Ritter redux

It’s welcome news that current Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper appears poised to take a page from his Democratic predecessor, former Gov. Bill Ritter, and veto legislation that is dear to the heart of some Democratic supporters.

This week Hickenlooper told Democratic leaders in the Legislature he couldn’t support a bill that would give all firefighters in the state collective bargaining rights, regardless of what local governing boards or citizens decide on that issue.

Kudos to Hickenlooper. The legislation he opposes this year, Senate Bill 25, is even more problematic than a similar bill Ritter vetoed in 2009. That bill would have allowed collective bargaining only for fire departments with more than 50 employees. This year’s version would authorize it for departments with as few as two employees.

The most troubling aspect of both bills is that they would usurp local control in places such as Grand Junction, where voters have already rejected proposals to grant collective bargaining to firefighters and police officers.

That was the primary reason Hickenlooper said he couldn’t support S.B. 25. “We do not believe it is a matter of state interest to require mandatory bargaining between a locality and its firefighters,” the governor said in his letter.

Hickenlooper is right. Democratic lawmakers who seem so eager to appease union backers by pressing the collective bargaining measure would do Colorado a great service by killing the bill now and not allowing it to reach the governor’s desk.


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