Suthers Forces Lower North Fork Fire Bill Compromise

The AP reports via the Durango Herald:

Colorado legislators agreed Thursday with a compromise suggestion from Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican who chastised members of his own party in the state House for seeking a way to give victims of the Lower North Fork Fire compensation beyond the $600,000 allowed under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.

Some Democrats agreed with Suthers, setting up a potentially ugly political confrontation in the closing days of the Colorado Legislature. Suthers’ proposal was to keep the liability cap, but add state-set fires to the exemptions.

The proposal would allow fire victims to seek amounts greater than $600,000 while preserving the overall liability cap, which is in place to protect state taxpayers from unlimited payments in damage claims.

So ends what might otherwise have been an ugly fight between a Republican Attorney General and the GOP-controlled Colorado House. We’ve said all along that there was a powerful case for fairly compensating the victims of the Lower North Fork Fire, but to do so with legislation that only pertains to the one event would be unfair, cheap, political–and as Suthers says, illegal.

With this solution, these and future fire victims in similar circumstances will be fairly compensated, and we’re a bit baffled as to why the House GOP didn’t come up with it originally.

But this whole GOP in favor of bigger damage awards thing is kind of weird for everybody.

2 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

    How can you not mention Hickenlooper’s massive cave in to the House GOP?


    Governor Hickenlooper in a press conference this afternoon announced that an agreement has been worked out to help compensate victims of the Lower North Fork Fire, a tragedy begun by state bureaucratic error. After Hickenlooper refused to engage on victim compensation last week, legislative Republicans took the lead and crafted a bill to create a commission dealing with that very issue.

    As recently as yesterday, Hickenlooper was telling CBS4 that the GOP’s victim compensation bill would only create “false hope.” How quickly Hick changed his tune.

    The agreement that was worked out will amend the Governmental Immunity Act to add prescribed burns, one of which started the fire, to a list of waivers to which the Immunity Act does not apply. The amendment will add the Lower North Fork Fire retroactively, allowing victims to seek compensation above the abysmally low caps of $150,000 per person or $600,000 per incident.  

  2. Old Time Dem says:

    The bill should limit liability above the cap to uninsured losses.  Otherwise, it’s a giveaway to insurance companies.

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.