Alex Vassar moving to the Assembly

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A note from Editor Alex Vassar:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As of this morning, I am once again an employee of the state legislature. Recently, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly asked me to return to serve as his Chief of Staff and after some careful deliberation and conversations, I decided that this was where I need to be. I’ve always been intrigued by the Assembly; it’s a volatile place that has produced many of California’s greatest leaders in the past century. My time with Senator George Runner at the State Board of Equalization was a fascinating journey into the policy field of state taxes and fees, and I learned several very important lessons.

The biggest lesson that I learned at the Board is that when administering a new tax or fee, it’s critical to have an actual count of whatever it is that you’re charging the taxpayers for. In the case of the Fire Fee, the Legislature approved a tax of $150 on each habitable structure (that means “house”) within an area called the State Responsibility Area (SRA). The problem was that the SRA had never been intended to be used as a tax collection device and nobody had an actual count of the habitable structures within the area. Add onto that confusion over the definition of what exactly a “habitable structure” is (houses, condos, and mobile homes are while RVs, houseboats, and cabins without power and water are not, and double-wide mobile homes are likely to get accidentally triple-billed). Making laws is an important business and it’s critical that it be done well.

Being back in the Building is probably going to limit the number that I’ll be posting in the near future; the combination of limited time for research and writing and the desire to avoid discussion of current events is going to cut down on the volume of my posts.

I look forward to renewing old friendships and experiencing the Home of Ohnimus for myself.

Alex Vassar


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