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AB-362 Forestry assistance program: loans.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 06/15/2017 09:00 PM
AB362:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  June 15, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 23, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 362


Introduced by Assembly Member Wood

February 08, 2017


An act to amend Sections 4629.6, 4795, and 4796 of the Public Resources Code, relating to forestry.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 362, as amended, Wood. Forestry assistance program: loans.
Existing law establishes the forestry assistance program, to be conducted by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which is required to encourage forest resource improvements and otherwise facilitate good forest land management through a program of financial, technical, and education assistance, as well as through applied research. Existing law creates the Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Fund in the State Treasury and requires that specified revenues received from a lumber or engineered wood products assessment, less amounts deducted for refunds and reimbursements, be deposited in the fund and, upon appropriation by the Legislature, used for specified purposes, including for forest resources improvement grants and projects administered by department.
This bill would provide that assessments deposited into the fund, less amounts deducted for refunds and reimbursement, reimbursements, be used, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for forest resources improvement grants, loans, and projects.
Existing law authorizes the director of the department to enter into an agreement with an eligible landowner pursuant to which the landowner will undertake forest resource improvement work in return for an agreement by the director to share the cost of carrying out that work. Existing law authorizes the director to make various types of loans, including loans to cover all or part of the landowner’s cost for the work. Existing law requires these loans to be made for a term not exceeding 20 years and bearing interest at the prevailing rate.
This bill would instead authorize the director to enter into those agreements only with small nonindustrial landowners, as defined. The bill would delete the term and interest rate requirements relating to these loans and instead require the director to establish reasonable terms relating to the length of, and the interest rate for, the loans. The bill would also authorize require the director to provide the director’s share of the costs described above in advance of any performed work if the eligible landowner agrees in writing to undertake the forest resource improvement work with the understanding that any funds provided for uncompleted work shall constitute a claim and lien upon the real property owned by the landowner, as provided. The bill would require any money recovered from the lien to be deposited into the fund.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 4629.6 of the Public Resources Code is amended to read:

4629.6.
 Moneys deposited in the fund shall, upon appropriation by the Legislature, only be expended for the following purposes:
(a) To reimburse the State Board of Equalization for its administrative costs associated with the administration, collection, audit, and issuance of refunds related to the lumber products and engineered wood assessment established pursuant to Section 4629.5.
(b) To pay refunds issued pursuant to Part 30 (commencing with Section 55001) of Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.
(c) To support the activities and costs of the department, the Department of Conservation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Water Resources Control Board, and regional water quality control boards associated with the review of projects or permits necessary to conduct timber operations. On or after July 1, 2013, except for fees applicable for fire prevention or protection within state responsibility area classified lands or timber yield assessments, no currently authorized or required fees shall be charged by the agencies listed in this subdivision for activities or costs associated with the review of a project, inspection and oversight of projects, and permits necessary to conduct timber operations of those departments and boards.
(d) For transfer to the department’s Forest Improvement Program for forest resources improvement grants and loans, and projects administered by the department pursuant to Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 4790) and Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 4799.06) of Part 2.5.
(e) To fund existing restoration grant programs, with priority given to the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program administered by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and grant programs administered by state conservancies.
(f) (1) As a loan to the Department of Fish and Wildlife for activities to address environmental damage occurring on forest lands resulting from marijuana cultivation. Not more than five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) may be loaned from the fund in a fiscal year pursuant to this paragraph. This paragraph shall become inoperative on July 1, 2017.
(2) Any funds deposited into the fund pursuant to subdivision (d) or (f) of Section 12025 or subdivision (b), (c), (e), or (f) of Section 12025.1 of the Fish and Game Code shall be credited toward loan repayment.
(3) Moneys from the General Fund shall not be used to repay a loan authorized pursuant to this subdivision.
(g) To the department for fuel treatment grants and projects pursuant to authorities under the Wildland Fire Protection and Resources Management Act of 1978 (Article 1 (commencing with Section 4461) of Chapter 7).
(h) To the department to provide grants to local agencies responsible for fire protection, qualified nonprofits, recognized tribes, local and state governments, and resources conservation districts, undertaken on a state responsibility area (SRA) or on wildlands not in an SRA that pose a threat to the SRA, to reduce the costs of wildland fire suppression, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote adaptation of forested landscapes to changing climate, improve forest health, and protect homes and communities.
(i) To the Natural Resources Agency to provide a reasonable per diem for attendance at a meeting of the advisory body for the state’s forest practice program by a member of the body who is not an employee of a government agency.

