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5/20/13 Issue

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Wednesday, June 5, 2013

May 20, 2013 Issue

Ohio Legislative and Policy News

  • BWC Rebates Give Schools a Boost - With the BWC announcing that it is proposing a nearly $1 billion rebate in BWC insurance premiums, school districts would receive benefits from those rebates. It was announced that nearly 3,000 school districts and local governments would receive nearly $113 million in rebates.
  • ODNR Expects "Staggering” Increase in Utica Shale Oil and Gas Production in Future - ODNR Director Jim Zehringer held a press conference last week to talk about recent Utica Shale oil and gas production and predicted a huge increase in production in the next few years. He said that from 2011 to 2012 oil and gas production from the Utica formation nearly doubled Ohio’s production of oil and gas in one year, but from far fewer number of wells. Based on the current production, Utica shale wells which will make up less than 1% of the state’s 51,000 wells will outstrip conventional wells in 2 years. Director Zehringer said that at the end of 2012, there were 215 wells drilled with 67 producing. By 2015, ODNR expects to issue permits for 2,215 horizontal wells, with more than 1,000 in production. The Director indicated a large number of the wells have "wet” gas, which makes them more valuable producers.
  • Medicaid Expansion Not Expected to be Picked up by Senate - It appears that the Ohio Senate may follow the same path as the House and not consider Medicaid expansion in the current budget. House leadership indicated it wanted to consider Medicaid reform and possible expansion as stand-alone legislation later in the year. The Senate appears to be following the same path. In the meantime, various interest groups on both sides of the Medicaid issue continue to hit the legislature with reports and information for and against reasons to expand.

Federal Policy and Legislation

  • Farm Bill Passed in House and Senate Committees - Last week the House and Senate Agriculture Committees passed the Farm Bill, although in separate versions. Both appeared to be friendly to forest landowners and included provisions to encourage forestry on private forest lands. Both bills will go to the full House and Senate chambers for debate. The American Forest Foundation put together a side-by-side comparison of both versions which is here for viewing. Both versions are very similar in terms of forestry programs, with some variation in funding authorizations. Of note, both versions included Forest Products Fairness Act language, which adds a definition of "forest products” as a bio-based product and creates opportunities for funding innovation programs for forest products. In Ohio, Cong. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) who is on the committee voted against passage due to objection to several issues, one which affects dairy farmers and the other dealing with the commodity title. Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Blacklick) was opposed to cuts to the Food Stamp Program.
  • Endangered Species Act (ESA) to be Reviewed in House. Last week, the House Natural Resources Committee created the Endangered Species Act Working Group which will review the ESA from all angles to see if it should be updated. Over the years, the ESA has caused hundreds of lawsuits with millions of dollars of lawsuit payments from the federal government, many of which go to pay legal fee of plaintiffs, which the law prescribes. Many feel that far too much focus is put on lawsuits and not nearly enough effort on habitat considerations and actions. The Working Group will hold hearings and forums to find answers to a number of issues including is the ESA achieving its goals, the role of state and local governments in recovery efforts, does the law really protect species while ensuring protection of private property and water rights, among others. There is a regionally broad group of 13 Representatives on the Working Group but none are from Ohio.

BWC News
Along the line of the BWC premium rebates mentioned above, CCI, the third-party administrator for the OFA Group Safety Program, issued a news release with the announcement of the $1 billion rebate, with detail on how the rebate and additional $900 million in credits will be distributed. Interestingly, according to the article, BWC had the option to offer reduced premium rates as opposed to paying "dividends” but elected the option that would prevent the roller coaster of premium rates that the system experienced in the past. The payments and credits are a one-time event based on good investment returns to the system. Please note also that RiskControl 360, partner to CCI with safety training, issued a two-page safety article on distracted driving. The article focuses on the dangers of texting and cell phone use while driving, but also covers any other "distracted driving” activity including eating, reading, use of GPS, videos, and other technical devices. The article contains some suggested management actions to take to reduce the risks and dangers.

Documenting the Value of Paper
The American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) printed this paper titled Documenting the Value of Paper: Literature Review. The paper and research were done to document the value of paper for customers and member companies and for anyone who wants to better understand the still valuable role of paper in an increasingly digital era. As the paper points out, it provides a valuable learning tool, the product is sustainable, it is effective and secure, and offers a permanent record. Here are a some key findings you can read in this report:

  • Recent studies show grade school students have better comprehension and performed better on tests that those using digital learning tools;
  • Student often use different learning strategies, and paper is superior to electronic text in supporting those strategies.;
  • College students prefer paper-based reading materials to electronic for learning;
  • Print-based materials are superior to e-texts supporting active reading strategies such as highlighting, bookmarking, and note-taking;
  • Reading "on-screen” is fundamentally different than reading on paper, with less actual reading time and more scanning and browsing and lower comprehension;
  • Print resources are perceived as more authoritative than electronic resources;
  • Print newspapers remain more popular than digital newspapers with readers and promote more recall;
  • Consumers use and prefer print more than electronic advertising to become aware of products;
  • Consumers do not like on-line behavioral marketing;
  • Newspaper advertising is the leading advertising medium cited by purchasers for making purchase decisions;
  • Print resources are more effective than electronic resources at driving QR code traffic;
  • "Millenials” respond more to print, TV, and radio than on-line advertising;
  • "Millenials” prefer paper to over digital for official documents;
  • People associate paper with achievement;
  • People prefer bills and statements in paper format;
  • Paper has the characteristics consumers use to determine if a product is environmentally friendly and responsible: biodegradable, recyclable, and percent of recycled material;
  • Lifecycle assessment studies show the difference in environmental impact between paper and electronic text is small.

Forbes Magazine Recommends Competition in Forestry Certification Programs Recently, Forbes had an editorial that talked about Forestry Certification Programs and the editors believe that these voluntary certification programs should be governed by competition among the systems and no single system should be preferred over another. It believes that policies and programs that lead to restrictions on selection of certifications are not good and should not be promoted. To this end, several states have recently passed legislation prohibiting the use of any building standards or codes that restrict openness among certification programs.

ECOFA Newsletter
Here is the June Newsletter from the East Central Ohio Forestry Association. The newsletter has information on the recent annual meeting, upcoming events, and various points on wildlife and invasive species. The ECOFA has been very supportive of the OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp and due to a very successful auction at the annual banquet, the group will provide camp sponsorships for 8 students to attend camp. The OFA Foundation, which sponsors the camp, extends a thanks to this group and others for the great support to get students to camp.

Upcoming Events

  • OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp, June 9-14, 2013; FFA Camp Muskingum, Carroll County;
  • lLumber 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.

Quotes of the Week

  • "The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.” George Washington
  • "Every family tree always produces nuts.” Anonymous

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