SB 409, the “Georgia Forest Product Fairness Act”

State Senator Tim Golden reported May 1 on the April 2010 end of the Georgia legislative session:
Forest Tax Fairness: As a lead co-sponsor of legislation that would ensure property tax fairness for the owners of forest land, I am pleased to report that the House gave final approval to SB 409 last week and sent it to the governor for his signature.

This bill, which passed unanimously in both the Senate and House, requires that any tax break or exemption granted to a business that uses “raw forest products,” such as a biomass energy plant, must also be granted to the owner of the property where that product is harvested.

This is good legislation for PCA and other manufacturers in our district, as well as the forest industry.

Unlike the VDT, Sen. Golden’s own website includes a link to the bill, SB 409, the “Georgia Forest Product Fairness Act” which reads in part:

Chapter 1 of Title 48 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to general provisions relative to revenue and taxation, is amended by adding a new Code section to read as follows:


(a) As used in this Code section, the term:
   (1) ‘Economic incentive’ means any direct price subsidy made available by the state directly to support the purchase of raw forestry products. Such term shall not mean any such benefit available under statutorily provided programs.
   (2) ‘Raw forest product’ means any raw material harvested or recovered from forest wood or wood waste at its initial conversion.

(b) It is the intent of the General Assembly that any economic incentive granted on or after July 1, 2010, to any person, company, partnership, or other entity engaged in the commercial use of raw forest products shall be extended equitably to all users of raw forest products in this state so as to establish and maintain parity within that segment of the economy.”

The bill was signed by the governor on May 20, and became effective as Act 396 on July 1st.

I don’t know that Lowndes County gets much income from forest product taxes anyway, but this act will reduce whatever that income is. Perhaps more importantly, this act will divert forest products from other markets towards biomass energy generation.