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Georgia Forest Preservation Amendment, Amendment 1 (2008)

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Georgia's Forest Preservation Amendment or HR 1276 is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment that encouraged the preservation, conservation, and protection of the state's forests through the special assessment and taxation of certain forest lands and assistance grants to local government. [1]

Election results

Amendment 1 (2008)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 2,453,853 68.01%
No1,154,46431.99%

Election Results via: The Georgia Secretary of State

Specific Provisions

The measure enacted the following provisions:

  • Give tax credits for people who own 200 acres or more of forest property and choose not to develop the forest land for at least 15 years.
  • Mandate that the state would reimburse local governments for the property tax revenue they lose from the lower tax.[2]

Supporters

Supporters/Sponsors included:

Editorial Support:

  • The Blackshear Times
  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Arguments in Favor

Notable arguments made in support of the measure included:

  • The amendment will ensure that as Georgia continues to grow and develop, it will continue to protect the forests in the state.
  • This amendment will affect very little taxable land value, and is a worthwhile investment in helping keep our forest lands.

Opponents

Opponents included:

  • Georgia School Boards Association[4]


Editorial Opponents:

  • The Tifton Gazette

Arguments in Opposition

Notable arguments made in opposition to the measure included:

  • Rural school districts would lose valuable tax base, and although the measure authorizes the General Assembly to appropriate grants to local governments to offset the loss of tax revenue, there is fear that school districts will suffer.[5]
  • While the wording indicates that this is a program to protect the state’s forests, this is not a state land purchase set aside for the benefit of all Georgians. It is in reality a bill to provide property tax relief for paper companies and others that have forest land holdings in excess of 2,000 acres.[6]

Taxpayer Perspective

Proposed Amendment 1 allows the state to assess and tax certain privately owned tracts of timberland according to their “current use,” rather than to assess and tax based on a property’s highest-valued use, in order to encourage forest conservation. This “conservation use” is only available to landowners who agree not to develop the land for 15 years. The state has agreed to provide funds for counties whose revenues might decrease significantly as a result. Despite this provision, Amendment 1 could result in a nominal tax cut for certain property owners.[7]

Status

HR 1276 was on the ballot in Georgia's general election on November 4th, 2008.

See also

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References