Posted By John Dorka,
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
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Weekly News 3.25.13
In this issue:
Ohio Legislative News
HB 12 – Eliminates the licensed operator requirement for boilers directly fired
with gas, oil, gas-oil, electricity or stationary steam engines that comply
with standards established by the Board of Building Standards - The
House passed an amended bill that changes standards whereby licensed operators
are not required under new standards prescribed in the law. Thus, under
the bill, a low pressure steam boiler or power boiler that has more than 360
square feet of heating surface (expressed as 30 horsepower under current law)
may be operated, or a stationary steam engine may be operated at more than 30
horsepower, by an individual not licensed under the Boiler Law if the
requirements specified in the rules adopted by the Board under the bill are
satisfied. Currently the law requires that a low pressure boiler of
more than 30 HP must be operated by someone licensed as a steam engineer, high
pressure boiler operator, or low pressure boiler operator.
ordered to pay $859 million in Group-Rating Case - A Cuyahoga County
trial court ruled that the Ohio BWC must refund $859 million to 264,000
employers for excessively charged premiums. The decision came from a
class action lawsuit filed by 7 employers that premium rates for non-group
employers were excessive, and in effect subsidized the lower rates for group
participants. BWC maintains that it has acted properly with the group
rating program and plans to appeal the decision of the Common Pleas Court.
Budget Passes - The ODOT Budget passed the conference committee last
week and was voted on by both the House and Senate and moved it on to the
Governor’s office for his signature. Removed from the bill was the
provision to raise commercial GVW to 90,000# from the current 80,000#
limit. On the controversial issue about turnpike bonding which is
included in the bill, the legislature agreed to direct at least 90% of the bond
money to projects in northern Ohio projects (north of Route 30). Finally,
the speed limit on 4-lane state highways would increase to 70 mph from the
current 65 mph. Trucks fueled by compressed natural gas will be allowed
to exceed GVW limits by 2,000#.
Panel Reviews Clean Energy Law - A panel of the Senate Public
Utilities Committee reviewed and debated the renewable energy requirements per
the 2008 law that established renewable energy standards in Ohio.
According to the law (SB 221, 127th General Assembly) 12.5% of
Ohio’s electric generation must come from renewable energy sources by
2025. Many witnesses, both pro and con on the standards have provided
testimony to the panel. No conclusions or proposed changes have yet come
from the discussions.
Tax Reform Proposals Continue to Draw Intense Review and Pushback - Work continues on the tax reform package proposed by the Kasich administration
in the budget bill. There appears to be consensus among legislators to go
with the Governor’s proposed residential and small business income tax
reductions. However, changes to the state sales tax codes, particularly
those that expand services to be taxed are getting little support.
Legislators are working to come up with other ideas to offset lost revenues
from the income tax reductions. The proposed increase in gas and oil
severance taxes may be a dead issue among legislators.
US Supreme Court Upholds US EPA Policy of
Non-Point Source Exemption for Logging Roads - The forestry and forest
products industry are cheering the recent ruling by the US EPA to overturn the
Ninth Circuit Court ruling requiring NPDES permits on logging roads.
Emails were abuzz late last week with the good news that the Supreme Court
agreed with long-standing Clean Water Act policy that exempted logging roads
from point-source permitting requirements. As has been reported in past
weekly reports, OFA joined a host of other state and national forestry and
industry organizations in the filing of two amicus briefs on the court case on
behalf of those opposed to the Ninth Circuit Court ruling. The Pacific
Legal Foundation provided the necessary legal work. If you want to read
more about the decision, you can take a look at the Opinion document on Decker v Northwest Environmental Defense Fund although it is long and
written in typical "legal” fashion. For a more brief and simple
explanation, read the Pacific
Legal Defense Liberty blog written by Daniel Himebaugh who worked on the
case. Of particular note in the blog statement is the discussion that the
Court agreed with EPA’s traditional view that timber harvesting was not an
"industrial activity” similar to those in facilities such as sawmills.
Further, it upheld the long-standing position that logging roads are
"non-point” sources of pollution, exempt from NPDES permits. Finally, a
particularly important part of the opinion is that the Supreme Court agreed
that there is extensive programs at the state level covering logging road
activities and thus federal permitting was redundant and duplicative. A
welcome victory for the good guys!
Insurance for Sawmills - OFA has
been hearing reports of sharply increasing rates for sawmill insurance.
Some comments that have been reported are:
increasing rates on large value and frame unprotected mills and pallet shops,
with rates increasing as much as 70%;
of 2-year rate guarantees
deductibles such that sawmill owners are required to obligate more of their own
of loss control requirements;
carriers are contemplating withdrawing from the sawmill and pallet manufacturing
If any members are experiencing or
hearing of the same concerns, please don’t hesitate to pass those along to OFA.
Ohio Logging BMP Evaluation Grant Proposal - OFA is cooperating with the ODNR Division of Forestry, OSU Extension, and the Ohio
SIC to seek a grant to complete an update and evaluation of the Statewide
Logging BMPs. A comprehensive statewide BMP assessment has been completed
only once in Ohio and that took place in 1999. With 14 years since the
last assessment, updated information is needed to determine the effectiveness
of current BMP use in the state. Grant funding is being requested from
both the US Forest Service and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) grant
Wood Education and Research Center (WERC)
March 21 Update - The most recent update
from WERC can be found here. This issue contains information on
issues such as woody biomass technical assistance, workshops on urban wood
utilization; biomass and bioenergy; heat treatment of firewood and logs using
steam and vacuum (May 21, Princeton, WV); a biomass grants program; an update
on the housing market for January, 2013; an Update
on Wood Markets for February, 2013; the new European Union Timber
Regulations website and Forests website;
a US Forest Service publication on the forests of the Northern United
States, which includes Ohio; and a list of archived webinars on a number of
Training, April 4, 2013, 8 AM, Tappan Lake – still plenty of room to
register!. For Master Loggers needing certification; you can register
Level 1 Training, April 5, 2013, 8 AM, Tappan Lake – registration is
currently full. Call OFA for updated information (614) 497-9580.
and Wood Products Export Conference, April 25, 2013, OSU Endeavor Center,
Piketon, Ohio. Here is a press release and flyer on the event. The conference will run from 9 am to 2 pm and will include
a lunch and handout materials. There is a $25 registration fee.
Call OSU Extension for registration: Jennifer Warfe, 740-289-1605, ext. 301 or
email: Warfe.firstname.lastname@example.org. Keynote
Speaker will be Michael Snow from the American Hardwood Export
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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