DENVER – A handful of Colorado laws will take effect either by the end of this month or as of Jan. 1 next year that will bring major changes for drivers, workers and the terminally-ill, among others.
PROPOSITION 106 – MEDICAL AID IN DYING
The first law to come into effect is likely to be the “right-to-die” measure, Proposition 106, which was approved by voters in the Nov. 8 General Election.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams certified the state’s election results and signed off on the measure late last week.
Now, Gov. John Hickenlooper has 30 days to sign the measure, and other successful ballot measures, into state law. Should he not sign off on the successful measures, they will automatically become law after the 30-day deadline.
But Hickenlooper is expected to sign Proposition 106 by the end of the month.
Voters approved Proposition 106 by 64.9 percent. Terminally-ill patients seeking end-of-life prescriptions will be able to start requesting them as soon as Hickenlooper certifies the results.
The proposition would change Colorado statutes to allow any “mentally-capable” adult aged 18+ with a diagnosed terminal illness that leaves them six months or less to live to receive a prescription from a licensed physician that can be taken voluntarily to end their life.
The person’s primary physician and a secondary physician would both have to confirm the person has six or fewer months to live, and would also have to be deemed mentally-capable enough to make the end-of-life decision by two physicians as well.
The change in statute would create immunity from civil or criminal lawsuits, as well as from professional discipline, for the physicians aiding the patient in dying. Under current law, those physicians face felony manslaughter charges for doing so.
But it would also be a class-2 felony for anyone to tamper with a request for the end-of-life medication or coerce a patient into making an end-of-life decision
Colorado is the fifth state to legalize similar measures. Oregon, California, Vermont and Washington already have similar laws on their books. Montana's law books leave the question open as to whether such measures are legal in the state.
MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE KICKS IN JAN. 1
Another ballot measure that will go into effect almost immediately will be the state minimum wage hike – which was approved by 55.4 percent of voters in November under its ballot moniker, Amendment 70.
Starting Jan. 1, the statewide minimum wage will change to $9.30 per hour for non-tipped workers. It will rise by $0.90 per hour each year until it reaches $12 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020.
The current minimum wage for non-tipped workers is $8.31 per hour and $5.29 for tipped workers. Starting Jan. 1, tipped workers will make $6.28 per hour. Colorado law mandates tipped wages remain set at $3.02 less than non-tipped wages.
By 2020, the minimum wage for tipped workers will be $8.98.
The current federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour for non-tipped workers and $2.13 per hour for tipped workers.
Starting in 2021, the minimum wage will again be tied back to the state’s consumer price index, though Amendment 70 would change the constitution to prevent a decrease in the minimum wage if the cost of living falls.
THREE-PERSON HOV LANE REQUIREMENTS START JAN. 1
Also beginning on New Year’s Day will be the three-person requirement in order to use the HOV express lanes between Denver and Boulder.
Currently, drivers only need one passenger to use the lanes, but the Colorado Department of Transportation made the new plans to require an extra passenger in 2013.
CDOT told Denver7 earlier this month the three-person requirement will keep the lanes from getting too crowded, and that toll revenue generated by users will help offset the costs of building and maintaining the lanes.
Anyone who breaks the new three-person rule is subject to a $250 fine.
NEW RULES FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROWERS, CAREGIVERS
Also set to become effective Jan. 1 are new rules for medical marijuana growers and primary caregivers for medical marijuana patients passed in a bill in 2015.
Starting Jan. 1, primary caregivers will be the only person allowed to grow and provide medical marijuana to a patient if they utilize a caregiver. Licensed medical marijuana growers will also be allowed to sell medical pot.
But the primary caregivers growing medical marijuana will have to register the location of their grow, their patients’ registration numbers in the medical program and plant counts with the state.
Transporters will also have to tell the state the number of plants or amount of medical marijuana going to each patient, as well as who the product is going to.
Primary caregivers will also be limited to growing and transporting up to 36 plants unless their patients have an extended plant count. They will be limited to 99 plants even with the extended count.
Also included in that bill and set to go into effect Jan. 1 is a voluntary patient registration for people growing more than six plants. They are allowed to grow up to 99 plants. The law says any information from voluntary registrants will be kept private, though their grow locations would be verified by the state.
The law says most of the new facets going into effect Jan. 1 are aimed at protecting growers and patients from law enforcement operations targeting illegal grows, after some agencies voiced concerns over a lack of knowledge of who was growing legally and who wasn’t.