Two dozen new laws go into effect with the start of the new year. Here are four that could affect many Coloradans:
Child sex assault survivors can now sue institutions that enabled their abuse
The Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act ends the statute of limitations for survivors to sue their abuser, and allows them to bring a lawsuit again a school district, youth group or other institution that should have known they were putting young participants at risk.
The new law opens up a window for the next three years for survivors to sue over abuse going back to 1960. Then, starting in 2025, old cases will no longer be eligible for new suits, but there won’t be any limit on the time survivors of new crimes will have to bring their cases.
“A lot of times when kids are assaulted at a very young age, they kind of stay silent,” said Democratic Sen. Rhonda Fields, one of the new law’s main sponsors. “It’s just not fair that (the old law said) you should produce your evidence within two years or five years… because we have survivors living with this their whole lives.”
Drivers who owe court fees or miss hearing dates are no longer at risk of losing their license
Colorado is joining the list of states moving away from using the threat of driver’s license suspensions to get people to pay fines and attend court hearings. Starting in the new year, only infractions related to driving — like piling up speeding tickets — will lead to a lost license.
Advocates for the change argue that taking away people’s ability to legally drive can often trap them in a cycle of trouble with the legal system. The state is now looking at other approaches it could take to ensure they come to court and pay their fines.
New limits for cannabis concentrates, younger medical marijuana patients
Medical cannabis users will find some new rules when they make their purchases. The amount of concentrated product people 21 years and older can buy in a single day with their medical card is dropping to eight grams, the same limit that’s already been in place for recreational customers. For medical card holders 18 to 21 years old, the amount is even smaller: two grams per day.
Lawmakers put the new limits in place out of concern that younger medical card holders may be contributing to teenager users getting their hands on highly potent marijuana products. As part of this effort, the state is instituting new requirements for tracking of cannabis purchases, to try to prevent medical users from going to multiple stores to circumvent the daily limit.
Younger card holders can still purchase higher amounts of concentrates with a doctor’s recommendation.
New consumer protections
Companies with auto-renewing contracts — think newspaper subscriptions or yard-care services — will now have to provide their customers with more information about how their policies work, more warning before they renew, and an easy way to cancel.
Additionally, Colorado’s banking regulators will now have the ability to oversee the non-bank lenders that have come to dominate the mortgage market. It’s a power the federal government already has, but Colorado is one of the last states to put its own rules in place.
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