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Tax Group Sues To Block California Fire Prevention Fee

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A sign warning of extremely dangerous fire hazard conditions stands next to a road in Sequoia National Forest in the Sierra Nevada. (David McNew/Getty Images)

A sign warning of extremely dangerous fire hazard conditions stands next to a road in Sequoia National Forest in the Sierra Nevada. (David McNew/Getty Images)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — A taxpayer group is joining with plaintiffs throughout California in seeking to block a fee that is being assessed on more than 800,000 property owners to raise money for fire prevention.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed the lawsuit Thursday in Sacramento County Superior Court. It is joined by 11 plaintiffs from nine counties.

The lawsuit claims that the $150 annual fee being assessed on 825,000 rural properties is actually an illegal tax that required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature rather than the simple majority vote it received.

It asks for a declaration about whether the fee is valid and refunds for those who paid the fee and filed a claim with the state.

The fee is expected to raise $84.4 million for the state fire department.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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