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GOP lawmaker seeks referendum on new fire fee

July 20, 2011 |  1:02 pm

A Republican state lawmaker said Wednesday he was filing paperwork to ask voters to overturn a new $150 annual fee on rural homeowners who depend on state firefighting services.

More than 846,000 homeowners live in eligible zones, and the fee is expected to raise as much as $200 million for California’s budget. But Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville), who represents much of the rural region of the northern Sierras, from the border with Oregon down to Mono Lake, wants to stop the fee from going into effect.

"Today I filed referendum papers to repeal ABx 29 -- the $150 fire tax on rural homeowners," Gaines wrote on Twitter.

The California Republican Party is also backing the effort, said spokesman Mark Standriff.

Supporters of the proposed referendum must now collect about 505,000 valid voter signatures in order to qualify their measure for the ballot.

This marks the second piece of the 2011-12 budget facing a referendum. Earlier this month, Amazon.com said it would push a referendum to stop a new state law that requires online retailers to collect sales taxes. That law is also expected to generate about $200 million in revenue.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

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