Bill introduced in California's Legislature would impose 1% tax on lumber, limit wildfire liability; state's lumber companies support the tax because it shifts the fees to consumers, includes wood from outside the state

LOS ANGELES , August 8, 2012 () –

Under a proposed bill introduced as amended in California’s Legislature on Aug. 7, a 1% tax would be imposed on lumber and the liability for wildfires would be limited, The Sacramento Bee reported on Aug. 8.

The timber industry in California supports the bill because it would shift the tax burden to consumers and would include wood sourced from outside the state. Currently, the companies must pay regulatory fees and these would have been increased under another proposal.

Assembly Bill 1492, which would provide US$1.5 million for the Dept. of Fish and Game to oversee forestry-relative activity, is expected to be heard in the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee next week, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Environmentalists generally approve of the bill’s stipulation raising money for regulating the industry but disagree with limiting landowners’ responsibility if they spark wildfires and reducing the frequency of environmental reviews.

The limit on liability for wildfire damages also was opposed by the Sacramento-based U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal government officials, who lobbied legislative leaders to have the bill killed earlier this year, reported The Sacramento Bee.

Before the case against Sierra Pacific Industries Inc. and other major landowners over the 2007 Moonlight Fire in California was settled in July, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner worried the bill would interfere with the case, which was settled for more than $100 million in cash and land.

Because it involves a tax, AB 1492 would have to be approved by two-thirds of the Legislature in order to pass, The Sacramento Bee reported.

The primary source of this article is The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, California, on Aug. 8, 2012.


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