With the 72nd General Assembly in full swing at the state capitol, we’ve selected ten bills (out of 261 proposed, as of January 27) that may be of interest to property owners and real estate developers.  They run the gamut from landlord-tenant law to campaign finance, special districts, and reform to the state’s conservation easement program. We’ll be tracking these bill (and others) throughout the session.

1.                  HB19-1007Contribution Limits For County Offices.  Current state law does not set campaign contribution limits for county offices, including county commissioners.  This bill would set the individual contribution limit at $1,250, which is slightly higher than the current limit for statewide offices.

2.                  HB19-1047Metropolitan District Fire Protection Sales Tax.  This bill would allow a metropolitan district to levy a sales tax to provide fire protection.

3.                  HB19-1075Tax Credit Employer-Assisted Housing Pilot Program.  This bill would create a state income tax credit for a taxpayer’s donation to an affordable housing “sponsor,” which includes CHFA, a local housing authority, or housing nonprofit, for the costs associated with employer‑assisted affordable housing in a rural area.  For this pilot program, the amount of the credit would be 20% of the approved donation amount with an aggregate limit of $400 per year.

4.                  HB19-1087Local Public Meeting Notices Posted On Website. This bill would require local governments to post notices of public meetings required by the state’s Sunshine Law on the local government’s website.

5.                  HB19-1091Conservation Easement Transparency.  There’s a backstory to this bill involving some fraudulent conservation easement practices that were prevalent in southeastern Colorado about ten years ago and which continue to be the subject of ongoing litigation between property owners and the state’s Department of Revenue.

This bill would require that, prior to creating a conservation easement, a property owner sign a disclosure form acknowledging certain consequences and risks of creating the easement.  The Commissioner of Agriculture would be required to work with local government officials to create a statewide database of conservation easements.  When a conservation easement is recorded with a county clerk and recorder, this bill would require a complete copy of the easement agreement be submitted to the Commissioner of Agriculture and the county tax assessor.

The bill would prohibit a conservation easement from being extinguished whenever the easement holder takes fee title to the land to which the easement is attached, i.e, the fee title would not extinguish the easement by operation of merger of title.

To provide a remedy to landowners who have been unable to obtain tax credits, if the state disallows any income tax credit claimed for a donation of a conservation easement, the landowner could either (i) extinguish the conservation easement for which the credit was claimed; or (ii) receive an equitable relief payment from the state. If a landowner elects to extinguish the conservation easement, the bill would require the Department of Revenue to reimburse the taxpayer for all reasonable costs incurred by the landowner in establishing the conservation easement donation, as well any federal or state income tax liability incurred by the taxpayer.

6.                  HB19-1096Colorado Right To Rest.  This bill would establish “basic rights for people experiencing homelessness, including but not limited to the right to rest in public spaces, to shelter themselves from the elements, to eat or accept food in any public space where food is not prohibited, to occupy a legally parked vehicle, and to have a reasonable expectation of privacy of their property.”

The bill would create an exemption to these rights for any county, city, municipality, or subdivision that can demonstrate that, for 3 consecutive months, the waiting lists for all local public housing authorities contain fewer than 50 people.  The bill would also allow the General Assembly to appropriate money from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund to the Department of Local Affairs for the purpose of enabling governmental entities that do not meet the exemption threshold to reduce their waiting lists. Any person whose rights have been violated under this bill would be able to seek enforcement in a civil action.

7.                  HB19-1098Deeds To Convey Real Property.  This bill would make certain changes to the form of deeds provision in Title 38 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. The current deeds statute provides a form of general warranty deed and explains how to amend that form for a special warranty, bargain-and-sale, or quitclaim deed. This bill would provide forms for all four types of deeds. It also introduces the concept of “statutory exceptions,” which include real estate taxes, matters of record, and off-record matters that would be disclosed by survey.

8.                  HB19-1106. Rental Application Fees. This bill would prohibit a landlord from charging a prospective tenant a rental application fee unless the landlord uses the entire amount of the fee to cover the landlord’s costs in processing the rental application.  The bill would further require a landlord to provide a prospective tenant who has paid a rental application fee either a disclosure of the landlord’s anticipated expenses for which the fee will be used or a receipt that itemizes the landlord’s actual expenses incurred.  Before accepting a rental application or collecting a rental application fee from a prospective tenant, a landlord would be required to give the prospective tenant written notice of the landlord’s tenant selection criteria and the grounds upon which a rental application may be denied.

9.                  HB19-1108Nonresident Electors And Special Districts.  This bill would expand the definition of “eligible elector” for special-district elections to include a natural person who owns taxable property situated within the boundaries of the special district (or the area to be included in the special district) but who is not a resident of the state.

10.                HB19-1118Time Period To Cure Lease Violation.  This bill would require a landlord to provide a tenant with 14 days to cure a violation for unpaid rent or for a violation of any other condition or covenant of a lease agreement (other than a “substantial violation”) before the landlord can initiate eviction proceedings.  Current law requires that a landlord provide only 3 days to cure before initiating an eviction proceeding.