California\u2019s Secretary of State on Aug. 1 gave approval for opponents of a new fire prevention fee to start collecting signatures to qualify a referendum on the law for the next statewide ballot. Last year, San Diego Gas & Electric ratepayers were required to cover $29 million for fire liability for the utility. Investigations into wildfires that occurred in 2007 found SDG&E\u2019s distribution lines responsible, in part, for blazes that cost two lives and destroyed over 1,300 homes. The state law is intended to assist firefighting efforts without resorting to ratepayer help, as well as boost financial underwriting from strapped cities and counties. State Senator Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) last month submitted a proposal to the state Attorney General\u2019s office that would overturn the new state law. The law, which was approved as part of the latest state budget, mandates that an annual fee up to $150 be collected for each building located in rural areas where the state pays for fire services. The fee, which would go toward funding the areas\u2019 fire services, is scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1. If the 504,000 registered voter signatures needed are verified, then the fire prevention fee would be suspended until after the vote. About $200 million a year could potentially be raised from the more than 846,000 homeowners that live on the more than 31 million acres the law affects, according to the state.