SACRAMENTO – Senator Ted Gaines (R–Rocklin) today stood with fellow legislative Republicans and California’s rural residents to announce Assembly Bill 1506 (R-Jeffries), a measure to 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 11-percent unemployment and families are struggling just to make ends meet.”

Assembly Bill 1506 by Assemblymember Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore) 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 (CalFire), even though their property taxes already contribute to the service contracts that counties have with CalFire.

This tax will be imposed on the owners of more than 800,000 properties in the state. According to census and CalFire data, Senator Gaines’ largely rural district includes nearly 20 percent or approximately 160,000 of the properties whose owners will be subject to the fee.

Last summer, Senator Gaines launched a referendum to repeal the fire tax. Working with the California Republican Party and other key supporters to fight for taxpayer rights, the effort gathered thousands and thousands of signatures, but ultimately fell short of the number needed to qualify the measure.

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

“I will stand with legislative Republicans and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to fight this in every way possible and encourage everyone who might get 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.”

Assembly Bill 1506 has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources. The hearing date is pending.

Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra counties.

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