'Mother of all false claims bills' dies in Senate

Monday, October 18, 2010

House Bill 1357, "the mother of all false claims bills" which would have subjected all state vendors to fines and penalties for erroneous billings — even when no "specific intent to defraud" could be demonstrated — died in the Colorado Senate on Tuesday, May 11. The bill was sponsored by Reps. Buffie McFadyen (D-Pueblo) and Joel Judd (D-Denver) and by Sens. Chris Romer (D-Denver) and Betty Boyd (D-Lakewood).

On a standing vote, a bipartisan block of Senators rose in opposition to HB 1357, sending it to defeat on a count of 13-20 with one senator absent/excused and Sen. Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass) presiding over Senate proceedings for the vote.

Voting against jackpot justice and for a sensible system of false claims regulation were:

  • Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray)
  • Sen. Bill Cadman (R-Colorado springs)
  • Sen. Joyce Foster (D-Denver)
  • Sen. Dan Gibbs (D-Silverthorne)
  • Sen. Ted Harvey (R-Highlands Ranch)
  • Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton)
  • Sen. Ken Kester (R-Las Animas)
  • Sen. Keith King (R-Colorado Springs)
  • Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud)
  • Sen. Shawn Mitchell (R-Broomfield)
  • Sen. Linda Newell (D-Littleton)
  • Sen. Josh Penry (R-Grand Junction)
  • Sen. Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley)
  • Sen. Mark Scheffel (R-Parker)
  • Sen. David Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs)
  • Sen. Nancy Spence (R-Centennial)
  • Sen. Lois Tochtrop (D-Thornton)
  • Sen. Al White (R-Hayden)
  • Sen. Bruce Whitehead (D-Hesperus)
  • Sen. Suzanne Williams (D-Aurora)

Meanwhile, another false claims bill limited to Medicaid fraud, Senate Bill 167 (Sen. Betty Boyd D-Lakewood, Rep. Jim Riesberg D-Greeley), passed its final hurdle when the Senate voted to accept House amendments. The bill now goes to Gov. Ritter for consideration.

Although CCJL initially opposed SB 167, sponsors accepted a number of amendments proposed by CCJL in Senate Health & Human Services Committee, after which CCJL adopted a "neutral" position on the bill.

House kills bill to expand employwer lawsuits

Monday, October 18, 2010

A bill that would have imposed broad new litigation risk to large and small employers alike died on a bipartisan vote today in the Colorado House of Representatives.

House Bill 1269 sought for the first time to expand claims for pain and suffering and punitive damages, as well as imposing attorney fees, on small businesses, while creating the opportunity for plaintiffs attorneys to "forum shop" between federal and state courts.

The bill previously passed two House committees on strict party-line votes with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition. However, a group of Democrats — motivated by the potential cost to business and the discriminatory manner in which the bill failed to extend its "protections" to public sector workers — came together to defeat the bill on a standing vote. Bill sponsor Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) chose not to attempt to revive the bill with a recorded vote later in the morning.

For the past two years, the business lobby has worked to defeat, albeit narrowly, bills similar to HB 1269. Rep. Levy has recently expressed a desire to discuss the issue during the summer to determine if any common ground can be found between the bill's backers and Colorado employers.

A broad business coalition — including Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, National Federation of Independent Business, Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, Colorado Competitiveness Council, Colorado Concern and Colorado Hospital Association, among others — worked with CCJL to rally opposition and explain the threat that HB 1269 posed to the state's employers.

Reps. Joe Rice (D-Littleton), Edward Casso (D-Thornton), Wes McKinley (D-Walsh), Christine Scanlan (D-Dillon), Jim Riesberg (D-Greeley) and Kathleen Curry (U-Gunnison) joined all Republicans to oppose the bill.