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Timber Talk 9/9/13

Posted By John Dorka, Monday, September 9, 2013
OFA Lumberman’s Outing, September 11, 2013
The Lumberman’s Outing is this Wednesday, September 11, 2013, and if you have not yet registered you can still do so, but will have to call the OFA office (888-388-7337). Information for the event can still be seen at the OFA website. Golf will be at The Pines Golf Course in Orrville, starting at 10 am with sign-in starting at 9 am. Clay shooting will be at The Lost Bird Sporting Clays in Fredericksburg, starting at 10 am. The event is a fund raiser for the Lumberman’s Benevolent Fund with the Charm Share ‘N Care. All proceeds will be donated to the fund.

Ohio Legislative and Policy News
The Ohio Legislature remains out of session but here are a few legislative/policy things happening in Columbus or around Ohio:

States Initiative to Push a Balance Budget Amendment - You may have heard recently that Governor Kasich said he would like to lead a multi-state effort to get a federal balanced budget amendment added to the U.S. Constitution. Last week, Ohio GOP legislators initiated action on Ohio’s part with the introduction of House Joint Resolution 7 by Rep. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) in which the Ohio General Assembly would ask Congress to add a balanced budget amendment to Article V of the Constitution. According to the Constitution, amendments can be accomplished in two ways, either directly by Congress, or if two thirds of the state legislatures (34 states) call for a constitutional convention to do so. Few believe that Congress will act on that measure, so it appears that if an amendment were added, action would have to come from the states. The Ohio Senate introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 20 last week seeking a balanced budget amendment, but SCR 20 asks Congress to complete the action.

PUCO Approves Dayton Power and Light (DP&L) Rate Plan - This past week, state regulators approved the rate plan put forth by DP&L which will smooth the company transition to market based rate system. The plan allows the company to collect $220 million from customers to ease the transition. Under the order from PUCO, DP&L will conduct an energy auction for 10% of its standard service offer load for 2014; 40% for 2015; and 70% for 2016. At the same time, the company will have divested all of its generation assets by the end of 2016. This action will get all of Ohio’s utilities on a market-based system by the time the order is completed. Under the order, PUCO disallowed DP&L’s proposal to recover costs from customers for the Yankee Solar Generating Facility, saying the proposal should be addressed in the asset divesture plan.

Uniform Municipal Tax Code Legislation - Over the last 2 and a half years, the legislature has been reviewing legislation to develop more uniformity among municipal tax codes in regard to collections, procedures, and administration. Interested parties have had a chance to weigh-in on the proposal during that time. At this point, HB 5, Municipal Tax Collections, sponsored by Rep. Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) and Rep. Michael Henne (R-Clayton) is expected to be amended by legislation when the House returns this fall. The changes involve a variety of practices and one of the overriding principles is that the legislature would like to make the changes revenue neutral to municipalities, a goal that many acknowledge will be difficult to achieve. Many interests acknowledge that Ohio is one of the worst states in the country for its myriad of local tax codes and procedures, causing difficulties for businesses and individuals who have to operate in multiple jurisdictions. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and Ohio Society of CPAs all consider this legislation as key importance for changes to Ohio tax codes.

House Tax Reform Panel Holds Public Meeting in Bowling Green - An Ohio House Panel has been traveling around Ohio to get input from citizens and interest groups on ideas for tax changes stopped in Bowling Green last week for another round of discussion. A host of administration officials, local business owners, and policy groups attended and provided testimony. Tax Commissioner Joe Testa testified on behalf of the Kasich Administration and outlined the policy principles that the administration has been working toward: the tax system should have a broad base and low rate to enhance economic growth; should be consumption based; easy to comply with; and have a low administrative cost. Tax loopholes must be evaluated in a uniform and systematic manner. Policy Matters Ohio, a left-leaning think tank, testified that taxes don’t determine a state’s economic success and that Ohio is neglecting "education, public transportation, and public health.” The group thinks oil and gas severance taxes should be increased and the state sales tax on services should be expanded. Most of the testimony provided was similar to ideas that have been passed along so far and was based on whether interests wanted more vs. less taxes and services. One unique idea was provided by Philanthropy Ohio on an "Endow Ohio” initiative that would enable Ohio tax payers to get a non-refundable tax credit of up to 20% of their charitable gifts to a permanent endowment fund at certain community foundations. The limit would be set at $10,000 annually for single filers, $20,000 for joint filers.

BWC Group Safety Rating Program News
is an annual accountability letter from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation for all companies enrolled in the OFA Group Safety Rating Program. The letter outlines the requirements and obligations of each participant in the Group Safety programs, including the employer, the sponsoring organization (OFA), the Third Party Administrator (CCI), and BWC. Copies of this letter will be sent to every employer as part of the program, but this is offered as additional insurance that participants are made aware of all obligations.

Chinese Ban on Hardwood Sawlogs from Virginia/South Carolina Lifted
.A 2011 ban on shipping hardwood logs to China from the Port of Virginia and the Port of Charleston has been lifted. The ban was intended to limit the spread of a nematode that causes wilt on both hardwoods and softwoods. Here is a brief article on the announcement.

Giant Hardwood Stair Highlights London Design Festival
Working with the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), Architect Alex de Rijke from the firm Arup, will debut a 25 foot, interlocking hardwood art piece, the Endless Stair, at the London Design Festival September 13-October 10. The Endless Stair is large, overlapping series of stairs from cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels made from American yellow poplar. This project is an on-going effort by AHEC to promote American hardwoods and show the value of the product in construction and architectural uses. The hardwood product comes from sustainable forests, is competitively priced, and has superior qualities compared to other construction materials.

Virginia Tech Sustainable Biomaterials Newsletter
Here you can find the latest newsletter from the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech University. The newsletter has information on the latest happenings with educational and research activities in the Virginia Tech Department.

Paul Bunyan Show, October 4-6, 2013, Guernsey County Fairgrounds
Just a little less than a month away, the 57th showing of the Paul Bunyan Show is almost here. We hope all OFA members can attend. Please take a look at the OFA website for information and activities.

2013 Ohio Tree Farm of the Year Tour, October 12, 2013, Amesville, Ohio
The weekend following the Paul Bunyan Show, don’t miss the Ohio Tree Farm of the Year Tour at the Dr. W.J. Lavelle and Family Stonewall Coonskin Sugarbush Tree Farm in Amesville, Ohio. The event is sure to be fun and informative for all who attend. Take home a special sugar maple gift for your attendance. Here is more information on the day’s activities.

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