Senator Hutchinson Introducing Measures Supporting PA Timber Industry

Citing the important role that timber operations play in the Commonwealth’s economy, Senator Scott Hutchinson is introducing a bill and a resolution that will protect and promote the state’s forest areas and the thousands of family-sustaining jobs provided by the wood harvesting industry.

“Pennsylvania has more than 17 million acres of hardwood forest and 25,000 miles of streams, making up almost 60 percent of the Commonwealth,” Senator Hutchinson said.  “The forests of Pennsylvania are also home to a multi-billion dollar forest-product industry that employs more than 60,000 people.  A resource that provides so much to the state and its citizens must be protected.”

Senator Hutchinson is introducing a bill that would provide for a sales and use tax exemption for timber and logging operations and a resolution to reinstate a legislative Forestry Task Force under the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee, which he chairs.

Senator Hutchinson has been an active proponent of the timbering industry, as recognized by his reappointment on February 17 by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati to serve on the Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council. The council is responsible for the development, expansion and promotion of the hardwoods industry in Pennsylvania. As the number one state in the nation for hardwoods production, the council plays an important role in promoting Pennsylvania’s forests and wood products both domestically and abroad.

“On behalf of the 260 companies represented by the Pennsylvania Forest Products Association (PFPA) and 60,000 employees supported by the state’s forest products industry, I want to thank Senator Hutchinson for his continued leadership in working to ensure that Pennsylvania continues to be a good place for our companies to do business,” said PFPA Executive Director Paul Lyskava.

Overall, sales from the Pennsylvania wood industry in 2012 was estimated to be $11.5 billion, with the total economic impact of Pennsylvania’s industry estimated at about $19 billion.

Senator Hutchinson said his tax exemption bill would encourage growth in that industry.  His legislation would allow timber and logging businesses to claim a sales and use tax exemption on items like machinery, equipment or supplies in a manner similar to other Pennsylvania industries.

“From tractors to feed, silos to fertilizers, traditional farming and agriculture receives tax exemptions for many aspects of their industry.  This allows them to thrive and provide more for the people of Pennsylvania,” Senator Hutchinson said.  “The timber and logging industry is currently not eligible for sales and use tax exemptions. Expanding those exemptions would provide an economic incentive for many businesses to make capital improvements or major equipment purchases that would enable them to expand and create jobs.”

Lyskava said PFPA strongly endorses the tax exemption and agreed that it benefits the industry.

“In Pennsylvania, there is a sales and use tax exclusion for purchases of equipment, material and services used in both manufacturing/processing operations and agricultural operations.  No such sales and use tax exclusion currently exists for equipment and material purchases used in commercial timbering operations,” he said. “As a result, loggers are required to pay sales tax on purchases of equipment that is similar or even identical to tax-exempt equipment used at both farms and sawmills.  This bill will promote the purchase of updated and modern equipment that will provide additional safety to loggers and improve the efficiency of the state’s logging industry.”

Senator Hutchinson said his resolution would reinstate the Forestry Task Force, which had been in place for many years, but lapsed during the last legislative session.

“The task force will be a bicameral and bipartisan committee that will investigate and look to improve the current state of Pennsylvania’s forests and provide long-term forest management strategies,” Senator Hutchinson said. “The task force will consider topics such as invasive species, local government interaction, reinvigorating the timber harvesting industry, and developing a state forest management plan.”

Contact:          Justin Leventry           (717) 787-9684