Colo. Gov. Signs ‘Commonsense Consumption’ Act; Approves HSA, Tort Reform Bills

May 19, 2004

Calling it a “preemptive measure that defends a key industry from frivolous lawsuits,” Gov. Bill Owens has signed the Commonsense Consumption Act.

“Today, Colorado has taken preemptive action against those who would unfairly target the fast food industry for personal gain. When people make wrong decisions, including overindulging in French fries, it is only fair that they take responsibility for their actions,” Owens said.

HB 1150, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Hefley (R-Colorado Springs) and Sen. Mark Hillman (R-Burlington), prohibits customers from filing lawsuits against fast food restaurants for obesity or weight gain resulting from consumption of their products.

“Frivolous lawsuits impose a heavy toll on consumers,” Owens said. “They affect the bottom line, as companies incur costs that ultimately result in higher prices.”

Also, the Governor approved legislation allowing employers and employees to open Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

“The Medicare bill passed by Congress last year created an important new vehicle to help consumers and businesses obtain some relief from soaring health insurance costs. The legislation I am signing today allows Coloradans to take advantage of this innovative reform,” Owens said.

SB-94 was sponsored by Sen. Bob Hagedorn (D-Aurora) and Rep. Lola Spradley (R-Beulah).

With an HSA, a high-deductible insurance plan is coupled with a savings account that can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses not covered by insurance. Employees and employers can contribute to the HSA and those funds may be invested in certificates of deposit, money market or mutual funds, and other investment vehicles.

Investment earnings are tax-free and funds may be withdrawn tax-free to pay for qualified medical expenses. Unlike similar plans in the past, unused funds can roll forward to the next year.

“Because HSAs are coupled with high-deductible insurance plans, consumers can save money on premiums,” Owens commented. “Also, your health savings account belongs to you, following you if you change jobs and even if you move to another state.”

A third bill signed by the Governor creates a retail sales tax database.

“Multiple taxing jurisdictions create confusion which can result in a company charging the wrong amount of sales tax. This is a simple solution to a knotty problem that has harmed business for years,” Owens said.

With the database, companies will be able to enter the zip code from the delivery address and charge the correct amount.

HB 1237 was sponsored by Rep. Michael May (R-Parker) and Sen. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Owens signed a fourth bill that prevents the awarding of non-economic damages in breach-of-contract cases, unless the parties clearly anticipated non-economic damages when they made their agreement.

“This bill restores predictability and stability to business contracts. It means a lot to people who want to do business in Colorado,” Owens added.

SB 115 was sponsored by Sen. Jim Dyer (R-Littleton) and Rep. Shawn Mitchell (R-Broomfield).

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