California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation requiring consumers to pay a new tax on lumber purchases to help fund the state's oversight of the logging industry.
The tax, expected to raise $30 million annually when the law takes effect Jan. 1, received bipartisan support, narrowly passing on the last day of the legislative session, according to the Los Angeles Times
In a signing the measure into law, Brown hailed it as a “serious bipartisan reform to even the playing field to protect California's timber industry jobs.”
The new law also restricts how much money federal agencies can seek when suing for damages from wildfires on public lands caused by negligent practices. That part of the law was opposed by some members of the Obama Cabinet and federal prosecutors.
Retailers for the most part were opposed to the measure, arguing customers would be forced to shoulder the burden of funding regulatory activities.”
But the California timber industry backed it, saying they had been forced to pay government fees and comply with regulations under old laws that exempted out of state timber companies that sold their products in California.
"This bill makes our company more competitive with out-of-state businesses and strengthens our industry," said a statement from Red Emmerson, president and chairman emeritus of Sierra Pacific Industries, the state's largest timber company.
He said the law marked "the first major reform to the timber industry in decades" and would improve "California's business climate for years to come."
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