The Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee looked at two bills intended to protect two different resources.
The first bill the House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee considered on Wednesday was Senate Bill 353.
The bill would define timber theft in the state and give the Division of Forestry the authority to investigate and enforce penalties of theft in state forests.
Under current code, the division must hand over investigations to other law enforcement agencies.
When asked how many thefts have occurred in the 60,000 acres of state forest in the past five years, West Virginia Division of Forestry Director Randy Dye said that that statistic could not be tracked due to current classifications. However, he did relay one particular theft on a state forest in Wayne County.
“Cabwaylingo, as an example one state forest, we have five documented cases where approximately 100,000 dollars worth of timber was stolen,” Dye said. “We, the Division of Forestry, did not have the authority to investigate that.”
The bill was passed and referred to the Judiciary Committee.
The committee also discussed House Bill 4523 that would allow the Agriculture Commissioner to make rules regulating lawn fertilizer containing phosphate and establish the penalties for violations.
The hope is that those rules would align with other states such as Maryland in order to prevent runoff pollution into water sources.
Some delegates were concerned that without phosphate, lawn care would become difficult. However, Vice-Chair Mike Manypenny explained that without phosphate, lawns could still receive the nutrients they need.
“Your lawn is going to stay green because the nitrogen and there is going to be residual phosphate in the soils,” Delegate Mannypenny said.
The bill was approved and sent to the Judiciary Committee.