2014 Forestry Legislation in Colorado
The state of Colorado values healthy, resilient forest landscapes and is willing to invest state funds in the stewardship of these resources.
|HB 1003||Nonresident Disaster Relief Worker Income Tax Exemption||Nonresident individuals would be exempt from the state income tax if they perform disaster emergency-related work in the state on certain infrastructure that has been affected by a declared state disaster emergency or if they provide emergency service work related to the disaster emergency beginning in tax year 2015 and ending in tax year 2019.|
|HB 1004||Transfer Colorado Emergency Planning Commission (CEPC) Responsibilities to Entities in Department of Public Safety (DPS); Provide Disaster Assistance||The CEPC’s current rules, the authority to promulgate new rules and duties related to the “Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986,” are transferred to Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in DPS. The duty of the CEPC to assist in training personnel to react to emergency response situations is transferred to the Emergency Planning Subcommittee, which is a new permanent body under the Division’s Homeland Security and All-Hazards Senior Advisory Committee. Also, the governor would be allowed to provide financial assistance to individuals and families without a federal disaster declaration.|
|HB 1008||Allowing the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA) to Make Loans to Private Entities for Forest Health Projects||The CWRPDA would be allowed to make loans to private entities for executing forest health projects.|
|HB 1010||Corrections to Prescribed Burning Program Laws||Changes would be made to the prescribed burning program language created by Senate Bill (SB) 13-083. These changes include:
• The term “certified prescribed burn manager” would change to “certified burner” and would refer to someone who successfully completes the DFPC certification program.
• Prescribed burns would still require at least one certified person to be present on site. A National Wildfire Coordinating Group-certified burn boss would satisfy this requirement, but a DFPC-certified burner would no longer qualify.
• The term “contingency actions” would be replaced by “suppression actions,” regarding those actions taken for bringing escaped prescribed fires under control.
|HB 1210||County and State Agency Agreement for Fire Costs on State Lands||Any state agency that owns forestland, rangeland or wildland areas within a county would enter into an intergovernmental agreement with that county by Jan. 1, 2017, in order to address the harm caused by wildland fires affecting such lands and areas. Any agreement must delineate:
• the responsibility of each party for mitigation and management of wildland fires;
• wildland fire management objectives for the prevention, suppression and rehabilitation of wildfire on state land;
• the state agency with fiscal and operational authority for each management objective;
• the party responsible for paying wildfire suppression costs associated with state land; and
• procedures to carry out the agreement, such as the use of the Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) in the Department of Public Safety for reimbursements, as well as any remedial provisions.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the State Land Board will evaluate the feasibility of entering into these intergovernmental agreements as they pertain to state trust lands. Prior to Sept. 1, 2014, DNR will report to the Wildfire Matters Review Committee regarding any conclusions reached subsequent to this evaluation, including reasonable alternatives to address wildland fire mitigation and suppression costs with counties in which state trust lands are located.
|HJR 1002||Special Exemption from Interstate Highway Limits for Trucks Carrying Forest Products||The Colorado General Assembly would ask Congress to create a special exemption from the federal maximum weight limit on interstate highways for forest products industries.|
|SB 008||Wildfire Information and Resource Center||The Wildfire Information and Resource Center would be created in the DFPC. The Wildfire Information and Resource Center (WIRC) would be an online repository, providing information on:
• Current wildfires in Colorado
• How to prevent and prepare for a wildfire
• Statewide fire danger and current burning restrictions
• Current prescribed burn activity, with contact information for the responsible agency
• Wildland and prescribed fire training
• Sources of funding for wildfire mitigation activities
• Other information deemed pertinent, such as the results or local, state or national research related to wildfire
|SB 046||Local Firefighter Safety Grant Fund||The Local Firefighter Safety and Disease Prevention Fund would be created in and administered by the Division of Fire Prevention and Control. The Fund would provide needs-based grants to local governing bodies for equipment and training designed to increase firefighter safety and prevent occupation-related diseases. Funding is set at $3.25 million per year for two years.|
|SB 047||Wildland Firefighters Death Benefit Payments||The DFPC would make lump-sum payments of $10,000 to the survivors of a seasonal wildland firefighter killed in the line of duty. A seasonal wildland firefighter includes temporary employees of a governing body or state agency, a volunteer member of a nongovernmental volunteer fire department or members of the Colorado Correctional Industries’ State Wildland Inmate Fire Teams (SWIFT crews).|
|SB 097||Extend Immunity for Public Agencies from Insurance for Wildfire Mitigation||The existing protections held by public agencies concerning immunity from civil liability would be extended to immunize such agencies from the acts of an insurer or insurance company, corporation, association or partnership (insurer), including any employees, contractors or agents (agents), engaged in activities intended to protect the insurable private property interests of the insurer's policyholders from damage.|
|SB 154||Wildfire Preparedness and Emergency Response Funds||For three fiscal years, commencing with the 2014-15 fiscal year, this bill:
• Reduces by $95,000 the moneys transferred annually from the operational account of the severance tax trust fund (operational account) to the Healthy Forests and Vibrant Communities Fund and, correspondingly, transfers $95,000 annually from the operational account to the wildfire preparedness fund (WPF) administered by the Division of Fire Prevention and Control (division) in the Department of Public Safety; directs the state treasurer to make a one-time transfer of $285,000 from the healthy forests and vibrant communities fund to the WPF
• Specifies the purposes for which the division may use all of the above-referenced transferred moneys
• Exempts the Wildfire Emergency Response Fund and the WPF from the statutory limit on uncommitted cash reserves
|SB 164||Colorado Aerial Firefighting Fleet Aircraft Acquisitions||This bill directs the Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) in the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to maximize its aerial firefighting and analytical capacity, within the DFPC's available budget and consistent with the recommendations of the DFPC's director. The bill amends current statute concerning the Colorado Firefighting Aerial Corps (CFAC) and other responsibilities of the DFPC by:
• enlarging potential revenue sources to the Colorado Firefighting Aerial Corps Fund (CFAC Fund);
• requiring the DFPC to make an annual report to the Wildfire Matters Review Committee (WMRC) with information and recommendations regarding wildfire threats, state firefighting resources, and the status of CFAC and other state aerial firefighting resources;
• establishing standards related to the acquisition of certain aircraft by the CFAC;
• authorizing the CFAC to operate the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting (Center of Excellence); and
• requiring, in 2014, the WMRC to consider the creation, potential scope and composition of a Colorado Wildland and Prescribed Fire Advisory Commission (advisory commission).
|SB 223||Payment Claims for Lower North Fork Fire||This bill amends the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA) to include specific provisions governing the settlement of outstanding claims relating to the Lower North Fork Wildfire. Specifically:
• The General Assembly may settle cases for amounts exceeding limits in the CGIA based on certain orders issued by a district court, including an order granting a claimant's request for entry of judgment in the amount of an award of damages recommended by a special master.
• Payments are made from the General Fund to specified parties no later than September 1, 2014.
• Insurers are prohibited from asserting a right to additional payments made pursuant to the CGIA.
• By accepting payment under the bill, claimants release the state from any further claims relating to the Lower North Fork Wildfire.
• The Attorney General is encouraged to refrain from appealing a court order regarding judgment in certain outstanding damage claims from the Lower North Fork Wildfire.
The bill identifies 20 parties with outstanding claims from the Lower North Fork Wildfire and the amount to be paid each claimant, with a total of $17,636,554 in outstanding claims authorized for settlement under the bill.