Collective bargaining bill is bad for Colorado counties

Governor Polis, Members of the Colorado General Assembly,

Since January 2022, Colorado Counties Incorporated has been aware of impending legislation from the Colorado House of Representatives that would force mandated collective bargaining upon cities, counties and higher education in Colorado. Despite countless attempts and pleading with the drafters of the bill for the opportunity to discuss the bill, and communicate about the potential impacts of mandated collective bargaining and most importantly, what that would mean for our constituents, we were ignored.

It’s long been said that the best government is closest to the people and CCI was formed to give counties a voice to support and protect two primary tenets:

First, no unfunded mandates from the State and, second, just as important, preserve local control.

Throughout the “process,” cities and higher education were invited to the table, successfully convincing the drafters to exclude their organizations from the bill.

This was largely due to the huge expense the bill would thrust upon them, just as with counties. Higher education made the case that there was no way they could implement mandated collective bargaining without forcing that cost onto their students through increased tuition.

Counties were not so fortunate. Despite our efforts and the efforts of our organization to gain a seat at the table, a bill was introduced in the Senate (not the House) with only two weeks left in the legislative session. All but one of our Democrat senators, 20 out of 21, signed on as co-sponsors. They obviously got a seat at the table, while counties were left out.

This particular piece of legislation represents the largest unfunded mandate upon counties in the history of the state of Colorado. It takes the decision whether to collectively bargain away from local employees, elected officials and voters, and instead mandates it. At the Senate Committee, only 36 hours after the introduction of the bill, the sponsor stated it was perhaps the “best stakeholder bill ever,” despite not having sufficient conversation with county commissioners via Colorado Counties Incorporated.

Gov. Polis, every local government association from cities to districts oppose this bill, as well as the undersigned county elected officials. It does not purport to solve any problem. In fact, it creates huge problems for counties that will have no choice but to cut services and jobs to pay for the cost of mandated collective bargaining.

Even in those few Democrat counties that support this bill, they have largely never approved collective bargaining in their own counties, even though they have the authority to do so today. This represents a massive usurping of local authority and local control from the government which is closest to the people — counties.

It is a testament to poor legislative process — a massive unfunded mandate at the end of the legislative session.

Gov. Polis, we ask that you stand up with Colorado counties and our residents in support of local control and against unfunded mandates.

Gov. Polis, please veto SB22-230.

Signed,

Cody Davis

Janet Rowland

Scott McInnis

Mesa County Commissioners

Todd Rowell

Mesa County Sheriff

Sheila Reiner

Mesa County Treasurer

Victor Yahn

Mesa County Coroner

Ken Brownlee

Mesa County Assessor

Representatives from 32

other counties also

were signers of this letter

We need standards for air toxics on Western Slope

A lot of interest has been circling along the Western Slope about water quality and quantity, but what about our air? Air quality is critical to our health and wellness. As a community member in the North Fork Valley, I care deeply about our local air quality, as it is one of the many things that drew me to the area. As more development continues to occur in our area, we must ensure that our air quality is not compromised.

Currently in the Colorado state legislature, a new bill HB22-1244: Public Protections From Toxic Air Contaminants — aims to protect communities by setting up the new Colorado Air Toxics Program.

This bill creates a new program to regulate a subset of air pollutants, referred to as “toxic air contaminants,” which are defined as hazardous air pollutants, covered air toxics, and all other air pollutants that the air quality control commission designates by rule as a toxic air contaminant based on its adverse health effects. This program would increase monitoring and reporting of toxic emissions to better understand exposure and public health risks throughout the state. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set health-based air quality standards for a few pollutants (think ozone and particulate matter), the EPA has not set health-based air quality standards for air toxics.

I urge our state legislators to pass this bill into law for the health and wellbeing of all of us on the Western Slope.

Mary Czech

Paonia