SEC. 2.

 Section 4795 of the Public Resources Code is amended to read:

4795.
 (a) The director may enter into agreements with eligible landowners pursuant to which the landowner will undertake forest resource improvement work in return for an agreement by the director to share the cost of carrying out the work. The director is authorized to share up to 90 percent of the lesser of either:
(1) The landowner’s actual cost per acre to accomplish the work.
(2) The prevailing per acre cost as determined by the director pursuant to Section 4799.02.
(b) (1) The director may shall provide the funds for the director’s share of the costs, as described in subdivision (a), in advance of any performed work if the eligible landowner agrees in writing to undertake the forest resource improvement work with the understanding that funds provided for any uncompleted work shall constitute a claim and lien upon the real property owned by the landowner that is subject to this section. This lien shall attach regardless of whether the responsible party is insolvent. A lien established by this subdivision shall be subject to the notice and hearing procedures required by due process of the law.
(2) The lien provided by this section shall continue until the liability for repayment of the funds, or a judgment against the responsible party, is satisfied. However, if it is determined by the court that the judgment against the responsible party will not be satisfied, the department may exercise its rights under the lien.
(3) The lien imposed by this section shall have the force and effect of, and the priority of, a judgment lien upon its recordation in the county in which the property subject to the lien is located. The lien shall contain the legal description of the real property, the assessor’s parcel number, and the name of the owner of record, as shown on the latest equalized assessment roll.
(4) All funds recovered pursuant to this subdivision shall be deposited in the Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Fund pursuant to Section 4629.3.
(c) The director shall prepare a schedule of cost share percentages applicable to agreements undertaken pursuant to this section. Required landowner cost share contributions may be made in the form of materials, services, or equipment as well as funds. The cost share percentage schedule shall set forth the percentage of required landowner’s project cost share for various categories of forest resource improvement projects. The percentage of cost sharing required of the landowner may be decreased if the ownership contains less than 500 acres.
(d) The percentage of cost sharing required of the landowner may also be decreased to the extent that any of the following applies:
(1) The project or other actions of the landowner would increase recreational opportunities for the public.
(2) The project would provide relatively more employment opportunities than other proposed projects.
(3) Forest land conservation measures or fish or wildlife habitat improvements are included in the project.
(e) Consistent with the criteria set forth in subdivisions (c) and (d), the director shall submit a schedule further specifying cost share percentages to the board for its review. The schedule shall apply to all agreements made pursuant to this section unless the board acts to change the schedule within 75 days of its submission by the director.

SEC. 3.

 Section 4796 of the Public Resources Code is amended to read:

4796.
 The director may make the following types of loans relating to forest resource improvement projects:
(a) The director may make loans for forest resource improvement work to cover all or part of a smaller nonindustrial landowner’s cost share payment required pursuant to Section 4795. The director shall establish reasonable terms relating to the length of, and the interest rate for, a loan made pursuant to this subdivision. In order to secure repayment of the loan, the forest resource improvement loans shall be secured by a mortgage or deed of trust upon the parcel of land to which the forest improvement project applies. The director shall record the mortgage or deed of trust in the office of the county recorder in the county in which the real property subject to the resource improvement loan is located.
(b) (1) The director may make loans for forest resource improvement work to landowners eligible pursuant to the provisions of subdivision (d) of Section 4797 for up to 100 percent of the lesser of either:
(A) The landowner’s actual cost per acre to accomplish the work.
(B) The prevailing cost per acre as determined by the director pursuant to Section 4799.02.
(2) A loan made pursuant to this subdivision may be made for a term not exceeding 20 years and shall bear interest at the prevailing rate. In order to secure repayment of the loan, the forest resource improvement loans shall be secured by a mortgage or deed of trust upon the parcel of land to which the forest improvement project applies. The director shall record the mortgage or deed of trust in the office of the county recorder in the county in which the real property subject to the resource improvement loan is located.
(c) Any loan made pursuant to this section may be paid prior to the maturity date set forth in the loan agreement without an interest penalty being charged to the landowner.
(d) Payment of all or part of the principal and interest due under loans made pursuant to this chapter shall not be required upon a finding by the board that the parcel to which a forest resource improvement project applies, and which is subject to a loan, satisfies both of the following conditions:
(1) The parcel has been substantially damaged by fire, flood, insects, disease or other natural causes.
(2) The damage was not caused by the negligence or willful act of the landowner.