La Honda Fire Brigade Wins “Oughta Be a Law” Contest

February 28, 2015

Half Moon Bay Review
By Julie Reis

The livelihood of the La Honda Fire Brigade relies exclusively on volunteers, from the 14 individuals who serve as firefighters to the board members who organize fundraising efforts like the annual pancake breakfast and crab cioppino dinner. Those events contribute toward the brigade’s annual $40,000 budget, which is all fundraised dollars.

Now, thanks to a bill introduced Friday by State Senator Jerry Hill, the volunteer fire department and others like it around California may soon get to pocket thousands of dollars more. The La Honda Fire Brigade won Hill’s 7th annual “Oughta Be a Law…Or Not” contest with its recommendation that volunteer fire departments should not have to pay state sales tax on its fundraising efforts. California law currently exempts not for profit organizations operating in the public interest from paying state sales tax on fundraising efforts from selling personal items like food.

The brigade’s recommendation stood out among nearly 400 submissions, Hill said in part when he heard how many of California’s firefighters are volunteers – 25,000, or 40 percent of all who serve.

“What I always like to do with ‘Oughta Be a Law’ is consider ‘Is it something we believe in? Does it have a broader benefit than a local issue? And is it something that has a chance of passing?’” Hill said. “When I heard the idea I recognized it wasn’t just that the La Honda Fire Brigade had this problem – it goes statewide.”