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Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
By Melody Gutierrez
April 15, 2013

Two Republican-backed measures to repeal a fire prevention fee levied on some rural California residents cleared an Assembly committee Monday.

Similar bills by Assemblymen Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga (Assembly Bill 124), and Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks (Assembly Bill 23), passed on bipartisan 5-2 votes in the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, but their prospects are already being questioned.

Revenue from a fee must be spent to benefit those who pay it. Otherwise, it is considered a tax requiring a two-thirds vote. The fire fee was approved on a majority vote in 2011.

Morrell and Donnelly contend that the fee is actually a tax. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has sued the state on those grounds.

“Because this fee was approved in a budget trailer bill, it did not receive proper scrutiny by the Legislature during the committee process. … The public was once again denied their right to weigh in on this important public policy change,” Morrell said.

The bills will next head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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