Colorado Capitol Report

The Colorado Chamber Recommends Judge Prince to Governor for Appointment to Colorado Supreme Court

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State Policy News

CACI Recommends Judge Prince to Governor for Appointment to Colorado Supreme Court

Judge David Prince

Judge David Prince

CACI recently contacted the Governor’s Office to voice its support for Judge David Prince, a nominee who is seeking Governor John Hickenlooper’s appointment to the Colorado Supreme Court to fill a pending vacancy.

Justice Gregory Hobbs will retire September 1st.

CACI reviewed the three final candidates, who were chosen by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, through the lens of how each would most likely understand and respect the interests of the statewide business community that CACI represents.  Here’s the description of the Commission from the Web site of the Colorado Judicial Branch:

The Supreme Court Nominating Commission recommends candidates to serve as judges for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. The chief justice of the Supreme Court chairs the commission and is a non-voting member. This commission includes one citizen admitted to practice law in Colorado and one citizen not admitted to practice law residing in each of the state’s seven congressional districts, and one additional citizen not admitted to practice law in Colorado.

Of the three nominees, CACI believes that Judge Prince most effectively meets these qualifications and, therefore, would be the ideal choice for the Colorado Supreme Court.

Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, told The Denver Business Journal, “Prior to the court, his experience in working with business, and business law, points to why we would be supportive — he most aligns with our interests.”

Judge Prince currently serves as the Deputy Chief Judge for the Fourth Judicial District (El Paso and Teller Counties).  Here’s the summary of Judge Prince from the Web site of the Colorado Judicial Branch:

Judge David Prince was appointed to the District Court in April of 2006.  Before taking the bench, Judge Prince was an AV rated commercial litigator with Holland & Hart.  He practiced in the trial and appellate courts of Colorado and around the country.  His practice included primarily fiduciary, finance, construction, business, real estate, and intellectual property litigation.  He served on the management committee for Holland & Hart and devoted significant time to developing technology tools for supporting modern litigation.  Judge Prince graduated from the University of Utah Law School where he served on the law review and received Order of the Coif honors.

Consequently, CACI supports Judge Prince because of the strong business experience that he gained through his many years in private practice at CACI member Holland and Hart LLP that often involved complex business litigation issues and cases.

Judge Prince also brings an impressive track record through his nine years of service on the District Court which has been recognized by the Judicial Performance Commission, which named him a “Number One Ranked Trial Judge Standing for Retention.”

Needless, costly litigation is a key issue for businesses and Coloradans, which are often confronted with the high costs of litigation that can create long-term financial problems and potential closures of small businesses that cannot afford excessive litigation costs.

For these reasons, CACI contacted the Governor’s office to recommend Judge Price to the Governor to appointment to the Colorado Supreme Court.

CACI members are encouraged to contact the Governor’s Office to ask the Governor to appoint Judge Prince to the Colorado Supreme Court via email  at;

[email protected]

For more information on CACI’s recommendation of Judge Prince, contact Loren Furman, CCI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.

For news media coverage of the appointment process, read:

Colorado business coalition to lobby Hickenlooper on Supreme Court choice,” by Monica Mendoza, The Denver Business Journal, June 16th.

CACI SSM Stakeholder Meeting & CACI Submits Concerns to Air Pollution Control Division

Please see the CACI comment letter from CACI’s Air Quality Committee, submitted to CDPHE and the Air Pollution Control Division (APCD).  CACI’s Air Quality Committee will be leading efforts on this issue, however, the involvement of any impacted CACI member is encouraged.  The comments include a request to delay the initiation of the formal rulemaking process being considered by the Air Pollution Control Division in response to the U.S. EPA’s SIP Call Action regarding the SSM affirmative defense in Colorado’s Clean Air Act SIP.

In addition to the letter CACI submitted the following two documents in response to the APCD’s requests for information:

  1.  EPA-approved SIP provisions for states not subject to the EPA’s SSM SIP Call 
  2.  Summary of minor source impacts

SSM Stakeholder Meeting – June 25 @ 4:00pm

John Jacus, CACI Energy & Environment Council Chair, and Adam Berig, CACI Air Quality Committee Chair will be leading a small stakeholder meeting to discuss potential options for how CACI’s impacted membership will respond to the EPA SIP Call Action.

The meeting will take place at CACI’s Office Conference Room on Thursday, June 25 at 4:00pm.

