Originally Published By Pat Poblete in Colorado Politics
Legislators last week introduced a slate of legislation crafted during the legislative interim to combat wildfires in Colorado.
The five bills, now ready for committee action, stem from the work of the Wildfire Matters Review Committee, a 10-person panel featuring six Democrats and four Republicans charged with studying wildfire prevention and mitigation during the months in which the General Assembly is not in session.
The bills include:
House Bill 1012, introduced by Democratic Reps. Lisa Cutter of Littleton and Don Valdez of La Jara and Sens. Joann Ginal of Fort Collins and Pete Lee of Colorado Springs, seeks to create a grant program to help counties mitigate and recover from wildfires by funding efforts to clear wood and forest debris
Senate Bill 7 sponsored by Lee, Cutter and Democratic Sen. Tammy Story of Conifer and Rep. Marc Snyder of Colorado Springs, would direct the Forest Service to implement a wildfire mitigation public awareness campaign for 2023 and 2024 for the 53% of the state’s population that lives in the Wildland-Urban Interface — areas with grasslands, shrublands and forests
Senate Bill 2, pushed by Ginal, Story, Cutter and Republican Rep. Perry Will of New Castle, seeks to broaden the pots of money that local volunteer firefighters can be reimbursed through
House Bill 1007, sponsored by Valdez, Lee and Republican Rep. Mike Lynch of Wellington and Sen. Cleave Simpson of Alamosa, would create a grant program for local governments to fund outreach to property owners on wildfire mitigation strategies. The bill also seeks to end the state income tax deduction for wildfire mitigation expenses two years earlier than scheduled and replace it with a tax credit of 25 percent of the cost incurred for wildfire mitigation.
House Bill 1011, from Cutter, Snyder, Lee and Story, seeks to create a grant program to match funds local governments raise for wildfire mitigation. That's an effort Cutter in October said would encourage stable, long-term funding in an area she said was “severely underfunded.”
The panel wrapped up its work on the bills in late October, meaning lawmakers' work on the package came before the Marshall Fire tore through populated areas in Boulder County in December.