New year, new laws
On Jan. 1, when most people were ringing in the new year, several new Colorado laws came into effect. They have the potential to affect people of all ages in a wide range of areas. Notable new laws address sexting, marijuana growth, health care prices, hit-and-run accidents and minimum wage.
Consequences for sexting changed
Prior to this year, when a juvenile engaged in sexting, the only available charge was sexual exploitation of a child — a class 3 felony.
Now law enforcement, including district attorneys, have the option to charge lower-level offenses or civil infractions. If the victim is at least 14 years old or less than four years younger than the juvenile, it is a crime for a juvenile to post or possess private images, and it is a civil infraction to exchange such images.
Be aware, that can include sending someone else’s photo without their permission or sending a photo of oneself to someone who did not request it.
A juvenile can avoid possessing an image that was sent to them against their will by promptly deleting it or reporting it to law enforcement or a school resource officer.
The civil infraction of exchanging private images is what would typically be considered consensual sexting. Images depict only the sender, and the recipient agreed to receive them.
See House Bill 17-1302 for full details.
Per-residence limit placed on marijuana growth
Though the 2017 legislative session resulted in 13 bills directly related to marijuana being signed, only HB17-1220 came into effect Jan. 1. The purpose of the bill is to prevent the diversion of legal marijuana to the illegal market.
It was previously established that growth of marijuana is generally limited to six plants per person — provisions allow for more in some medical cases. The new law places a cap of 12 plants on or in a residential property, regardless of the number of people residing there. Medical marijuana patients or primary caregivers may receive an exemption for 24 plants with city and county government permission.
Health care prices must be posted
Thanks to the Transparency in Health Care Prices Act (Senate Bill 17-065), health care providers (individual) must now provide health care prices to the public for at least the 15 most common health care practices they provide. Health care facilities must provide prices for the 50 most used inpatient and 25 most used outpatient services.
Said health care prices are only applicable when payment is made directly rather than by a third party such as an insurer. A price is figured before negotiating any discounts for a standard service, and it doesn’t account for complications or exceptional treatment. So be aware, the posted price may not reflect a patient’s actual financial responsibility.
Prices will be provided in a single document either electronically or conspicuously on the provider’s website. The document must be updated at least annually.
Hit-and-run may result in license suspension
In Colorado, the Department of Revenue now also may suspend the license of a driver who leaves the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury or death.
Already, being guilty of a hit and run meant having a driver’s license revoked. With House Bill 17-1277, the license may be suspended while the case is still pending. The driver may challenge the suspension and request a probationary license for employment, education, health or other necessities.
Minimum wage increases
Jan. 1, 2018, marked the second step in Colorado’s Amendment 70 to raise the state minimum wage. Last January, the minimum wage was raised to $9.30 per hour and was set to increase 90 cents Jan. 1 each year until reaching $12 per hour in 2020.
For 2018, the minimum wage is set at $10.20 and $7.18 for tipped employees. If an employee’s tips plus their cash wage of $7.18 per hour do not amount to at least $10.20 per hour, the employer must make up the difference.