Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am filing with the Secretary of State Senate Bill 217 "Concerning The Mitigation Of Potential Health Hazards Posed By An Illegal Drug Laboratory." I will neither sign nor veto S.B. 217. Therefore, this bill becomes law at 12:01 A.M. on June 9. This letter sets forth my reasons for letting this bill become law without my signature.
S.B. 217 would revise Colorado's statues governing illegal drug laboratories. The bill's original intent was to clarify the standards and rules for cleanup of illegal drug laboratories. However, during the legislative process, some provisions were added which have the potential to create different cleanup standards in jurisdictions throughout the state and unfairly impose liability on property owners. It is my hope that during the 2006 legislative session the issues outlined in this letter will be revisited.
The bill expands the definition of "governing body" for the purposes of illegal drug laboratories. In the absence of agency designation by the City Council or Board of County Commissioners, S.B. 217 delegates the role of governing body to the Health Department, Building Department and Law Enforcement Agency with jurisdiction over the property in question. Such a broad definition, which grants multiple agencies authority over the cleanup process, has the potential to create different cleanup standards throughout the state. This could cause problems for property owners with property located in several jurisdictions, due to lack of regulatory certainty.
In some instances, S.B. 217 would require the owner of a structure or vehicle to secure another individual's personal property. The bill gives personal property owners ten days to remove their belongings after the discovery of contamination. If the personal property owner is unable to remove the belongings, the onus to remove, secure and clean the personal property lies with the owner of the structure or vehicle, resulting in liability for theft or exposure of another person to dangerous chemicals. This liability properly resides with the personal property owner.
S.B. 217 requires the owner of a contaminated structure or vehicle to prevent access to the property by anyone unless the person is trained or certified to handle contaminated property under board rules or federal law. This provision is dangerous and confusing as it turns property owners into police. It would require property owners to become familiar with the certification and training process and make sure that they do not mistakenly grant someone access that is improperly trained or presents a false certification.
Accordingly, I let this bill become law.
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