at-risk adults is a problem that impacts communities all across Colorado.”

The need for SB 172 is that “abandonment and unlawful confinement have risen as two forms of abuse and neglect that prove difficult to prosecute, as they are currently undefined in Colorado statute.”

The purpose of SB 172 is to “provide law enforcement the tools they need to prosecute individuals who commit these crimes, further protecting at-risk adults from abuse and neglect.”

SB 172 defines unlawful abandonment as “the purposeful desertion of an at-risk person in a manner that endangers the safety of that person.” Unlawful confinement is defined as “tying, locking up, caging, chaining or otherwise unreasonably restricting an at-risk person’s freedom of movement.”

SB 172 makes crimes against at-risk persons a Class 6 felony. Caretaker neglect knowingly committed against an at-risk person, who “unlawfully abandons, unlawfully confines or knowingly acts in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical or mental welfare of an at-risk person commits a Class 6 felony.”

Pursuant to Section 2-2-703 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, any bill (act) that may increase periods of imprisonment, which this bill would do if passed and enacted, may require a five-year appropriations.

Sponsors of Senate Bill 19-172: Senators Jessie Danielson (D-Jefferson) 866-4856, and Joann Ginal (D-Larimer) 866-4841; and Representative Jonathan Singer (D-Boulder) 866-2780.

Senate Bill 19-132:
Titled “Preservation of the Senior Property Tax Exemption of a Senior Who Changes Primary Residence Due to Medical Necessity,” SB 132, beginning in 2020, “allows seniors who qualify for the senior homestead exemption to continue to claim the exemption if they move for reasons of medical necessity.”

Eligibility to claim senior homestead exemption if he or she is 65 years or older as of January 1 of the tax year, and has occupied the home as his or her primary residence for at least ten years.

A form is to be created by the Division of Property Taxation in the Department of Local Affairs, which must be filed by the homeowners indicating that the homeowner was required to move as a result of a medical condition.

Further conditions set forth in SB 132 include the “homeowner must occupy their new home as their primary residence, may not reside at a third home during an intervening period, and may not claim the exemption for more than one property after that at which they originally qualified.”

SB 132 requires “General Fund expenditures to reimburse local governments for their property tax loss associated with an increase in the number of persons eligible for the senior homestead exemption.”

The legislative fiscal analysis points out that about 24 percent of homes sold in Colorado are sold by seniors aged 65 and above, and about 11 percent of sales by seniors are due to reasons of medical necessity.

Lead Sponsors of Senate Bill 19-132: Senator Bob Gardner (R-El Paso) 866-4880); and Terri Carver (R-El Paso) 866-2191.

NOTE: A subject-similar bill, HB 19-1141 was introduced over in the House with the additional inclusion of the disabled veteran property tax exemption in it. HB 1141 also sets forth the circumstances under which the amounts may be reduced. HB 1141 restricts the power of the General Assembly to “reduce the exemption cap only when the amount of General Fund revenue collected in the preceding fiscal year is less than the amount of revenue collected in the fiscal year preceding that year.” If the exemption cap is reduced, the cap automatically returns to 50 percent of $200,000 for the following years. HB 1141 is yet to have its first committee hearing.

Doris Beaver

Doris Beaver

Doris Beaver is a freelance journalist who writes from her home high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on senior issues, politics, ethics and environmental issues. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com or e-mail her at doris@dorisbeaver.com.