Lumber product fees to rise to support fund, assembly bill approved

As of Jan. 1, California lawmakers issued a new bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 1492, concerning lumber products. Now, every time you buy certain wood products, a one-percent assessment fee will be collected by the retailer, and in some cases, by the contractors. This fee is to fund the newly formed Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Fund under the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The State Board of Equalization will be responsible to collect the fee.

According to the California State Board of Equalization (BOE), “the BOE has contacted approximately 200,000 licensed contractors and retailers who may be affected by this new assessment imposed upon purchasers of lumber products. This 1 percent fee applies to out-of-state products brought into the state as well. Preset flat fee material contracts previous to the Jan. 1 enactment of the bill are also required to pay the 1 percent fee on qualifying wood materials.

“The Lumber Products Assessment is estimated to generate $35 million in revenue annually for the Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Fund.”

Some of the wood products to be assessed are lumber, plywood particle boards, poles, decking, and glue-laminated timber. Wood products that take significant labor to produce will be exempted. Some of these products are furniture, firewood, paper products, cabinets, molding, and wainscoting.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1492 was presented by the Committee on Budget, whose members consisted of the following representatives: Blumenfield (Chair), Alejo, Bonilla, Brownley, Buchanan, Butler, Cedillo, Chesbro, Dickinson, Feuer, Gordon, Huffman, Mitchell, Monning, and Swanson, on Jan. 10.

The bill originates under the Dept. of Health and Safety, graduating to the departments of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire) and CA Fish and Game. The newly created Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Fund, whose funding is considered by the legislation, is an urgent funding need. It was born out of the Z’Berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act of 1973 which prohibits a person/business from conducting timber operations without first submitting a timber harvesting plan prepared by a registered professional forester.

This plan is then submitted to, and is approved by, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The need for funding these managing departments is what has led to the assessment bill and the urgent passing of the bill both by the Senate and the Assembly on Sept. 1, 2012, and signed into law by Gov. Brown on Sept.11, 2012.

According to AB1492, the funds collected for the Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Fund are to be distributed by the legislation to all departments involved in the regulation and care of the state’s forests. This also includes certain native people’s fire protection departments and well as certain non-profits and grants that are to be funded.

This bill also has language that covers fiscal responsibility for starting fires in the state. It states that in the event of a fire, the state fire department has the right to pursue civil action against the party that it has determined to be the cause of said fire. This can include fires that occur after a fire safety violation or notice has been given and not acted upon. Once charged with the responsibility of the start of a fire, the party is to be held fiscally responsible for the cost of fighting the fire, for the cost of restoring the land to its former self, and the loss of property value, or recreational use and more.

To learn more about the Lumber and Engineered Wood Products 1% Assessment and to see the full list of products to be assessed, go to and type “lumber assessment” in the search. There you will also find a link to bill AB 1492.

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