Ohio Legislative and Policy News
on State Budget - Here is an article
on the results of Ohio’s newly passed state budget. We’ve passed along
information on the budget in the last several weekly reports. Here are a
few of the highlights again from the article:
will receive a 10% personal income tax cut over the next 3 years, starting with
8.5% this year, 9% next year, and 10% the year after;
state sales tax increases from 5.5% to 5.7% starting in September;
State will no longer pay the 12.5% property taxes on renewal levies.
Those fees will be paid locally if they are approved;
businesses will get a 50% tax deduction on up to $250,000 of business income
but increases commercial activities tax payments for businesses with more than
$1 million in sales (see a related
story from Cincinnati about the impact of the cut on small businesses;
is a task force created to review all state lands and determine to develop an
inventory and study use of property to determine if it can be used more
probably already seen that speed limits on rural highways has been increased to
70 mph and some limits on other rural roadways have increased.
Increase - The budget shows rather significant spending increases for
each of the next two years, increasing 9.4% in 2014 and 4.7% in 2015.
Because of these increases, several Republican members voted against the
- Fees - As tax increases have become politically difficult in recent years, fees for
government services have become an alternative in some cases to balance
books. There were a few new fees added in this budget but for the most
part, most fees were re-authorized for the next 2 years. The OEPA had the
most action on fees. There were no increases, but the budget extended the
sunset on more than a dozen fees most of which were started in the 1990s.
Included were fees for disposal of solid waste and construction and demolition
debris, on new tire sales, and permitting and application fees for water and
air pollution. Authority was given for ODNR to collect a new $2500 permit
fee for storing, treating, and recycling oil and gas brine.
Day Fund Increased - The Kasich Administration deposited nearly $1
billion into the Ohio’s "rainy day fund” this past week, as part of the overall
budget package which was recently passed. The actual amount was $995.9
million and increased the fund to $1.48 billion, the maximum allowed according
to state law (5% of the overall budget). This is the largest amount in
the rainy day fund in Ohio history. An end-of-year Ohio revenue surplus
of nearly $2 billion allowed the legislature and administration to take this
action. It has become regular political comment that the previous
administration had drained the rainy day fund and left "$0.89” in the fund as
the next administration came on board. On an additional note, Ohio owes
the federal government $1.4 billion for an unemployment compensation fund loan.
Excess state funds can be used to pay down the interest, but the principal will
be paid down by businesses.
on Summer Recess - The legislature now takes a break from the heavy
session dealing with the state budget and numerous other issues. But it
appears that they will meet later this year for several weeks to address
ongoing issues, the most contentious of which is an expanded/reformed Medicaid
"Revised” Farm Bill Passes House
The US House of Representatives passed a different version of the Farm Bill
last week, splitting out the traditional farm-only programs from the food
entitlement programs, which have comprised the vast majority of the Farm Bill
funding. The bill passed narrowly on a largely partisan line, 216-208.
No Democrats voted in favor of the bill and 12 Republicans voted against it,
and all of Ohio’s delegation voted along party lines. In an unusual move,
House Speaker John Boehner (OH-8) voted for the bill, as Speakers don’t usually
vote on bills. Although the bill passed the House, it would have to
go back to the Senate for passage and be signed by the President, neither
action of which is likely. The lack of inclusion of the Food Stamp
program became a highly contentious issue and caused the usual partisan divide
in the vote. Included in this version of the bill is an end to farm
commodity subsidies. Of special note for forestry and the forest products
industry is the inclusion of terms from the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency
Act which would permanently exempt logging roads from Clean Water Act NPDES
permitting. Also included is language from the USDA’s Biobased Markets
Program which would define forest products as "bio-based” for labeling purposes
and federal procurement programs.
Division of Forestry to Host Open Houses for
State Forest Management Plans
The following is a statement from the
Gongwer Statehouse News Service on upcoming State Forest Management Open
Houses. OFA members in the area of these open houses are encouraged to
attend and share their feelings about the value of the DOF "working forest”
plans on state forests.
agency said this week it would soon be hosting three open houses to encourage
public participation in state forest management plans. "Each year
the ODNR Division of Forestry hosts open houses for interested citizens and
neighbors to display planned forest management projects for the upcoming
year," Robert Boyles, state forester and chief of the ODNR Division
of Forestry, said. "These proposed projects include timber harvesting,
prescribed burning, timber cruising, treating invasive species, recreation
trails and facility maintenance." The open house schedule is as
- Maumee State Forest open house: 4 to 7 p.m. July
30 at the Maumee State Forest Headquarters, 3390 County Road D, Swanton. For
more information, call 419-822-3052.
- Southern District State Forests open house: 4 to
7 p.m. July 31 at the Chillicothe District Office, 345 Allen Ave., Chillicothe.
For more information, call 740-774-1596.