Please click here to RSVP for this meeting.

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the CACI comment letter or related issues, please contact:

Adam Berig, CACI Air Quality Committee Chair and Air Permitting Manager at Encana Services Company, Ltd., at [email protected] or 720-876-3884;

Or Dan O’Connell, CACI State Government Affairs Representative, at [email protected] or 303-866-9622.

Employers with Self-Insured Health Plans Will be Subject to Increased Reporting

Colorado’s Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) is currently considering a proposed rule change to expand the definition of a “private health care payer” to include self-insured employer-sponsored health plans.

The final rule hearing for the proposed rule change is scheduled on June 29th at 2pm at 303 East 17th Avenue, Room 7AB.  HCPF will post the proposed rule on its website one week prior to the hearing.

HCPF’s proposed rule changes would include the following:

“For the purpose of this regulation, a ‘private health care payer’ means a self-insured employer-sponsored health plan covering an aggregate of 100 or more enrolled lives in Colorado.  It does not include a self-insured employer-sponsored health plan, if such health plan is administered by a third-party administrator or administrative services only organization (“TPA/ASO”) that serves less than an aggregate of 1,000 enrolled lives in Colorado.”

Click here to view HCPF’s full rule change proposal as indicated within the existing rule.

Impact to Employers:

This rule change would require employers with self-insured health plans to submit claims information to the Colorado All Payers Claims Database (APCD).  Currently, employers with self-insured health plans are not subject to rules requiring the disclosure and reporting of claims information to the APCD.

The Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC) is an organization appointed by HCPF to be the administrator of the CO All Payers Claims Database.  Click the following links to see resources CIVHC has produced regarding the proposed HCPF rule change.

Please be advised that some CACI members have expressed concerns regarding the increased regulatory burden these new reporting requirements will create for employers.   It is important that CACI members share any concerns regarding these proposed changes during the rule making hearing or with CACI staff in advance of the hearing.

Please contact Daniel O’Connell, CACI State Government Affairs Representative, at [email protected] or 303-866-9622 if you should have questions/concerns regarding this issue.

Calling All CACI Golfers: Tee Time at The Sanctuary Set for August 12th


To play a round of golf at the private, exclusive golf course, The Sanctuary, is a rare privilege for golfers.

If you are a CACI member and can persuade a company to join CACI, then you and your guests from this company can participate in a round of golf at one of the most beautiful courses in Colorado.

If you are a CACI member and wish to substantially upgrade your membership, then an opportunity to play The Sanctuary on August 12th also awaits you.

The purpose of this rare event is to expand CACI’s membership and strengthen the organization.

This opportunity has been made possible by the generous support of CACI Board Member Randy Schrader, President and Owner, Applied Control Management, Inc., Englewood, who will host the event.

For more information, contact John Cullen, CACI Director of Business Development, at 303.866.9650.

Author of Business Amicus Curiae Brief Issues Analysis of Coats v Dish Network Decision

Chris Otelle

Chris Otelle

The attorney, Chris Otelle, Partner at CACI member Husch Blackwell, who wrote the amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Colorado Civil Justice League (CCJL), has issued his analysis of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Coats v Dish Network, LLC.

CACI supported Chris’ brief that was filed with the Colorado Supreme Court.  CACI and the Colorado Civil Justice League have a long-established, mutually beneficial relationship.  Chris is a member of CACI’s Labor and Employment Council and has often testified before legislative committees on behalf of CACI and the CCJL.

Colorado Supreme Court: Employers Can Discharge Workers Using Medical Marijuana


Today, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously held that Colorado’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute does not protect employees from discharge for using medical marijuana away from work. In a highly anticipated decision, Coats v Dish Network, LLC, No. 13SC394, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the plain language of the statute that protects employees engaging in “lawful off-duty activities,” does not cover medical marijuana use, which is illegal under federal law.

The employee who filed the lawsuit, Brandon Coats, was a quadriplegic working in Dish Network’s call center as a customer service representative. Coats had a state-issued medical marijuana license to treat muscle spasms. He alleged that he used marijuana at home during non-working hours and was never high at work. Dish discharged Coats after he tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in a random drug test, in violation of Dish’s zero-tolerance drug policy. He argued that under the lawful off-duty activities statute, Dish was not permitted to discharge him for using medical marijuana during nonworking hours and off company premises.

