Democratic Assemblyman Wes Chesbro's bill would let a property owner who already pays a local fire fee deduct that amount from the $150 state fee. It would also shift the fee from a flat charge on everyone to a sliding scale based on factors like fire risk and property size.
Chesbro: "I don't believe that the fiscal committees or the governor are likely to eliminate the fee. So the only real choice is to try to make it fairer."
But Republican Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, who has a bill that would repeal the fee entirely, says it's unconstitutional - even with Chesbro's changes.
Jeffries: "Look - the tax is bad to begin with. We don't need to tinker with it. We need to wipe it off the books."
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has promised a lawsuit against the fee as soon as the state begins collecting it.