H. B. 4572

(By Delegates Williams, Martin, Heck, Proudfoot,
Mezzatesta and Willison)
[Introduced February 25, 1998; referred to the
Committee on Finance.]

A BILL to amend and reenact section eleven, article one-c, chapter eleven of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to clarifying legislative intent as to qualification of managed timberland and effect of managed timberland certification.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section eleven, article one-c, chapter eleven of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
§11-1C-11. Managed timberland; findings, purposes and declaration of legislative intent; inspection and determination of qualification.

(a) The Legislature finds and declares that the public welfare is enhanced by encouraging and sustaining the abundance of high quality forest land within the state; that economic pressures may force industrial, residential or other land development inconsistent with sustaining the forests; and that tax policy should provide an incentive for private owners of forest land to preserve the character and use of land as forest land and to make management decisions which enhance the quality of the future forest. In exercising the authority granted by the provisions of section fifty-three, article six of the Constitution of West Virginia, the Legislature intends that, notwithstanding the provisions of section twenty-four, article three of this chapter, managed timberland embraced in a cooperative contract with the division of forestry shall be valued as provided in this article and rules of the tax commissioner promulgated thereunder.
Upon request of state, county or other taxing authorities of appropriate jurisdiction, the division of forestry shall inspect property under contract as managed timberland and shall have the authority and responsibility to determine whether or not such properties do qualify. In the event that a property is found not to qualify by reason of a change in use, or it is discovered that a material misstatement of fact was made by the owner in the certification required in subdivision (1), subsection (d), section ten of this article, the division of forestry shall notify the state tax commissioner that the property is disqualified from its identification as managed timberland.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to clarify legislative intent that the provisions of this article one-c relating to managed timberland (as contained in §§ 1, 2, 5, 7, 10 and 11) may not be disregarded by local taxing authorities. A recent decision of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals holds that the Legislature intended that, despite mandatory language, the provisions of this article one-c could be disregarded and that local authorities may rescind managed timberland certification in fixing the value of property.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

This bill is recommended for passage during the Regular 1998 Legislative Session by the Forest Management Review Commission.