A double-take inspiring press release moments ago from Colorado House Republicans:
The state of Colorado will step up and take responsibility for its mistakes.
That’s the message that state Reps. Bob Gardner and Cheri Gerou want the people of Colorado to know after a controlled-burn by the Colorado Forest Service ignited parts of Jefferson County, costing three Coloradans their lives and destroying nearly two-dozen homes.
“The Lower North Fork Fire was a terrible accident that no one wanted. However, we need to recognize that the fire, which was started by the state, has devastated the lives of so many families in Jefferson County,” Gerou, who represents the area, said. “These families and individuals deserve to be heard and be compensated for their losses.”
Gerou, R-Evergreen, and Gardner are sponsoring a bill that will be introduced later this week, establishing the Lower North Fork Fire Commission. The commission will establish a hearing process in order investigate the events surrounding the fire, and to pay out claims to those who lost their homes and loved ones in the Lower North Fork Fire.
Under the Colorado Government Immunity Act, the state’s combined claim is capped at $600,000. That is $600,000 that must be divided amongst hundreds of victims…
Got that, folks? The state of Colorado should “step up and take responsibility for its mistakes” by suspending the statutory cap on liability for damages caused by the North Fork Fire. A controlled burn that got out of control and tragically caused the death of three people, and resulted in the destruction of dozens of homes near Conifer a few weeks ago.
Now, given that limiting liability in lawsuity-type situations is usually at the very top of the Republican legislative agenda, how would you explain this move, which naturally everyone with an ounce of human compassion should rally around and support without reservation?
Yes, we get that there’s a difference between government immunity and limiting liability for, say, a polluting corporation. But doesn’t the principle for doing so in both cases hold?
Despite the fact that you’ll likely agree with the idea, doesn’t it seem kind of weird for the GOP to be pushing it? There’s certainly a good reason why Republicans would jettison their principles, principles that so often motivate them to “keep trial lawyers in check” and prevent “abuse of the system”–we could keep going but you’ve heard it before. We know good reasons for this change of heart exist, we just don’t usually hear that from Republican elected officials in Colorado.
And without a grandstandable incident and an upcoming election, we might never hear it again.