In January, the Marshall fire swept through Boulder County destroying more than 1,000 homes and displacing the lives of thousands of Coloradans. While this disaster brought national attention to the threat of wildfires destroying homes, property, and lives, the people of Colorado are not strangers to the hazards of uncontrolled fires.

Clockwise from top left: State Reps. Richard Holtorf, Rod Pelton, Perry Will and Marc Catlin

For years, rural Coloradans have been prepared with emergency supplies, evacuation plans for both their families and their animals, and emergency alert systems to ensure they are safe from wildfires. Too many Coloradans have experienced the fear that they will come home to a house no longer standing and only ash and smoke where their personal belongings and history used to be.

Now, suburban Coloradans, too, are experiencing this fear, as the Marshall fire reminded the state that no part of Colorado is invincible from wildfires. We’ve heard from our constituents, and from people across the state, of their concerns regarding their safety as the threat of wildfire increases.

As representatives for the four corners of Colorado, we too have been experiencing this concern and are well aware that wildfires are a matter of both public safety and affordability – both issues Coloradans are deeply concerned about. Unfortunately, one Coloradan lost their life in the Marshall fire; we know that this was one tragedy too many.

That’s why we’re approaching wildfire legislation from a public-safety perspective.

We know there’s nothing more important than the safety of your family. That includes not only protecting your home, but also your health. The effects of out-of-control wildfire are increasingly negatively affecting Coloradan’s health, especially that of our kid’s with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma

We also know how financially devastating disasters such as wildfires are to Colorado’s families. Not only can a wildfire destroy a family’s life savings in one afternoon, but the increased threat of disaster raises insurance premiums for anyone living in an area at higher risk for wildfires. By increasing the amount of funding we give towards wildfire prevention efforts and towards local fire departments, we can make Colorado safer for everyone and reduce the cost of living.

That’s why this session, Colorado Republicans have introduced legislation to fight wildfires by supporting fire departments across the state and increasing funding to wildfire-prevention measures. Some of those bills include:

  • HB22-1007: “Assistance Landowner Wildfire Mitigation” Act, sponsored by Rep. Lynch, which would create state grants for wildfire mitigation services and create a tax credit to reimburse landowners for costs for wildfire mitigation services. (Of the four prime sponsors, two are Republican, and two are Democrat).
  • HB22-1148: “Wildfire Camera Pilot Program” Act, sponsored by Rep. Catlin, which would implement a remote camera wildfire alert system, increasing surveillance and ensuring people have appropriate time to respond. (Of the four prime sponsors, two are Republican, and two are Democrat).
  • HB22-1132: “Regulation and Services for Wildfire Mitigation” Act, sponsored by Rep. Holtorf, which would require Coloradans to notify their local fire department before a controlled burn on their land. (Of the two prime sponsors, both are Republican).
  • SB22-002: “Resources For Volunteer Firefighters” Act, sponsored by Rep. Will, which increases funding for fire departments that rely primarily on volunteer firefighters. (Of the four prime sponsors, three are Democrat and one is Republican).
  • HB22-1194: “Local Firefighter Safety Resources” Act, sponsored by Rep. Ransom, which appropriates $5 million towards equipment and training for local and volunteer fire departments. It was signed into law March 1. (Of the four prime sponsors, two were Republican and two were Democrat).

Republicans in the House of Representatives are sponsoring other legislation that would protect the lives and property of Coloradans and support fire departments in fighting fires.

This legislative session, Colorado’s Republicans unveiled their Commitment to Colorado – our commitment to you is to do all we can to make Colorado affordable, prioritize public safety, and expand educational choice. We know that addressing wildfires is a critical part of improving the lives of Coloradans and ensuring you sleep at night knowing your family is safe from wildfires and that you won’t be financially affected by a disaster a wildfire causes.

State Reps. Richard Holtorf, of Arkon, represents the 64th District; Rod Pelton, of Cheyenne County, represents the 65th Dsitrict; Perry Will, of New Castle, represents the 57th District; and Marc Catlin, of Montrose, represents the 58th District in the Colorado House of Representatives.

NOTE: The number of prime sponsors of each bill, and their party affiliation, was added to the column on March 23, at 10:07 p.m.

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