|Flood aftermath leads to new kind of legislative water issue|
|Written by Marianne Goodland|
Colorado lawmakers found themselves dealing with a new kind of water issue in 2014: the aftermath of the September 2013 floods.
Governor John Hickenlooper appointed a committee of 12 lawmakers, with equal representation from both parties, to determine if legislation would be needed in the 2014 session. The committee came up with 13 bills, ranging from funds for cleanup to dealing with liability issues for those who assisted during the disaster.
Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling) was the prime sponsor of three committee bills—on relocating headgates, a study of water-absorbing pheratophytes and the civil liability bill for volunteers. All three went to the governor for signing. He has until June 6 to sign or veto the bills.
Several bills that would designate funding for cleanup and repairs also went to the governor in the last days of the session.
House Bill 14-1002 would provide $11.8 million in grants to local governments for cleanup and repairs to water infrastructure, primarily wastewater treatment and drinking water facilities. The grants, which can be matched with federal funds, would be available for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 fiscal years.
Up to $40 million from revenue derived from the excise taxes on marijuana sales would go to schools damaged in the floods under HB 1287. The bill directs the Colorado Department of Education to contact all schools in the counties that were designated as disaster areas by the governor last year to assess damages and determine funding.
In northeastern Colorado, Logan, Sedgwick, Washington and Morgan counties were declared disaster areas.
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