As part of the ongoing effort by the Legislative Leadership to drive efficiencies in state government, Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) has introduced SB411 that would merge the Alabama Forestry Commission into the Department of Agriculture & Industries, forming a newly named Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Industries.
The legislation maintains the Alabama Forestry Commission and its commissioners, keeps intact the statutory mission of the Commission and includes safeguards to ensure funding for the Commission will not be affected by the merger.
Of note, the legislation does change the method for selecting the state forester, but also sets forth that the existing state forester will remain in place.
The bill transfers the duties, responsibilities, papers, funds, property and other effects of the State Forestry Commission to the Division of State Forestry within the Department. The effective date of the legislation in its current form is October 1, 2014.
If you will recall, the police function of the Commission had been previously transferred to the Department of Public Safety through another consolidation effort passed by the legislature in 2012. The transfer of these officers was to occur January 1, 2015, so this will be a little confusing as they will move from the Commission to the Department for three months at the end of the year and then on to their new home at the first of next year.
AFA is monitoring the legislation