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Timber Talk 6/16/14

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Monday, June 16, 2014
 

Statehouse News
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:

  • Changing 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.
  • Change 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.
  • Federal 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 code.

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 training.

Reminder: American Tree Farm Program, Farm Bill
Listening Session, June 20, 2014, 11:45 am EDT

For those 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, Ohio
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 wendy.becker@ames.com.

April 2014 Housing Report from Virginia Tech
The April 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 economic statistics.

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:

o CSAW 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.


OWIN Summer Meeting, July 23-24, 2014, Holiday Inn, Portsmouth, Ohio. Registration for this event is now open and on-line at the link.


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


Lumber 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.


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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