Issues sideline King’s fire fund bill for a day

A series of issues with a plan from state Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, aimed at bolstering Colorado’s Emergency Fire Fund temporarily sidelined his bill Tuesday morning.

King’s measure, House Bill 1031, would require the state to match local contributions into the fund, which is used underwrite fire fighting efforts across the state.

“It allows the sheriff, the fire authorities in a specific area to make some proactive decisions when they have a fire in their area,” King said of the fund. “It pays for the first slurry drop.”

King said his bill will help local fire agencies respond to the problem of the Western Slope and Front Range’s fire seasons being offset.

By the time the Western Slope’s fire season rolls around, King said, the Front Range’s fire season has already been under way for some time, depleting the fund.

The bill, though praised by members of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee and state fire officials, ran into problems when members requested a series of provisions be inserted in the legislation.

Though legislative staff has forecast that Colorado would only pay out $1 million a year, Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, said the lack of a “cap” in the bill concerned her.

Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, said she would like to see a state official have some level of oversight on where state dollars are spent from the fund.

Confronted with these requests, King said he wanted to consult with members of an interim committee that drafted the bill last year before he would agree to any amendments.

Curry agreed, scheduling the bill for a rehearing at 1:30 p.m. today.


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