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Colorado Governor Jared Polis vetoes six bills, a measure against wage theft



Colorado Governor Jared Polis vetoes six bills, a measure against wage theft

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ first veto after this year’s legislative session included a bill aimed at combating wage theft in the construction industry, which he said would “not punish the real offenders.”

The bill sought to hold general contractors liable for wage theft committed by subcontractors. But Polis wrote in a veto letter that the measure, if passed, would let subcontractors “off the hook” and punish good actors further up the project’s chain of command.

In total, Polis has rejected six bills. His office announced the vetoes in a news release Friday evening, prompting expressions of disappointment from fellow Democrats who had supported the rejected measures, some of which had also been endorsed by the Democratic Women’s Caucus.

The other vetoed bills would require higher standards for grant-funded ventilation upgrades in schools, including for air conditioning; banned mandatory participation in anti-union seminars and other political meetings at work; required new background check requirements for youth sports organization employees, coaches, and volunteers traveling with a team, and requiring CPR-certified adults to be present at all their activities; added new restrictions and discouraged the incineration of municipal solid waste; and prohibited insurers from requiring that prescriptions administered by health care providers be dispensed only by specific network pharmacies.

In some veto letters, Polis expressed support for the concept of a bill but disputed the way it would have been implemented. He also wrote that his office had tried to work with lawmakers in some cases but could not reach an agreement.

The anti-wage theft bill is his most prominent veto yet this year.

The sponsors previewed the measure before the official start of the legislative session, and it was named one of the Democratic Women Caucus’ priority bills. The bill also addressed an intra-caucus conflict when a Democratic senator was removed from sponsorship after she faced accusations that she wouldn’t sign an aide’s time card.

In his veto letter for House Bill 1008Polis called wage theft “a deplorable crime,” but took issue with the final version. By allowing general contractors to be held liable, the bill sought to ensure that subcontractor employees working on the work were not stolen and left without recourse.

“Under the bill, the general contractor — even if not at fault by any reasonable standard — would effectively pay for the same work twice (in addition to fines, penalties and interest), which would increase costs,” Polis wrote.

His letter stated that he wanted to discuss his concerns with sponsors. Sen. Jessie Danielson, a Wheat Ridge Democrat and sponsor of the bill in the House, said she never saw proposed amendments from Polis. But her understanding was that they had “completely destroyed” the bill in a way that none of the sponsors or employees the bill sought to protect would have found acceptable.

Danielson wrote in an email that Polis “sided with the companies that make their profits from the exploitation of workers.” Co-sponsor Sen. Chris Kolker, a Centennial Democrat, said he had never heard from the governor’s team about changes, adding, “The veto makes the governor choose not to protect workers.”

Despite the veto, Polis emphasized his administration’s efforts to combat wage theft and said he would direct the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to continue looking at other strategies.

Among the other bills vetoed is Polis called House Bill 1260which focused on anti-union meetings of employers, “too broad and too ambiguous” because it was more general would have banned punishment of employees who do not attend mandatory meetings on political or religious matters. He wrote that he would support a more limited bill specifically aimed at banning forced participation in anti-union rallies.

And he said House Bill 1080, the background check for youth sports organizations, added “unrealistic and counterproductive expectations and unnecessary burdens” that would make it more difficult to recruit volunteers and run the leagues. He also mentioned a misalignment between the and Senate Bill 113, which also aimed to regulate youth sports and was signed into law. Lawmakers supporting the bills had issued a public statement last week calling on Polis to sign both.

Danielson sponsored four of the six vetoed bills. She said in an email that “the governor’s vetoes put him squarely at odds with Colorado families and workers.” In particular, she called the veto on background checks for youth sports employees and volunteers “shocking and disturbing.”

“He should work to protect children in sports from sexual predators and abusers,” Danielson wrote.

The vetoes rejected two of six Democratic Women Caucus priority bills passed by the Legislature. Caucus co-chair Sen. Lisa Cutter, a Democrat from Littleton, noted that 18 of the 22 sponsors of the vetoed bills were women, including on bills that were not officially part of the Senate’s priority list. caucus.