A controversial fee for fire assistance is going through an overhaul

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A California lawmaker wants to overhaul the controversial new fire fee on rural property owners to quell some of the criticism.

Democratic Assemblyman Wes Chesbro's bill would shift the fee from an equal charge for everyone to one based on factors like property size and fire risk.

It would also let a property owner who already pays a local fire fee deduct that amount from the $150 state fee.

"There are many members - probably every rural member - who would like to get rid of the fee," says Chesbro. "My challenge in attracting some Republican votes is finding some Republicans who are willing to say, I'm against it, I hate it, but like the Democrat from the North Coast, the next best thing is to try to make it fairer."

But one of the fee's leading GOP critics says a court will find it unconstitutional anyway - so he doesn't support making smaller changes.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association plans to challenge the fee as soon as the state starts to collect it.

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