Posted By John Dorka,
Monday, December 03, 2012
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Weekly News 12.3.12
In this issue:
- House and Senate committees are considering changing
requirements for the establishment of Mayor’s Courts. In separate
House and Senate versions, both chambers are considering changing minimum
population requirements for a municipality to have a mayor’s court.
The Senate is looking at a change of more than 100 people to more than
200 people. The House version is more dramatic with a change from
more than 100 people to more than 1000.
- The House Ways and Means Committee is set to have its
first hearing on HB 601 which would overhaul laws governing income taxes
established by communities. The bill is intended to establish more
uniformity among municipalities on income taxes for individuals and
- The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
is looking at 6 bills pertaining to oil and gas removal. Among them
are bills to establish more requirements governing oil and gas drilling
wells in the Marcellus shale formation (HB 493), to
require oil and gas lessees to provide the lessor monthly production
statements (HB 528), to allow local governments to enact
health and safety standards for drilling (HB 537), to
change requirements for oil and gas permits (HB 596),
and to authorize a fee on the recycling of brine from drilling operations
- Last week, the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board, a
25-member board composed of lawmakers and business leaders from across Ohio, met for its
inaugural meeting to discuss goals. The primary purpose of
the board is to review the state’s workforce development system and
develop recommendations to make it more efficient and effective.
Their 3 goals include forecasting the "skills” potential employers will
be looking for in new hires, streamlining how the state delivers
workforce programs, and determining how the state will measure the
performance of the system.
- Sen. Keith Faber (R-Celina) was elected President of
the Senate, replacing Sen. Tom Niehuas (R-New Richmond) who is term
limited and leaving the legislature.
- The House leadership team remained the same following
caucus meetings this past week, as Rep. William Betchelder (R-Medina)
remained the Speaker of the House. The status quo remained the same
in the Democratic Caucus leadership team.
- The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Workers Compensation
claimants found eligible for benefits are entitled to recover attorneys’
fees and court costs no matter how many of their claims were
approved. The court ruled that state law allows for successful WC
claimants to be reimbursed for the cost of any legal proceedings.
In the case heard, the employer of the claimant was found responsible for
thousands of dollars in employee court fees and costs.
- Governor Kasich is still pushing for an increase in an
oil and gas severance tax and told members of the Farm Bureau last week
that he will continue pushing this agenda in spite of resistance from the
industry. The governor’s proposal calls for a reduction in income
taxes for Ohio
residents in exchange for the increased severance tax revenues.
- Ohio House 21st Century Manufacturing Task
Force held a hearing on Workers Compensation issues this past week.
A number of suggestions were received including requiring claimants to
show new and/or changed circumstances when filing for disability benefits
more than once and allowing employers to pay compensation and medical
bills without losing the right to context a claim. During the
hearing, BWC Director Buehrer said that BWC has made many improvements in
lowering costs and increasing efficiencies, but a number of troubling trends
average indemnity and medical cost per claim is rising at a much faster
rate than other states. In addition the time period over which Ohio pays claims
costs is among the longest in the country, which is 8 years after the
date of injury.
- In other BWC news, the BWC Board of Directors approved
expanded workplace safety options for employers in Group Experience and
Group Retrospective Rating Programs. Under the new options,
employers who have had a workplace injury can satisfy some safety
training requirements by completing an on-line accident analysis and
related on-line safety training, as opposed to taking a 2-hour safety
- Federal Policy Issues
- Forest Roads NPDES Permitting - This issue will be heard by the US Supreme
Court on December 3rd as oral arguments for NEDC vs. Decker
will be made that day. At the same time, the US EPA has proposed a
rule clarifying that logging is not an "industrial activity” and
therefore does not require NPDES permits under stormwater rules.
The final rule has already been sent to OMB. While all this has
been going on, legislation has been drafted (Silviculture Regulatory
Consistency Act) that would permanently fix the issue, but there is
little chance that it will move during the lame duck session of Congress.
- Farm Bill - It appears likely that Congress will move a 1-year extension on the
current Farm Bill during the lame duck session, although House and Senate
committees are still working on passage of a new Farm Bill.
- Hardwood Leader Notes - The following are notes from the most recent issue of The Hardwood Leader
produced by Hardwood Publishing:
- As reported in many places, housing is showing signs
of recovery and strength in sales and construction. Single family
home sales were at the highest rates in 2 years and starts were the
highest since 2008. The National Association of Home Builders now
has a list of 125 improving markets, up from 30 this time in 2011.
Forty percent of the US
hardwood exports go to China.
- Hardwood export markets will be a lift for hardwood
producers in 2013 and beyond that. Projected 2012 exports will be
1.34 billion BF, which should break the 2006 record.
- The hardwood market appears to be transitioning to a
"sellers market” after 5 years of falling demand and excess production.
- Lumber supplies will continue to tighten if demand
continues strong and timber costs continue to rise. Mills should
start to catch up in the second quarter of 2013.
- In the Appalachian region, Soft Maple, Ash, Red oak,
and Poplar will remain hot sellers. Improvement in White oak should
soon follow. High grad walnut and cherry will be down for a while,
as well as Hard maple.
- US residential furniture factory shipments were $1.79
billion in August, up 6% from August, 2011. Furniture sales remain
strongest in the least expensive product categories and will remain that
way until middle class consumers are more confident of the economy.
- Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that tighter credit
standards which were implemented following the subprime mortgage market
collapse, have now swung too far and have slowed the housing and economic
recovery. Meanwhile, mortgage rates continued declining to record
- US manufacturing employment rose in October and is
1.69% higher than a year ago at this time. However, employment in
wood products manufacturing has slightly declined.
- Ohio Home Sales Hit October Record - According to the Ohio Association of Realtors,
for the 16th month in a row, Ohio home sales showed a gain from
the previous month in October. Sales in that month were 23.1% more
than October in 2011. Average sale prices increase 8% from the same
time last year.
- OSU Extension Economic Impact Study – Ohio Forest
Economy - Recently, Dr. Eric
McConnell, Forest Operations and Products Specialist for OSU Extension
completed an economic impact study of Ohio’s forest products industry.
A copy of that study can be found here.It
can also be found on-line here. Using census data and other
inventories and databases, Dr. McConnell came up with some amazing
information about Ohio’s
forest products industry and the forests that support them. For a
quick look at the data, take a look at the highlights on the first
page. Based on 2010 data, Ohio’s
forest products industry contributed $22.05 billion to Ohio’s economy with total employment of
118,000 jobs and a payroll of $5.69 billion. The study breaks the
information down by various forest product sectors as well as by direct,
indirect, and induced employment. The report is well worth your time
Woody Biomass: The Past Century in Review - This is a good article written by a forester
with Forest Investment Associates that talks about the abundance of the US forest
and timber resources over the last century. Its focus is on woody
biomass availability for energy use, but it profiles the forest resources
and wood availability for the industry in general. The article has a
southern perspective but is applicable for all regions. It relates
that there is plenty of woody fiber available for general industry markets
and the wood supply continues to grow and expand. It further relates
on what happened to a burgeoning biomass market that appeared ready to
expand just a few years ago.
- Study on the Life Cycle Assessment of Treated Wood
Pilings- The Treated Wood Council
(TWC) just released the Conclusions and Summary Report:
Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Marine Pilings. The 4
major conclusions are that treated wood pilings, compared to concrete,
galvanized steel, or plastic use less energy and water, have lower
environmental impacts, and produce lower greenhouse gases to
produce. In addition, appropriate reuse of pilings for energy offset
fossil fuels. A copy of the findings can be found here.
- The LEED Standards Battle on Wood Continues - The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
reports that as the USGBC’s LEED program is about to finish its fifth
Comment Period, many questions are being about the LEED rating season,
particularly in reference to its exclusionary position on forest
certification programs. Here
is a web page from the Washington Forest Protection Association that
links a number of articles and papers that are critical of LEED, including
an article from the USA Today, comments from the American Consumer
Institute Center for Citizen Research, the Oregon Small Business
Association comments, and the survey from Turner Construction Association.
- Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood (CFTHP)
Files Unfair Trade Petition Against China - In late September, the CFTHP filed an unfair
trade petition with the US Department of Commerce and the US International
Trade Commission against China
for allegedly selling hardwood plywood on the US market at "dumped prices”
and as a result, Chinese manufacturers have gained an unfair
advantage. The petition is asking that the issue be investigated and
that duties be applied to the imports to restore parity in the
market. Over the last several years, the market share of Chinese
hardwood plywood has grown to 50% in the US. The petition is
expected to be heard with a preliminary ruling in the spring of 2013 and
final ruling in the fall of 2013 with imposition of a duty if warranted.
- OFA Electric Services Program - A number of our manufacturing members should
have received information on the Energy Services Group Program that OFA is
offering in cooperation with Riverside Energy. Here is a
brochure on the services and benefits to you. Sherri Loscko is the
President of Riverside Energy and has been contacting a number of our
members to let them know that she may be able to assist you with saving
money on electricity rates. If you haven’t heard from Sherri, don’t
hesitate to give her a call to see what she can offer. There is no
cost to you or obligation to sign up through her services, even if she
offers a quote and analysis of your electric accounts.
- Log A Load for Kids Chainsaw Winner at Paul Bunyan Show - Larry Strickland correctly guessed the volume
of wood in logs at the Log A Load for Kids raffle at the Paul Bunyan
Show. Larry won a Dolmar PS351 chainsaw donated by Central Power
Systems for the event. Here is a picture of Larry
receiving the chainsaw from Bibb Tracy, Central Power Systems Territory
Sales Manager in Eastern Kentucky.
A 50/50 drawing of the prize money was also part of the Larry’s
prize. Larry elected to donate his 50% share back to Log A Load for
- SOFA December Newsletter- The Southern Ohio Forestland Association
December 2012 Newsletter has information on the last general meeting which
featured an "Open Mic Night” for members to talk about their special
experiences as forest landowners, an article on American Chestnut,
information on invasive plants and fish that threaten the Great Lakes
region, and a list of upcoming events and seminars including the annual
gathering at the Lake White Club. The newsletter can be found here.
Ohio Forestry Association is managed by Offinger Management
Company, a member of the International Association of Exhibitions and
Events (IAEE), "Charter-Accredited" Association Management Company
member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and a
member of the Association Management Company Institute (AMC Institute). www.Offinger.com
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