Western Slope Pressure Heightens Bill Ritter’s Bad Policy SB 180 Dilemma

As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports today, the day of reckoning draws closer for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to decide on the bad policy that is SB 180 — a costly favor to Big Labor.

The Sentinel today also editorializes strongly against SB 180 — using many of the same arguments I’ve brought forward before, and even one I haven’t really emphasized:

Strikes would be prohibited under the legislation, but there are no sanctions listed in the bill for those who violate the provision.

Now it would seem that Bill Ritter has an opportunity to start mending fences with folks on the Western Slope, where his popularity is low and heckling is a common greeting for him, by vetoing SB 180. He could listen to Grand Junction mayor Bruce Hill, for example:

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Hill said, “and why fix it in Denver instead of in our own community?”

I fear the answer to that rhetorical question might be found in political favors, rather than in good policy. After angering Big Labor supporters with his veto of HB 1170 (the lockout bill), Bill Ritter might be on the verge of inflaming political retribution from union leaders if he also vetoes SB 180.

Interestingly, the Sentinel news story highlights this little tidbit:

The organization Colorado Professional Firefighters is pressuring the governor, saying he had promised as a candidate to sign such a measure…. [emphasis added]

Sounds like deja vu from the HB 1072 debate of two years ago, when union leaders repeatedly observed that Bill Ritter as a candidate promised to support legislation making it easier to coerce workers into paying union agency fees. When and where (other than at a union hall) did Ritter promise to support either HB 1072 from 2007 or this year’s SB 180?

Of course, Ritter later incurred the wrath of union leaders for his veto of HB 1072, attempting to mend the fence with his executive order opening the doors of state government to collective bargaining. So the question remains: Will Bill Ritter choose good public policy and veto SB 180, or will he again try to make it up to Big Labor campaign contributors — using his previous veto of the lockout bill as an excuse?

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