Ohio Legislative and Policy News
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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.
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.
Lumberman’s Outing, September 11, 2013, Orrville and Fredericktown.
Bunyan Show, October 4-6, 2013, Guernsey County Fairgrounds.