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Timber Talk 6/17/13

Posted By John Dorka, Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ohio Legislative and Policy News

Medicaid Reform/Expansion - The legislature elected not to deal with Medicaid reform/expansion in the current Ohio budget bill, but also indicated it would consider stand-alone legislation later this year. It appears that the House Finance and Appropriations Committee will begin reviewing 2 high profile bills next week. One of the bills has bi-partisan sponsorship from Committee Chairman Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) and Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron). In general, the GOP caucus is looking at any measure as a means to reform Medicaid and control costs, while many still would like to expand Medicaid to raise the income level below which citizens can be included in Medicaid coverage.

Prevailing Wage Requirement Changes - The House Commerce, Labor, and Technology Committee will get a second hearing on HB 190, which would allow political subdivisions and colleges and universities to no longer follow the prevailing wage law on public improvement projects. The bill would also raise the threshold to trigger the prevailing wage law on vertical public improvement projects from $200,000 to $3.5 million for construction and $60,000 to $3.5 million for reconstruction.

Legislation to Reign-in Farm Run-off - Legislation was introduced in the Senate Agriculture Committee last week by Chairman Cliff Hite (R-Findlay), Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina), and Sen. Jim Bechy (R-Greenville) to create greater government monitoring of farmers use of natural and artificial farm fertilizers while allowing private sector involvement to help shield public records of farm "management plans.” ODNR Director Zehringer, ODA Director Daniels, and EPA Director Nally all testified in favor of the bill. Among provisions of the bill, it would expand groups who could offer farmer assistance on management plans, broaden the definition of "nutrients” to assist with enforcement, exempt the plans from open record laws, create a Fertilizer Applicator Licensing and Certification program. It appears that local oversight and monitoring will come from Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

State Budget Review - The final review of the state budget (HB 59) started late last week and is expected to continue through this week. The Budget will be heard in a Conference Committee between the Senate and the House. House members include Rep. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster), Rep. Jeff McClain (R-Upper Sandusky), and Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron). Senate members are Sen. Scott Oelslager (R-Canton), Sen. Bill Coley (R-Middletown), and Sen. Tom Sawyer (D-Akron).

Still No Love for Oil and Gas Severance Tax Changes - In spite of repeated efforts by the Kasich Administration to push for changes to the oil and gas severance tax law in Ohio, the Republicans in the legislature appear no more interested in changes than they have throughout the budget process.

Governor Kasich Executive Order Removing Work Barriers for Veterans - Governor Kasich signed an executive order last week requiring state boards and commissions to consider military experience when issuing licenses and certifications. In addition, the Board of Regents must consider giving college credit for such training and education.

Legislation to Block Reporters’ Access to Concealed Weapons Records - Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) introduced legislation in front of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee that would prohibit journalists from seeing personal records of concealed carry citizens unless they had a court order to see the information.

JCARR Approves DOW Deer Hunting Regulations - In spite of push back by a large group of state legislators against the Division of Wildlife plans to scale back on state deer bag limits, the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) approved DOW plans to roll-back the bag limit from 12 to 9 deer. The Ohio Wildlife Council took up the issue after some legislators complained about the changes. But the Council upheld the DOW proposal. Paul Mechling, OFA Board member representing Ohio Tree Farmers, is also on the Ohio Wildlife Council and voted to support DOW plans.

US Senate Approves the Farm Bill
Last week, the US Senate approved the Farm Bill by a vote of 66-27. Ohio Senator Rob Portman voted no on the bill while Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown voted in favor of the bill. Sen. Portman voted against the bill because he thought there needs to be more cuts in the food stamp program which has ramped up appreciably in recent years. He also thought that, although changes were made to reduce commodity subsidies, not enough was done to the program. Eighty percent of the nearly $1 trillion bill goes toward the food stamp program (SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and the Senate cut SNAP only slightly ($4 billion reduction). The bill now must go to the House of Representatives for debate and passage. The House is expected to cut the food stamp program even harder than the Senate. Here is a brief article on the Farm Bill passage from Ohio’s Farm and Dairy Magazine.

OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp
The OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp took place last week at FFA Camp Muskingum in Carroll County. It was the 64th consecutive running of the OFA Forestry camp, which was first held in 1950. As mentioned last week, there was a sharp increase in the number of camp attendees this year. In 2012 we had 77 students, and there had been a slight but steady decline in attendance for the past several years. This year however, 112 high school age students attended the camp, more than a 45% increase. We believe that efforts by the OFA Camp committee to come up with new marketing materials and registration incentives helped to get more kids to camp, particularly first-time campers. The camp was another huge success and the students went home with a better understanding of Ohio’s forests and the products that come from them. There was a total of $3,750 in scholarship money from OSU ($1,750), Hocking College ($500), and Ohio University ($1,500) this year for the top students at the camp. Winners included Dominic Lenzi (OSU $1,000); Kara Wise (OSU $750); Tori Anders (Hocking $500); and Halie Popovitch (Ohio U $1,500). An additional highlight last week was that 2 reporters from Farm and Dairy magazine, one of which is the Editor, visited the camp for a day to do a story on the camp and highlight the forestry education and activities. An article on the camp is expected in this week’s edition of Farm and Dairy due out on Thursday, June 20. The 2014 Ohio Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp will be held June 8-13, 2014!

