Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Hickenlooper signs more than 50 bills

Megan Schrader The Gazette - Published: June 5, 2013

DENVER - Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law increased renewable energy mandates and firefighter collective bargaining rights Wednesday along with 50 other bills that clear his legislative plate without using a veto this session.

Earlier this year, Hickenlooper threatened to veto Senate Bill 25, which initially required municipalities and counties to engage in collective bargaining with firefighters.

Eventually lawmakers redrafted the law to instead guarantee firefighters a seat at the table for safety and equipment issues but not salaries or benefits.

Colorado Springs voters have twice defeated ballot measures that would have allowed the city firefighters to unionize and bargain collectively.

"The last thing we want to do is mandate to a home rule city like Colorado Springs that they have to engage in collective bargaining or do something they clearly already have voted against it and have restrictions," Hickenlooper said.

But he said examples of cities where firefighters weren't able to engage city officials were unreasonable.

"Clearly we had to do something to just allow firefighters to meet and confer and that's what this bill really does," Hickenlooper said. "It doesn't make it any easier for them to get collective bargaining, it doesn't make it any easier for them to change how they are paid or the equipment they use."

The Colorado Municipal League - a lobbyist group of cities from across the state -- still opposed the bill.

"This new law upends local control and municipal home rule authority in a manner unprecedented in recent memory," said Sam Mamet, CML's executive director.

Hickenlooper also signed Senate Bill 252 calling it "imperfect" but a step toward increasing the use of renewable energy in Colorado in replacement of fossil fuel dependent power plants that release carbon dioxide and other chemicals into the environment.

He wavered on the bill that was targeted by an ad campaign by the two rural electric cooperatives whose percentage of energy produced from renewables sources double from 10 percent by 2020 to 20 percent by 2020.

Both the Intermountain Rural Electric Association and Tri-State Generation and Transmission said it would cost ratepayers considerably to implement the new standards.

Hickenlooper signed an executive order creating a committee with the Colorado Energy Office to study the feasibility and cost of meeting the new standard by 2020.

Although the governor had until Friday to make a decision on the bills, he signed all of the legislation remaining on his desk Wednesday.

Other bills signed into law Wednesday:

SB1: Extends the federal earned income tax break for low-income families to Colorado income taxes if state revenue increases because of changes in internet sales tax collection at the federal level.

SB169: Allows private landowners to consent to have the nearly-extinct black-footed ferret reintroduced on their land without further legislative approval.

SB197: Removes firearms from the possession of domestic violence offenders immediately following a complaint or charges.

SB245: Creates the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps but doesn't provide funding or a timeline to acquire planes, pilots or launch a program to battle Colorado wildfires from the sky.

HB1020: Ensures more forensic evidence will be tested in sexual assault cases following reports that evidence is often untested for years.

Contact Megan Schrader

719-286-0644

Twitter: @CapitolSchrader

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