BlueGreen Alliance | Governor Polis Fails Colorado Workers, Families, and Communities with his Vetoes

Governor Polis Fails Colorado Workers, Families, and Communities with his Vetoes

May 23, 2024

DENVER – Colorado Governor Jared Polis vetoed three pieces of legislation in mid-May that were designed to benefit schools, workers, and families around the state.  

HB24-1307 would have created pathways for rural Colorado public schools to receive federal funding for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), and air quality improvements. The bill would have ensured school HVAC installation and maintenance was completed by qualified contractors, protecting taxpayer investments while also creating good-paying jobs in rural areas. 

Additionally, Governor Polis vetoed HB24-1008, which would have prevented the wage theft of independent contractors. HB24-1260 would have protected employees from being disciplined for not attending “captive audience” meetings relating to employers’ personal beliefs, most commonly including anti-organizing meetings meant to intimidate employees into not joining or forming a union. 

“The actions of Governor Polis are an attack on working Coloradans and their communities,” said Dennis Dougherty, Executive Director, Colorado AFL-CIO. “HB24-1307 would have not only improved the quality of air in public schools, but also ensured that federal investments received by the state create good-paying jobs. The other bills would have protected the rights of working people to earn a fair wage and organize if they choose.”  

“The need for a safe and clean learning environment as well as good-paying jobs cannot be overstated,” said Elena Santarella, Colorado Policy Organizer, BlueGreen Alliance. “To me, the fact that the Governor would veto a bill that would have given kids and teachers across the state clean air and air conditioning demonstrates his decision to put politics over people. We have a responsibility to ensure all Coloradans have access to family-sustaining wages, the right to organize, and clean air to breathe every day.”  

“In vetoing HB24-1307, Governor Jared Polis not only missed an opportunity to leverage federal funds for economic growth, but also neglected the chance to enhance indoor air quality in schools, fostering healthier environments for students and teachers,” said Jon Alvino, Business Manager, SMART Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 9. “By ensuring HVAC systems work optimally, we could have simultaneously cut back on energy waste and improved indoor air quality. This is a missed chance for progress and sustainability in Colorado.” 

“Coloradans know that to be a leader for labor and the climate we need to support workers, reduce energy waste, and protect kids from hotter summers,” said Margaret Kran-Annexstein, Director, Colorado Sierra Club. “This is what HB24-1307 would have done, while also taking advantage of available federal funds. We are extremely disappointed to see Governor Polis miss this opportunity to better our schools and stand up for kids, the environment, and workers.” 

“All moms want to ensure their kids have a healthy school environment, but updating older school buildings can be expensive and school budgets are tight,” said Sara Kuntzler, Colorado Program Manager for Mountain Mamas. “HB 1307 was an investment in our kids’ health at school, ensuring they have clean air to breathe and an optimal temperature in which to learn. We are deeply disappointed that Governor Polis vetoed a bill that would have brought more federal dollars to our schools through a voluntary program, to provide them necessary support as well as funding.” 

“I am very disappointed that Governor Polis vetoed HB24-1307 which would have connected schools to federal resources to improve air quality and temperatures in schools across the state,” said prime House sponsor Representative Sheila Lieder (D-28). “I am even more disappointed that the veto came after months of working with his administration and providing them with countless evidence, experts, and resources to help them understand the importance and impact of the bill. From my viewpoint, he chose to believe the opinions of one lobbyist over the facts presented by a coalition of workers, contractors, school teachers, parents, and environmental advocates. With this veto, he has prioritized politics over public health.” 

“I am disheartened by the Governor’s decision to veto HB24-1307,” said prime Senate sponsor Senator Janice Marchman (D-15). “The state legislature has an obligation to Colorado public students and educators to ensure schools have clean, safe air, and we also prioritize energy waste and pollution reduction. Gov. Polis did not prioritize the health of students and our communities with this veto. Our communities deserve our immediate attention to this health risk. I look forward to working with the Governor and his staff over the interim to get this right.”