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Governor Kasich Signs SB 310, Renewable
Energy - Governor Kasich signed the highly controversial SB 310
dealing with the "freeze” on renewable energy and energy efficiency standards
that were established in the 2008 Energy bill. The freeze on the
standards is not permanent but in effect for 2 years while a legislative study
committee takes a look at the standards to come up with recommendations for
improvement. Opponents say the move will hurt efforts to expand renewable
energy in Ohio and will drive away businesses and jobs that have helped Ohio’s
economy in recent years. The Energy Mandates Study Committee will be
composed 12 legislators and the Chairman of PUCO and has until Sept. 30, 2015
to come up with recommendations. In addition to freezing the renewable
energy standards at current levels, the bill eliminates the requirement that
12.5% of Ohio’s electricity come from "advanced” sources such as nuclear and
clean coal; it requires that utilities disclose the costs of renewable energy
and energy efficiency programs in customer’s bills; scraps requirements that
half of the renewable energy must come from Ohio sources; and it allows older
hydroelectric facilities and "biologically-derived methane gas” to receive
renewable energy credits.
Wind Farms Take Hit in HB 483, MBR
Appropriations - in addition to these changes in the renewable energy
law, the Mid-Biennium Review Appropriations bill included a change in siting
requirements for wind turbines that opponents to the bill will doom efforts
even more to develop renewable energy in Ohio. Previously, the bill
required a that a wind turbine must be 1,125’ from the nearest habitable
residential structure. The bill changes the requirement to be 1,125 feet
to the nearest property line. Even more, the ill has a grandfather clause
that makes the requirement effective to plans that have already been
approved. Opponents say that the change will kill even more projects than
what SB 310 will affect. Opponents are asking the Governor to line-item
veto this portion of the MBR bill.
PUCO Concerned About New Carbon Emissions
Rules - New PUCO Chairman Tom Johnson weighed in on the proposed
carbon emission rules that the U.S. EPA recently put out for public
comment. He advised that these rules, if enacted, could hurt Ohio harder
than most other states due to the amount of coal-fired electric generation in
the state. He has concern that the rules will lead to even more closures
of coal fired plants in the state.
Businesses Rally at BWC Over Appeal Court
Ruling - Last week, a number of businesses who filed a class action
lawsuit against the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for what they believe
were unfair ratemaking practices through group rating programs gathered at BWC
headquarters in a rally against the agency taking further action on the court
case. The group won an appeal with the Eight Appellate District Court in
Cuyahoga County last month when the court ruled unanimously that BWC granted
excessive premium discounts to group program employers. The rally was to
publicize the ruling and urge BWC not to take any further appeal action.
BWC has until June 30 to decide if it will appeal the ruling.
ODNR Reports No Evidence of Chronic Wasting
Disease in Deer Tests - For the 12th consecutive year, the
Department of Natural Resources tested for Chronic Wasting Disease in Ohio’s
deer heard and found no evidence of the disease. A total of 753
road-killed deer were tested from Sept. 2013 through March 2014.
Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission
(OCMC) Panel Working on Recommendations - With the legislature on
summer recess, there is more attention on some other issues with state
government. The OCMC panel has been working on some thoughts for possible
Ohio Constitution revisions, among them:
the "thorough and efficient” education language - One recommendation
getting a lot of discussion deals with the possibility of changing
constitutional language regarding Ohio’s obligation to provide a "thorough and
efficient” system of education in the state. For more than a decade, Ohio
has wrestled with education funding following the Supreme Court ruling on the DeRolph
case in which it said the system was currently not constitutional. The
OCMC is wrestling with the idea that the language should be updated and that it
may no longer mean what the framers originally intended. It has been
pointed out during discussion that six states currently require a "thorough and
efficient” system of funding state education.
on the Right to Bear Arms? The OCMC had been ready to vote on "no
change” to the section on guaranteeing a right to bear arms but then tabled the
vote for more discussion. Article 1, Section 4 pertains to the right to
bear arms and was adopted into the state constitution in 1802 and modified in
1851. Some members of the OCMC do not want to eliminate the provision but
wondered if the wording should be modified in light of recent school shooting
incidents. The panel agreed to provide more discussion on the issue.
Balanced Budget Amendment? Not relating to Ohio’s Constitution, but
last year the General Assembly passed a Joint Resolution calling on Congress to
balance the federal budget and amending the U.S. Constitution to require a
balanced budget. To that end, there will be a gathering of more than 30
states to a "Mt. Vernon Assembly” in Indianapolis to discuss the addition of a
balanced budget amendment. The U.S. Constitution can be amended by a
super-majority vote (two-thirds) in both the House and the Senate or by
ratification in three-fourths (38) of the states.
House of Representatives Transportation
Funding Bill Includes Important State Truck Weight Provisions for 3 States
Earlier we had reported that an important vote in favor of truck weigh
variations was pending in the federal Transportation, Housing and Urban
Development (THUD) funding bill. Although the provisions were for truck
weight variations on roads in other states (Idaho, Mississippi, and Wisconsin),
their approval would send a strong message to Congress of the value of trying
to pass truck weight reform in future bills. This was a positive step for
that effort. You can read
a letter on the issue that was co-signed by 52 national-level organizations
which give you an idea of the groups supporting this effort.
