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NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION

Published on January 27, 2016 by in Uncategorized

NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION

IF YOU HAVE PAID CALIFORNIA’S FIRE PREVENTION FEE, A PENDING CLASS ACTION MAY AFFECT YOUR RIGHTS.

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, et al., v. California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection, Sacramento County Superior Court Case No. 34-2012-00133197 (“Case”), alleges that California’s fire prevention fee is invalid.  You may be entitled to a refund. WHAT THE LAWSUIT IS ABOUT

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and other named plaintiffs (“Plaintiffs”) filed this Case to challenge the fire prevention fee collected by the Board of Equalization (“BOE”) for the Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (“CAL FIRE”) (collectively “State”).

Plaintiffs seek to invalidate the fire prevention fee imposed by Assembly Bill 29 of the First Extraordinary Session  of 2011 (“ABX1-29″) as actually a tax that required, but did not receive, two-thirds legislative approval under Article XIII A, section 3 of the California Constitution (Proposition 13).  Plaintiffs also seek a refund of the fees paid by members of the Class.

The State defendants disagree with Plaintiffs and assert that the fee is constitutional, therefore no refund or other relief is warranted.

The Court has not decided who is right. LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS OF CLASS MEMBERS

All persons or entities who currently or formerly fit this description are members of the Class: “Owners of property with habitable structures thereon, whose property has been designated part of the State Responsibility Area, who have paid the fire prevention fee imposed by the disputed ABX1-29, and who completed and timely submitted to CAL FIRE a Petition for Redetermination disputing the validity of the fee.”

If you fall within the description of the Class, you are automatically a member of the Class and represented in the Case.  If you wish to remain a member of the Class, you do not need to do anything at this time.  As a Class member:

  • You will be represented by the named Plaintiffs, and by class counsel: Jonathan M. Coupal, Trevor A. Grimm, Timothy A. Bittle, and/or Brittany A. Sitzer, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation, 921 Eleventh St., Ste. 1201, Sacramento, CA 95814.
  • If you wish, you may enter a separate appearance in the Case through your own attorney that you hire by mailing a Notice of Appearance to the Clerk of the Superior Court, 720 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.For good cause, you may also file a motion to appear as a named class co-representative.
  • You will receive notice of any ruling affecting your membership in the Class and notice of any proposed settlement or dismissal of class claims, or any judgment rendered.
  • You will be bound by any judgment or other final disposition of the lawsuit, whether favorable or not.
  • If refunds are awarded by the Court, you will be entitled to claim a refund by submitting to BOE whatever proof of entitlement the Court may require.
  • You will be deemed to have consented to the State’s disclosure of information about you from State records (e.g., your Petition(s) for Redetermination and payment history) as may be ordered or approved by the Court to determine the amount of any refund or other relief to which you may be entitled.

ELECTION TO NOT PARTICIPATE (“OPTING OUT”)

You have the right to exclude yourself (“opt-out”) from the Class, meaning that you will not be legally bound by any judgment or ruling entered by the Court and that you can independently pursue or not pursue whatever claims you may have, outside of the Case.

To “opt-out,” simply mail a letter to class counsel postmarked by Monday, March 7, 2016, stating, “I hereby assert my right to be excluded from the Class in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, et al., v. California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection, Sacramento County Superior Court Case No. 34-2012-00133197.”  Please print your name and current mailing address, along with (if different) your mailing address at the time you paid the fire prevention fee.  Sign the letter and mail it, postmarked by Monday, March 7, 2016, to class counsel:  Timothy A. Bittle, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation, 921 Eleventh St., Ste. 1201, Sacramento, CA 95814.

The pleadings and all other records of this litigation may be examined and copied during regular office hours at the office of the Clerk of the Court.  Do not call the Court or the Clerk’s office regarding this Notice. If you have questions about this Notice, contact class counsel at the above address.

 
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Update: The judge has granted our Motion regarding Class Notice!

