EFFORTS TO REPEAL ILLEGAL FIRE TAX FAIL IN COMMITTEE
I am extremely disappointed to announce that last month, two of my bills to fight against the illegal fire tax failed in Committee.
Senate Bill 17 would have reversed the Governor’s and legislative Democrats’ decision to raise nearly $85 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.
Although it received bi-partisan support, Senate Bill 17 failed in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on a four-to-three vote (with two members abstaining).
Senate Bill 125 would have exempted 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.
This bill also failed to receive enough votes to pass out of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water. While it conjured significant discussion among the Committee members, it wasn’t enough to compel them to pass the legislation. Members did, however, express interest in continuing the dialogue and exploring future options for addressing concerns with the fire fee and its myriad related issues.
These two bills were an opportunity to “make right” the very wrong fire tax that has impacted 825,000 Californians. People from across the state have voiced their strong opposition to this fire tax and it’s incredibly unfortunate that the legislature has not responded appropriately to their pleas.
I will not give up the fight and vow to continue efforts to ensure this ridiculous fire tax is overturned. I support the two fire tax repeal bills on the Assembly side that have made their way out of Committee and hope they find a better fate than my legislative efforts.
Assembly Bill 23 by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) and Assembly Bill 124 by Assemblyman Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), seeking to overturn the $150 tax, passed out of the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and will await a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations later this year.
I also strongly support the lawsuit filed in March against the state by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association challenging the fee on constitutional grounds.
FIRST THE FIRE TAX...NOW THE HOMEOWNER TAX?
On the heels of my fight against the fire tax, I would like to voice my strong opposition to Assembly Bill 468 by Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata), a measure that would implement a 4.8 percent tax on property insurance policies to create a new “disaster relief fund” in California.
Although this bill would eliminate the $150 “fire tax,” it would implement a new insurance tax on property insurance policies. It is estimated that this new tax would generate nearly $500 million a year to fund a variety of California agencies and departments that are in some way involved in disaster relief.
I’m dumbfounded. I have to hand it to my Democrat colleagues for their boldness. They know their illegal fire tax basically robs $85 million from California taxpayers. They think the way to get rid of it is to pass another tax that will take half-a-billion? That is hardly a bargain for California taxpayers. Although Assemblyman Chesbro has temporarily placed this bill on hold to “address some unresolved issues,” I will fight this new tax in every possible way until it is defeated.