Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill Friday providing Arizona with a $100 million investment to prevent wildfires as fires continue to force evacuations and destroy infrastructure.
After Ducey initiated a special session on June 10, legislators voted to send House Bill 2001 to the governor’s office Wednesday with bipartisan support. The bill passed the House 56-2 and the Senate 24-2.
Lawmakers who voted against the bill expressed frustration that the measure didn’t do more to address climate change, something they labeled as the root cause of the fires. Others were dissatisfied that Ducey called a special session for the fires when he wouldn’t do so for COVID-19.
Legislators hope the bill will prevent further destruction. The Telegraph Fire has already burned more than 85,300 acres and the Mescal Fire has burned more than 70,000 acres. At least nine wildfires are currently burning in Arizona, and the Telegraph Fire, located east of the valley, continues to force Gila and Pinal county residents to evacuate.
Of the $100 million appropriation, $75 million will go to fire suppression and recovery efforts and the remaining $25 million will be spent removing hazardous vegetation.
House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, have personally experienced the repercussions of this year’s wildfires. Bowers lost his family cabin and Cook lost about three-quarters of his ranch land as well as over $1 million in infrastructure.
Ducey thanked both legislators for their support of the bill.
“I’m grateful that legislative leadership, legislators from both sides of the aisle, and I were able to quickly come together in a bipartisan manner for the safety and protection of our communities,” Ducey said.
The governor said that it was clear that action needed to be taken against the fires in response to the number of Arizonans displaced, homes burned, and land destroyed.
“Many Arizona communities have already felt the impacts of this year’s wildfire season — people and pets have been displaced, homes have burned down, swaths of land have been decimated,” Ducey tweeted. “It was clear that we had to do more to fight these fires.”
This article was originally posted on Ducey signs $100 million wildfire relief bill