The AP reports via the Durango Herald:
The Colorado Attorney General’s office issued a firm warning to lawmakers Tuesday, saying a Republican bill to compensate victims of a deadly wildfire could violate constitutional provision aimed at preventing favoritism.
Assistant Solicitor General Frederick R. Yarger said what lawmakers are considering “cannot possibly be applied to any other class of individuals,” putting the legislation at “significant risk” of violating state law.
That law banning special legislation is “intended to curb favoritism” from lawmakers and block unnecessary laws for limited circumstances.
Yarger’s letter comes on the day the House gave initial OK to the bill. It would create a commission to hold hearings on the events surrounding the Lower North Fork Fire last month and recommend payments to victims.
Our view on this bill hasn’t changed: Republicans have a powerful emotional case on their side for the state abandoning the $600,000 liability cap on damages payable from the Lower North Fork Fire, which began as a controlled burn but ended up destroying homes and killing three people. There is no question with whom the overwhelming majority of voters will sympathize.
The objection from GOP Attorney General John Suthers, in our view, sums up the real problem for Republicans supporting this bill–whether out of genuine compassion, a cynical vote-buying exercise, or whatever the reason is. Why should these victims, as legitimately aggrieved as they may be, be treated differently than any other victim in a similar situation?
First answer that question, then there will be more questions. Should the state have a liability cap at all? What about all the liability caps in the private sector the GOP supports? This is what happens when you jettison your principles for an knee-jerk political grandstand.
Those principles come back to bite you.