Q&A w/ Josie Faix, Chair of SRC of CBA's Trust & Estates
COMMITTEE ON STATUTORY REVISION COMMITTEE
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09:04 AM -- Q & A w/ Josie Faix, current Chair of the SRC of the CBA's Trust & Estate SectionCBA_SRCWebpages.pdf
09:04 AM -- Ms. Faix and Mr. Schupbach testified about the Statutory Revisions Committee of the CBA.
Ms. Faix, chair of the Statutory Revisions Committee, explained that there are several sections in the CBA that deal with real estate, and each section functions differently. Trust and Estates, for example, has evolved to create a number of standing committees that deal with issues, and the Statutory Revisions Committee is the oldest. Their committee has a number of functions, but the primary is to allow folks within their area of law to bring issues of concern, corrections, and conflicts in the law-- issues they think need to be cleaned up, as opposed to policy changes. They also have people who will come to them with ideas that are changes to the way they practice law and deal with uniform laws. Ms. Faix provided an example and explained how her committee compares to how the SRC functions. She mentioned the collaborative nature of her own and the other subcommittees.
Mr. Schupbach, Legislative Director of the Colorado Bar Association, then explained that the Trust & Estate Section’s Statutory Revisions Committee is set up as the first vehicle of collaboration towards incremental improvements in the law. The issues they bite off are thoroughly vetted, not unlike the charge of the Statutory Revision Committee. They're not major policy decisions, but rather clean up and more incremental improvements to various sections of the probate code. He reiterated Ms. Faix’s point that collaboration between sections of the bar and communication with stakeholders is crucial.
Ms. Faix added that another part of what the Statutory Revisions Committee does is react to legislation that they did not create. In those cases, it is easier, and the work product is better, to be given sufficient lead time. Ms. Faix also requested that the SRC reach out to her. She wants her committee to serve the SRC well and not run out of steam as legislation moves through the season--even if it's last minute, they would still love to have an opportunity to voice their thoughts, from the practitioner side, of a bill the SRC thinks might impact their area.
Mr. Schupbach closed by saying that he knows that the SRC will take many different ideas from staff and other folks, but he's been sharing the SRC's charge to attorneys throughout the state, to give them an overview of its charge, so that if they have potential areas of law they would like the SRC to look at, to reach out to the CBA as well in a collaborative fashion, to make sure that the CBA is a resource and a tool of the SRC as they evaluate proposed bills. Mr. Shupbach and Ms. Faix also mentioned a potential SRC bill relating to the Uniform Trust Decanting Act.
Senator Steadman then asked why other sections, besides the Trust and Estates Section, hadn't also developed a Statutory Revisions Committee. Ms. Faix explained that Trust & Estates is dominated by solo and small firms, there's not as many of the big firms that focus on this kind of work, which might explain that the small firms either have more time to focus on this issue or that they need to work collaboratively to get the kind of assistance and work done that you might find within a larger firm. She added that their area of the law is also very technical; they have a lot of tax provisions and complicated pieces within their code, and they impact the day-to-day practitioner who is doing even just small probates. In addition, when the Uniform Probate Code was adopted, it brought people together because it was such a huge change to Colorado law. However, she wasn't sure why other sections hadn't adopted the same process.
Senator Holbert then commented that the scope of the SRC is narrow compared with the Statutory Revisions Committee, and one of the concerns he had when the bill to recreate the committee was introduced last year was that it could create a new avenue to run bills that don't count against legislators' five bills. Some of the earliest ideas that were sent to him as possibilities for this committee didn't fit in the scope of obsolescence, duplication, or contradiction. Mr. Schupbach answered that they absolutely recognize the scope of the SRC and are not treating it as a new vehicle for the creation of law--they see it as a potential area for corrections, which in some cases might not be removal of obsolete law but an error in the law--and they're not encouraging any other section of the CBA to view the SRC in this way. Anything policy- or procedurally oriented, or just an improvement to the law in general, would be run through the normal five-bill pattern. He added that the CBA worked with the sponsors of the bill creating the SRC, Chairperson Moreno and Senator Martinez Humenik, to make sure that two nonvoting members would be added to the SRC to add additional, bipartisan legal expertise.
Chairperson Moreno then commented that the SRC is a fairly new (or renewed) committee, and asked what the Statutory Revisions Committee has learned that could benefit the SRC. Ms. Faix answered that the homework that can be done ahead of time, so that you present the changes clearly, having that narrative of the change and why it's needed, so that other people don't have to do that homework. So that you can be as efficient as you can. Mr. Schupbach echoed that advice. Early work with other sections or other invested stakeholders is critical to the Statutory Revisions Committee--not moving forward with an idea in isolation and potentially surprising a group of stakeholders in January will be critical to your success.
Senator Holbert then asked Kate Meyer, OLLS, to discuss what committees the SRC bills would be assigned to, since the SRC isn't a committee of reference. Senator Holbert mentioned bringing up in the executive summary the subject matter and which committee may be assigned the bill to potentially provide direction. Ms. Meyer mentioned commented that while the SRC has no direct say in which committees the SRC bills will be assigned to, the SRC is required to produce an annual report and it can, along with that report, attach any legislation the SRC is recommending. The report is sent to every member of the General Assembly. Senator Holbert said he thought the report would be adequate, but that he struggled with the idea that they would share the ideas about the bills in SRC hearings, whether there could be some subject matter flagging, like in an executive summary. Ms. Meyer explained that the bill summaries, plain English narratives that precede the text of each piece of legislation, can be useful in this situation and helpful to leadership when assigning bills to their committees of reference. She added that if the SRC would like staff to share particular pieces of legislation with particular members of the general assembly or stakeholders, that staff would be happy to do so.
Senator Holbert also suggested sharing the bills with the chairs of the committees and asking for feedback, that that kind of flagging could be useful. Kristen Forrestal, OLLS, then added that it could be appropriate to flag issues by bill title in the report, but that OLLS staff cannot attempt to influence where a bill is assigned. Chairperson Moreno then commented that the SRC has a unique ability with the reestablished committee to set the expectation with legislative leadership that they would consult with members of the committee on where these bills might be best assigned, being that the SRC have the expertise and know the issue and could provide that guidance.