Committees stop governor’s plan to raise fire fee
By Karen Brainard
The state Senate and Assembly Budget Committees stopped bills to raise a controversial rural fire fee just before the California Legislature went into recess, acccording to a spokesman for State Senator Joel Anderson.
Anderson has been a vocal critic of the fire fee that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on July 7 and would impose a maximum of $150 per habitable structure on properties in state responsibility areas (SRAs) that are serviced by Cal Fire. The Republican senator’s district includes Ramona, which is surrounded by SRAs.
Right from the start, the bill that introduced the fee, authored by a Democrat assemblyman representing the San Fernando Valley, was criticized for its language, which did not define habitable structures and stated the money could only be used for fire prevention.
On Aug. 22, the California Forestry and Fire Protection Board adopted emergency regulations, as required by the law, and lowered the maximum fee to $90 per structure.
Anderson said Brown proposed instead to raise the fee to $175 for habitable structures.
Two bills to amend the law, ABx1 24 and SBx1 7, were held in the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees but never made it to the floor, said Anderson’s communications director, Jim Kjol.
“There was a lot of discussion about it and pointed questions by Sen. Anderson and others,” he said.
The Democrats decided not to push the bills through and neither came up for a vote in the committees, he said.
Unless the governor calls a special session, any amendments to the law will not happen until the next session, which begins Jan. 4, 2012, Kjol said.
In addition to increasing the fee, the amendments proposed included charging property owners up to $1 per acre.
Anderson told the Sentinel on Saturday that public safety issues should be borne by everyone, as fires can travel into more populated areas as in the case of the 2003 Cedar fire. He added that those in high crime areas are not charged more for police protection.
- Contentious rural fire tax strips Cal Fire of money, says Berlant
- Bill to establish fire tax awaits governor’s action
- Governor signs fire tax bill for rural areas
- Board reduces new rural fire fee
- Supervisors oppose rural fire tax, Cal Fire cuts
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