CALIFORNIA – The class action lawsuit filed by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) challenging the “fire prevention fee” as an illegal tax under Proposition 13, is scheduled for a hearing in Sacramento Superior Court on Friday, July 19.
“This lawsuit is at a critical crossroad,” says HJTA in a message from their website http://firetaxprotest.org/.They go on to say that the State responded to the lawsuit by filing what is called a “demurrer,” which is a pleading that attacks the legal theories upon which the lawsuit is based.
“A successful demurrer could knock the lawsuit out of court before there is ever a trial,” says HJTA. “In its demurrer, the State argues that our case cannot be brought as a class action, and that no one is entitled to relief who did not file a timely petition for redetermination with the California Department of Forestry.”
As part of the 2011-2012 state budget, AB 29X was passed, requiring anyone living in what has been designated a State Responsibility Area (SRA) to pay $150 per habitable structure on the property. An SRA is an area where the state bears the primary responsibility for fire suppression and prevention.
The HJTA filed suit in October 2012, challenging the constitutionality of the fee on the grounds it is really a tax that needed a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to pass, but garnered only a bare majority and therefore never became law.
The Court has scheduled a hearing for July 19, at 10 a.m. in Department 14 of Sacramento Superior Court, 720 Ninth St., Sacramento.
HJTA lawyers will defend their theory that the State should not be allowed to keep anyone’s money if the fee is indeed illegal. At the hearing the Court will either sustain or overrule the State’s demurrer.
“Remember, a lawsuit is a slow process, and a full resolution can sometimes take years,” says HJTA. “However, we are making important progress in our fight to protect the rights of taxpayers against this unfair fire tax.”
For more information, call the Fire Prevention Fee Service Center, toll-free, at 888-310-6447, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or visit their website at www.firepreventionfee.org