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Bill To Help Colorado Disaster Victims Gets Held Up

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DENVER (CBS4) – Hope is washing away for Colorado homeowners who lost homes to recent floods and wildfires.

The homeowners were hoping for help in covering the cost of property taxes since their homes are destroyed.

A bill was introduced the first day of the Legislative session and with Tuesday being the second to last day the bill is hung up in the Senate.

The bill came out of the bipartisan Disaster Study Committee and was designed to give tax relief to flood and fire victims.

After a year of historic wildfires and floods the 2014 legislative session opened with promises to help those who’d lost everything, but as it closes some victims are wondering what happened.

“I think worst part is when you have your hopes up and they get dashed,” said flood victim Terry Mayes.

Mayes’ home in Lyons is among hundreds destroyed by the September floods.

“My husband and I have a piece of land we can’t live on, we can’t rebuild on, we can’t sell it, there’s nothing we can do with it except for pay taxes on it,” said Mayes.

Under a bill by Rep. Jonathan Singer, the state would have picked up the property taxes for one year.

The bill passed the House with bipartisan support but the Senate gutted it with Republicans arguing the state should only pay the taxes from the date of the disaster through the end of the year.

“It’s like if you get in car wreck and have rental car coverage, they don’t offer you the use of their rental car four months before you need it, so it has to be fair, it has to be equitable,” said Republican Sen. Bill Cadman.

“I understand there’s a fairness question there, but how fair is it that these folks literally have nothing now? Their homes are in Kansas,” said Singer.

Singer says counties can already prorate taxes, the bill now just has the state backfill them.

“For me this was about citizens and helping citizens, not helping counties, and to flip script this late in the session is just another tragedy on top of an existing tragedy,” said Singer.

Money for the bill, $2 million, has already been set aside in the state budget.

The Senate will take a final vote on Wednesday.

While the bill is in trouble, more than a dozen flood and fire bills have passed this session to help with everything from water infrastructure to road and bridge repairs, damaged schools, flood debris cleanup and firefighter safety.

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