SACRAMENTO – Although it received bi-partisan support, Senator Ted Gaines’ (R–Rocklin) bill to repeal the illegal fire tax (Senate Bill 17), failed recently in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on a four-to-three vote (with two members abstaining).
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“I am extremely disappointed that the Committee failed to pass this bill. It was an opportunity to make things right with the 825,000 Californians stuck paying the illegal tax,” said Senator Gaines. “I would like to thank all of the constituents who came from across the state to testify in support of the bill. Their messages and testimony were impactful and made a difference.”
Senate Bill 17 would have reversed the Governor’s and legislative Democrats’ decision to raise $84 million in taxes by charging rural property owners a “fee” for fire prevention services as part of the 2011-12 budget. These communities are located in “State Responsibility Areas” (SRA) designated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), even though their property taxes already contribute to the service contracts that counties have with Cal Fire.
“I vow to continue fighting this in every way possible and encourage those who have gotten stuck paying this phony fee to get in the arena and fight it too,” said Senator Gaines. “I have two additional bills that address different aspects of the illegal fire tax and I hope they find a better fate than Senate Bill 17.”
Senate Bill 125 would exempt a property owner of a structure that is located both within an SRA and within the boundaries of a local fire protection district from having to pay the $150 tax.
Senate Bill 147 would exempt any property owner located within an SRA who has an income of less than 200 percent of federal poverty level (as determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines) from paying the $150 fire tax.
These bills have yet to be set for committee hearing.
Senator Gaines also strongly supports the lawsuit filed last month against the state by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association challenging the fee on constitutional grounds.
Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties.