Tree Trimming & Removal (Oppose – Preemption)

Tree Trimming & Removal (Oppose – Preemption)

CS/SB 574 (Steube) and CS/CS/HB 521 (Edwards) preempt to the state the trimming, removal or harvesting of trees and timber on private property, and prohibit local governments from restricting these activities on private property. The bills also prohibit local governments from imposing mitigation requirements (including fees or tree planting) for the removal or harvesting of trees. Lastly, the bills prohibit a local government from prohibiting the burial of trees or vegetative debris on properties larger than 2.5 acres. CS/HB 521 was substantially amended to narrow the focus and scope of the bill. As amended, CS/HB 521 would apply only to tree trimming and vegetation maintenance undertaken by water management districts, water control districts, and section 298 special districts within rights-of-way established by the district for drainage and flood control purposes. These entities must provide notice to the appropriate local government prior to engaging in the vegetation maintenance activity. CS/SB 574 was amended to include the narrower preemption language regarding drainage and flood control rights-of-way, as well as would preempt the application of local government tree regulations to single-family residential properties during declared states of emergency. In addition, the amended Senate bill provides that if an electric utility notifies a local government that its ordinances or practices may “adversely impact” electric reliability by allowing vegetation to be planted where it may conflict with electric facilities, the local government is liable for restoration costs incurred by the utility attributable to damages or outages caused by such vegetation. In addition, the amended Senate bill eliminates current law providing protections for historic or specimen trees, or designated tree canopies, and providing for cooperation between electric utilities and local governments relating to vegetation maintenance within electric line rights-of-way. (O'Hara)