REDDING, Calif. - Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, Senator Doug LaMalfa and a well-known taxpayer group all voiced their concerns about the so-called "fire tax" at an event in Redding Tues. afternoon.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the $150 annual fee into law last year which would tax people in rural areas to provide additional funding for local fire departments.
Now, Assemblyman Nielsen, Senator LaMalfa and David Wolfe of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association are all working to repeal what they are calling an "unconstitutional" tax increase.
The lawsuit was filed against the state earlier this month by the taxpayer association, which claims that the "annual fee" is actually a tax. The lawsuit argues that either the fee should have been implemented by a ballot measure or it should have required a two-thirds vote in the legislature.
The fee was passed last summer by a simple majority only.
The parties involved in the suit believe that the "fire tax" is illegal because there is no direct benefit for citizens paying the annual fee.
They said for some, it could even be considered a "double tax."
"It's going to be again, $150 in a tough economy," LaMalfa said. "There are a lot of people with unemployment or who had their hours cut back and gas prices are up so there's going to be a lot of people upset over this tax when they receive it, especially since they are not going to see any more improvements of their fire protection that they already pay taxes for."
Assemblyman Nielsen called this fight a "firestorm" and said he is confident that it will be overturned in court.
The group is encouraging people who are being forced to pay the fee to join their fight against it. They are telling everyone to pay the fee for now, but to sign their petition.
If you would like more information on the lawsuit and petition, please visit firetaxprotest.org.