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New Laws Will Improve State's Disaster Response, Give Fire Victims Pathway to Seek Compensation

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Denver, CO

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed three bills into law today that were introduced and passed by the General Assembly after the Lower North Fork Fire. The bills address the state's emergency management response; create a commission to study the wildfire; and create a pathway for the wildfire victims to seek compensation.

"The consolidation of safety functions in HB12-1283 will increase efficiencies in the state, enhance communications and clarify roles and responsibilities during emergencies," Hickenlooper said. "It will also effectively utilize state funds by eliminating redundant tasks in different departments. These changes will decrease response times in situations where literally every minute counts."

A large group of people worked quickly after the Lower North Fork Fire to find the right compromises and solutions to improving the state's emergency management response. Those people included:

Roxane White, Chief of Staff to Hickenlooper; Mark Gill, Chief of Staff to Colorado State President Tony Frank; Joyce Berry, Dean at the Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University; Reeves Brown, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs; Peter Byrne, Director Joint Staff at the Colorado National Guard; Paul Cooke, Executive Director of the Colorado State Fire Chiefs' Association; Lisa Dale, Assistant Director for Parks, Wildlife and Lands at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources; Jim Davis, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety; Joe Duda, Deputy State Forester at Colorado State Forest Service; James Eklund, Senior Deputy Legal Counsel in the Governor's Office; Dave Hard, Director at the Colorado Division of Emergency Management; Mickey Hunt, Deputy Director at the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs; Mike King, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources; Kevin Klein, Director at the Colorado Division of Homeland Security; and Doug Young, Policy Director at the Governor's Office.

"There were no turf battles in this process," Hickenlooper said. "This is new emergency management structure is the result of many people working together to do what's best for the state above all else. We can't thank enough the group of people who worked on this."

Hickenlooper signed two additional bills today related to the fire:

* HB12-1361 creates a state commission to address matters arising out of the Lower North Fork Wildfire, sponsored by Reps. Bob Gardner and Cheri Gerou and Sen. Bill Cadman.
* HB12-1361 deals with claims against the state arising under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act, sponsored by Reps. Bob Gardner, Cheri Gerou and Sens. Bill Cadman and Jeanne Nicholson.

"The losses in the Lower North Fork Fire are indescribable," Hickenlooper said. "We have an obligation and duty to determine exactly what happened and why it happened. We also have an obligation to continue helping families who lost loved ones and property in this fire. This legislation gives these fire victims a path forward to seek compensation."


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