At long last, today is the final day of the 2011 Colorado Legislative Session. All in all, it was a good session for HOAs in Colorado. Unfortunately, the HOA registration clean-up bill (“SB 253”) was derailed by the House Majority Leader at the 11th hour.
SB 253, backed by CAI’s Colorado Legislative Action Committee (“CLAC”), was introduced to clean-up and clarify provisions of HB 10-1278 which last year created the HOA Information and Resource Center and HOA Registration – both of which are under the auspices of the Colorado Division of Real Estate. As fully discussed in our April 21st blog posting, SB 253 was intended to provide clarity and protection for HOAs from unnecessary litigation and potential legal exposure relating to the statutorily flawed registration requirement.
Following weeks of laying the foundation for the clean-up bill in both the House and Senate, it was determined that the bill would garner sufficient support from Democrats and Republicans to merit introduction. In fact, some legislators chuckled about the fact that they have never known so much about a bill before it was ever introduced!
On April 21st, SB 253 was introduced in the Colorado Senate. With bi-partisan support on a 7 to 2 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee referred the bill with no amendments to the full Senate for consideration. On May 2nd, the Democratic-controlled Senate with the support of some Republicans – passed SB 253 on 3rd reading. On May 5th, SB 253 was formally introduced in the House. The following day, the Republican-controlled House Committee on Economic and Business Development unanimously referred the bill with a favorable recommendation to the full House for consideration. At this point, it seemed certain that SB 253 had sufficient support from Democrats and Republicans to make it through the House to Governor Hickenlooper’s desk.
Early Monday evening, CLAC received word from the House Majority Leader that SB 253 was in trouble and she was not planning to calendar the bill for Tuesday to be considered by the House on 2nd reading. Since a bill must be approved by the House on 2nd and 3rd readings – which cannot take place on the same day – we knew that we had to do everything possible to get the bill on the calendar for Tuesday. With the General Assembly adjourning on Wednesday, we wouldn’t have a second chance. Members of CLAC kicked it into high gear to get the bill on the calendar. No stone was left unturned and no card was left on the table.
Unfortunately, based upon a single constituent concern with the bill, the Majority Leader refused to place the bill on the calendar yesterday. In fact, insult was added to injury when the bill was placed on the calendar for today to be considered by the House on 2nd reading. This was a clear signal that the bill was being killed, since there would be no opportunity for the House to consider the bill on 3rd reading.
Does the House Majority Leader have the ability to set the calendar and to unilaterally determine the fate of a bill? Yes. Is this one of the benefits of being the party in power? Yes.
However, if you will permit me to go back in time to my idealistic and naïve days in College when I truly believed the role of government was to act in the best interests of the citizenship, I have to ask the following rhetorical questions:
●When a bill has unanimous bi-partisan support coming out of a committee; shouldn’t that bill be placed on the calendar to be considered by the full House?
●Should the concern of a single constituent be sufficient to derail a bill that would provide certainty and important protections for every HOA in Colorado?
●Should one individual in the legislative branch of government have the power to determine the fate of a bill?
While SB 253 is most certainly not the only casualty of end-of-session politics, it’s disappointing to know that HOAs will be forced to face a year of uncertainty, potential litigation and significant penalties resulting from the flawed HOA registration requirement. The bottom line is this could have and should have been fixed.
I suspect by tomorrow, my idealism will have faded and I’ll once again join the ranks of the politically jaded. However, before I go there – I would like to send out a big thanks to all of the legislators in the Colorado House and Senate who supported SB 253 and HOAs during this legislative session. In particular, a special thanks goes out to Representative Angela Williams (the House sponsor of the bill) who did everything possible to get the bill on the calendar yesterday. Sufficient thanks and kudos cannot be given to CLAC’s amazing lobbyist – Amy Redfern – for her masterful job this session and tireless dedication to HOA issues. Finally, HOAs would be in sad shape legislatively in Colorado without the relentless and dedicated commitment of CLAC members.
Before we know it, the 2012 legislative session will be upon us. Now is the time to reflect and rest . . . at least for a few days!