Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am filing with the Secretary of State Senate Bill 05-223, "Concerning the Consolidated Communications Network Authority." I vetoed this bill as of 8:20 a.m. today and this letter sets forth my reasons for doing so.
Safeguarding public safety and enhancing homeland security is a central priority for Colorado. Improving interoperable communication for first responders is at the core of these efforts. It is important to recognize the significant contributions local governments have made, and continue to make, as we work together to improve interoperable communication capabilities. State government has coordinated with local governments since the beginning of the Digital Trunked Radio (DTR) project. I am proud of the close, mutually beneficial partnership we have forged.
Coordination between state and local entities has already produced impressive results. Approximately 70 percent of Colorado is covered by DTR, and through the recently announced WIN Initiative, $13 million will be available to help build-out the system in the remaining areas of the Western Slope. With a majority of Coloradoans live on the Front Range, the areas covered by DTR reach 93 percent of Colorado's population. While much work remains to be completed, both the state and our local partners can be proud of what has been accomplished.
It is not clear that the new Authority proposed in this bill would enhance public safety or homeland security. The Authority would be simply another entity seeking federal grant dollars that local entities already can access through the state and the all-hazard regions. For example, during the recent grant process, the state identified improving interoperable communication, specifically the DTR system, as the top priority use for Federal homeland security dollars and the state successfully secured substantial amounts of funding for DTR. Duplicating these efforts is inefficient and unnecessary.
I am also concerned about the limited role of the state in the proposed authority. The State is a major player and partner in the operation of the DTR system. About two-thirds of the network is owned by the state, and local governments own the remaining one-third. Yet the state's representation on the Authority board would be a paltry 3 percent. As a result, the State would have a minor role in decision-making that could have major fiscal or resource impacts on the state.
The bill grants the Authority broad and significant powers that, according to the bill, shall be "liberally construed." The bill does not have any built-in accountability mechanisms, and is given a perpetual lifespan.
There is no compelling reason for this bill to become law. Local governments do not need a statutorily created authority to formalize their relationships, since they already have the power to accomplish that goal through intergovernmental agreements. I strongly encourage the Consolidated Communications Network of Colorado (CCNC) to work with my staff, relevant state agencies, and the state all hazards advisory committee, to find a better way to approach the important challenges that remain. I welcome CCNC's continued advice on the development and operation of the state DTR network.
Improving the DTR system is a shared, important goal. However, S.B. 223 is an unnecessary and problematic bill that would complicate and duplicate existing efforts. Our mutual goal of improving interoperable communication can be accomplished through existing channels.
Accordingly, I have vetoed this bill.
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