Capitol Forestry Report | Week Two

The Legislative Landscape

Today marked the eighth legislative day for the Georgia General Assembly since it was gaveled into session on Jan. 11. Though it has been off to a slow start, this session is expected to pick up through legislative day 40, as the legislature seeks to adjourn on March 24, sine die.

This week, budget hearings have been the priority for most Georgia lawmakers as they debate how the state will spend the $23.7 billion budget proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal. According to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, the governor proposed a $1.9 billion increase in total state spending compared to the 2016 budget. The overall increase in dollars may appear dramatic; however, more than 40 percent of the growth comes from a transportation funding overhaul passed during the 2015 legislative session.

Even though no forestry specific legislation has been picked up, your Georgia Forestry Association legislative team has been actively engaged at the Capitol, fostering relationships with legislators, meeting with like-minded organizations and monitoring the progress of issues important for the forestry community.

Forestry Focus

No action took place this week on the legislation related to the use of eminent domain, truck weights, freshwater buffers and land conservation. Along with those issues, GFA will be monitoring the progress of two additional legislative proposals regarding a tax exemption for manufacturing and solar panels on CUVA land.

  • Tax Exemptions for R&D Manufacturing
    House Bill 415 provides sales and use tax exemptions for purchases of machinery, equipment, and raw materials used for research and development (R&D) at manufacturing facilities. The Georgia Association of Manufacturers, who has taken the lead on advocating for HB 415, has asked for assistance from forest product manufacturers in providing purchase data for R&D in order to determine the accuracy of the fiscal note issued in 2015. For more information on this request, contact Andres Villegas at andres@gfagrow.org.
  • Solar Panels on CUVA or FLPA Property
    House Bill 496 would allow the property where solar energy is generated to be removed from an existing covenant (such as the Conservation Use Valuation Assessment (CUVA) or the Forest Land Protection Act (FLPA)) without penalty. After the property is removed, it would be subject to property taxation at fair market value. HB 496 passed the House in 2015, but didn’t make it to the Senate floor for a vote. (Source: Georgia Agribusiness Council)GFA has not taken a position on this issue; however, the legislative team will be monitoring this issue throughout the session because of its potential implications for forest landowners whose property is enrolled in a CUVA or FLPA covenant.

GFA will keep you informed via our regular Capitol Forestry Reports about the progress of these and other issues that arise. If you have any questions during the session, please contact Andres Villegas at andres@gfagrow.org.

Capitol Forestry Reports are distributed weekly during the session of the Georgia General Assembly. Click here to view the full report from week two →

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