Letter: Colorado needs to strengthen the state’s consumer protection laws | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: Colorado needs to strengthen the state’s consumer protection laws

Colorado’s consumer protection laws are some of the “weakest in the nation,” according to the National Consumer Law Center. HB-1192 at the legislature sponsored by Rep. Mike Weissman and Sens. Julie Gonzales and Robert Rodriguez will do something to fix this. The bill has already passed the House with the support of Rep. Meghan Lukens and awaits a vote from the Senate Judiciary Committee on which Sen. Dylan Roberts serves.

Under current law, Coloradans don’t have the same legal tools as other states in fighting corporate abuse and fraud. This leaves Coloradans more vulnerable to big banks charging excessive fees, auto dealers selling junk cars, landlords using illegal rent terms to intimidate their tenants, nursing homes exploiting residents by charging excessive amounts for medication, employers misclassifying their workers, and many other forms of corporate abuse. Consumer protection laws play a critical role in keeping businesses and sellers honest and responsible. But Colorado’s laws aren’t up to the task. 

Colorado’s laws require that a seller must have “knowingly and recklessly” violated the law. Only two other states have a requirement of showing prior knowledge or intent. This means that consumers have to jump over unreasonable hurdles to prove the mental state of the corporation that committed fraud. It’s almost impossible for a consumer to know what was in the mind of a corporation.

Colorado is one of only six other states that requires that consumers demonstrate “substantial public impact.” Not only does a consumer have to prove that they were the victim of abuse and deception, they also have to prove that the misconduct targeted the public broadly.

Restrictive and outdated laws mean that Coloradans who are victims of fraud have very little recourse while big businesses thrive off of predatory practices. Through common sense updates, HB-1192 would provide Coloradans greater protections when they purchase and use products and services and will hold bad actors accountable.

The bill is supported by advocates such as the ACLU, AARP, and CCHI and opposed by major corporate interests. I commend Rep. Lukens and a large majority of her colleagues in the House who voted to pass the bill. I urge Sen. Roberts to support this bill as it comes before his committee. His vote is crucial to move the bill forward in as strong a form as possible and towards passage in the Senate.

Norma Ruth Ryan

Steamboat Springs

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