Posted By Gayla Fleming,
Monday, February 4, 2013
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Weekly News 2.4.13
- Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Sets Agenda - Rep.
Dave Hall (R-Millersburg), Chairman of the House Ag and Natural
Resources Committee said last week that he expects the committee to deal
with a number of issues during this session, including fracking, water
quality, Lake Erie algal bloom, solid waste districts rule streamlining,
and animals. He advised that the committee will go "on the road" to
talk with constituents directly about agriculture and natural resource
issues. Chairman Hall said that five of the committee members are new to
the House and not so familiar with agriculture and natural resource
issues, and he would like to get them more familiar with direct hands on
issues. This committee is one of the committees more likely to deal
with forestry issues and is one that OFA and our members will want to
get to know better. You can find the Agriculture and Natural Resource
Committee members here. Here is a link to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee make-up.
- Other Legislative News
- The first ten bills were introduced into the House last week. Among the bills introduced:
2, Unemployment Compensation (Derickson) would require an unemployment
compensation claimant to register with OhioMeansJobs to be eligible for
unemployment compensation benefits and to require the claimant to
contact a one-stop, local office beginning with the 8th week of the filing to continue with the benefits;
5, Municipal Tax Collections (Grossman), would revise state laws
governing municipal income tax collections to create greater uniformity
among cities and towns throughout the state.
- House Transportation Committee could hear bills on gun control, license plates (requiring only rear plates), and auto insurance.
Insurance Committee Chairman Rep. Hackett (R-London) is talking about
legislation to overhaul Ohio's Workers Compensation program. Several
bills to that end were dropped last year when labor unions and some
Democrats criticized proposals as an attack on the middle class.
Terrence Blair (R-Washington Twp.), Chairman of the State and Local
Government Committee said he expects to see bills in this session
concerning local government efficiency and shared services. Talks
started in the last session on related issues but went nowhere.
Senate Public Utilities Chairman Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati, District 8)
indicated that he is going to revisit Ohio’s renewable and energy
efficiency requirements, which were put into place in 2008 with SB 221,
the Energy Bill. Among the things he wants to look at are whether the 3%
cost cap on complying with the renewable energy portfolio should be
revised; how much it cost utilities to comply; whether energy efficiency
targets should be frozen in place; and if the benchmarks are abolished,
should existing contracts be preserved. Chairman Seitz said that he has
been a "skeptic” of some of the standards, but he said that he believes
this 5-year review is an important part of the process.
- Governor Kasich will unveil his budget plan the week of Feb. 4. Here are some things it is expected to include:
plan is expected to entail across-the-board reductions in personal
income tax rates with reductions offset by loophole closures and a
broadening of the sales tax base, all of which are expected to get
significant push-back from the legislature.
proposal will also include a separate reduction targeting small
businesses. Over 3 years, tax cuts for individuals will amount to $2.1
billion and $1.9 billion for businesses, according to the
will be a controversial increase in oil and gas severance taxes that
the oil and gas industry has vigorously opposed so far.
budget proposal may include a proposal to alter the payment structure
for the property tax on oil and gas reserves (ad valorem tax). The "zero
interest loan” proposal is designed to make sure local governments,
which receive the proceeds of the ad valorem tax, get the revenue in
time to address infrastructure impacts from drilling operations. Right
now it can take up to 2.5 years for local governments to receive the
revenues. The proposal involves early up-front payments.
budget proposal includes the federally-funded expansion of Medicaid,
bucking the trend from many other states headed by GOP governors.
budget plan is based on a projected 4% growth in tax revenues. It
appears that the "rainy day fund” reserve, which not so long ago was
less than $1, will finish the year with $1 billion.
part of the school funding plans, no district will see a funding
decrease over the next 2 years, and overall spending will is expected to
increase 6.7% and 4.1% in respective years of the biennium.
hearings start the week of February 4. The separate Transportation
Budget. One of the things it is expected to include is $1.5 billion in
turnpike toll-backed bonds for overall transportation spending.
- JUST RELEASED: Here is a link to the Budget "Blue Book” which outlines the 2014-2015 Ohio Operating Budget Proposal from the Kasich administration.
- Timber Severance Tax?
There was an article in the January 27 Zanesville Times Recorder
featuring Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville, District 20) who is once
again the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee, talking about the anticipated state budget proposal to
increase severance taxes on oil and gas production. The article, titled Balderson aims to help energy, agriculture industries grow, indicates the proposal on oil and gas severance tax increase, but it also surprisingly mentions "timber”
in the article. To my knowledge, the Governor’s proposal is intended
only for oil and gas, and I have not seen anything that indicates
otherwise. I suspect that the inclusion of "timber” is a misstatement,
but I will be following up to make sure of the intent of the governor’s
proposal. Senator Balderson advises that the issue will not be addressed
in his committee, but will likely go the Senate subcommittee on tax
reform, which is part of the Ways and Means Committee, chaired by
Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster, District 31). We’ll know for sure
very soon once the budget proposal hits the streets. The article
includes information on the committees that Senator Balderson will sit
on, including the Senate Agriculture, Public Utilities, Education,
Transportation and Workforce Development Committees, as well as the
Finance Subcommittee on General Government. UPDATE: A quick review of the Budget Blue Book show that the severance tax proposal applies only to oil and gas production.
- Forest Products Fairness Act - OFA joined a number of state and national forestry organizations and groups to sign-on to a letter of support for the Forest Products Fairness Act.The purpose of the letter is to support legislation (see draft here)
that would allow forest products to be included in USDA’s Bio based
Products Program, a Farm Bill program. Currently, the program does not
allow consideration of forest products as a bio-based products because,
according to USDA, forest products have "mature markets” and they
believe the program is intended for new products. Such an exclusion
creates a disadvantage for forest products, as forest products are
arguably as "bio-based” as any product in existence. The legislation is
intended to direct USDA to include forest products in the definition of
"bio-based”. The bill was introduced in the previous Congressional
session, but did not go anywhere. It will be reintroduced again in the
next couple of weeks.
- Ohio Forest Health News
- Thousand Cankers Disease of Walnut – Update.
APHIS advised this week that Korea has placed a quarantine on all
walnut logs shipped from states with existing quarantines from known TCD
incidences. According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio is not
one of the quarantined states and the new restrictions do not apply to
products shipped from Ohio. Even though Walnut Twig Beetles were trapped
in a southwest Ohio location, the state does not have confirmed
incidence of TCD and is not quarantined.
- Asian Longhorned Beetle.
ALB Cooperative Eradication Program Environmental Assessment is out for
public review. Those wishing to comment on the assessment may do so
until February 16, 2013. You can find more information on the USDA APHIS website.
- OSU Fisher College of Business - 2013 Ohio Export Internship Program
The OSU Fisher College of Business and the Ohio Development Services
Agency are cooperating again to present the Ohio Export Internship
Program. The program is for companies looking to get into exporting for
the first time or looking to improve their current efforts. The program
matches companies with highly motivated students who have taken export
coursework and will provide 50% reimbursement for internship wages (up
to $3600). Companies can apply for participation through January 31,
2013 and the program runs through August 8, 2013. You can find more
information by visiting the Ohio Development Services Agency website.
- 2013 OFA Annual Meeting, March 5-6, 2013 - See the OFA website for registration information on the Annual Meeting.
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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