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¡No Se Deje!
The American legal system allows cities, counties, states and the federal government to enact laws that are effective within their respective jurisdictions. This system usually produces useful and productive laws and ordinances. The U. S. Constitution establishes a system of priorities in which city and county ordinances cannot contradict state or federal laws and state laws cannot contradict federal laws. This principal was used in California to try to stop cities and counties from enacting “Crash Tax Laws”.
Crash Tax laws are laws that impose a fee or fine on people involved in accidents to reimburse the city or county for the cost of providing emergency or public safety services. These services usually include police, paramedic, hospital, and other emergency services and often cost thousands of dollars. Some crash tax laws only charge people that cause accidents while others only charge people that have accident insurance. Other cities charge everyone in the accident while others only charge non-residents. These services are traditionally paid for by the taxpayers of each jurisdiction in the form or property and sales taxes.
Experts speculate that the bad economic situation is causing struggling cities and counties to use these crash taxes to raise much needed money. Thousands of residents and citizens of California have reacted aggressively and many have complained to their state senators and assembly representatives that crash taxes are a form of double taxation.
More than 50 California cities, and several counties, have passed crash tax laws. The cities of Sacramento, Oceanside, and Vista have now repealed their enacted crash tax laws after determining that the increase in income was far less than promised. To date, 13 states have passed laws to prohibit cities and counties from enacting crash tax laws. Investigations have revealed that collection agencies often contact cities and counties with financial problems and convince them to pass crash tax laws. The collection agencies are then paid a percentage of all amounts they collect for the use of police and emergency services
Senate bill 49 first proposed in 2010 would prohibit any city, county, district, municipal corporation, or public authority from charging any fee to anyone, regardless of residency, for the cost of an emergency response. The proposed law also declared that the California legislature has determined that the availability and use of emergency response resources throughout the state is an issue of statewide concern and not an appropriate matter for cities or counties to regulate.
The Senate Bill failed passage in committee and was returned to Secretary of Senate in May 2012. Supporters of Senate Bill 49 said that the public should not have to worry before calling for help because they cannot afford to pay for police or ambulance services. We expect the elected legislature will reconsider this much needed law and finally pass it ¡NO SE DEJE! ®.
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