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Bill Number: 426 Ratification Number: 109 Act Number 70 Introducing Body: Senate Subject: Forest renewal practices
(A70, R109, S426)
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 48, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING CHAPTER 28 SO AS TO PROVIDE FOR FOREST RENEWAL PRACTICES; AND BY ADDING CHAPTER 30 SO AS TO CREATE AN ASSESSMENT ON PRIMARY FOREST PRODUCTS PROCESSED FROM SOUTH CAROLINA TIMBER TO PROVIDE A SOURCE OF FUNDS TO FINANCE A FOREST RENEWAL PROGRAM; AND TO PROVIDE PENALTIES.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Forest Renewal Act
SECTION 1. The 1976 Code is amended by adding to Title 48:
Section 48-28-10. This chapter shall be known as the 'Forest Renewal Act'.
Section 48-28-20. &he State Forester shall implement a forest renewal program to encourage private investments in the improved management of forest lands and resources within the State to ensure adequate future high quality timber supplies, related employment and other economic benefits and the protection, maintenance and enhancement of a productive and stable forest resource system. In furtherance of this purpose, the State Forester shall:
1. Provide financial assistance to eligible landowners to increase the productivity of the privately-owned forests of the State through the application of forest renewal practices.
2. Ensure that forest operations in the State are conducted in a manner designed to protect the soil, air and water resources, including, but not limited to, streams, lakes and estuaries through actions of landowners on lands for which assistance is sought under provisions of this chapter. Application of generally acceptable forest practices should be implemented in each case.
3. Implement a program of voluntary landowner participation through the use of a forest renewal fund to meet the above goals.
4. Coordinate the program with other related programs in such a manner as to encourage the utilization of private agencies, firms and individuals furnishing services and materials needed in the application of practices included in the forest renewal program.
Section 48-28-30. As used in this chapter:
1. 'Commission' shall mean the State Commission of Forestry.
2. 'State Forester' shall mean the director of the State Commission of Forestry.
3. 'Eligible landowner' shall mean a private individual, group, partnership, association, corporation or other legal entity which owns nonindustrial private forest lands capable of producing industrial wood crops. Where forest land is owned jointly by more than one individual, group, association or corporation, as tenants in common, tenants by the entirety, or otherwise, the joint owners shall be considered, for the purposes of this chapter, as one eligible landowner and shall be entitled to receive cost-sharing payments as provided herein.
Private entities which engage in the business of manufacturing forest products, including, but not limited to, sawmills, pulp mills, paper mills, plywood plants, oleoresin plants or providing public utilities services of any type or the subsidiaries of such entities shall not be included in such definition but private individual forest landowners who are stockholders in such business are included.
4. 'Eligible lands' shall mean land owned by an eligible landowner.
5. 'Cost-sharing payment' shall mean financial assistance to partially cover the cost of implementing approved practices in such amounts as the State Forester shall determine, subject to the limitations of this chapter.
6. 'Approved practices' shall mean those silvicultural practices approved by the State Forester for the purpose of commercially growing timber through the establishment of forest stands or of ensuring the proper regeneration of forest stands to commercial production levels following the harvest of timber. Such practices shall include those required to accomplish site preparation, natural and artificial reforestation, noncommercial removal of undesirable vegetation for silvicultural purposes and cultivation of established young growth of desirable trees. In each case, approved practices shall be determined by the needs of the individual forest stand. These practices shall include existing practices and such practices as are developed in the future to ensure both maximum forest productivity and environmental protection.
7. 'Approved forest management plan' shall mean a forest management plan approved by the State Forester for an eligible landowner. Such plan shall include forest management practices to ensure both maximum forest productivity and environmental protection of the lands to be treated under the management plan.
8. 'Forest renewal fund' shall mean the special nonlapsing fund provided by Section 48-28-100 established in the Commission designated as the forest renewal fund.
9. 'Forest renewal assessment' shall mean an assessment on primary forest products from timber severed in South Carolina for the funding of the provisions of this chapter.
10. 'Slippage' shall mean the difference in funds earmarked in the management plan for an approved practice and funds actually earned when the practice is completed.
Section 48-28-40. The State Forester shall administer the provisions of this chapter and may promulgate regulations to carry out such provisions subject to the limitations set forth in Section 48-28-100. The State Forester may employ administrative, clerical and field personnel to support the program created by this chapter and compensate such employees from the forest renewal fund for services rendered in a direct support of the program.
The State Forester may purchase equipment for the implementation of this program from the forest renewal fund subject to the limitations of Section 48-28-100. All equipment purchases with such funds shall be assigned to and used only for the forest renewal program except for emergency use in forest fire suppression and other activities relating to the protection of life or property. The forest renewal fund shall be reimbursed from other program funds for equipment costs incurred during such emergency use.
