Posted By John Dorka,
Monday, November 11, 2013
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Ohio Statehouse News
House Lawmakers Announce Bi-Partisan
Legislation to Promote Alternative Transportation Fuels - Last week, Rep.
Dave Hall (R-Millersburg) and Rep. Sean O’Brien (D-Brookfield)
sponsored legislation to provide tax incentives to entities that convert
vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG), creates a sales tax reduction for
consumers that purchase electric vehicles, and establishes a 5-year phase in of
a motor fuel tax on CNG to match current gas and diesel taxes. The
incentives would be self-funded by existing oil and gas taxes on Ohio companies
and the program would be phased out after 5 years. Indiana, Pennsylvania,
and West Virginia have passed similar legislation and this would help Ohio stay
competitive in the alternative fuels market.
OMA Says Ohio Energy Bill Overhaul Will Lead
to Higher Energy Costs - The Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee
has been debating an overhaul of the Ohio Energy Law involving changes to the
renewable and alternative energy standards. Senate Bill 58 has been
proposed by Committee Chairman Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and he has
championed its passage along with several other business groups. At a
hearing this past week, the Ohio Manufacturers Association (OMA) testified that
it had commissioned studies which conclude the current renewable energy
standards could yield nearly $ 5.6 billion in actual and projected savings for
electric customers from 2010 to 2020 and conversely, that the proposed bill
changes would negate as much as $2.56 billion in energy efficiency savings
during that period. There was further testimony that changing energy
efficiency requirements will lead to undue profits for utilities and cost
consumers more money.
Ohio Unions Provide Diverging Opinions on
Energy Bill Overhaul - A number of Ohio labor unions weighed in last
week on the Energy Bill overhaul, with unions on both sides of the issue.
The Affiliated Construction Trades Ohio (ACTO), an umbrella group for a number
of construction unions, was generally supportive of the SB 58 re-write
saying that the bill will encourage capital improvement investments by
utilities which will benefit the trade unions, and even more, the group
vehemently opposed any effort that would lead to capacity reductions and
facility closures. The group testified that since the green energy bill
was passed in 2008, industrial construction hours have declined 58%.
ACTO, however, opposed the idea of eliminating the requirement that half of
Ohio’s renewable energy come from the state as well as allowing Canadian hydro-electric
power as part of the portfolio. ACTO supported the efforts to develop
wind and solar farms in the state. The Sheet Metal Workers Locals 24 and
33 joined the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association
expressing opposition to the proposed bill, saying it would have an adverse
effect on their industry which supports the renewable and alternative energy
|Ohio Business Climate Dips Slightly|
In 2012, Ohio ranked as the second best state in the country for business
climate. This year the state dropped to the 4th best,
according to Site Selection magazine, the preferred publication of economic
development and site selection professionals. The top 5 states according
to the magazine were Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Ohio and Tennessee.
A spokesman for the magazine said that Ohio’s drop wasn’t a negative reflection
on things getting worse in the state but rather a few other states improved
more. The survey uses 8 categories to survey executives. The number
one category among executives for choosing a state was the skills of the
workforce, followed by transportation, state and local taxes, utility
infrastructure, land/building prices and supply, ease of permitting and
regulatory procedures, flexibility of incentive programs, availability of
incentives, union activity, and access to higher education resources. You
can read an article
in the Toledo Blade about the survey.
BWC Group Rating Sponsor Seminar
OFA is a BWC Group Rating Sponsor Organization and is required to meet a number
of program requirements to maintain sponsorship. This past week staff
attended a two-hour seminar to discuss and review various program components
including an update from Director Steve Buehrer, Group Rating Safety
Requirements, Claims Trends, Safety Grant Program updates, and Group
Director highlighted the "$1 Billion Back” program whereby favorable BWC
investment returns combined with lower claims losses allowed the state to
return nearly $1 billion in past premiums to private and public
employers. This will be combined with future premium reductions.
also advised that the number of claims have declined dramatically since 2000
when there were nearly 200,000 claims for the year. In 2012, there were
97,000 total claims. Injury claim severity has also shown dramatic
declines. Over a period of 4 decades, the number of Ohio employees
covered by Workers Comp has doubled but the number of injuries and deaths has
declined by 65%.
has increased funding for its Safety Grant Program three-fold to $15 million
per year. The program offers two grants:
first is for the purchase of equipment for safety and industrial hygiene
purposes. A company can receive $40,000 per grant cycle matched on a 3 to
1 basis and must meet various reporting requirements. The equipment
purchases may not lead to loss of employees.
second is the Workplace Wellness Programs and provides $4 million per year for
grants. Grants up to $15,000 over a 4-year period and allows $300 per
employee to develop wellness programs.
members can contact OFA for more information on these grant program
|ODNR Approves Over $2 million in Trail Grants;
Division of Forestry receives Grant for ATV Areas|
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) this week announced the release
of just over $2 million for 15 recreational trail projects throughout
Ohio. The funding is provided through the federal Recreational Trails
Program (RTP), and funding for RTP comes from the U.S. Federal Highway
Administration and a portion of the federal motor fuel excise tax collected
from non-highway recreational fuel use. The Division of Forestry (DOF) was one
of the recipients of the grant funding and will
Plum Creek to Purchase MeadWestvaco
Last week, MeadWestvaco announced that it had reached
agreement with Plum Creek to purchase all of the company’s remaining U.S.
woodlands amounting to 501,000 acres in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina,
Virginia and West Virginia. The announced sale price is $1.1 billion.
