Governor Signs Bill by Senator Jerry Hill to Aid All-Volunteer Fire Departments

September 11, 2020

For Immediate Release – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – Friday, September 11, 2020

Governor Signs Bill by Senator Jerry Hill to Aid All-Volunteer Fire Departments

SACRAMENTO – For at least another five years, all-volunteer fire departments will be able to hang onto all money they earn in pancake breakfasts, T-shirt sales and other efforts to raise cash to help fund their operations, under a bill by Senator Jerry Hill that Governor Gavin Newsom signed Friday.

Senate Bill 38 provides a sales tax exemption to all-volunteer fire departments to ensure that the funds they raise – money these departments depend on to do their jobs and serve their communities – stay with the departments,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.

SB 38 allows all-volunteer fire departments to refrain from paying sales tax to the state on proceeds from fundraising sales until January 1, 2026. Current law provides the exemption only until January 1, 2021. The sales tax reprieve applies only to all-volunteer fire departments whose gross receipts for their fundraising sales do not exceed $100,000 in each of the two prior consecutive years of any given tax year.

SB 38 extends the provisions of Senator Hill’s SB 598, a 2015 bill that established the arrangement for all-volunteer fire departments for a five-year period.

The original legislation was inspired by the La Honda Fire Brigade, whose fundraising enabled the volunteer department to purchase a new $500,000 fire engine and a new $30,000 roof for the brigade’s fire station. The department, and others like it in the state, also use their earnings from fundraisers to purchase firefighting suits, breathing apparatus and other expensive gear.

All-volunteer departments are critical to California’s firefighting forces and our state’s ability to battle wildfires, Senator Hill wrote in a letter that asked the governor to sign SB 38. In 2018, an estimated third of California’s 28,000 firefighters were members of all-volunteer departments, Senator Hill noted.

“As California’s firefighters continue to place themselves between their communities and raging wildfires, it is the state’s responsibility to make sure they have the funds to do the job,” Senator Hill wrote. “SB 38 is an important step toward fulfilling that responsibility.”

SB 38 takes effect January 1, 2021.

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Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov, 415-298-3404