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Timber Talk 10/1/13

Posted By John Dorka, Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Logger Recertification at the Paul Bunyan Show
Master Loggers can earn their full 8 hours of recertification training at the Paul Bunyan Show by attending a session on Friday, October 4, 2013 starting at 9 am in the Education Hall. The morning session will include a chainsaw update presented by several of the show exhibitors. They will particularly talk about new technology especially as it relates to safe operation. That will be followed by a BMP session on timber sale boundaries presented by Dana Exline, a licensed professional surveyor. The afternoon will include visits to show exhibitors presenting with the opportunity to view new equipment and technology, with an emphasis on new safety equipment. Those wishing to attend should register with OFA. On-line registration is closed, but you can still register by calling Katie or Pam at the OFA office, 614-497-9580.

Riverside Energy at Paul Bunyan Show
Sherri Losco from RIverside Energy will be in the OFA Booth on Saturday from 9:00 am until noon to talk to members about how she can help members save money on their energy bills.

ODNR Approves Asian Longhorned Beetle Tree Removals at East Fork Wildlife Area
APHIS continues to fight the Asian Longhorned Beetle in Clermont County through various techniques, the most significant of which is by removing infested trees. To date, nearly 24,000 trees have been removed. More recently, infestations were found outside the original quarantine area on East Fork Wildlife Area. Tree removals were recommended by APHIS and ODNR, which oversees the property agreed to removals on a 55-acre parcel. As part of the requirements, ODNR required that the company responsible for tree be a Master Logging Company. The successful bidding company is now in the process of completing its Master Logging Company certification through OFA. You can read a news release on the East Fork plans.

BWC Weighs Lower Premiums for Public Employers
Last week, BWC staff presented a proposal to the BWC Board to cut public employer rates by an average of 1.6% for next year. This rate reduction would be on top of two previous 5% annual rate cuts. BWC says it is already running the lowest average base rates in the last 30 years. Earlier this year, the BWC Board approved a 2.1% average base rate cut for private employers.

U.S. DOT Starts Study on Truck Weight
The Coalition for Transportation Productivity, of which OFA is a member, is reporting that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun the Truck Size and Weight Study that it was commissioned to do by Congress following efforts to get changes in the national truck weight laws. DOT is expected to soon release the results of its review of existing research on truck weights and sizes. A technical review of that research is expected to be released in the spring of 2014. There has been ongoing effort to change federal law governing Gross Vehicle Weights of commercial trucks. The CTP has long been advocating an increase in the GVW to 97,000# with the addition of a sixth axle. Some states, particularly along the US borders as well as other North American, European, and Asian countries, and Australia already allow the heavier truck configurations. Research from other areas support that heavier trucks with a sixth axle and additional breaking capacities are just as safe, if not safer than the current weight configurations. The federal Surface Transportation Bill is scheduled for 2014 during which there will be another opportunity to get elements of the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act included in federal law.

PUCO Issues Report Saying Renewable Energy Cuts Ohio Consumer Bills
According to a report recently released by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), wind and solar power sources in Ohio have already lowered Ohio consumer electricity rates. The report, prepared by PUCO staff, estimates that electricity rates will be reduced 0.15% in 2014. When all of the alternative energy facilities that have already been approved by the Ohio Power Citing Board come on line, rates will be cut by 0.51% for a total savings of just under $29 million. The report was presented to the Senate as it begins to debate a bill (SB 58) by Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) to overhaul the states Renewable Portfolio Standards for energy, which requires that 12.5% of electricity sold in Ohio must come from renewable sources by 2025. During a Senate Public Utilities Committee hearing, Sen. Seitz questioned the PUCO study and wondered whether it fully comprised a cost-benefit analysis of renewable energy. Further testimony questioned whether renewable energy was competing on a level playing field as it is afforded subsidies and surcharges through non-bypassable charges on all customers. The Ohio Manufacturers Association has been opposed to any changes in the existing energy law and issued a statement saying that the benefits of the current law have outweighed the costs, and manufacturers in all regions of the state have saved money on their energy costs thanks to energy efficiency standards.

Ohio and Federal Government Disagree on How Health Insurance Rates Will be Affected Through the Exchange Marketplace
The US Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) says that Ohio consumers should see increased competition in the health insurance marketplace which will decrease premium rates. However, the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) argued that Ohio has always had more competition and choice than many other states and that the exchange will actually raise premiums. An ODI analysis says that insurance premium rates would raise 41% for individuals and 18% for small businesses under the Affordable Care Act requirements. Whereas the HHS is claiming lower rates, ODI is claiming that the HHS reports are not making "apples-to-apples comparisons and thus are not accurate assessments. ODI says that the federal law requirements will force small businesses to buy insurance at certain levels higher than currently required and rates will go up.

Ohio Senate Tax Reform Committee Kicks Off Study
A Senate Tax Reform Subcommittee is set to begin work on revising Ohio’s tax code and already there are calls to rethink the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT). Subcommittee Chairman Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) said the study will take several weeks and should result in a "forward-thinking” report. Chairman Peterson said the idea of the review was to get a thorough of the state tax code outside of the pressures of the budget process and other pending legislation. The House has already taken a look at tax reform and has offered the Senate subcommittee its thoughts, primary of which involves changes in the CAT. Changing the CAT has both supporters and opponents among the business community. A key witness with the committee is Dr. Richard Vedder, Ohio University Professor Emeritus and an expert in tax policy. He advised that he has a strong distaste for the CAT. He suggested that the state "sharply reduce” income taxation and move to a flat tax rate that minimizes disincentive effects associated with high marginal tax rates. He suggests more should be done to increase freedom in labor markets and reduce regulatory costs. The Chamber of Commerce believes the municipal tax system should be reformed and uniformity should be instituted.

Two Recently-Released Climate Change Reports Make Opposing Claims About Human-Caused Impacts
Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a draft report saying that climate change is driving extreme weather events and is most likely caused by human activity. The Ohio Environmental Council is arguing that policy makers must act quickly to take actions to stave off the future impacts of climate change. Contrarily, the Heartland Institute touted its recently released Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change Report (NIPCC Report) that says any warming that may be due to human activity is most likely insignificant. The Heartland Institute says "The authors of the NIPCC study do not believe man-made global warming is a crisis, or that scientists know enough about how the climate works to make policy-relevant recommendations to the world's government leaders."

Lunch and Learn Tech Session – Laser Measurement and Mobile Mapping Technology 
Want to learn more about using GIS technology for forestry applications? Laser Technology Inc. and Precision Laser and Instrument, Inc. are offering a free Lunch and Learn session on October 29, 2013 from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm at Cabela’s, 1650 Gemini Place, Columbus, 43240 (in the Polaris area). You can learn the latest in mapping and laser measurement technology, integrating the technology with software solutions, get hand-on experience with range finders, get Continuing Education credits (3 CFE for SAF accreditation), a free lunch and a chance for door prizes. If you are interested you can get more information and RSVP at the Laser Technology website.

Upcoming Events:

  • Paul Bunyan Show, October 4-6, 2013, Guernsey County Fairgrounds. See OFA website for information.
  • Tree Farmer of the Year Tour, October 12, 2013, Amesville, Ohio. Tour is on the Tree Farmer of the Year property of Dr. W.J. Lavelle and Family Stonewall Coonskin Sugarbush Farm. See the Tree Farm web page for more information.
  • Forest Heritage Festival, October 18-19, 2013, Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds.
  • Northwest Ohio Loggers Chapter Charter Meeting, October 22, 2013, 6 pm, Findlay, OH. See the OFA website for more information.

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