Section 48-28-50. The State Forester may administer the cost-sharing provisions of this chapter which shall include, but not be limited to, the following duties:
1. Prescribing the requirements for making application for cost-sharing funds.
2. Identifying those approved practices as defined in item 6 of Section 48-28-30 which shall be approved for cost-sharing under the provisions of this chapter.
3. Reviewing periodically the cost of forest renewal practices and establishing allowable ranges for cost-sharing purposes for approved practices under varying conditions throughout the State.
4. Determining, prior to approving cost-sharing payments to any landowner, that all proposed practices are appropriate and are comparable in cost to the prevailing cost of those practices.
5. Determining, prior to approving cost-sharing payments, that an approved forest management plan as defined in item 7 of Section 48-28-30 for the eligible land has been filed with the State Forester and that the landowner has indicated in writing his intent to comply with the terms of such management plan that related to cost-share payments.
6. Determining, prior to approving cost-sharing payments, that the approved practices for which payment is requested have been completed in a satisfactory manner, conform to the approved forest management plan submitted under item 5 of this section and otherwise meet the requirements of this chapter.
7. Disbursing from the forest renewal fund, comprised of appropriated funds and forest assessment funds, to eligible landowners, cost-sharing payments or satisfactory completion of practices provided for by this chapter and insofar as is practicable disbursing funds equally from the state appropriated funds and the forest renewal assessment funds, until appropriated funds are expended after which expenditures shall come from the forest renewal assessment funds subject to limitations of Section 48-28-100.
8. Applying directly funds resulting from slippage as defined in item 10 of Section 48-28-30 to the revolving forest renewal fund which shall be available for applying to cost-sharing for additional landowners.
9. Publishing Guidelines for implementing this chapter.
10. Initiating recollection of all cost-share payments if a landowner does not meet the requirements of Section 48-28-80, for ten years.
Section 48-28-60. An eligible landowner may receive cost-sharing payments for satisfactory completion of approved practices as determined by the State Forester at rates established by him. The cost-share rates for all practices shall not exceed the cost-sharing rate of any other compatible governmental forestry program that may be in effect.
The maximum amount of cost-sharing funds allowed to any eligible landowner in one fiscal year shall be limited to the amount needed to complete approved practices on one hundred acres of land subject to provisions under paragraph one of this section.
Eligible landowners may not use state cost-sharing funds if funds from any federal cost-sharing program are used on the same acreage for forestry practices during the same fiscal year.
Section 48-28-70. There shall be no limitation of woodland acreage owned by an eligible landowner.
Section 48-28-80. The eligible landowner shall be required to submit an approved forest management plan to the State Forester and during tenure shall be required to maintain eligible lands in a forest condition for a period of ten years or until commercial harvest or the landowner shall be required to remit the cost-sharing payment back to the forest renewal fund.
Section 48-28-90. No governmental agency, federal, state or local, shall be eligible for forest renewal payments under the provisions of this chapter.
Section 48-28-100. There is created in the Commission the forest renewal fund for which fiscal management and responsibility is vested in the State Forester.
The fund shall be the depository for all revenue derived from the forest development assessment on primary forest product processors as authorized by the General Assembly and for any funds appropriated specifically for the forest renewal program from the general fund.
State appropriated funds remaining in the forest renewal fund at the end of any fiscal year shall revert to the general fund. Revenues derived from the forest renewal assessment shall not revert but shall remain in the forest renewal fund until expended under the provisions of this chapter.
In any fiscal year, expenditures from the forest renewal fund shall be limited to five times the amount of the state appropriation for the Forest Renewal Act for that year.
In any fiscal year, no more than five percent of the available funds generated by the Primary Forest Products Assessment Act, Chapter 30 of this title, shall be used for program support under the provisions of Section 48-28-40.
Funds used for the purchase of equipment under the provisions of Section 48-28-40 shall be limited to state appropriations to the forest renewal fund designated specifically for equipment purchase.
The Commission shall serve as the disbursing agency for funds expended from and deposited in the forest renewal fund."
Primary Forest Product Assessment Act
Section 2. The 1976 Code is amended by adding to Title 48:
Section 48-30-10. This chapter shall be known as the 'Primary Forest Product Assessment Act'.
Section 48-30-20. The purpose of this chapter is to create an assessment on primary forest products processed from South Carolina timber to provide a source of funds to finance the operations provided for in Chapter 28 of this title.
All assessments levied under the provisions of this chapter shall be used only for the purposes specified in this chapter and in Chapter 28 of this title.
Section 48-30-30. For purposes of this chapter:
A. 1. 'Primary forest products' shall mean those products of the tree after they are severed from the stump or separated from the soil and cut or processed to its first roundwood or other product for further conversion and shall include, but are not limited to, whole trees for chipping, whole tree logs, sawlogs, pulpwood, veneer bolts, posts, poles and piling, and stumps.
