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New Colorado laws for 2018: Teen sexting, pot growing and more

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Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 6:24 PM
A new law is in effect that changes the number of plants people are allowed to grow in their home.

A new year means new laws to think about. Here are some of the more notable that will go into effect Monday, after winning passage during the 2017 legislative session:

Teen sextingHouse Bill 1302 makes it a petty offense for minors over 14 to possess a nude image of another teen without their consent. Sharing such an image further could result in up to two years in jail. The law also makes it so that prosecutors can’t charge minors who sext with child pornography, except in extreme cases. Reporter Sam Brasch took an in-depth look at the issue a few years ago.

Home marijuana growsSome medical marijuana patients had been allowed to have up to 99 plants grown for them by a caregiver or in their own home. But House Bill 17-1220 changes that to 12 plants for a home grow, with an exception up to 24 plants for seriously ill medical marijuana patients.

“I think that when the voters supported this measure, they didn’t intend for people to be growing hundreds of plants in their house,” said state Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, who co-sponsored the bill.

Price estimates for medical careAll health care providers in the state must now publish price estimates for their most common procedures, under Senate Bill 17-65. The bill, which had bipartisan support, is meant to give would-be patients more power to shop between providers. “It’s not just the patient knowing what it’s going to cost them,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, one of the bill’s sponsors. “Far too often, doctors have no idea. And I want to get that conversation going.”

Prices are now posted on hospitals’ websites, said Carol Welch, spokeswoman for Colorado Hospital Association. And providers that don’t have a website must provide a one-page document with those estimates. She also advised consumers to check with their insurance company to see what it covers.

Hit-and-run driversHouse Bill 17-1277 allows police officers to immediately seize the license of a driver suspected of leaving the scene of a serious accident. Drivers will be able to contest the suspension. Leaving the scene of an accident that causes serious injury or death is already a felony in Colorado.

Timely court hearingsHouse Bill 17-1338 guarantees timely court hearings for defendants sitting in local jails on small charges, like trespassing or public urination. In some counties, such defendants have waited days to go to court.

“There are a lot of people in our jail not because they present a safety threat, but because they just don’t have the money to pay the toll to get out,” said Denise Maes at the American Civil Liberties Union, who pushed for the bipartisan bill last year.

The law requires in-custody municipal defendants be brought to court within two calendar days after the judge is told about the detention.

Bonus: minimum wage increaseSome workers will get a pay raise of 90 cents Monday, from $9.30 to $10.20 an hour. The bump in the minimum wage is not because of legislation out of the Capitol, but rather because of voter-approved Amendment 70. By the final year of the plan, in 2020, it will grow to $12 an hour.

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