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Senator Gaines introduces legislation to repeal illegal fire tax

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From page A6 | December 12, 2012 | 5 Comments

SACRAMENTO – As his first order of business after being sworn into office yesterday, Senator Ted Gaines (R–Rocklin) introduced legislation that would repeal the fire tax.

“This $150 fire tax is illegal and unfair – plain and simple,” said Gaines. “Many rural property owners already pay local fire agencies for protection so it is clearly double-taxation and it is being dumped on the backs of rural Californians when the state has 10-percent unemployment and families are struggling just to make ends meet.”

Senate Bill 17 would reverse 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.

This tax has been imposed on the owners of more than 800,000 properties in the state. According to census and CAL FIRE data, Senator Gaines’ largely rural district includes nearly 25 percent or approximately 200,000 of the properties whose owners are subject to the fee.

Senator Gaines has been a chief critic of the fire “fee” since its inception, leading a referendum attempting to overturn the tax and co-authoring legislation last session to see it reversed. He also strongly supports the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s class action lawsuit to overturn the fire fee.

Gaines contends that the fire tax attempts to sidestep Proposition 26, which prevents the Legislature from disguising taxes as “fees” and circumventing constitutional requirements for passing higher taxes.

“I vow to fight this in every way possible and encourage everyone who has gotten stuck paying this phony fee to get in the arena and fight it too,” said Gaines. “The answer to fire protection in California is not illegal taxes, but budgets that invest in core government services that protect every citizen in the state – rural, urban and suburban.”

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.

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Discussion | 5 comments

  • Rich MilnerDecember 05, 2012 - 10:44 am

    Regardless you views on the fire tax, the issue will be decided in the courts and not in a legislature dominated by a 2/3 majority of members who voted for the tax. If Senator Gaines wants to REALLY do something for our communities in El Dorado County, then stop pandering to us with useless efforts and at least find ways to work with Democrats on issues where a compromise can be achieved. I realize that most folks don't want the fire tax, but they also don't want partisan bickering. The fact that the first effort of Senator Gaines is a bill that is dead on arrival suggests that the Senator is on the side of fight and marginalize Republican legislators and not on the side of cooperation to achieve important bipartisan solutions to our problems. If the Senator really wants to fight the fire tax, then he should make a large monetary contribution from his campaign funds to the legal battle against it. Now that might be a useful gesture instead of wasting taxpayer money introducing bills that are dead before introduction. Then he could spend his time in the Senate finding ways to really help us instead of giving opponents of the fire tax false hope just to increase his poll numbers.

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  • NancyDecember 12, 2012 - 9:19 am

    I agree with Rich about this being a futile effort. This move is likely to go no where. So, residents of rural California, it is up to us. If we don't like all these taxes/fees and regulations being passed we can vote with our wallets and our feet. However, I believe this may be happening in other states too.

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  • George CabonneDecember 12, 2012 - 12:52 pm

    Gaines: do nothing showboater. What a worthless political animal.

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  • JohnDecember 12, 2012 - 8:11 pm

    George has Gaines pegged right: a showboater of no substance who'll do anything to get his name in the Mountain Democrat. And his wife is cut from the same cloth.

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  • arnold langeDecember 13, 2012 - 12:18 pm

    this article, written about ted gaines, by ted gaines and throughout the article instead of saying "I" did this or "I" did that he refers to himself in the 3rd person. what is he? a sociopath or a self absorbed politition?

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