A proposal to increase the tax that private timberland owners pay to help the financially troubled Arkansas Forestry Commission's firefighting efforts is headed to Gov. Mike Beebe's desk.
By a 75-10 vote, the House approved legislation that would increase the fire protection tax from 15 cents an acre to 20 cents an acre.
The tax increase would be effective for assessment years beginning in 2013. The measure is expected to raise about $700,000 a year.
The proposal was approved a year after the commission's director resigned over questions about finances.
The commission laid off 34 employees, although the state later reinstated 15 firefighter positions it had cut. Beebe has said he'd sign the measure if it reached his desk.