Legislative Notebook: Trees in a tug of war

January 17, 2014 

When counties give foresters a state-mandated property tax break, they expect the state to pony up the difference.

The state doesn’t always pay what the counties claim, though new figures from Gov. Nathan Deal’s office show his budget would pay off the counties’ request for the year that ended in July.

Reimbursements under the Forest Land Protection Act will be worth some $1.4 million in Monroe County, $660,000 in Jones, $324,000 in Crawford, $158,000 in Houston, and $47,000 in Twiggs. All sums are divided among local governments and school boards.

“The Association County Commissioners of Georgia cannot more strongly commend the governor for helping make counties whole under this reimbursement program,” said Todd Edwards, ACCG associate legislative director.

But a new bill seems to suggest suspicion that counties are overvaluing their land for reimbursement purposes.

House Bill 755 says any land that’s gone down in value since the 2008 valuation base year will be worth that new, lower amount when it comes to FLPA calculations.

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, and co-sponsored by fellow heavyweights on the Appropriations and Rules committees. A hearing has yet to be scheduled.

More education from GMC?

Georgia Military College campuses in Augusta, Warner Robins and Milledgeville could expand class offerings under a new proposal by state Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch.

His House Bill 763 inserts a clause into the college’s code section that says it can teach classes that lead to a bachelor of applied science degree, a major offered by many Technical College System of Georgia schools. Right now, GMC is a two-year college only.

There is no hearing scheduled yet for the bill.

Cement tax

When manufacturers got a sales tax exemption on their inputs last year, the Department of Revenue was thinking of factories, not mobile manufacturers. They denied cement truck operators the break.

A new bill by state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, would change that and let mixer truck operators claim an exemption for 40 percent of their fuel.

It’s a fairness bill, Peake said. The break is for 40 percent because it’s not meant to cover the fuel used in driving, just the fuel used in mixing, the equivalent of manufacturing.

There is no hearing yet scheduled for House Bill 756.

-- Maggie Lee

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