Collective-bargaining bill moves forward
DENVER — One Western Slope Democrat joined Republicans in opposing a controversial bill to grant firefighters collective bargaining rights on Tuesday.
Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, said she voted against the measure because it impacted all fire departments and fire protection districts in the state, and not just the larger ones.
Regardless of her opposition, the measure cleared the Democratic-controlled Senate on a 19-15 vote.
Currently, SB25 applies to departments with two or more firefighters, making it far more pervasive than a measure that passed in 2009 that was vetoed by then Gov. Bill Ritter. That bill impacted departments with 50 or more workers.
Under current law, home-rule cities such as Grand Junction may place ballot measures before their voters asking if they want to offer such powers to firefighters. While some have approved it, most others have not, including Grand Junction.
The bill would negate those votes and approve the practice outright, which was one of the main reasons Ritter cited in his veto message of the 2009 measure.
Eric Brown, press secretary to Gov. John Hickenlooper, said the governor is aware of the “deep concerns” local government officials have over the issue, and members of his staff are “talking with interested parties to find common ground” over it.
He would not say whether the governor would similarly veto the measure if it reaches his desk in its current form.
The bill now heads to the Colorado House, where Democrats have a 37-28 majority.