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Rural CA’s Seat At The Table Kills Fire Tax

Several years ago, I fought hard as urban elites imposed a fire tax on those of us who live in rural areas.

As they shamelessly singled out and burdened an already struggling part of the state, I did everything I could to a give rural folks a voice in a Legislature dominated by urban representatives.

But it’s hard to get people who never leave the city to care about anything east of I-5, so when the recent cap-and-trade negotiations were taking place, I knew this was the only time they would listen.

Do I like cap-and-trade?  Of course not.  But I do see it as a more reasonable way to ensure my folks had cleaner air without driving small businesses and jobs out of California.

The reality is that the aggressive cap on emissions was already law – a law passed over my strong objections.

But how we meet that cap is not already law. So I was left with a choice: either to join this negotiation and make sure the deal causes the least amount of harm to the folks I represent, or to leave the regulations up to the unaccountable bureaucrats.

My Senate district has some of the highest unemployment rates in the state and some of the worst air pollution. Small businesses, farmers, and people like you and me just want the government to stay out of our lives. I’m in Sacramento to represent those concerns in a Legislature dominated by big-government liberals.

The reality is, if this cap-and-trade deal hadn’t passed, our gas prices would have gone up by way more than a dollar a gallon. Those who work hard to grow and process our food would have been driven out of the state. And many of our mom-and-pop businesses would have been forced to close up shop.

So I kept an open mind and brought our voice to the negotiations. As a result, we will no longer be forced to pay a fire fee that never should have been forced on us in the first place. We will finally receive some help from the state to deal with the tree-mortality crisis we are facing, and the regulatory and tax burden our small businesses and farmers were facing was eased.

There was a lot about this deal I didn’t like, but if I had not joined the discussions, if I had just said “No,” rural California would have got nothing and cap-and-trade, or worse, would have become law anyway.

Now that this tough vote is behind me, I look forward to introducing a bill next year that will seek a refund for everyone who has ever been forced to pay the unfair fire tax. The upside of this cap-and-trade deal is that Democrats admitted the fire tax was a bad idea – so those who have been forced to pay it should be made whole.

It’s an honor to represent some of the hardest working people in the most beautiful Senate district in California. By coming to the table and negotiating in good faith, I was able to right several wrongs for rural California. I take this job seriously and believe I did the right thing by my folks.