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State lawmakers advance two bills for wildfire recovery aid

State lawmakers in Tennessee have advanced two bills aimed at helping people recover from deadly wildfires in eastern Tennessee that occurred in late 2016.

On Monday, the Senate favored a proposal to let local governments go on private property to clean up debris at the owner’s request. That proposal still needs House approval.

The Senate and House also cleared a bill that would let a local government offer tax relief on real and personal property damaged by the wildfire, if the idea received a two-thirds vote within that local government. That bill soon heads to Gov. Bill Haslam.

The debris clean-up bill would let Gatlinburg get Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement for cleanup on many residential private properties.

The November wildfires killed 14 people in the Gatlinburg area and destroyed or damaged thousands of buildings in the city.

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