OFA Supports Retention of Timber Tax
Provisions in Tax Reform Legislation
Last week, OFA weighed in with
members of Ohio’s delegation from the House Ways and Means Committee to let
them know that we believe current provisions on timber taxes, including capital
gains treatment of timber revenue, annual deductions for timber growing
expenses, treatment of timber as real property for the purposes of REIT, and
the deduction and amortization of reforestation costs, are important for timber
growing purposes and should be retained. It appears that in proposals to
reform federal taxes, these timber tax provisions could be eliminated.
Stay tuned as there will no doubt be need for future efforts to weigh in with
Ohio’s delegation on these and many other potential changes in the federal tax
Education and Training
OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp a
Success! Last week, OFA hosted the annual Forestry and Wildlife
Conservation Camp held at FFA Camp Muskingum on Leesville Lake in Carroll
County. It was another great success with 107 campers in
attendance. The camp, which has been held each year for 65 years starting
in 1950, offered the traditional residential outdoor classroom in forestry and
wildlife conservation for high school students. Attendance over the last
decade had been declining and was approaching the low 70s when last year,
through great efforts of the planning committee of Jeremy Scherf, Marne
Tichenel, and Ryan Waid, the attendance took a dramatic jump to over 100
students. It held steady this year with another good showing of
students. OFA appreciates the help from the planning committee as well as
the more than 30 volunteer instructors who gave their valuable time to instruct
the students. To the best of our records, more than 11,000 students have
been through the OFA Forestry camp over its long history.
Lumber Grading Short Course Another Success - Another year and another great Lumber Grading Short Course at the Yoder Lumber
Co., Inc., Buckhorn Division mill in Millersburg. This year, 22 students
attended the 4-day short course taught NHLA inspector Barry Kibbey.
Interestingly, this year’s class had international attendance with a student
from Dubai and another from India taking the course. The student from
Dubai is currently working in Canada while the Indian student is also attending
college in Chicago. In general, the group of students appeared a bit
younger than previous classes and may have reflect positive changes in the
industry with more and younger employees needing training in lumber
grading. Along the same line, we had more requests than we could handle
in this class which has prompted a second class to be offered in August at the
same location. As always, many thanks to Mel Yoder and his employees for
their help and assistance with having the class at the sawmill.
CSAW Level 1 Training in Highland County/CSAW
Custom at OSU Mansfield - Last week, OFA provided CSAW Level 1
chainsaw training to 28 employees of the Highland County Engineers Office in
Hillsboro, Ohio. The County Engineer requested the training for his staff
and OFA was able to provide the training over 2 consecutive days. Prior
to that training, OFA provide the 4-hour CSAW Custom class to a small group of
attendees at the OSU Mansfield Campus. One of the attendees was a writer
for Farm and Dairy Newspaper and intends to do an article on the training in
one of the future issues. CSAW training is available for almost any
audience of chainsaw users, whether professional loggers or backyard firewood
cutters and volunteer trail workers. Any group interested in training can
contact the OFA office to arrange for special classes or inquire about upcoming
Reminder: American Tree Farm Program, Farm
Listening Session, June 20, 2014, 11:45 am EDT
interested, you can participate in a conference call with American Forest
Foundation President and CEO Tom Martin who will discuss the Farm Bill forestry
components important Tree Farmers and forest landowners. The call will
take approximately one and a half hours. If you are interested, you
are asked to register and can do so here. In addition, the American
Forest Foundation is highlighting the value of forests in sequestering
carbon. Regardless of your views on climate change and carbon emissions,
forests are the world’s largest and most significant carbon sink and using
forest products is a key strategy in keeping the forest healthy and growing.
Take a look at the American Forest Foundation Infographic
on forests and carbon.
Job Opening: Ames-True Temper, Dexter City,
Jeff Sanford, Mill Manager at Ames-True Temper in Dexter City,
Ohio advises he is looking for someone to fill a position as Mill/Turning
Supervisor for the second shift. A job description for that position
can be found here. Anyone wishing to get more information or to inquire
about the job should contact Wendy Becker at email@example.com.
April 2014 Housing Report from Virginia Tech
2014 Housing Commentary is prepared by Urs Buehlmann from the Department of
Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech University. The report
summarizes the monthly statistics on U.S. residential construction and
remodeling and includes information on new housing starts, new/existing home
sales, housing permits, completions, and total construction spending. The
statistics show growth in most categories with April housing starts 13.2% ahead
of April a year ago, and a positive 26.4% change year-to-year. However,
the author indicates caution with the numbers as there are several large-scale
factors that could have a negative impact on housing recovery. Included
in the report is a short but provocative article from the New York Times on why
the economy is not moving forward. It’s worth the read. The report
has a lot of other good information on jobs and labor, inflation, and general
Blain Bowers, Long-time Member of the
Hardwood Industry and Former Haessly Lumber Co. Employee, Passes Away
Jack Haessly passes along to OFA information that Blain Bowers died June 11,
2014 at the age of 94 in his home town of Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.
Jack provided this statement on Blain who was a long-time
employee at Haessly Hardwood Lumber Co. inspecting lumber and buying
timber. Blain had also worked several years as a NHLA hardwood lumber
inspector. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Bowers family.
Other Upcoming Events:
Level 1, June 20, OSU Mansfield. Registration is full.
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.
Summer Meeting, July 23-24, 2014, Holiday Inn, Portsmouth, Ohio. Registration for this
event is now open and on-line at the link.
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.
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