| Comments (0)
Ohio Statehouse News. Following
last week’s flurry of activity, the Legislature has gone on summer break until
at least September and even after that work will be spotty with November
elections coming later. Last week they took a number of actions and
sent many bills to the Governor for signature. Below is a brief rundown
of just a few actions taken last week.
HB 515, Timber Harvesting. It
appears that any further action on HB 515, Timber Harvesting, the bill
dealing primarily with new timber theft laws, will be limited at best, if
anything takes place through the remainder of the year. The Ohio Forestry
Association, Inc. was opposed to this legislation and felt that it was
heavy-handed and would have imposed a significant burden on the forest products
industry and forest landowners. Although OFA always has been and remains
firmly against the unlawful and illegal removal of timber, we did not feel that
this proposal was appropriate and even more, had concerns that in the process
of placing new regulatory and enforcement burdens on the industry, it would not
adequately address timber theft. We will continue monitoring this
proposal and any efforts to address timber theft. As always, we
appreciate hearing from our members on their ideas or concerns about timber theft
or any other forestry issue affecting the industry and landowners. Feel
free to call John Dorka at 614-497-9580.
Tax Cuts. In HB 483, MBR
Appropriations, the small business income tax cut (first passed last year)
was further increased. It is increased from 50% of the first $250,000 of
income to as much as 75% for 2014, with the actual amount depending upon the
amount of state funding available at the end of the year. The personal
income tax was also accelerated, the individual tax exemption was increased and
the Earned Income Tax Credits were expanded.
SB 3, Rulemaking. Revises the way
state rules are implemented, making more of them subject to review to determine
their impact on businesses.
SB 263, Tax Refunds. Requires the
Department of Taxation to notify businesses when they overpay taxes and
provides automatic refunds in the form of credits toward future taxes.
Prior to this bill, the Department was not required by law to notify businesses
of tax overpayments and in many cases, the Department did not voluntary notify
businesses costing them millions in potential refunds.
SB 52, Property Tax Complaints Removed by
Conference Committee. A bill tightening the rules on who can initiate
review of property tax valuations, allowing only the property owner to do so,
was removed by the MBR conference committee after school districts, counties,
townships, and municipalities reacted strongly that the legislation would set a
bad precedent for property tax valuations and hurt other landowners in the
process. These groups often challenge property appraisals but said if
this legislation passed, they could only do so if a property owner challenges
the valuations, and that is normally only done when valuations are too high.
SB 255, Financial Responsibility.
The Senate passed this bill that allows companies to issue electronic ID cards
to show proof of insurance to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, a peace officer,
traffic violations bureau or a court.
Survey Indicates Strong Majority of Hardwood
Industry Opposes "Check-off”. A recent survey of U.S. hardwood lumber
manufacturers eligible to vote on a hardwood "check-off” indicates that a very
strong majority of these manufacturers are opposed to a "check-off”
system. The survey, commissioned by the U.S. Hardwood Lumber Industry
Coalition and completed by Conquest Communications from Richmond, VA indicated
that 83% of the respondents said that they would not vote for the
"check-off.” According to industry numbers, there are 1,434 companies
eligible to vote for the "check-off” and 275 companies participated in the
survey. The "check-off” is officially called the Hardwood Lumber and
Hardwood Plywood Promotion, Research, and Information Order by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) which has the federal authority to create and
oversee agricultural commodity check-off programs. According to the
survey, respondents provided feedback on problems with how the check-off
program is constructed, including concerns that hardwood lumber and hardwood
plywood should not be under the same program, that imports are excluded, and
there is a small business exclusion with businesses under $2 million in annual
revenues not included. You can read the news
release from the US Hardwood Lumber Industry Coalition put out at the end
of May explaining the survey results.
U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Votes to
Suspend Enforcement Funding for FMCSA Hours of Service "Restart” Provision. Commercial trucking scored a victory last week when the full Senate
Appropriations Committee voted 21-9 to suspend funding for the "restart”
provision in the Hours of Service portion of the CSA rules, pending a one-year
study on the basis of the provision. The provision had been seriously
criticized for creating difficulties for drivers, trucking firms and
shippers. Here is a summary of the "restart” portion of the
Hours of Service rule. There was bipartisan support in the vote with 7
Democrats joining all the Republicans in passing the amendment to the
bill. In full, the amendment suspends the requirement that a driver have
a 34 hour rest period which must include consecutive 1 am – 5 am periods before
a driver can restart and restores the rules in effect for July 1, 2013 until
Sept. 30, 2015 or until the final report is issues. This is only a
committee vote, however. It must be approved by the full Senate and then
possibly go to conference committee to reconcile differences from the House
"Truth About Trees” Video Receives
Bronze Telly Award. The educational video Truth About Trees
produced by the Hardwood Forest Foundation recently won a Bronze Telly Award in
the 35th annual Telly Awards competition. The video was
reportedly one of more than 12,000 entries submitted for the contest. The
video won in the "Non-Broadcast Productions – Education” Category. OFA
recently posted the video on our website and is acquiring copies for
distribution to members and those who are interested in getting the video to
school age audiences. You can view the video by clicking on the above
link and you can get more information about the Hardwood Forest Foundation on its
U.S. EPA Releases Proposed Greenhouse Gas
(GHG) Emissions Guidelines. The Obama Administration continues its
push for new environmental regulations with the release of the long discussed
GHG emissions guidelines for electric power plants. The rule package is
incredibly long and involved and for those with maybe an unusual sense of
humor, you can access
the complete rule and other documents at the U.S. EPA website.
