The 2023 Colorado General Assembly session ended on May 9th. Legislators introduced 617 individual bills and 474 of these bills ultimately became law. This session was an especially active year for the MAC. The MAC Legislative Committee, Chaired by Mike Maday, successfully lobbied and testified on a number of important bills.
There were two bills introduced that ultimately became law that specifically required mediation. A basic principle of the MAC’s legislative program is to support legislation that encourages or requires the use of mediation. House Bill 23-1120 requires landlords with more than five properties to engage in mediation prior to filing an eviction suit against a tenant receiving certain types of government assistance. We believe this is the first time ever that mediation would be required by state law prior to filing a lawsuit. Required mediations will be compensated and scheduled through the Office of Dispute Resolution.
Senate Bill 23-105 orders the Colorado Department of Labor to establish a complaint and mediation process for alleged violations of the equal pay statute. The previous law simply allowed the Department to establish a mediation program, but when they failed to do so, this legislation was introduced to require the Department to set up a program.
There were several bills that dealt with judicial officer training regarding domestic and child abuse in family law cases. House Bill 23-1108 creates a task force to study and develop training requirements for judicial officers, and House Bill 23-1178 requires training. Originally, both bills incorrectly included mediators as judicial officers and the MAC successfully got amendments to correctly reflect the independent role of mediators. At the same time, the MAC was able to explain the crucial role mediators play in resolving family law cases. While we were not able to get a specific requirement to appoint a mediator to the training task force created by HB 23-1108, the MAC will be able to provide testimony once the task force convenes.
Under House Bill 23-1178, mediators in family law cases will not be subject to a training requirement. However, mediators will be required to provide information on what training they have received. This legislation is a first step toward formal state regulation of mediators, and the MAC believes it is vital that professional mediators take the lead in this process rather than waiting for requirements to be imposed on our profession.
Another example of the MAC promoting mediation was an opportunity presented by House Bill 23-1026. This legislation involved the issue of family time for grandparents. The MAC requested and got an amendment that specifically referenced CDRA in this legislation.
The MAC also supported House Bill 23-1280 that codified the statewide Access to Justice Commission. The Access to Justice Commission has consistently supported mediation as a means of assisting litigants in more efficiently and fairly resolving litigation. The Commission understands and promotes the value of mediation, especially when parties do not have legal representation.
The MAC would like to build on our successes in 2023 and be even more engaged in legislation in the future. We urge our members to look for further updates and actively add your voice to the legislative process. Your involvement will ensure mediation is understood as a valuable and growing profession!
In order to prepare for the 2023-24 Legislative Session the MAC is holding three working sessions in conjunction with the CBA’s ADR Section to discuss our profession in the Legislative arena for next year. We look forward to having open discussions about what we can prepare for and what to expect as our relative organizations work towards promoting, upholding and growing mediation into the best profession it can be. Those dates/times are:
- Tuesday, July 25th at 12PM MST
- Tuesday, August 22th at 12PM MST
- Tuesday, October 3rd at 12PM MST
We will provide more details around how to attend these discussions in the coming weeks.
All the best,
The MAC Legislative Committee
End of Session Report