Veto possible for transportation contracts bill

Photo: Boulder TurnpikeBackers of a bill that would give the public more warning and oversight of public-private infrastructure contracts are worried the Governor John Hickenlooper might veto their measure. And they're right to be concerned.

Hickenlooper tells CPR's Colorado Matters that he supports the transparency portion of Senate Bill 197, but that there’s an “awful lot more in that bill that we requested repeatedly wouldn’t be added – and in the end it was."

Among the governor's complaints is a provision that would limit public-private partnerships to 35 years. Hickenlooper says there's at least one major project in the works that will require a 50-year contract in order to attract private backers.

"This bill would make that project impossible," Hickenlooper says.

The push for more public involvement in transportation contracts started earlier this year, after a public uproar over a 35-year deal to let a private company charge tolls on U.S. Highway 36 between Denver and Boulder. In return, the company agreed to build new lanes and maintain the road.

Drive SunShine Institute, the group that organized opposition to the U.S. 36 deal, is trying to rally its members to put pressure on Hickenlooper to sign the bill. The group is circulating a form email for supporters to send to Hickenlooper that reads: "Signing SB14-197 sends the clear message that Colorado does business in a prudent and orderly manner, a positive inducement for legitimate business investment in our state."

Hickenlooper says his staff is looking for a way out of the bill provisions he doesn't like. The governor has until June 6 to veto legislation from this past session.