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Bill extends various fees to fund air quality programs
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SACRAMENTO (AP) — The Assembly on Thursday advanced a bill extending a series of fees to pay for programs aimed at improving air quality.

Democratic Assemblyman Henry Perea of Fresno said his legislation is needed to continue reducing air pollution. He says more than 90 percent of Californians live in counties with unhealthy air during some parts of the year.

"While great progress has been made in improving air quality, California has two of the most polluted regions in the nation: the South Coast Air Basin and the San Joaquin Valley," Perea said.

Fees to be extended under AB8 include ones on new tires and vehicle and boat registrations. It also extends a smog abatement charge on newer cars and an assessment on special identification plates for construction equipment.

Those fees are scheduled to expire by 2016 but would be extended until 2024 under Perea's bill.

Some of the funds would be directed toward creating a network of fueling stations for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Republicans said the legislation would cost taxpayers more than $2 billion over the next eight years. They said that would encourage people to leave the state.

"We can't keep going back to the tax well over and over again," said Assemblyman Don Wagner. "At some point we'll have the cleanest air in the world because we'll have driven everyone out."

The bill passed the Assembly on a 55-19 vote. It now awaits consideration in the Senate.