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Timber Talk 5/13/13

Posted By John Dorka, Monday, May 13, 2013


May 13, 2013 Issue
Ohio Legislative and Policy News
  • Ohio Forest Products Awareness Week, SB 94 Introduced to House Ag and NR Committee - The Ohio Forest Products Awareness Legislation passed the Senate unanimously as has been assigned to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Sponsor testimony will take place on May 14 in front of the committee.
  • JobsOhio to Issue Bond-backed Grants and Loans - JobsOhio, the non-profit organization created by the Legislature for business and job development in Ohio, is putting together loan and grant incentive programs to achieve development goals. In February, JobsOhio completed a $1.57 billion bond sale to fund a variety of programs. A $125 million pot of "working capital” will be used with existing funding through the Development Services Agency to kick-off the incentives programs. A JobsOhio Growth Fund will offer fixed asset loans to companies at the "growth, established, or expansion” stages. Grants will also be offered for infrastructure development and equipment relocation costs. Interestingly, it is reported that half of the workforce development funding is unspent because "there are too many restrictions on how it can be used.” Money will also be used for a Revitalization Program, which is for brownfield redevelopment efforts. JobsOhio is reporting that Chief Executives Magazine report on states’ business climate had moved Ohio from 35th to 22nd.
  • Ohio Chamber of Commerce (CoC) Gives Legislature Suggestions to Fund Income and Business Tax Cuts - After the legislature shut down some of the Kasich Administration ideas on tax reform and cuts, it asked state interest groups for ideas. The Ohio CoC offered some suggestions. It believes that some current tax exemptions should be closed, which in total amount to nearly $2 billion per year. One specific suggestion was to eliminate the $20 personal exemption credit on state income taxes as well as the spousal dependent credit. CoC also suggested adjusting the tax cut rates and thresholds for small businesses. Further it was suggested restricting the business tax cuts only to limited partners or investors who aren’t subject to the self-employment tax. CoC also advised against raising the commercial activity tax rate, believing that if the rate goes up, Ohio’s competitive manufacturing advantage will be jeopardized.
  • Rural School Districts Opposed to Proposed School Funding Formula - Ohio’s rural districts told senators that the proposed school funding formula fails to give their students the same opportunities that more affluent districts have.  The formula uses average property valuation per pupil to allocated state funds. The rural districts believe that the poorer areas of the state are not able to support local levies like other areas.
  • House Convenes the Healthier Ohio Working Group to Review Medicaid Expansion/Senate Takes Action Also - Following the legislature’s decision not to expand Medicaid in this budget, leadership agreed to review the proposal as a stand-alone issue following passage of the budget. To that end, the House has convened a group to begin looking at Medicaid expansion and reform. The original budget was to expand Medicaid by raising income eligibility thresholds, but this effort if focusing on "reform” as much as expansion. In Senate actions, most of the witnesses to the Senate working group were more in favor of expansion and would like to see expansion take place in the current budget proposal.
  • Legislation proposed to Create Public State Spending Database - Treasurer Josh Mandel and Rep. Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) unveiled legislation to create a public on-line database that would allow Ohio residents to see all of Ohio’s expenditures. It would be called the "Open Ohio” website. Treasurer Mandel proposes that the Treasurer’s office run the database. So far, the idea is getting support from divergent interests.  

Free Database Tracks Energy Legislation in all 50 States
Colorado State has created an on-line database tracker for energy-related legislation and it is free to anyone who wants to use it. The Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker allows viewers to pick a specific state and then find legislation relating to a number of energy related categories. I viewed the site relative to Ohio legislation and it appears to include current Ohio energy-related legislation.


American Wood Council (AWC) Wood Environmental Product Declarations
The AWC, in conjunction with the Canadian Wood Council (CWC), recently announced the release of 4 new Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for 4 North American wood products, including softwood lumber, plywood, oriented strand board, and glue-laminated lumber. These declarations provide information on the environmental "footprint” of the products. What makes these declarations particularly valuable is that they have been 3rd party verified by Underwriters Laboratories Environment which is an independent certifier of the sustainability of products. The EPD provides information which can be used to compare the environmental value of various products and provides information on environmental impacts relating to energy use and efficiency, emissions to air, soil and water, waste generation, and carbon footprint. In the long run, EPDs offer the international wood community the opportunity to prove the true value of wood products as an environmentally beneficial product. The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is working on an EPD for hardwoods.

Interesting Fuel Price Comparison
Here is an interesting comparison of fuel price data
for a variety of fuel types, from New Hampshire. The exact prices are not necessarily applicable to Ohio or for current prices, but it offers an interesting comparison based on price per energy output. The list includes cordwood and wood pellets for comparison.


Free Tree Farm Webinar on Forest Management Plan Templates
On May 21, the American Tree Farm System is hosting a webinar for foresters, landowners, and anyone else interested in using a new forest management plan template that can be used to meet plan requirements for various programs including Tree Farm Certification, the Forest Stewardship Program, and other cost-share incentives programs. In separate formats and on-line, there is a guide for foresters and a guide for landowners on how to use the templates. The webinar will be given twice on May 21: the first at 11:00 am and the second at 3:00 pm. You need to register for either on on-line and can do so by clicking on the times that are shown.


OSU Extension - Woodland Steward Workshops

The Ohio Woodland Stewards program is hosting a couple workshops in the next several weeks. On Saturday, May 18 at the OSU Mansfield Campus, there will be a Tree School from 9:00 am to 4:45 pm which will cover a variety of subjects relating to trees and forests. The class costs $45 if you have already registered. It is now $55. The registration fee covers lunch and materials. Here is a brochure. On Friday, June 7 at the OSU Mansfield Campus there will be a full-day Name That Tree workshop on tree identification for forest landowners and others interesting to know more about identifying trees. There is a $35 registration fee with a May 31 deadline. You can register for both classes on-line at http://woodlandstewards.osu.edu. There are a series of classes coming in June on invasive species as well as a class on dealing with wildlife conflicts. Check the website for information and times on these classes.


Upcoming Events

  • OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp, June 9-14, 2013; FFA Camp Muskingum, Carroll County; http://www.ohioforest.org/?page=ForestryCamp.We currently have students in Knox, Delaware, Franklin, Licking and Wood County seeking sponsors, If anyone is interested in helping these young ladies and gentlemen attend Forestry camp please contact Gayla at 614-497-9580 or via email.

  • Lumber Grading Short Course, June 10-13, 2013, Yoder Lumber Company, Millersburg, OH (Buckhorn Mill); register on-line

  • OWIN Summer Meeting, July 24-25, 2013, Christopher Conference Center, Chillicothe, OH

  • OFA Lumberman’s Outing Golf and Clay Shoot, September 11, 2013.
  • Paul Bunyan Show, October 4-6, 2013, Guernsey County Fairgrounds

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