From an Assemblyman James Gallagher Press Release

Assemblyman James Gallagher’s (R-Yuba City) Assembly Bills 3122 and 3078, which were introduced in response to the 2017 wildfires, both passed out of committee this week with unanimous bipartisan support.  AB 3122 will better clarify the tax relief available to people affected by the wildfires, and AB 3078 would increase penalties for individuals who take advantage of disasters to commit crimes.

The 2017 wildfires were some of most destructive ever recorded, with 44 casualties and billions in damages.  In the months following the wildfires, many individuals whose property was damaged applied for reassessment and property tax relief.  However, if a property did not have enough damage for reassessment, it would not be eligible for tax deferral and individuals could face penalties for waiting to pay their taxes until their property was reassessed. AB 3122 allows anyone affected by a natural disaster to apply for relief, without the risk of penalties if they end up not qualifying.

“AB 3122 will ensure that people who are already facing a tough situation are not put in a position where they have to choose between applying for relief and paying penalties if they don’t qualify, or not applying at all,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher’s other bill, AB 3078, closes a loophole in current law by expanding the crime of looting to include when theft occurs during an evacuation order.  Under current law, the crime of looting, which carries higher penalties than theft, only applies if a state of emergency has been declared.  In many cases, crimes are committed during evacuation orders prior the official declaration of a state of emergency.

“People who take advantage of disasters to commit crimes should face higher penalties for targeting communities when they are most vulnerable.  The Oroville spillway failure, wildfires, and recent mudslides all required rapid evacuations, in some cases before a state of emergency was officially declared,” said Gallagher.

Both of Gallagher’s bills now head to the Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

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