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House passes CO detector bill

4:41 PM, Feb 3, 2009   |    comments
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On Tuesday, they gave preliminary approval to House Bill 1091 which would require carbon monoxide detectors in Colorado's new homes, homes for sale and rental properties where tenants were switched.

Wednesday morning the House of Representatives announced that HB 1091 passed 43 - 21.

Lauren Johnson was a graduate student at the University of Denver who died last month from carbon monoxide poisoning. Workers at her off-campus apartment building had tried to repair a boiler vent and in the process, closed off the ventilation.

"There's been a huge sacrifice to get to this point," said Don Johnson, Lauren Johnson's father. "We're trying to see some meaning come from the loss of some very special people."

In addition to Lauren Johnson, the measure was introduced after the deaths of the Lofgren family from Denver. The four family members were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in a mountain home they had won for a week in a school auction. Extended members of the two families now communicate regularly by phone and e-mail to guarantee they have a presence at every step of the legislative process.

"We're concerned that there's a visible presence of those who have suffered a great loss because of such a senseless thing as carbon monoxide and no detectors," Johnson said. "It's so inexpensive to fix that."

The cost of requiring detectors in every Colorado college dormitory and veterans' home has sunk efforts to expand the measure past largely single-family dwellings. Critics say asking the public to do this without the state being willing to do this itself is hypocritical.

"That's not good public policy," said Rep. Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch). "That's bad public policy."

Supporters realize this is not a perfect measure, but instead a start.

"If it doesn't cover everybody in every situation, we'll be the first to support additional bills in the near future that would make it more comprehensive," said Johnson. "But right now, we're concerned it be passed as quickly as possible and that we not lose the momentum that we've gained."

The next step for HB 1091 is to be assigned to a Senate committee for testimony and a vote.

For more information on HB 1091, click here.

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