Colorado governor vetoes P3 transparency bill
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has vetoed the Transportation Enterprise Transparency Act, a bill that passed both Colorado’s legislative houses.
In his June 4 letter to the Colorado Senate announcing his decision, Hickenlooper said he feared that certain components of the legislation (SB-14-197) would create a “chilling component on future transactions.”
Hickenlooper has issued an executive order that he says will improve transparency, accountability, and openness concerning the High-Performance Transportation Enterprise, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s P3 division.
In the executive order, Hickenlooper said he would like to discuss with legislators the establishment of a Center of Excellence, which would “establish P3 best practices, including programs for ensuring transparency and openness.”
While offering praise for some of SB-14-197’s transparency provisions, such as holding town meetings in P3 corridors, Hickenlooper said in the letter that the bill “inappropriately constrains the business terms of future P3 agreements.”
Certain provisions contained in the bill, such as requiring legislative approval for contract terms for P3s over 35 years, would make “investors unlikely or unwilling to bid on Colorado projects due to the increased risks this process would create,” he wrote.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Matt Jones, was prompted by some public concern about the US 36 managed lanes project, a demand-based DBFOM project awarded to Plenary Group. Concerns were voiced about the 50-year contract and perceived secrecy surrounding the deal.
Some groups came out against the bill. The Association for the Improvement of American (AIAI) Infrastructure’s leadership first worked with Colorado legislators to try to revise SB 14-197, and then advocated for the governor to veto the bill once it was apparent that some of their key recommendations would not be included in the legislation.
Rodney Moss, who chairs AIAI’s law and legislative committee, and who is also regional managing director of Aon Risk Solutions, said one problem “was misinformation coming from some of the sponsors” that the bill was based on P3 best practices in Florida and Texas, when, in fact, that was not the case.
Hickenlooper’s veto marks a “maturity step” for US P3s, Frank Rapoport, chief strategy advisor at AIAI and senior partner at Peckar & Abramson, said, as a US governor has used his veto power to keep a P3 program moving forward.