In a straightforward and succinct opinion, the Colorado Supreme Court focused solely on the language of the lawful off-duty activities statute to decide that “lawful” refers only to activities that are lawful under both state and federal law. Justice Allison Eid declared “Coats’ use of medical marijuana was unlawful under federal law and thus not protected by section 24-34-402.5,” rejecting Coats’s and others’ arguments that the term “lawful” refers only to Colorado law. The court declined to address arguments about the underlying purpose of the statute, the medical need for individuals like Coats to use marijuana, and whether Colorado’s medical marijuana amendment made its use “lawful” or merely decriminalized under state law. The Supreme Court even declined to address one of the two questions it posed when granting certiorari: whether the amendment to Colorado’s constitution authorizing medical marijuana conferred a “right” to its use.

The decision did not address recreational use of marijuana, but the court’s interpretation of the lawful off-duty activities statute would appear to apply with equal force to the use of recreational marijuana, which of course is also illegal under federal law.

What This Means to You

For Colorado employers, the decision is unquestionably a victory. Employers who implement drug testing protocols retain the discretion to dismiss employees for use of marijuana. For those employers with employees in safety sensitive positions, such as in the mining or manufacturing industries, the decision affirms a tool some employers rely on to ensure a safe workplace. It also ensures that Colorado employers subject to the federal Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988 and U.S. Department of Transportation regulations are not put into the quandary of having to comply with conflicting state and federal requirements.

At the same time, employers should not read too much into the decision, as it is not a stamp of approval for zero-tolerance drug testing. Coats was a sympathetic plaintiff, and his position as a telephone customer service representative highlights that a one-size-fits-all drug testing protocol may not be in an employer’s best interests. Employers should continue to make thoughtful, individualized assessments about whether a zero-tolerance drug testing protocol is in the company’s best interest, even if such practices do not violate employee privacy statutes.

And in a final word of caution, this decision will likely have little impact on non-Colorado employers, even for those employers in states that have medical or recreational marijuana. Few states have employee privacy statutes like Colorado’s, and the court’s decision is restricted to the language of Colorado’s law.

For more information on the decision, read:

Colorado Supreme Court Rules for Employers in Marijuana Case: Coats v Dish Network,” CACI Colorado Capitol Report, June 15th.

CACI Radio Show Saturday to Feature Rusty Crandall, Lennar Homes-Colorado

Tune into “Pro-Business Colorado!” on 710 KNUS AM tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.!  Dave Tabor, CACI Senior Vice President of Business Partnerships, will interview Rusty Crandall, President of CACI member Lennar Homes- Colorado.

There’s much to be learned from these conversations for business owners, those aspiring to start a business and many Coloradans interested in how good businesses are run.  Please click here for previous interviews.

For more information about the show, contact Dave at 303.866.9650.

News Media Coverage

Below is recent news-media coverage of state and federal political, policy and governmental issues of interest to CACI:

State Supreme Court hears arguments on school funding,” by Rachel Alexander, The Colorado Statesman, June 19th.

Colorado to define bigger role for local governments in oil and gas,” by Cathy Proctor, The Denver Business Journal, June 19th.

Vail Resorts raising its minimum wage,” by Ben Miller, June 19th, The Denver Business Journal.

State Board of Ed. members talk ‘dysfunction,’ passion in wake of exodus,” by Vic Vela, The Colorado Statesman, June 19th.

Janet Buckner runs for House seat: ‘This is what John would want,’” by Lynn Bartels, The Denver Post, June 18th.

They made Republican Steve House an offer he could refuse,” by Lynn Bartels, The Denver Post, June 18th.

Pro-energy backlash: Some Colorado communities are backing oil and gas,” by Cathy Proctor, The Denver Business Journal, June 17th.

AG Cynthia Coffman on Steve House: ‘There were no threats,’” by Lynn Bartels, The Denver Post, June 17th.

Legislature’s Democrats score high on Conservation Colorado’s card,” by Joey Bunch, The Denver Post, June 16th.

Court rules companies can fire employees for off-duty pot use,” by Rachel Alexander, The Colorado Statesman, June 16th.

Rep. Jessie Danielson, consultant Andy Kabza to wed Saturday,” by Lynn Bartels, The Denver Post, June 16th.

Colorado GOP chair Steve House said he’s not going anywhere,” by Lynn Bartels, The Denver Post, June 16th.

