House Bill 16-1201 ("HB 1201"), which was introduced by Representative Yeulin Willett (R-Grand Junction) to address a gaping loophole used by folks to keep a dog in HOAs which ban them, was killed by the Democrats in the House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee last week on a 7 to 6 party line vote.
HB 1201 would have regulated how licensed professionals in Colorado must approach providing recommendations for emotional support animals (also commonly referred to as "emotional assistance animals" and "companion animals") under the Colorado Fair Housing Act. In particular, this bill would have required that licensed physicians, physician assistants, nurses, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors and addiction counselors must make the following findings prior to recommending that an individual should be permitted to have an emotional support animal:
1. The licensed professional must make a finding that the individual requesting the emotional assistance animal has a disability as defined by Colorado law or that there is insufficient information available to make a determination that the individual has a disability; and
2. The licensed professional must actually meet with the individual requesting an emotional support animal, prior to making a finding of whether the person has a disability which necessitates the emotional support animal.
The bill also defined a companion or emotional support animal as "an animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability."
House Bill 16-1308 ("HB 1308") was just introduced to address the issue of service animals (which are limited to trained dogs and miniature horses) under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). While the issue of service animals under the ADA rarely applies to HOAs in Colorado (with the exception of some condominium hotels), HB 1308 would make it a misdemeanor for an individual to fraudulently misrepresent their animal as being a service animal, or a service animal in training, for the purpose of bringing that animal into a place of public accommodation.
Stay tuned for updates on HB 1308 as it proceeds through the legislative process.