< Back to H.R. 3210 (112th Congress, 2011–2013)

Text of the RELIEF Act

This bill was introduced on June 7, 2012, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Oct 14, 2011 (Introduced).

This is not the latest text of this bill.

Source: GPO

I

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 3210

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

October 14, 2011

(for himself, Mrs. Bono Mack, and Mrs. Blackburn) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources

A BILL

To amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to limit the application of that Act with respect to plants and plant products that were imported before the effective date of amendments to that Act enacted in 2008, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness Act or the RELIEF Act .

2.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

Amendments to the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 were enacted as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law 110–246).

(2)

The 2008 amendments were intended to level the playing field for American businesses engaged in the responsible harvest, shipment, manufacture, and trade of plants and plant products whose prices had been undercut by a black market fueled by irresponsible and illegal taking of protected plants around the globe.

(3)

The 2008 amendments were overly broad and their enforcement as enacted could criminalize actions of a good-faith owner, purchaser, or retailer of a plant or plant product, subjecting them to penalties that include forfeiture, fines, and imprisonment.

(4)

Sanctions for violating the 2008 amendments should be proportional to the act in violation. An individual who is not in the commercial shipping business should not be held to the same standard of compliance under that Act.

(5)

Individuals fear that they risk incurring those penalties by merely owning or traveling with a vintage musical instrument, antique furniture, or another wood product.

(6)

The Department of the Interior and Department of Justice have stated people who unknowingly possess a musical instrument or other object containing wood that was illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of law and who, in the exercise of due care would not have known that it was illegal, do not have criminal exposure..

(7)

It is necessary to clarify the 2008 amendments so that legally harvested new plant products can enter the market place.

(8)

Declaration requirements for plant products imported or manufactured prior to May 22, 2008, are unreasonable since the sourcing of plant products was not previously required by law.

(9)

Federal law enforcement officials should not engage in overzealous enforcement action under the 2008 amendments.

(10)

It is important to ensure that the appropriate agencies have the necessary funding to implement the current phases of the declaration requirement before considering any future phases.

(11)

The appropriate agencies have the responsibility of providing a publicly accessible database so that everyone can be notified of the foreign laws of countries as they apply to the importation of plants.

3.

Treatment of plants and plant products under Lacey Act Amendments of 1981

(a)

Limitation on application of Act to certain plants and plant products

The Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 (16 U.S.C. 3371 et seq.) is amended by redesignating section 9 as section 10, and by inserting after section 8 the following:

9.

Limitation on application to certain plants and plant products

This Act does not apply with respect to—

(1)

any plant that was imported into the United States before May 22, 2008; or

(2)

any finished plant or plant product the assembly and processing of which was completed before May 22, 2008.

.

(b)

Limitations on application of plant declaration requirement

Section 3(f) of such Act (16 U.S.C. 3372(f)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1), by inserting that is entered for consumption (as that term is defined in part 141.0a of title 19, Code of Federal Regulations, as in effect on the date of enactment of the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness Act) after plant; and

(2)

in paragraph (3)—

(A)

by inserting (A) before Paragraphs (1); and

(B)

by adding at the end the following:

(B)
(i)

In the case of a plant product that is derived from a tree, a declaration under paragraph (1) or (2) is not required to include information referred to in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of that paragraph unless the plant product is solid wood.

(ii)

The Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service shall issue regulations that define the term solid wood for purposes of this subparagraph

.

(c)

Civil forfeitures

Section 5(d) of such Act (16 U.S.C. 3374(d)) is amended to read as follows:

(d)

Civil forfeitures

(1)

In general

Except as provided in subsection (d), civil forfeitures under this section shall be governed by chapter 46 of title 18, United States Code.

(2)

limitation on innocent owner defense not applicable

The limitation set forth in paragraph (4) of section 983(d) of title 18, United States Code, does not apply with respect to—

(A)

any imported plant acquired by a person who satisfies the requirements for treatment as an innocent owner set forth in paragraph (1) and paragraph (2) or (3), as applicable, of such section; and

(B)

any plant or plant product acquired by a person who satisfies such requirements.

.

4.

Reduced penalties for certain first offenses

Section 4 of such Act (16 U.S.C. 3373) is amended by redesignating subsection (e) as subsection (f), and by inserting after subsection (d) the following:

(e)

Civil penalty for first offenses involving plant

(1)

In general

Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (d), any person who violates subsection (a), (d), or (f) of section 3 with respect to any plant and who in the exercise of due care should know that the plant was taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of, or in a manner unlawful under, any underlying law, treaty, or regulation may, for the first such violation, be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of not more than $250.

(2)

Other civil penalty provisions apply

Except as provided in paragraph (3), paragraphs (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6) of subsection (a) shall apply with respect to an offense for which a penalty may be assessed under this subsection.

(3)

Treatment as single offense

Notwithstanding the second sentence of subsection (a)(4), all violations by a person for which a penalty may be assessed under this subsection that arise from a single act or omission shall be treated as a single offense.

.

5.

Review and report

Section 3(f) of such Act (16 U.S.C. 3372(f)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (4), by striking Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this subsection, and inserting Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness Act; and

(2)

in paragraph (5)—

(A)

by striking Not later than 180 days after the date on which the Secretary completes the review under paragraph (4), the Secretary and inserting Not later than 180 days after the date the Secretary completes the review under paragraph (4), the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service;

(B)

by striking and after the semicolon at the end of subparagraph (B);

(C)

by striking the period at the end of subparagraph (C) and inserting ; and; and

(D)

by adding at the end the following:

(D)

an evaluation of the feasibility of creating and maintaining a publicly available database of laws of foreign countries from which plants are exported.

.

6.

Funding for implementation of plant declaration requirement

The head of each Federal agency responsible for implementing the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 (16 U.S.C. 3371 et seq.) shall, from amounts otherwise available, allocate sufficient amounts to implement section 3(f) of the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 (16 U.S.C. 3372(f)), including for processing of all declarations filed under that section.

7.

Standard certification process for plants and plant products

The Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the head of each other Federal agency responsible for implementing the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 (16 U.S.C. 3371 et seq.) shall issue regulations to establish a standard certification process under that Act for plant and plant products (as those terms are used in that Act) legally harvested, imported, or manufactured after May 22, 2008, that considers individual item certification and individual manufacturer, importer, and retailer certification for purposes of sale and resale.

8.

Federal Trade Commission review

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Federal Trade Commission shall—

(1)

conduct a review of competitiveness in the domestic market for raw materials for the manufacture of musical instruments and the impact of the amendments made by this Act to the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 (16 U.S.C. 3371 et seq.) on such competitiveness; and

(2)

submit to Congress a report containing the results of the review.