Briefly, the rule will require states to reduce GHG emissions from existing
power plants an average of 30% by 2030, starting with 2005 levels and states
will have to show progress by 2020. (In comparison, Ohio will have to
reduce GHG emissions by 28%, West Virginia by 19%, and Kentucky by 18% by
2030). States will have to develop plans as to how each will meet the
targets and will have one year to complete them, following anticipated passage
of the rule in 2015. It appears that biomass fuels will be acceptable in
plans to reduce emissions as EPA recognizes the biomass fuels can reduce GHG
emissions, an issue that has been hotly contested for some time by
environmental groups. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, which
received consideration in recent years in Ohio law for meeting energy
efficiency standards, are considered to help states meet GHG targets. The
GHG rule applies to new power plants. EPA also has proposed
a rule for the modification and reconstruction of existing power
plants. The game has begun on the proposed rule. It has already
garnered press coverage as it was released and will continue to do so.
There is a 120-day comment period on the proposed rule and there will be
regional hearings around the country.
Mohegan Indian Tribe Buys Peebles, Ohio Wood
Pellet Plant. The Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut, operating
through a subsidiary, Northeast Wood Products, LLC, purchased two wood pellet
facilities of the Pennington Seed Co., one in Peebles, Ohio and the other in
Kenbridge, Virginia. It also has an agreement to buy a third wood pellet
plant in Ligonier, Indiana. It appears that the new company will continue
production of wood pellets as had been done at the facility. It has plans
to produce more than 130,000 tons of pellets per year from the Ohio and Indiana
facilities. You can read more about the transaction in an on-line
article the Hartford Courant.
Dr. Eric McConnell, Assistant Professor and
Forest Products Specialist, OSU Extension to Take Job at North Carolina State
University. Dr. Eric McConnell, Forest Products Specialist who joined
OSU Extension 3 and a half years ago, announced that he will be taking the
Extension Wood Products Specialist position in the Department of Forest
Biomaterials at North Carolina State University. He will be with OSU
Extension until August 31, 2014. Dr. McConnell has been serving on the
OFA Board representing education and was also a member of the Logging Standards
Council. Dr. McConnell had done some outstanding work in the short time
he was with OSU, developing updated information on Ohio’s forest products
industry with the OSU Fact Sheet Ohio’s Forest
Economy and a summary of that document put into a brochure.
To complement these publications, he had been working summarizes for individual
counties within Ohio, and those can be found here. Dr. McConnell
had also completed a comprehensive survey of Ohio challenges and opportunities
for Ohio Loggers. Among all that, he made numerous industry and landowner
presentations and taught classes at OSU. Even after only a short time,
Dr. McConnell will be missed and we wish him the best in his new efforts.
In the meantime, we will be working with OSU Extension to see what plans will
be to replace his position and continue the good effort he generated.
Tree Farm CEO Tom Martin Discusses Farm Bill
in June 20 Conference Call and Listening Session. Tom Martin, the CEO
of the American Forest Foundation, which oversees the American Tree Farm
Program, will host a listening session on June 20 from 12 pm noon to 1 pm EDT
to discuss the Farm Bill and all that it contains for woodland owners. He
will discuss specifics on forestry components of the Farm Bill, talk about
strategy moving forward and ask for suggestions on how to make the programs
work best for Tree Farmers and family forest owners. You
can register for the free session here.
OWIN Summer Meeting Golf Outing and Clay
Shoot, July 23-24, Holiday Inn, Portsmouth, OH. The OWIN Summer
Meeting will take place once again in southern Ohio on July 23-24, 2014, at the
Portsmouth Holiday Inn. The meeting will start on the afternoon of July
23 with an OWIN Networking Reception at the Portsmouth Brewing Company along
the Ohio River in downtown Portsmouth. For those interested, prior to the
reception there will be a guided walking tour of the famous Portsmouth "Floodwall Murals”, a
great pictorial of the rich, 2000-year history of the Portsmouth and Ohio River
area. We will start at the Holiday Inn and end at the Portsmouth Brewing
Company. Following that there are opportunities to eat at several
restaurants in downtown Portsmouth. The next day there will be golfing at
Elks Country Club in McDermott and Anderson’s Sporting Clays
in Lucasville, same locations as last year. We will end the day with a
steak dinner and awards at the Elks Clubhouse. Register now.
Level 1, June 20, OSU Mansfield. Registration is close to being
filled. You can register on-line by clicking on the link or download a
Master Logger Certification Training, BMP
Training, July 17, 2014 and CSAW
Level 1, July 18, 2014, Scioto Trail State Forest. You can
register for both on-line at the OFA website by clicking on the links.
You can also print the registration form from these sites.
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, 2014, Holiday Inn, Portsmouth, Ohio. See notes above.
Heritage Festival, August 9, 2014, Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds.
Grading Short Course, August 25-28, 2014. A second short course
has been scheduled for later in the summer at the same location, Yoder
Lumber Co., Inc. Buckhorn Sawmill. People have already started
registering and you can do so on-line by following the link.
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.
This post has not been tagged.