Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Gov. Hickenlooper Signs Firefighter Legislation, Protects Local Control

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Denver, CO

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation today that respects local authority over collective bargaining for firefighters and protects the political rights of firefighters to petition local government.

SB13-025 "Colorado Firefighter Safety Act" avoids a mandate on collective bargaining for firefighters by leaving the decision to local voters and defers to local petition requirements when a measure may be headed to the ballot. The bill went through significant changes during the legislative process before meeting the governor's criteria.

"We indicated that the original bill under consideration would be vetoed, and urged an alternative approach that met the following three goals: ensure protection of firefighters to exercise their legitimate political rights; afford an opportunity for firefighters to hold meaningful discussions with their employers on issues of concern such as workplace safety, equipment needs and other employment issues; and respect local control," the governor said in a signing statement addressed to the General Assembly.

The governor's statement said many other states, including neighboring states, such as Wyoming and Idaho, mandate collective bargaining for firefighters, without requiring firefighters to use a petition process.

"With this legislation, Colorado takes a different approach that maintains the voters' ability to make locally accordant decisions regarding collective bargaining, while recognizing the unique need to encourage conversations on safety given the distinct occupational hazards firefighters face," the signing statement said. "Implementation of this law may require future legislation to reconcile technical and structural issues; however, we believe that resolving these issues are not insurmountable, nor do they justify a veto. We are committed to making this approach work in ways that keep faith with the criteria we announced earlier in the legislative session. Toward that end, we stand ready to work with municipalities, special districts, firefighters and other stakeholders to address any issues that may arise."

Here is the text of the full signing statement:

"Today I sign Senate Bill 13-025, titled the "Colorado Firefighter Safety Act'.

"Earlier this year, in a letter to Senate and House leadership, we conveyed our concerns regarding Senate Bill 13-025. We believe that the revised bill ultimately passed by the General Assembly addresses the concerns we outlined: avoiding a mandate on collective bargaining for firefighters by leaving the decision to local voters and deferring to local petition requirements when seeking voter approval.

"As a former Mayor who successfully negotiated fair collective bargaining agreements and as a Governor who has called for the deployment of firefighters from across Colorado to fight catastrophic wildfires, I asked the General Assembly to consider alternatives that reached a better balance between protecting the political rights of firefighters to petition local government and respect for local authority over collective bargaining.

"We indicated that the original bill under consideration would be vetoed, and urged an alternative approach that met the following three goals: ensure protection of firefighters to exercise their legitimate political rights; afford an opportunity for firefighters to hold meaningful discussions with their employers on issues of concern such as workplace safety, equipment needs and other employment issues; and respect local control.

"The House and Senate passed different bills--neither of which fully satisfied the criteria we set forth. In conference, however, a third and more balanced bill was passed. While this legislation would have benefitted from more active negotiation between the firefighters' union and local government, it satisfies the criteria we outlined.

"Opponents of the bill have raised objections that it authorizes the state to intrude in an area of exclusive local concern and jurisdiction. We do not agree. As we witnessed last summer, firefighters from various locales were deployed to risk their lives outside the boundaries of their own immediate communities. Their safety and the effectiveness of their equipment and training are a matter of mixed state-local concern. A meet-and-confer requirement that encourages discussions on non-compensatory issues and a process that respects local signature requirements for firefighters to petition for a local ballot measure that would ask local voters to decide on collective bargaining, as included in the final bill, strike a reasonable balance.

"Opponents have also raised "structural' concerns with the legislation, arguing that the petition and election process will be difficult to implement. They also raise concerns about the neutrality of ballot language if firefighters are successful in securing an election on the question of collective bargaining. We believe these concerns can be addressed without justifying a veto of this legislation. Moreover, local governments are required to consider any public confusion that might be caused by misleading titles and shall whenever practicable avoid titles for which the general understanding of the effect of a "yes" or "no" vote would be unclear. As we confirmed with the Attorney General's Office, under this legislation, local communities will maintain the statutory authority to clarify language on any ballot title so that it correctly and fairly expresses the true intent and meaning of the measure.

"Many other states, including neighboring states, such as Wyoming and Idaho, mandate collective bargaining for firefighters. With this legislation, Colorado takes a different approach that maintains the voters' ability to make locally accordant decisions regarding collective bargaining, while recognizing the unique need to encourage conversations on safety given the distinct occupational hazards firefighters face. Implementation of this law may require future legislation to reconcile technical and structural issues; however, we believe that resolving these issues are not insurmountable, nor do they justify a veto. We are committed to making this approach work in ways that keep faith with the criteria we announced earlier in the legislative session. Toward that end, we stand ready to work with municipalities, special districts, firefighters and other stakeholders to address any issues that may arise."


Source:
Skip to top
Back to top