Legislative Notebook: House hammers timber thieving

February 20, 2014 

The state House of Representatives agreed by a vote of 169 to 2 that timber thieving is a problem that should be attacked with tripled civil penalties and arrest powers for forest rangers.

House Bill 790 also says timber haulers have to provide a timely receipt to log owners to show their timber was deposited at the mill under the proper account.

It’s not clear how widespread timber theft is, said state Rep. Chuck Williams, R-Watkinsville, the bill’s author and a tree farmer.

“Sometimes, victims are reluctant to come forward,” he said.

The bill also says landowners who very clearly mark their boundaries can bring that evidence to any case where they allege a neighbor has cut over the line.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

House GOP OKs constitutional convention pitches

Most of the GOP members of the state House thinks the American states should band together and edit the U.S. Constitution toward lower federal spending, and possibly term limits and some other restraints on federal power.

It’s called an Article V convention, for the part of the U.S. Constitution that says two-thirds of the states can get together and propose amendments to that document, subject to ratification by three-fourths of the states.

The House OK’d several similar bills Monday on nearly party-line votes, including House Resolution 1215, a clone of Senate Resolution 736 by state Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon.

Staton’s bill broadly directs a would-be constitutional convention to consider limiting federal spending, power and terms of office.

If any Article V convention bill is passed in both chambers and is signed by the governor, a total 34 other states would need to pass identical legislation to trigger a convention, something that has never happened in U.S. history.

Jones County cut from MWA vote

There used to be a little part of the city of Macon in Jones County that got deannexed during Macon-Bibb County consolidation.

Area legislators are making a little fix to Macon Water Authority elections, cutting Jones out of that, too, via House Bill 1024 by state Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon.

Before the session there was chatter about changing the County Commission map as well, to do something about an apartment building that is confusingly split between two districts.

But there are 14 working days left in the session and no bill yet.

Writer Maggie Lee compiled this report.

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