Republicans to propose repeal of California fire tax
Republicans plan to call for the repeal of a controversial wildfire fee that Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature imposed on rural homeowners last year to cover the cost of wildland firefighting.
GOP lawmakers said they would outline the details of their legislation Thursday at a Capitol news conference. Also scheduled to attend is Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., which has argued that the fee is really a tax and should not have been passed without a two-thirds vote.
The bill, AB 1506, would strike last year's law, which requires rural homeowners who rely on state firefighters to pay as much as $150 annually for fire-prevention services. The administration had estimated that the fee could raise as much as $200 million a year from the more than 846,000 homeowners who live within more than 31 million acres of "state responsibility areas," where Cal Fire is the primary responder.
A spokesman for the governor told The Times last year that the levy will "ensure that landowners in these areas that receive a disproportionate benefit from Cal Fire's services pay an appropriate portion of the state's wildland firefighting costs."
Republicans, local fire officials and rural homeowners have said that the fee unfairly taxes many communities twice for fire protection because they already pay special levies for local firefighting crews.
Some GOP lawmakers had hoped to overturn the fee through a referendum but abandoned the campaign last year after failing to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: A house in Tehachapi burns to the ground in a 2010 fire. Credit: Felix Adamo/Associated Press