With new year, new laws to take effect in Summit County and Colorado
FRISCO — Welcome to the roaring ’20s, Summit County. The new year brings hope and promise for brighter days ahead. It also comes with new rules and laws reflecting the ever-changing and ever-growing state of Colorado, which is constantly in tension with its Wild West roots.
Jan. 1 will bring in a host of new laws passed by the Democrat-controlled state and county governments.
In Summit County, a new tobacco and nicotine licensing tax along with regulations go into effect after the clock strikes midnight. New taxes will be tacked on to cigarettes, tobacco and vaping products, and retailers will be required to obtain a county- or town-issued license that comes with oversight and accountability for sales of those products.
Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said she was excited to move forward with the new regulations, which were primarily passed to address Summit County’s high rate of teen vaping.
“I am hopeful we will see some good success in cessation,” Stiegelmeier said. “I am especially hopeful that will happen with our youth that have been hit really hard with rates of vaping. I think we have a lot of young people addicted to nicotine, and I think we will make progress in that realm.”
Commissioner Thomas Davidson said it appears the regulations are going into place smoothly as the deadline for retailers to apply for licenses loomed New Year’s Eve.
“Everything’s going to plan,” Davidson said. “We’ve had a lot of people apply for licenses for the next year.”
According to numbers provided by the county and town clerks for Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne, a total of 47 retailers have applied for a license in Summit. The breakdown has 17 applications in Breckenridge, 11 in Silverthorne, 10 on unincorporated county land, six in Frisco and three in Dillon.
Aside from tobacco, another local regulation will affect Frisco residents: A paper and plastic bag fee of 25 cents per bag will take effect Jan. 1. The ordinance, passed by Frisco town government, will require retailers to charge a 25 cent fee for each bag a customer uses to carry their goods away.
Statewide, there are a slate of new laws taking effect in 2020.
On the health care front, two new laws aiming to end surprise medical bills and cap the cost of insulin will take effect.
The medical bills legislation, HB19-1174, mandates a reasonable payment rate for bills when a consumer unknowingly gets out-of-network care.
The insulin legislation, HB19-1216, will cap the total copay for insulin at $100 per month. Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, said the passage of the bill was personally significant, as her husband is a Type I diabetic.
“I believe this bill is the first in the nation to provide this kind of relief,” McCluskie said. “It’s a great first step but not the solution to why it costs so much now than it did before.”
Another law that might be of interest to workers is the implementation of HB19-1267, the Preventing Wage Theft law, which will make it a felony for employers to illegally withhold wages from their employees. Until 2020, wage theft was a misdemeanor and prosecutors often balked at taking the cases to court. Now, if a boss illegally withholds $2,000 or more in wages, they can be charged with felony theft.
Also taking effect Wednesday will be the Zackari Parrish III Violence Prevention Act, also known as Colorado’s red flag law, which has proven very controversial in some parts of Colorado. The law will allow law enforcement or family members of a potentially violent or suicidal person to ask the court to issue an extreme risk protection order to temporarily remove guns from a person and their home. The person must appear to be exhibiting violent or dangerous behavior or be at significant risk for causing injury to others or themselves.
The bill saw opposition from gun rights advocates before and after its passage. Nearly half of Colorado’s 64 counties have passed resolutions declaring themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” that will refuse to enforce the extreme risk protection orders. The bill’s proponents, including McCluskie, see it is as a much overdue tool for law enforcement to prevent tragedies and protect public safety.
“I continue to support the effort to get firearms out of the hands of individuals threatening harm to themselves or others,” McCluskie said. “I believe this was a very responsible, measured step to protect and promote the health of individuals.”
Other laws going into effect Wednesday include measures to allow changes to gender identity on birth certificates, enhancing lobbyist transparency requirements, and marijuana legislation updates that allow for local marijuana credit unions and marijuana cafes or lounges.
Looking back at 2019, McCluskie felt the state Legislature made positive change in Colorado.
“It was a very exciting and transformative year for Colorado,” McCluskie said. “I think we moved forward on a number of issues, whether it be health care, environment, climate change or education. We moved forward in ways that really spoke to our values of protecting our Colorado way of life.”
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