Hickenlooper signs immigrant driver’s licenses bill, 60 others into law

Politics

With dozens of lawmakers, lobbyists and conservationists looking on, Gov. John Hickenlooper signs Senate Bill 252 into law Wednesday during a ceremony inside his Capitol office.

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DENVER -- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper Wednesday signed more than 60 bills into law, the final batch from a blockbuster Democrat-driven legislative session.

Prior to nine public bill signings in the governor's office, Hickenlooper signed some 52 bills in private, including one bill that will allow undocumented immigrants to get Colorado driver's licenses.

"We are so excited that Colorado’s elected officials understood that this bill is important for public safety," said Pilar Carrillo, a volunteer leader with the group, Driver’s Licenses for All.

Another bill signed behind closed doors, House Bill 1020, will require law enforcement to test all collected rape kits.

"Signing this measure into law will help provide justice for women who have been victimized," said Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, the bill's sponsor, in a statement.

And House Bill 1154, also signed Wednesday morning, empowers law enforcement to file additional charges for crimes against a pregnant woman which result in the loss of her pregnancy.

The "Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act" was crafted to protect pregnant women without affecting a woman’s right to access reproductive health care.

Starting at noon, Hickenlooper welcomed sponsors and stakeholders on nine bills into his office to watch them be signed into law.

A crowd of 50 environmentalist and conservationists streamed into the office for the signing of Senate Bill 252, the most controversial of the bills, which will force rural electric co-ops to draw more of their energy from renewable sources.

"The Governor's signature today reaffirms that clean wind and solar energy are a critical part of the foundation of Colorado's energy future," said Pete Maysmith, the director of Conservation Colorado. "This law will help foster the development of homegrown energy and incentivize energy sources that benefit our fight against climate change."

Hickenlooper also issued a signing statement, explaining that he would have vetoed the bill if not for a two percent cap on electric rates; and he issued an executive order to form a commission to work with the providers on implementing the new law.

"I don't care what he does, it's going to raise rates for people in rural parts of the state," said Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa.

Hickenlooper also signed Senate Bill 25, a bill that will make it easier for firefighters to unionize, even though he threatened explicitly that he would veto the bill as it was introduced at the beginning of the legislative session.

"Our goal was no vetoes," Hickenlooper said. "There are a number of these bills where there were things we weren't crazy about, but it didn't come up to the level of a veto. Politically, it would have been better to have a few vetoes."

Hickenlooper lauded his chief strategist, Alan Salazar, and legislative liaison, Christine Scanlan, for ironing out the issues with all of the legislation that got to his desk.

"They did too good a job, they mitigated too many of the problems," Hickenlooper said.

Republicans, however, blasted the governor for being a rubber stamp for the Democrats' agenda.

"There are some bills out there he should have vetoed, because that would have been good governance for the people about Colorado," said House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs. "It's not about being able to tout a score of no vetoes, it's about doing what's right for this state."

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