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Wheatland Sun

Gallagher Bills for Fire Survivors and Fund Fire Protection Signed

Oct 20, 2023 11:39AM ● By the Office of Assm. Leader James Gallagher

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City) is proud to announce that two pieces of legislation he authored have been signed into law by Gov. Newsom. The bills, Assembly Bill 556 and Assembly Bill 570 will address important local priorities for the 3rd Assembly District by providing additional funding for fire protection and helping Camp Fire survivors recover.

In 2018, the Camp Fire killed 85 people and destroyed more than 18,000 structures in and around Paradise, making it the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. Since the fire, more than 2,500 homes have been rebuilt, with roughly 700 homes currently under construction, making Paradise the fastest-growing city in California for the second year in a row.

California allows survivors of disasters such as the Camp Fire to avoid a property tax increase by transferring the assessed value of their previous home when they rebuild or purchase a new property within five years. The scale of the destruction and uncertainty surrounding how survivors would be compensated made it difficult for many to rebuild within the five-year time frame. AB 556 addresses that problem by providing survivors an additional three years to retain their home’s base value as they work to recover.

“The passage of AB 556 is a major milestone in recovery for the residents of Paradise,” said Paradise Mayor Greg Bolin. “We appreciate the work of Assemblyman Gallagher in moving this important legislation forward for our community.”

“California is committed to helping Camp Fire survivors rebuild their homes, lives and community,” said Gallagher. “The resilience of the people of Paradise is an inspiration to people around the state, and we will do everything possible to help them continue to recover.”

AB 570 will make County Service Areas that provide fire protection services, such as the Sutter County Fire Department, eligible for grant funding from the Special District Fire Response Fund. In November 2020, voters approved Proposition 19, which will generate additional revenue for fire protection in the state’s most underfunded areas. Despite the fact that they provide the same services and face the same budgetary challenges as the fire districts that would receive Prop. 19 grants, County Service Areas were excluded from that funding. AB 570 fixes that difference, recognizing that all Californians deserve well-funded, professional fire protection services.

“Sutter County appreciates Assemblyman Gallagher’s successful effort to ensure Sutter County Community Service Area F is treated like every other professional fire district in the state when it comes to competing for state grant funds for rural fire departments from the Office of Emergency Management,” said Karm Bains, Chairman of the Sutter County Board of Supervisors. “Fire suppression and medical response in rural California are critical and expensive public safety services.”

“Firefighters go above and beyond to protect our communities, and this bill will give them equal access to the resources they need to get the job done,” said Gallagher. “The grants opened up by AB 570 will help our firefighters with improved training, modern equipment and high-quality facilities.”

AB 556 will take effect immediately, while AB 570 will take effect January 1, 2024.