2. 'Processor' shall mean the individual, group, association or corporation that procures primary forest products at their initial point of concentration for conversion to secondary products or for shipment to others for such conversion.
3. 'Forest renewal fund' shall mean the special fund established by Chapter 28 of this title.
4. 'State Forester' shall mean director of the State Commission of Forestry.
5. 'Tax Commission' shall mean the South Carolina Tax Commission.
B. For the purpose of this chapter, the following shall not be considered 'primary forest products':
1. Christmas trees and associated greens.
2. Pine straw.
3. Material harvested from an individual's own land and used by such individual for the construction of fences, buildings or other personal use.
4. Fuelwood harvested for personal use or for use in individual homes.
Section 48-30-40. There is levied an assessment on all primary forest products harvested from lands within the State at rates established in Section 48-30-60 and the proceeds of such assessment shall be deposited in the forest renewal fund as provided in Section 48-28-100.
Collection of the assessment shall be suspended in any fiscal year in which the General Assembly fails to make general fund appropriations to the forest renewal fund. Collection of the assessment shall be suspended in any fiscal year in which there is carried forward from previous years a balance of unobligated funds in the forest renewal fund greater than four times the amount appropriated from the general fund for that fiscal year.
If the assessment is suspended because of either paragraph 2 or 3 of this section, the suspension shall cease when the condition causing the suspension no longer exists.
Section 48-30-50. 1. The Tax Commission shall develop the necessary administrative procedures to collect the assessment, collect the assessment from primary forest product processors, deposit funds collected from the assessment in the forest renewal fund and audit the records of processors to determine compliance with the provisions of this chapter.
2. The State Forester shall provide quarterly to the Tax Commission lists of processors subject to the assessment, advise the Tax Commission of the appropriate methods to convert measurements of primary forest products by systems other than those authorized in this chapter, establish in September the estimated total assessment that shall be collectable in the next budget period and inform the Budget and Control Board and the General Assembly and notify, within thirty days of certification of the state budget, the Tax Commission of the need to collect the assessment for the period covered by the approved budget.
The Tax Commission shall be reimbursed for those expenditures incurred as a cost of collecting the assessment for the forest renewal fund. This amount shall be transferred from the forest renewal fund in equal increments at the end of each quarter of the fiscal year to the Tax Commission. This amount shall not exceed fifty thousand dollars annually.
Section 48-30-60. A. The assessment rates shall be based on the following standards:
1. For primary forest products customarily measured in board feet, the 'Scribner Log Rule', as identified in the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service publication 'Tables for Measuring Board Foot Volume of Timber' or equivalent shall be used.
2. For primary forest products customarily measured in cords, the standard cord of 128 cubic feet or equivalent, as defined in Section 39-9-130 shall be used.
3. For any other type of forest product separated from the soil, the State Forester shall determine a fair unit assessment rate, based on the cubic foot volume of one thousand foot board measure Scribner Log Rule as defined in item I above, or one standard cord as defined in Section 39-9-130.
B. The assessment levied on primary forest products shall be at the following rates:
1. Fifty cents per thousand board feet for softwood sawtimber veneer logs and bolts and all other softwood, including bald cypress, products normally measured in board feet.
2. Twenty-five cents per thousand board feet for hardwood and sawtimber, veneer and all other hardwood products normally measured in board feet.
3. Twenty cents per cord for softwood pulpwood and other softwood products normally measured in cords.
4. Seven cents per cord for hardwood pulpwood and other hardwood products normally measured in cords.
5. All material harvested within South Carolina for shipment outside the State for primary processing shall be assessed at yield rates equal to rates on material harvested and processed within the State.
Section 48-30-70. The assessment shall be levied against the processor of the primary forest product.
It shall be submitted on a quarterly basis of the state's fiscal year due and payable the twenty-fifth of the month following the end of each quarter.
It shall be remitted to the Tax Commission, by check or money order, with such production reports as may be required by the Tax Commission.
The processor shall maintain for a period of three fiscal years and make available to the Tax Commission such production records necessary to verify proper reporting and payment of revenue due the forest renewal fund.
The production reports of the various processors shall be used only for assessment purposes. Production information on an individual processor basis shall not be made a part of the public record.
Any official or employee of the State who discloses information obtained from a production report, except as may be necessary for administration and collection of the assessment, or in the performance of official duties, or in administrative or judicial proceedings related to the levy of collection of the assessment, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days.
Section 48-30-80. The Tax Commission shall enforce collection of the primary forest product assessment in accordance with statutory remedies and procedures pertaining to collection of revenue by it.
Effective date of initial assessment
SECTION 3. The effective date of the initial assessment under Chapter 30 of Title 48 of the 1976 Code shall be the first day of the new tax quarter following the ninetieth day after the effective date of this act.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect upon approval by the Governor.