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Timber Talk 5/12/14

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Legislative and Policy News

HB 515, Timber Harvesting - Sponsor testimony for the introduction of HB 515 will take place at 10 am, Tuesday morning, May 13 in front of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The meeting will be held in Room 116 at the Statehouse. Those wishing to attend the meeting and hear the statement are welcome to do so. It is OFA’s understanding that only sponsor testimony will be given tomorrow and that proponent and opponent testimony would be heard at a later date. Here is a copy of a letter sent by OFA to the Committee members last week. OFA is opposed to the proposal and believes it is a heavy-handed and burdensome approach to forestry interests. You can take a closer look at HB 515 on the legislative website.

Election Outcomes -  There were a number of primary elections for both the Ohio House and Senate that took place this past week, along with a lone statewide ballot for a state capital improvement bond issue. This year, all 99 House seats and 17 Senate seats are on the ballot. Almost all primary elections had expected results with only 3 incumbent lawmakers losing election bids, 2 Republican races in southwest Ohio (Districts 27 and 54) and one Democratic race in Akron (District 35). On the gubernatorial side, Democrat Ed Fitzgerald won the primary to run against Governor Kasich in the November elections. The statewide ballot issue for $1.875 billion in public infrastructure bonds passed easily by a 65%-35% margin.

Fracking Severance Tax Bill Getting Revisions - It appears that the long-debated bill (HB 375) to increase the severance tax on new fracking wells may get a compromise on the rate at 2.5% of gross receipts, the mid-point of the 2.75% the administration was urging and the 2.25% the legislature was previously considering. The Oil and Gas Association is agreeing with the compromise on the condition that the industry is exempt from the Commercial Activity Tax, since they would consider the severance tax as a double tax on proceeds. The compromise version would also increase the amount of the tax that would go to local governments from the proposed 10% to 15%.. The bill would earmark the first $21 million to the Department of Natural Resources with $15 million for regulatory responsibilities and $6 million for orphan-well cleanup and the state geological mapping program. The lion’s share of the revenues would be used for Income Tax Reduction Fund, which provides automatic tax cuts when the balance of the fund is expected to exceeds tax revenues by more than 0.35%.

Ohio Senate Puts Temporary Freeze on Green Energy Bill Requirements - HB 310 sponsored by Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) originally would place a permanent freeze on green energy standards to current levels. It appears that the Senate Public Utilities Committee changed the bill to make the standards temporary for two years, and establishes a 12-member legislative review committee to further study the law. The standards could then again be revised pending the outcome of the review committee. The Public Utilities Committee passed the measure last week but members of both parties crossed lines in voting. The measure passed 21-11 with some Republicans voting against the measure and one Democrat voting for. The full Senate passed the measure the following day.

Ohio Home Foreclosures Hit 11-Year Low - The Ohio Supreme Court reported last week that foreclosures in Ohio have been declining and now are at an 11-year low. There were 53,163 residential, commercial and tax foreclosure case filings in the Supreme Court last year, a decline of 17,306 from 2012. The only Ohio counties not showing declines were Jackson, Monroe, Paulding, and Pike.

Ohio State Income Tax Revenues Slide In April But Still Higher Than Projections - Despite a downturn in personal income tax receipts in April, total revenues for the fiscal year are 1.6% higher than projections to date. The total stands at $16.5 billion, which is $259 million more than projected. Also beating projections are sales tax revenues for April which are $21.5 million or 2.6% higher than expected.

Federal Legislative and Policy News

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of EPA Cross-State Air Pollution Rule - Recently the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 6-2 margin, ruled in favor of the EPA rule governing cross-state air pollution, which targets states with heavy coal-burning electric production for air-pollution concerns. The decision was panned by many in the energy industry while praised in the environmental community. Industry proponents argued that MACT rules have already caused the closure or conversion of 41 coal-burning power plants, and this rule further harms mid-west states like Ohio that produce large amounts of coal. Meanwhile, environmental groups argued that the coal-fired plants were old and expected to be closed regardless of the rule and the decision will help push the need for alternative energy. With the attention on this issue, different public opinion polls are finding that the public supports energy efficiency programs among utilities, but there is not support for government mandates that increase individual electric bills.

