Governor Hickenlooper in a press conference this afternoon announced that an agreement has been worked out to help compensate victims of the Lower North Fork Fire, a tragedy begun by state bureaucratic error. After Hickenlooper refused to engage on victim compensation last week, legislative Republicans took the lead and crafted a bill to create a commission dealing with that very issue.
As recently as yesterday, Hickenlooper was telling CBS4 that the GOP's victim compensation bill would only create "false hope." How quickly Hick changed his tune.
The agreement that was worked out will amend the Governmental Immunity Act to add prescribed burns, one of which started the fire, to a list of waivers to which the Immunity Act does not apply. The amendment will add the Lower North Fork Fire retroactively, allowing victims to seek compensation above the abysmally low caps of $150,000 per person or $600,000 per incident.
With Hickenlooper caving to legislative Republican pressure, this marks the second time Speaker McNulty has forced Hickenlooper to change his position this session. Earlier this year McNulty fought back against Hickenlooper's public opposition and won a major tax cut for seniors.
As we said this morning, Hickenlooper's seeming political invincibility is rapidly dwindling. For such a supposedly savvy political operator, the fact that Hickenlooper had to have his hand forced by the House on compensating victims for the fire demonstrates that the Governor is perhaps more tone-deaf than previously thought.