The right to ban employee pot use,” editorial, The Denver Post, June 15th.

Attempts to ban racking statewide suffer from drop in momentum, funding,” by Valerie Richardson, The Colorado Statesman, June 11th.

Statehouse Democrats score high with Women’s Lobby of Colorado,” by Joey Bunch, The Denver Post, June 3rd.

Federal Policy News

With Just 12 Days Until the Ex-Im Bank Charter Expires …

GE Chief: Demise of Ex-Im Bank Would Mean ‘Economic Catastrophe’, Politico

News Bites on EPA & Upcoming Regulations:

  • The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), U.S. Chamber and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) met with the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) on the proposed 111(b) new source rule.  These same groups are working on getting an additional meeting before the White House OMB to discuss 111(d) existing source rules in the near future.  For more information on deadlines and background on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan rule, see the EPA’s )
  • Analysis of the Obama Administration’s 26-28% climate pledge shows that currently-planned and expected regulations will fall far short of the goal.

EPA Clean Power Plan Will Hit Minorities Hardest (Investor’s Business Daily)

The Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental activists frequently claim that climate change will disproportionately affect poor and minority communities.”

“The grim reality is that the EPA wants states to do their dirty work for them. By submitting a plan, states will become complicit in the agency’s plan to shut down reliable power plants, impose higher energy costs and plunge minority families deeper into poverty.”

  • The Clean Power Plan will lead to lost jobs, lower incomes and higher poverty rates for the 128 million blacks and Hispanics living in America. This should serve as a warning to federal and state lawmakers as they prepare for this sweeping regulation to go into effect in the coming months.
  • The study estimates that restructuring America’s energy grid, which the EPA’s rule will require, will lead to $565 billion in higher annual electricity costs by 2030, when the regulation will be fully implemented.
  • The study estimates that this single regulation will cause cumulative job losses for blacks and Hispanics of roughly 7 million and 12 million, respectively, over the next 20 years.
  • Over the same time period, black families can expect their annual incomes to fall by $455, while Hispanics will take home $515 less per year.

Read full article here.

Boehner, McConnell Hatch Trade Workaround: President Obama’s trade deals efforts were thwarted late last week after Democrats rallied to prevent passage of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) which was divided into two bills in the House, TPA and Trade Adjustment Assistance…

This most recent announcement from Republican leadership means they likely have the votes to get trade across the goal line, as soon as today.

Labor Department Sees Businesses as Answer to Finding Homes, Jobs for Veterans

“Showing his commitment to end homelessness among our military veterans, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez hit the road vetsrecently with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Matthew Doherty.

In Houston on June 1, the group joined Mayor Annise Parker at a rally as she announced that her city had joined Salt Lake City, Phoenix and New Orleans in the fight to end veteran homelessness. Later that day in Arizona, the group listened as veterans in Tucson delivered powerful stories about their difficulties. The trek ended the following day in Las Vegas, where they met with Mayor Carolyn Goodman and other Nevada mayors and elected officials to sign a declaration pledging to end homelessness.

During the tour, Cliff Wade, once a homeless veteran in Tucson, said the services he received at the Sullivan Jackson Employment Center turned his life around. The center operates with funds from the department. Wade now works with other homeless veterans, helping them find housing and connecting them with marketable skills and job training. “My story is evidence that our efforts to end veteran homelessness can work,” he said. “I’m lucky to have a job changing the lives of veterans like me.”

DOL Says National Paid Leave: “When, Not If”

DOL“Greeting his hosts as a “powerhouse organization” full of “serial activists,” Secretary Perez addressed a crowd of about 800 at the National Partnership for Women & Families Annual Luncheon on June 4.

Perez told the stories of women he’s met in his travels — a bus driver from Connecticut who has to take her newborn to work because she doesn’t have paid leave; a formerly homeless veteran from Arizona who used Department of Labor services to rebuild her life; a welder from Maine (“a modern-day Rosie the Riveter”) whose apprenticeship program prepared her for a middle-class job helping the nation’s submarine fleet.

Perez highlighted the department’s work on minimum wage, overtime, equal pay, LGBT rights and especially paid leave, calling a national paid leave law “a ‘when’ question, not an ‘if’ question.” We have to keep fighting for it, he added, because “for a nation that values both hard work and family… [right now], we’re not doing a very good job of supporting families who work hard.”