Whitesburg KY

Combs files second timber bill

State Rep. Leslie Combs has filed a second bill designed to address the problem of timber theft in Kentucky.

The bill, known as HB 631, was introduced in the House of Representatives on Monday. It would:

• amend KRS 514.010, the state law relating to definitions for theft offenses, to create a definition for “timber.”

• amend KRS 514.030 relating to theft by unlawful taking to penalize theft of timber (regardless of the value of the timber) as a Class D felony.

• amend KRS 514.110 relating to receiving stolen property to penalize possession of stolen timber (regardless of the value of the timber) as a Class D felony.

• amend KRS 514.130 relating to seizure and forfeiture of property used in theft offenses to add “heavy equipment.”

On Feb. 7, Combs (D-94) filed a separate bill related to timber theft that would expand the duties of the state’s Division of Forestry to include investigations of allegations of timber theft and timber damage. The bill also calls for the Office of the Attorney General, Commonwealth’s attorneys, and county attorneys to have jurisdiction in timber theft and timber damage cases.

The bill, referred to as HB 489, has not been acted on by the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, where it has been since Feb. 11. It would also:

• require written contracts between logger and property owners before timber could be sold. The contract would be on file in the office of the county court clerk.

• require notice to neighbors of timber cutting no more than 60 days nor less than 30 days before an operation begins.

• require the marking of cut timber with a number identifying the logger before logs can be removed from property.

• require a timber buyer to provide an accurate manifest of cut timber transported from the property.

• provide whistleblower protection to persons who report timber crimes.

• create a new section of KRS Chapter 532 to provide specific measures of restitution in timber theft cases including reimbursement of costs of investigation and prosecution.

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