Disaster declaration bill passes first test in legislative committee

DENVER - Colorado's Governor would be able to make a disaster declaration without a parallel declaration from the president under a law approved by the House Judiciary Committee Thursday.

"I'm pleased we're getting the flood bills into the pipeline," Rep. Mike Foote, a Democrat from Lafayette, said in a statement provided by the Colorado House Democrats. "We have strong bipartisan support for actions to ensure the fullest possible recovery in our flood-damaged communities."

House Bill 14-1004 makes several changes to Colorado's emergency management bureaucracy, including the ability for the governor to release financial assistance to a disaster area without first waiting for a declaration from Washington. It also eliminates the state Emergency Planning Commission by transferring its duties to two groups within Division of Public Safety. The bill would also abolish the governor's disaster emergency council.

The bill, one of six pieces of flood recovery legislation introduced to the House on Jan. 8, was recommended by the Flood Disaster Study Committee. That group was assigned to finding legislative responses to the September 2013 floods.

The committee vote Thursday on HB 14-1004 was unanimous.

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