- Mohican-Memorial and Eastern State Forests open
house: 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 1 at the New Philadelphia Ohio Department of
Transportation District Office, 2201 Reiser Ave., New Philadelphia. For more
information, call 419-938-6222.
OFA Meets with "Ag in the Classroom”
Participants at Farm Bureau
The Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) hosted a
meeting of trade associations and commodity groups to discuss strategies for
working together on promoting agriculture commodities among youth and Ohio’s
public. OFA shared its relationship with the Ohio Project Learning Tree
(PLT) Program as well as its work through the annual OFA Forestry and Wildlife
Conservation Camp. From participants in the group, PLT is well recognized
around Ohio as a top-notch conservation education program.
Ohio Project Learning Tree Receives (PLT)
$5,000 from OEPA Environmental Education "Mini-Grant”
On the note of
PLT, congratulations to the Ohio PLT program for being a successful recipient
of a $5,000 grant from the OEPA Educational "Mini-Grant” Program. OEPA
approved funding of $58,345 for 14 projects one of which was PLT. The
grant will support conducting 6 regional workshops to train 90 teachers on
forestry and natural resource issues in Ohio.
Indiana Lumbermens Mutual (ILM) and
Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual (PLM) Announce Plans to Affiliate Companies
Last week, ILM and PLM announced plans to affiliate their companies which will
result in shared management, services and pooled reinsurance. Here
is a news release from their public relations company announcing the
plans. This announcement follows indicators over the last year portending
changes with wood industry insurers, especially with those in the sawmill
National Association of Conservation
Districts (NACD) Newsletter Article on the Steel Valley Loggers Chapter
The most recent
issue of the NACD Newsletter contains an article on the Steel Valley
Loggers’ Chapter and the relationship the Jefferson SWCD has with the
chapter. It is a good article and shares the value of the good working
relationship between the SWCD and the loggers in the chapter.
Oregon Loggers Fighting Back
appears that Oregon is closing to passing a new law that will allow loggers to
sue environmental activists who block logging operations. The bill has
been passed by both the Oregon House and Senate and is expected to be signed by
Governor Kitzhaber. In essence, the law allows logging companies who have
contracts for state land timber to sue activists for financial damages when
activists obstruct or sabotage their logging operations. You can read
more about the bill in this
New Truck Weight Sensor System
received this information on a new Truck Weight systems using wireless sensors
that offer a low cost alternative to traditional systems. Here
is a news release
from Truck Weight, the company that provides the
new equipment. According to the release, the equipment is particularly
useful for off-road and severe service use trucks in a number of
configurations. In addition, it offers a low-cost alternative that is
relatively easy and simple to install. Note that OFA is providing this
for information only and is not endorsing this equipment or company.
Plans for New 700 MW Gas-Fired Power Plant
Announced as AEP Announces Plans to Retire 585 MW coal-fired Beverly Plant
There were 2 key announcements last week concerning state energy production
that indicate the vastly changing landscape in energy production in Ohio.
Carroll County Energy, a subsidiary of Advanced Power Services Inc., a
Boston-based company, announced plans to build a gas-fired plant in Carroll
County in the heart of Ohio’s gas drilling boom area. The Ohio Power
Siting Board has not yet approved plans for this facility, it recently approved
plans for a 799 MW gas-fired plant in Oregon and signed-off on plans to expand
another gas-fired facility to 1,414 MW in Vinton County. PUCO Chairman
Todd Snichtler said that in spite of the recent activity to build new gas-fired
plants, coal will continue as an important energy fuel source in Ohio for some
time to come. Where economically feasible, current coal-fired plants will
be retrofitted with pollution scrubbing technology. But it is less
feasible for smaller facilities and these are the ones that will be targeted
OWIN Summer Meeting Quickly Approaching
The OWIN Summer Meeting will be next week, on July 24-25 in Chillicothe with
Wednesday activities at the Christopher Conference Center and then golf and
clay shooting at facilities south of Chillicothe. You can see the
agenda and register for the event at the OFA website. For those
interested in attending the tour, a bus will leave the Christopher Conference
Center at 1 pm on July 24 and travel to the OSU South Centers in Piketon for a
short presentation and brief tour of the facilities, to learn about training
opportunities for the Ohio wood industry. It will then proceed to the
Glatfelter Merchandising Yard directly behind the OSU facility to view
Glatfelter’s operations and talk about new opportunities with wood mats for
logging operations. Thursday golf will take place at the Portsmouth Elks
Country Club with clay shooting at Anderson Sporting Clays in Lucasville.
Festivities will finish with a steak dinner furnished by the Scioto Ribber in
Portsmouth. Hope to see you all there!
Other Upcoming Events:
Outing, September 11, 2013, Orrville, OH.
Bunyan Show, October 4-6, 2013, Guernsey County Fairgrounds.