Calif. Measure Would Raise Funds for Smoke Detectors


The Californian legislature is considering a bill that gives residents the option to donate all or part of their tax refunds to help pay for smoke detectors for low-income families.

Assemblyman Juan Arambula, D-Fresno, introduced the legislation in response to the deaths of two young sisters from Calwa. Ruvi Escalante, 8, and Anna Nicole Romero Escalante, 9, got trapped in an accidental electrical fire in February 2007. The home did not have smoke detectors.

Assembly Bill 1812 would create a state-run “fire safety fund” that taxpayers could donate to by checking off the fund on their tax returns. Cities, counties and fire departments could apply for grants to give smoke detectors to low-income families.

The fund would be created only after one of the 11 “check-off” funds now displayed on tax returns expires or is repealed. Funds are routinely removed for failing to meet donation thresholds, which typically range from $250,000 to $350,000, according to the Fresno Bee.

The fund could be added sooner if the state Franchise Tax Board finds that there is enough room to add it without adding a costly new page to tax forms.

Arambula’s bill recently passed the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee on a 9-0 vote.

Sylvia Escalante, mother of Ruvi and Anna Nicole, attended the hearing.

“I really do hope that we’re going to save more lives,” she told the newspaper. “I encourage the taxpayers to please donate. A dollar will make a big difference.”

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