A day after Gov. John Hickenlooper touted wildfire legislation that was introduced last week, Republicans state lawmakers held their press conference, where they urged the governor to back a revived effort to get the state to buy its own aerial …
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A day after Gov. John Hickenlooper touted wildfire legislation that was introduced last week, Republicans state lawmakers held their press conference, where they urged the governor to back a revived effort to get the state to buy its own aerial firefighting fleet.
Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, introduced a bill on Jan. 24 that would require the state to lease aircraft designed to fight fires, including the immediate purchase of three Type 1 helicopters.
The day before, Hickenlooper – who was joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers that included King – told reporters that he wasn’t ready to support King’s legislation, based on the logistical complexities involved with the state operating its own fleet, including the hefty price tag of such an undertaking.
But King, flanked by other Republican lawmakers and fire officials, said he doesn’t understand why Hickenlooper isn’t fully on board with his effort.
“I gotta tell you, I laugh a little bit at the pushback I’m getting on this legislation,” said King.
King pursued similar legislation last year, which culminated in a state study of the issue that is expected to be released in the spring.
The press conference came on the heels of Hickenlooper’s support of several measures aimed at wildfire prevention and mitigation. The eight bills have bipartisan sponsorship and should get plenty of support through the legislative process.
However, the bills do not contain some key recommendations that were made by the governor’s own wildfire task force, such as imposing fees on homeowners who live in forest areas and the creation of a state building code.
Republican lawmakers were careful to not be too critical of the governor’s wildfire mitigation efforts. Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, and Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, said Hickenlooper has shown good leadership in protecting the state from the threat of wildfires.
“But I don’t understand Gov. Hickenlooper’s opposition to the state maintaining these rapid response vehicles, airplanes and helicopters that have been proven to work; that have saved lives; that have saved homes and have saved communities,” McNulty said.
During the same press conference, Republicans introduced other pieces of legislation related to wildfire mitigation, including a bill from Roberts that would update the state’s emergency radio system.
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