Colorado’s last legislative session ended less than two months ago, but preparations for the 2023 session are already underway.
The Larimer County commissioners have agreed on four items to submit to Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI) for consideration and inclusion among its legislative priorities. The ICC, a nonprofit organization that advises counties across the state and helps coordinate their efforts, creates a list, usually between six and eight items, that it will actively push for passage through the legislature.
Larimer County staff suggested the articles to county commissioners, who approved them for submission to the CCI during their administrative matters meeting Tuesday morning.
The four elements include: an incentive program for participation in a voluntary agricultural district; a bill that would allow the sheriff’s office to hire auction services for foreclosure sales; a bill that would allow people facing civil child protection actions for addiction and neglect to be required to undergo sex offender treatment; and a bill that would ensure attorney-client communications are not subject to public records requests.
Child protection bill explained by director of social services Heather O’Hayre as a way for officials to deal with sexual assault cases that do not meet the level of criminal action to always impose the treatment of sex offenders.
“There’s often a criminal case as well as an addiction and neglect case,” O’Hayre said. “But the threshold for proving the criminal case is different from the dependency and neglect case. So sometimes if the criminal case doesn’t move forward, we lose the ability to depend and neglect to demand that high level of treatment.
The attorney-client privilege bill was prompted by a recent court ruling that ruled that such communications were subject to the Colorado Open Records Act and could be disclosed if requested to do so under that law.
The action the county is suggesting to CCI would ensure that these communications would not be subject to Colorado’s open records laws.
Commissioners worried about the implications of such a move, and chair Kristin Stephens asked if it represented a “slippery slope” that would limit transparency.
“I think it’s a slippery slope problem, actually both ways,” Larimer County District Attorney Bill Ressue said. “On the one hand, our interest is to ensure that the lawyer-client communication, this privilege is protected without exception. I think on the other hand, the focus of the court in the case that was referenced, the interests of the person who was the subject of the email. So I see it from different angles.
An appeal of the case is pending, Ressue said, which if that appeal overturns the decision would render a legislative response unnecessary.
The four papers and others submitted by other counties will be reviewed at a virtual meeting hosted by CCI on Friday, July 15.