Published on January 26, 2016 by in Uncategorized

We now have the judge’s approval of the Class Notice’s contents and the ways it will be publicized.  This is an important step in the class action because, once notice is given and the time has passed for people to opt out, everyone who has not opted out will be a plaintiff in our lawsuit and therefore entitled to a refund if we win.  We will begin this official notification process next week, so you can expect to be hearing from us again very soon!

Click here to read the judge’s ruling that granted our motion.

 
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News: Fire districts losing tax votes point finger at state fee

Published on October 23, 2015 by in Uncategorized

Local fire officials are expressing concern that the statewide fire tax has harmed efforts to raise taxes for local fire protection, due to a false voter perception that the statewide fee’s revenue goes to local fire districts.  In actuality, much of the $300 million raised by the state fire tax is instead spent on administration, inspections and other activities that do not help local communities who pay the tax.

Click here to read the article.

 
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Update: Hearing on motion to certify class cancelled

Published on August 6, 2015 by in Uncategorized

Today, the Sacramento County Superior Court issued a tentative ruling in HJTA’s fire tax case.  In it, the court granted certification of a class including all persons who are entitled to a refund of fire taxes that they paid; that is, property owners who paid the fire tax and timely filed Petitions for Redetermination.

This tentative ruling is essentially exactly the outcome that HJTA was hoping for.

Click here to read more.

 
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News: California fire fee lawsuit could become class action

Published on May 15, 2015 by in Uncategorized

A recent telephone town hall on the fire tax was joined by Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Board of Equalization Members George Runner and Diane Harkey and Senator Mike Morrell, who introduced fire tax repeal legislation in the last legislative session.  While the BOE collects the fire tax, Runner and Harkey expressed their opposition to the policy while Coupal discussed the court’s consideration of making the lawsuit a class action, reports the Siskiyou Daily News.

Click here to read the article.

 
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Update: May 13th Fire Tax Telephone Townhall

Published on May 9, 2015 by in Uncategorized

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal will join Board of Equalization Members Diane Harkey and George Runner as well as Senator Mike Morrell for an important telephone townhall on the fire tax this May 13 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm.

Click here for more information.

 
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Action alert: Support fire tax repeal legislation

Published on April 7, 2015 by in Uncategorized

Senator Tom Berryhill and Assemblyman Frank Bigelow have introduced Senate Bill 520 to repeal the fire tax.  The proposal will be considered Tuesday, April 14th in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water.  You can make yourself heard in support of SB 520 by attending the hearing and calling members of the committee to tell them to vote YES.

Click here to download a letter template to send to your representative.

Click here to continue reading the action alert.

 
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News: Fourth Round of California Fire Prevention Fee Bills Begins Mailing

Published on March 4, 2015 by in Uncategorized

A fourth round of fire tax bills will soon land in people’s mailboxes around California, reports the Sierra Sun Times. Bills will be sent alphabetically with counties starting with “A” receiving bills first.  Board of Equalization Member George Runner is continuing to support the fire tax lawsuit brought by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and has sponsored legislative bills to repeal the tax and to extend the amount of time property owners have to pay.

Click here to read the article.

 
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News: High-speed rail threatens key fire station

Published on October 15, 2014 by in Uncategorized

A major fire station in Hanford could face serious logistical issues if high speed rail plans move forward, reports the Hanford Sentinel.  The facility, which includes a helipad for airlifting ambulance patients to medical treatment, could be cut off from easy road access by a large retaining wall planned in association with the rail project.  This could create serious delays in life-or-death situations where every second counts.

Click here to read the article.

 
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Opinion: Fire fee lawsuit update

Published on May 29, 2014 by in Uncategorized

Board of Equalization member George Runner writes in the Sierra Star that money collected through the fire tax is actually prohibited from being used for fire suppression activities such as buying hoses, trucks and planes.  While the revenues are not used for fighting fires, State lawyers continue to fight taxpayer challenges as to the Constitutionality of the tax every step of the way.

Click here to read the article.

 
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