Lumber Grading Short Course
We held our annual "legacy” Lumber Grading Short Course at Yoder Lumber Co. Buckhorn Sawmill in Millersburg last week. There were 20 class attendees from 14 different companies at the 4-day course. Barry Kibbey, NHLA Instructor taught the course for OFA, as he has done for the last 5 years. As a heads-up, OFA is looking into a second 4 or 5-day Lumber Grading Short Course for this year in late October or early November at a yet-to-be determined location in southern Ohio. The course will include the usual 4-day lumber grading short course but with a possible one-day walnut grading short course on Friday of the selected week. Stay tuned for more information on class arrangements.

E. Burns Miller Memorial Scholarship
The winner of the 2013 E. Burns Miller Memorial Scholarship was chosen. This year, a $2,000 scholarship was awarded to Conrad Schafer from Scio, Ohio. He will be attending Hocking College to earn a Forestry degree. There were 5 applications for the scholarship this year, down considerably from previous years. Applications for the 2014 scholarship can be submitted between now and April 15, 2014.

Perry Brenneman Passing
In case you missed the note late last week, OFA lost an old friend and association member, Perry Brenneman last week as he passed unexpectedly at his home in Mt. Vernon. You can see more information about Perry’s passing on the obituary from the Dilley-Lasater Funeral Home. There is also information on memorial contributions in Perry’s name.

OSU Thompson Library Foresters’ Fund Grant Application
Last week, OFA submitted a grant application to the Society of American Foresters for a Special Grant to fund awareness and promotion of the wood used in the library renovation at the OSU Thompson Library. Many will recall the library featured in the Winter 2011 edition of the Ohio Woodland Journal. It was also the site of the OWIN Tour at the 2012 OFA Winter Meeting in Columbus. This is a second effort to secure grant funds to help promote the hardwood in the project as the first attempt with getting a grant from the American Forest Foundation was not successful. The project will create an on-line "exhibit” of the wood used in the renovation with an estimated 25 pages of information about the wood, its sourcing from Ohio state forests, and its Ohio manufacturing. There will also be a temporary display created for the exhibit area in the library with the exhibit eventually being used in the OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources and possibly other locations.

First Commercial-Scale Plant Turns Trees into Crude Oil
A recent issue of Fortune Magazine had an article about a new start-up business in Mississippi that is the first commercial scale facility that will turn trees and wood fiber into crude oil which will end up as diesel and gasoline for our vehicles. The start-up company is KiOR and is financially backed by a group of Republicans (not normally strong advocates for alternative energy) including former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The operation makes use of a special catalyst that turns the wood into oil and has already been tested in a demonstration plant (You can see a graphic of the process here). Mississippi became a location of choice due to the severe impact of the recession on closed pulp and paper mills, with 10 of 21 in the state closing down since 1990. It was felt that the wood and production capacity were there to be used. Whether or not it is successful is yet to be seen, as much will depend on the price of oil and how the cost of production stacks up against it. You can read the story in the article Mississippi’s Great Green Hope on-line.

Steam Powered Box Factory Video
OFA member Clarence Roller shared an interesting video he found about a steam powered box factory. Thought you might find it interesting. It is a little over 14 minutes long with no dialogue, just steam equipment operating wood manufacturing equipment, with some music in the background. I presume OSHA knows nothing about this place. You will enjoy it.

Congratulations to Katie (Rudd) Wheeler!
You probably know her as Katie Rudd or just Katie. But OFA’s Manager of the Master Logging Company Program got hitched last weekend to Ryan Wheeler at a wedding ceremony in Mentor, Ohio. OFA wishes to congratulate Ryan and Katie as they start their new married life together. Rumor has it that they have locked in on a new home and property east of Columbus in Pataskala.

Upcoming Events

OWIN Summer Meeting, July 24-25, 2013,Chillicothe. Registration mailers should be in your mail-box very soon, if not already. On-line registration is now live on the OFA website.

OFA Lumberman’s Outing, September 11, 2013, Orrville and Fredericktown.

Paul Bunyan Show, October 4-6, 2013, Guernsey County Fairgrounds.

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