H.R. 4590, Future Logging Careers Act, Seeks Support - Last week, Congressman Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced the Future Logging Careers Act, H.R. 4590. Here is a Dear Colleague letter from Cong. Labrador asking his fellow Congressional colleagues to become a co-sponsor of the legislation. In essence, the bill seeks to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to allow 16 and 17 year olds in mechanized logging operations to operate in family owned businesses under parental supervision. The provision is similar to and modeled after an exemption that already exists for farming and ranching operations. OFA is being asked to support the legislation by the American Loggers Council and will review the request at the OFA Board meeting this week.

Paul Bunyan Show Exhibitor Registration

Just a reminder to our Paul Bunyan Show exhibitors the deadline to be guaranteed your same location as 2013 is quickly approaching. Be sure to let us know your intentions by June 2 so we can get your preferred location reserved for you! Also for those of you who will be processing wood during the show this year, remember the deadline to order your logs is September 4. We are unable to guarantee any wood orders after that date. If you are not sure what you ordered, if you ordered, or what you have ordered in the past, give us a call.

You may register on-line here, print the exhibitor contract here, or contact Gayla at 614-497-9580.

OWIN Summer Meeting Postcard
By now you all should have received your Save the Date postcard for the OWIN Summer Meeting! Just in case you are wondering, the dates for the meeting are July 23-24, not July 33-24 as stated on the back side of the postcard. Sometimes we wonder if anyone pays attention to the things we mail so we threw in a test. Dave Coil from Hummel Group wins the prize for being the first OFA Member to read the postcard front and back! Seriously though, sorry for the error! We hope to see you all there. Oh, and Dave's prize ... he gets to be OFA's proofreader for a year!

1st Annual EA "Eddie" Robbins Memorial Golf Tournament
We have been asked to share information about the 1st Annual EA "Eddie" Robbins Golf Tournament with our membership. Proceeds from the event will be used to provide scholarships to students from each of the 4 high schools in Pike County. Details can be found here.

Upcoming Events:

Forest and Wood Products Export Conference, May 13, 2014, OSU South Centers, Piketon, Ohio. The conference is free and runs from 9 AM to 2 PM, and includes lunch and refreshments. It is designed for those in the industry who work in exporting and anyone who may be interested in starting or growing an exporting business. Featured presenter will be Mike Snow, Executive Director of the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) talking about the current market status of hardwood exporting.

Logging Standards Council Meeting, May 13, 2014, OFA Office, Columbus

OFA Board Meeting, May 14, 2014, OFA Office, Columbus

OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp, June 8-13, 2014, FFA Camp Muskingum

Lumber Grading Short Course, June 9-12, 2014, Millersburg, Ohio (Yoder Lumber Company, Inc. Buckhorn Mill
).  Only 2 spots remaining!

National Tree Farm Convention, July 17-19, 2014, Pittsburgh, PA
The National Tree Farm Convention is close to Ohio this year in Pittsburgh, PA. Those thinking about taking in the convention can get information for all the activities and programs by clicking on the link. It appears that convention-goers will have the chance to enjoy downtown Pittsburg, while concurrent sessions will covers such diverse subjects as controlling a forest policy agenda for the future, succession planning for your woodlands, reducing the impact of income taxes on forestry income, profitable timber marketing and harvesting, solar kilns and wood drying, lobbying for woodland owner programs, restoring American chestnut, golden eagles and eastern forests, the history of charcoal in eastern forests, invasive species, maple syrup production, and more. You can register on-line at this site.

OWIN Summer Meeting, July 23-24, Holiday Inn Portsmouth, The Portsmouth Elks (McDermott) and Anderson's Sporting Clays (Lucasville). Registration information coming soon.

Forest Heritage Festival, August 9, 2014, Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds

Lumberman’s Outing, September 10, 2014, The Pines Golf Course (Orrville) and the Lost Birds Sporting Clays (Fredericksburg).

Paul Bunyan Show, October 3-5, 2014, Guernsey County Fairgrounds.

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