Vail Law: It’s a new year – here are some new laws
It may have occurred to the more astute of you that, other than to be obstreperous, the job description of a legislator is to, well, legislate – to make and enact laws. And so, as the Times Square confetti is still being swept, the BCS system still being cursed, and the discordance of “Auld Lang Syne” is still ringing in your ears, we awaken to the new year with a passel of new laws.In addition to the zillion legal dos and don’ts already on the books, the following laws, in one way or another, took effect Jan. 1 and may affect your lives. At least one or two, I’m sure, will make you scratch your head and ask “who would’ve thought we needed a new law for that?” The new laws are ones which provide that:• An “information officer” will be established in the Colorado Division of Real Estate, whose duties will include advising the public on the rights and duties of homeowners and homeowner associations. The costs will be paid through a mandatory registration for homeowners associations. With a handful of exceptions, every association (whether or not they are declarant controlled), except voluntary associations, will be required to register on a yearly basis.• Home builders of residential, detached, single-family homes must offer customers the option of water-conserving toilets, faucets and showerheads.• Insurance companies must cover oral chemotherapy drugs and make them available to policy holders at the same price charge for intravenous chemotherapy drugs.• State and private prisons and local jails in this state may use restraints on pregnant inmates during labor and delivery or if their use is medically necessary for safe childbirth or if the inmate poses a threat of harm to herself or the medical staff or poses a substantial risk of escape. Leg shackles or waist restraints are strictly forbidden during labor and delivery.• The annual cost-of-living increases provided to members of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association will be reduced. Retirees will see their annual increase drop from 3.5 percent to 2 percent. What’s more, retirement ages will go up, as will the number of years of service which are required before a government worker may retire and collect a government pension.• Colorado’s minimum wage will go up to track with federal law. If you’re a minimum wage earner, you will see your hourly increase a whopping 12 cents, to $7.36. If you are a tipped minimum wage earner, you will realize the same 12-cent increase and your before-tips minimum will rise from $4.22 to $4.34 an hour.• New laws go into effect regarding 2011 Wildlife Habitat Stamps.Many of the new laws that are formally adopted into law beginning Jan. 1 will not actually go into effect until August, 90 days after the end of the 2011 legislative session.Along with the new Colorado laws, come a stampede”of new federals, perhaps most significant among them – at least on an individual basis – several aspects of the new heath care legislation. Beginning this year:• Insurance carriers must spend at least 80 percent of the money received from premiums on patient care.• Medicare will provide no-cost screening to seniors for cancer and other diseases.• Prescription drug discounts will be offered to seniors in order to help fill Medicare’s “doughnut hole.”• The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation will be established in an effort to slow down escalating health care costs.While much of what’s new is not particularly earth-shattering, much of what’s new will in one way or another affect your life or the lives of those around you. Each new year, there’s more and more. Hopefully, this year’s new load will point in an ever brighter and more enlightened direction.Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the Bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley. His practice areas include: business & commercial transactions, real estate & development, homeowner’s associations, family law & divorce and civil litigation. He may be heard on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) and seen on ECO TV18 as host of “Community Focus.” Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at email@example.com.