Forestry Issues in Focus as Georgia General Assembly Kicks Off 2020 Session Monday

On Monday, Jan. 13, legislators from across the state will gather in Atlanta under the Gold Dome to gavel in the Georgia General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session, and GFA’s Government Affairs Team will have boots on the ground for the next 40 legislative days to work on critical issues for the forestry supply chain. 

Planning for this year’s session started more than a year ago — gathering and analyzing data, speaking with legislators at events around the state and meeting with a variety of partner organizations. As a result of this effort, GFA has focused in on the following priority issues for this session. 
 
Combatting Inefficiencies in Timber Harvest Notification 
Addressing major inefficiencies in the process for providing Timber Harvest Notifications and ensuring that all local logging ordinances are in compliance with requirements outlined in state law for notification and bonding requirements.

Addressing Appraisal Methodology for Qualified Timberland Property (QTP)
QTP created a class of property which was established by Amendment 3 on the 2018 general election ballot. The intent of the QTP program is to bring equity and fairness to how ad valorem taxes are assessed by empowering the DOR to assess forestland rather than 159 different boards of assessors. As currently drafted, GFA has identified several troubling areas in DOR’s proposed rules, particularly on qualification requirements for the program and application of highest and best use doctrine in the appraisal methodology utilized. GFA will seek legislation to ensure that the appraisal methodology follows the original intent of the legislation. 

Updating the State Building Code to Accept Tall Wood Buildings
Legislation that would advance the adoption of the 2021 International Building Code, allowing mass timber buildings to go up to 18 stories in height (rather than the current 6 story limitation). GFA is focused on policies that will accelerate mass timber construction in Georgia and allow the manufacturing and construction supply chain for this technology to grow.

Combatting Palmetto Berry Theft
Legislation to update state law to require individuals who are harvesting and selling palmetto berries to obtain written consent from the landowner and impose criminal penalties for theft of palmetto berries.

For questions about the above issues, please contact GFA Director of Government Affairs Tom Beyer at tom@gfagrow.org

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