GFA Government Affairs Team Set for Legislative Session

houseThe Association’s lobbying team embarked upon the 153rd Georgia General Assembly session on Monday armed with an ambitious set of legislative priorities aimed at protecting the interests of Georgia’s forestry community.

With the 2014 elections behind them, legislators are anticipated to address policy issues such as taxation that are difficult in election years. Hot topics include transportation infrastructure funding, education and medical marijuana. GFA’s lobbying team will be present at the capitol each day of the session to monitor threats and to concentrate on the following legislative priorities.

AMEND O.C.G.A. 12-6-24. Notice of timber harvesting operations

  • Require that notification form used by the county is the ‘exact’ form approved by the GFC Director and limited to only the information required by the statute.
  • Add electronic mail as an approved means of providing notification to the county.
  • Require only one bond per year per county regardless of the number of tracts harvested in that county.
  • Specifically prohibit a county from requiring an administrative fee or any other fee for the purpose of receiving a notification of a timber harvest.

AMEND O.C.G.A. 50-5-63. Exclusive use of Georgia forest products in state construction contracts

  • Add a section that codifies Governor Deal’s previous Executive Order requiring that certification credits be given equally under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Tree Farm and Forest Stewardship Council.

MONITOR legislation resulting from the Joint Study Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure Funding for any impacts, positive or otherwise, unique to forestry. Engage as necessary to protect the interests of GFA members.

MONITOR legislation resulting from the Georgia Senate Fair Tax Study Committee for any impacts, positive or otherwise, on Georgia’s forestry community. Engage as necessary to protect the interests of GFA members.

MONITOR anticipated efforts by the environmental committee to expand EPD legislative proposal to implement buffers for coastal marshes to include buffers for wetlands. OPPOSE any legislation that unreasonably encroaches on landowners; ability to manage their timberland.

OPPOSE legislation expected to be introduced by State Senator Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) which would allow local governments to work with landowners enrolled in CUVA to aid in commercial or industrial development of some or all of the property, arbitrarily adjusting the property’s tax liability in each case.

OPPOSE legislation that would grant sales tax exemptions to a particular sector of the forest products industry on material used to construct a new manufacturing facility.

GFA will provide members updates on the progress of the legislative session through bi-weekly Capitol Forestry Reports. For policy and legislative concerns, please contact GFA President and Chief Lobbyist Steve McWilliams at steve@gfagrow.org. Also, make sure you are up to date on GFA’s priorities and the political process with the 2015 GFA Legislative Guide.

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