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Wildfire, Flood Legislation, First Bills Of The Year

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DENVER (AP/CBS4) – Proposals providing tax relief for people who lost their properties during the September floods and incentives for wildfire mitigation projects are among the first bills of the 2014 Colorado legislative session, which began Wednesday.

The first House bill of the year would reimburse property taxes for people whose properties were destroyed by flooding last year. Another bill seeks to expedite the repair of irrigation ditches damaged by the floods by allowing people to bypass water court to begin work immediately.

Lawmakers also want to create a tax credit for homeowners who conduct fire mitigation projects on their properties.

“I think that we are coming out of the worst fire season in the history of Colorado. I think that we still have four million acres of dead trees around most of our watersheds, and that’s unacceptable,” said Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction.

Other bills that have been introduced include a Republican attempt to allow people to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. Previous attempts to do that have failed.

Democrats, meanwhile, introduced a plan to make college more affordable by capping tuition hikes and adding some $100 million in funding for public colleges and universities. They also proposed a bill that would allow gay couples to file state taxes jointly.

In all, lawmakers introduced more than 100 bills Wednesday. It will be days before they receive their first committee hearings and votes.

Other notable bills that have been introduced:

- A Republican lawmaker wants to strengthen Colorado’s reporter shield law, aimed at protecting reporters from revealing their sources. The bill is inspired by Jana Winter, a Fox News reporter who defense lawyers wanted to force to name sources in reports about Colorado’s 2012 theater shooting.

- A Republican proposal would make parolees who tamper or remove their electronic monitoring devices subject to immediate, warrantless arrest. Last year, authorities say the man suspected of killing Colorado Department of Corrections Tom Clements did so after removing his electronic monitoring device.

- A Democratic proposal would create an income-tax credit for child-care expenses.

- Lawmakers studying the issue of legal aid to juveniles introduced a bill aimed at guaranteeing counsel to youths during their first hearings after an arrest.

- After several failed attempts, Democrats are once again trying to restrict the use of tanning bed by minors, unless they have a doctor’s recommendation.

- By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.) 

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