U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), who introduced the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness (RELIEF) Act in Congress with Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), is happy to explain why the original Act needs fine tuning. Cooper, in interviews and on his website, objects to what he calls the unwanted side effects of the well-intentioned Lacey Act, designed to curb illegal logging in foreign countries. He said he worries that the law could be interpreted to make old guitars and other musical instruments illegal if they were made using any rare woods. He added in a statement, that while healthy forests is a goal, "we also want legal guitars."
Rep. Cooper said the RELIEF Act would have no direct effect on any pending federal investigations and under the act people will still be punished if they buy wood harvested illegally after 2008. Gibson Guitars in Memphis has been the subject of two investigations related to compliance with the Lacey Act.
The RELIEF Act would protect consumers of any foreign wood products, such as guitars and furniture, made before May 22, 2008, the date the Lacey Act Amendments were signed into law. People with wood that violates Lacey, but unaware that it is in violation, can't be penalized nor can the government confiscate property. To better educate the public, the government will compile a database of forbidden wood sources and post it on the internet.
The Lacey Act , introduced in 1900 by Congressman John F. Lacey, was first designed to stop trade in illegal wild game. By 1981 the Act was amended to apply to logging and in 2008, the House Committee on Natural Resources approved its extension to lumber and plant products.
The Lacey Act covers wood from stump to shelf and makes it illegal to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase any fish or wildlife or plant taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation.
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