Fairness for Fire Victims

(March 25) – A unanimous House gave final legislative passage today to a bill sponsored by Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) to give Coloradans a fairer shake when they suffer loss or damage from state actions.

SB13-023 was prompted by the Lower North Fork fire, which was started in March 2012 when a Colorado Forest Service prescribed burn went out of control, destroying two dozen Jefferson County homes and killing two people.

Under current law, the most the state can pay for any single event for which it was responsible is $600,000, with no more than $150,000 for any individual claimant. Rep. Levy’s bill, which is also sponsored by Rep. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs), raises the cap on state payouts in such cases to $990,000, with a $350,000 limit on payouts to any individual.

“We have to balance our responsibility to be fair to people who are harmed by state actions and our responsibility to be careful stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” Rep. Levy said. “This bill strikes that balance.”

The bill now goes to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk for his signature.

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