The sale will include royalty and lease income from coal and wind, but
MeadWestvaco will retain oil and gas rights in West Virginia. The sale
will include a 25-year fiber supply agreement covering timberlands in Virginia
and West Virginia to supply MeadWestvaco’s paperboard plant in Covington,
American Wood Council Webinar: "Wood
Products and Environmental Declarations”
The American Wood
Council and Canadian Wood Council are sponsoring a free webinar on
"Wood Products and Environmental Declarations” on November 12 from noon to 1 pm
EST. Here is the description from the registration materials: "Company
executives, mill managers, and sales and marketing staff are invited to learn
about the latest information regarding EPDs. Recently-released EPDs for lumber,
plywood, OSB, glulam, LVL, I-joists and redwood decking can help distinguish
product advantages and facilitate product improvement, as well as support
specifiers and customers to make informed product selection decisions to comply
with ‘green’ codes, programs, and rating systems.” You can
register for the webinar here.
West Virginia Forestry Association (WVFA)
Looking to Hire Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Coordinator
OFA has been advised that the WVFA is interested in hiring a new SFI
Coordinator. The following has been passed along to us in regard to the
WV SFI Program Coordinator
- West Virginia’s SFI program is seeking an energetic self-starting individual
to lead and manage the program. The SFI Program Coordinator serves as the
face of the SFI program in West Virginia, representing and promoting the
program to various stakeholder groups and the general public. Primary
responsibilities include coordinating and developing logger training programs,
assisting program participants in meeting the SFI Standards, implementing
landowner outreach activities, and securing the financial support from industry
and other entities. The SFI Program Coordinator must be
self-motivated and demonstrate the ability to operate independently. The
position requires frequent travel, including occasional overnight travel.
Preferred candidates will have strong oral and written communication skills,
computer proficiency, as well as organizational skills, ability to multi-task,
and a desire to educate others. A Bachelor’s degree and/or a minimum of
2-year experience in forestry, natural resources, logging or wood products is
required. A valid driver’s license is required. The WV SIC is a
standing committee of the West Virginia Forestry Association (WVFA) and the SFI
Program Coordinator is an employee of WVFA reporting to the Executive
Director. Work activities of the SFI Program Coordinator are oriented by
the WVSIC. WVFA’s office facilities and staff are located in Ripley,
WV. This is a full-time salaried position with benefits.
Compensation will be based on background/experience. Applicants will be
accepted until the position is filled. The WVFA is an equal opportunity
employer. Additional information regarding the West Virginia SFI program
and SFI, Inc. can be found at http://www.wvfa.org/sfi.html.org
and www.sfiprogram.org. Please
submit resumes or inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or to: WVFA Executive Director, PO Box 718, Ripley, WV 25271.
Environmental Groups Send Letter to Senators
Against Tax Subsidies for Biomass Energy
A number of environmental
groups recently sent a letter to all Senators attacking tax subsidies for
biomass, and claiming that biomass is not carbon neutral and does not have
other claimed environmental benefits. You can take
a look at the letter that was sent to the Senators and see the names of the
organizations included in the group letter. The group takes aim at the
Production Tax Credit for biomass which they claim will cost the US government
$2 billion in tax revenues through 2020 if current trends continue. But
of particular concern are the claims that biomass is not carbon neutral and
burning it leads to other environmental degradation.
Southeast Ohio Woodland Interest Group
(SEOWIG) November Newsletter|
Here is the November Newsletter for
SEOWIG. It includes information on upcoming meeting dates, A Day in the
Woods - Second Friday Series at the Vinton Furnace Forest, timber theft, fall
foliage color, and plywood.
OFA Foundation an Opportunity for
Many OFA members are aware that the OFA
Foundation was established several years ago, concurrent with the OFA
incorporation as a 501c-6 trade association. The OFA Foundation
administers and supports a number of traditional OFA activities including the
OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp and the E. Burns Miller Memorial
Scholarship Program. The Foundation is a co-sponsor of the Ohio Tree Farm
Program and provides administrative support for Tree Farm activities. The
Foundation also support other fund-raising events like The Lumberman’s Outing
and the Forest Heritage Festival. The OFA Foundation purpose is to
operate "exclusively for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes to
encourage the conservation of Ohio’s forests and the development of industry
which uses the forests.” The OFA Foundations is a 501c3 organization,
incorporated under the laws of Ohio. All donations to the OFA Foundation
are tax-deductible. You can read find more information on the OFA
Foundation on the OFA website. Please consider the OFA Foundation for
your tax-deductible giving.
- OFA Board Meeting, 1 pm, November 13, 2013,
OFA Office, Columbus.
- Logging Standards Council Meeting, 5 pm,
November 13, 2013, OFA Office Columbus.
- OFA Annual Meeting, March 5-6, 2013, Columbus
Sheraton Hotel at Capitol Square.
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