Legislators rein in unlicensed car dealers

DENVER — What the Legislature couldn’t get done last year they appear poised to do easily this session, with regard to cracking down on unlicensed car dealers selling vehicles at vacant lots, a practice known as curbstoning.

Exactly like last year’s bill, this year’s measure would increase fines for individuals and corporations that engage in the illegal practice.

Under HB1249, which cleared the House earlier this month and won preliminary approval in the Senate on Thursday, unlicensed dealers attempting to sell vehicles on the curbside would continue to face current law, which makes it a class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail.

For individuals, the bill would increase the fine for each violation to be up to $1,000 and 25 hours of community service. For a corporation, that fine would go up to $25,000 for each separate offense. Judges imposing such fines would not have the ability to suspend them.

The bill defines an unlicensed dealer operating in a vacant lot as a new or used car dealer, wholesaler, buyer’s agent, wholesale motor vehicle auction dealer or a motor vehicle salesperson.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, and Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Denver, both of whom introduced last year’s bill, said the practice seems to be growing around the state.

“Some people, I think, thought that more penalties were just more weight of government, so it took another session to get through that,” Tate said of why the bill died in a Senate committee last year after clearing the House. “The feeling is, with the increased penalties and then revenues from the penalties going both to law enforcement as well as the licensing board that has some oversight, that there will be more overall and better enforcement of this.”

Recent studies show that there are more than 3,000 curbstoning sites in the state, and in recent years has amounted to about a $250 million business in Colorado. About $19 million in sales is on the Western Slope from nearly 300 suspected curbstoning locations.

The bill requires a final Senate vote before it can head to the governor’s desk.

PET CARE

The Colorado Senate also gave final approval to a bill that allows people to provide in-home pet sitting without having to be licensed, but only if they watch three or fewer animals at a time.

The measure, HB1228, came about because of a growing trend in pet setting. Online websites have been created that are similar to Uber- or Lyft-like services, where pet owners can find nearby homeowners in their neighborhoods who can watch their pets.

According to the prime sponsors of the bill, Reps. Lois Landgraf, R-Fountain, and Dan Pabon, D-Denver, and Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, more than 50,000 Colorado residents are using such services as Rover.com and Care.com.

While the bill has already cleared the House, it must return there for a final vote because of a minor change before it can head to the governor.


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