History of "smog impact fee" reveals governmental corruption
California's Illegal Smog Impact Fee by Senator Maurice Johannessen
The California Court of Appeals on October 1  declared unconstitutional California's $300 Smog Impact Fee imposed on vehicles brought in from other states.
For five years I've sought to eliminate this fee from the books. I've introduced three repeal bills and argued relentlessly that the fee is unconstitutional, only to be shuffled aside by the all-powerful Senate Appropriations Committee . . .
I told my colleagues how the fee violates both the state and federal constitutions and that we better repeal it before the State gets into deep legal trouble. . . .
. . . Did the California Legislature listen? No. My colleagues chose to ignore a Legislative Counsel Opinion that declared the fee illegal. They refused to look at a 1994 Florida Supreme Court ruling which tossed out a similar fee. Furthermore, lawmakers took no heed to an April 1996 trial court ruling which also threw out the fee. . . .
. . . Over a million people [actually about 1.7 million] have paid this fee during the last ten years, but many will not get their money back because only those who paid the fee within the last three years can file for a refund. And to make matters worse, the State has no intention of notifying anyone that they have a right to apply for a refund.
This is dead wrong and I find this whole scenario unconscionable! First, the State knowingly and willfully exacted an unfair tax on people moving to California. Second, they refused to repeal it when told the fee was unconstitutional. Then, the State continued to collect and spend the ill-gotten gain, and finally, after the legal appeals were decided, the State said it would only reimburse those who figure it out on their own that they are eligible for a refund . . .
. . . if the State won't refund everyone who was forced to pay the illegal tax, I will introduce new language in my SB 230 to require the State to make complete reimbursement.
California eventually passed legislation for full reimbursement -- with interest -- to everyone who paid the fee.
BTW, the vehicle tax that was declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court was not emissions-based.
Another article against the fee, written by another state senator, is here.
Considering that there were about 1.7 million victims of the fee over the years, how did this abominable tax from hell last so long? Certainly more than a few people wondered why they had to pay this fee when their out-of-state vehicles were required to pass the same smog checks as comparable California-certified vehicles and they were sometimes required to pay hundreds of dollars for repairs if their vehicles failed the checks. The problem was that these people had no voice because they were not organized, and organizations that could have helped them did not lift a finger to do so. In 1995, the powerful Auto Club of Southern California (which Wikipedia says is a $3 billion outfit) informed me that they asked the governor to veto the fee when it was introduced in 1990. I told them that the new lawsuits against the fee were a good opportunity to inform their members about the fee but they inexplicably refused to do so. Also, the ACLU of Florida was a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the unconstitutional vehicle tax in Florida and so I urged the ACLU of Southern California to inform its members about the smog impact fee and their response was, "we don't have the resources for this." The ACLU-SC has the "resources" to sue Los Angeles County over a tiny cross in the county seal (the ACLU only threatened to sue but I presume that it was not an idle threat) but did not have the "resources" to even just inform its members of a big grossly unconstitutional tax that over a million people had paid.
No, ViW, Kevin Vicklund, Bill Carter, etc., I am not interested in hearing about what a wonderful thing the smog impact fee was.