Posted By Gayla Fleming,
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, August 12, 2014
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State Legislative Issues
Toledo Water Problems May Lead to More Agricultural Run-off Regulation -The much publicized Toledo water problem that resulted from excessive algae blooms has some pushing the legislature to take another look at recently passed state legislation on efforts to control agricultural nutrient run-off which is a major source for Lake Erie algae. Senate Bill 150 which was passed earlier this year requires farmer to take classes on farm best management practices and obtain certification from the Department of Agriculture in a program very similar to the Pesticide Applicator’s Certification Program. House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Dave Hall (R-Millersburg) advised that his committee will take another look at the issue to try to understand what caused the Toledo water problem and to see if further action on agricultural practices are in order. Chairman Hall indicated that it is important that the new law will take some time before full impacts are realized, but that he is willing to hold hearings to study the current problem. Environmental advocates are already pointing to the fact that the new law did not affect manure applications and that it would not be in full affect until 2017. The Farm Bureau counters that manure applications are already regulated and do not need additional regulations.
Ohio Municipal Income Tax Reform (HB 5) May Move in Lame Duck Session - For 3 years, the legislature has wrestled with reform of Ohio’s Municipal Tax Collection System, which according to some is one of the most complex and burdensome in the country due to the hundreds of tax jurisdictions in the state, all of which operate independently of one another. HB 5 passed the House last November still must get through the Senate. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce (CoC) is at odds with the Ohio Municipal League (OML) on how reform should be undertaken, but both groups agree that the bill should move through the lame duck session in whatever form it finally takes. The CoC considers the current tax system "a drag on Ohio’s economic competitiveness, a cost and administrative burden to employers,” but believes the current version of the bill fixes those problems. The OML believes the current version has some critical flaws, including changing the "five-year net operating loss carry forward mandate” to a tiered approach where cities and villages can choose the length of time and be locked into it; it also would like to keep the 20-day occasional entrant period, but allow municipalities to go back and collect from day one once the window ends. It would also like to define "day” as the preponderance of the work day. If these changes were added by amendment, the OML says it would support the legislation.
Kasich Administration Urges Legislature to Fix Ohio Unemployment Compensation Program Problems - Last week, officials from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) advised a House study committee on Unemployment Compensation Debt & Reducing Burdens on Ohio Businesses on issues and problems with the current program and provided some ideas on how to come up with a "long-term fix” of the program. ODJFS believes there needs to be changes to balance benefits paid to workers with the taxes received from employers. During the most recent recession, Ohio borrowed $3.4 billion from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits and still owes $1.38 billion of that money. Payments on the debt come from the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund and not from General Revenue Funds. Officials advised that paying off the debt is important but that long-term fixes to the program are separate and even more important. The study committee will host a series of public interest group meetings across the state to get input on problems as well as ideas on fixes.
Chamber of Commerce Business Listening Tour "Road to Prosperity” To Stop at Yoder Lumber Company and Glatfelter - The Ohio Chamber of Commerce is planning a month-long tour of business listening meetings to get feedback from local business leaders on key issues affecting them. The tour called Road to Prosperity kicks off on Tuesday, August 12 and will stop at Yoder Lumber Company in Millersburg. You can read a news release from the Chamber of Commerce about the Road To Prosperity Tour by clicking on the link.
Federal Legislative Issues
Truck Weight Reform Update - Congress recently extended the Highway Trust Fund through May 31, 2015. In so doing, the debate on truck weigh reform will take place after the release of the U.S. DOT Truck Size and Weight Study, which will be presented to Congress before the end of the year. The Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP), of which OFA works with, believes that this is a very positive development for truck weight reform. The CTP is working on aggressively pushing Congress and the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to approve weight reform. CTP is asking interested parties to contact their Congressional representatives to weigh in on the importance of truck weight reform. Ohio’s lone representative on the committee is Cong. Bob Gibbs (R-District 7). OFA members wishing to weigh in with support for reform can go to the CTP website and send a letter to Cong. Gibbs on-line using a form letter. Go to the Take Action section and fill in your name and contact information. The site will generate the letter and send it automatically, which is the way Congress prefers to receive contact. Sending letters "snail mail” will take weeks to get through security reviews and hurdles and is not recommended. Please consider weighing in. If you need assistance with this, please call John Dorka at the OFA office, 614-497-9580.
USDA Final Rule Includes Wood Products in BioPreferred Program - Last week, the USDA announced its final rule on the BioPreferred Program which promotes the increased purchase and use of Biobased products. When first announced, traditional wood products were not included on the list of biobased products as the USDA contended that wood products were in "mature” markets and this program was intended to promote new biobased products. After considerable push-back from forestry and forest products interests, the USDA modified the program to include wood products in the biobased products definition. Click on the link to learn more about the BioPreferred Program.
Democratic Senators Also Question US EPA/Corps of Engineers on "Waters of the US” Proposed Rule - Here is a letter from 13 Democratic Senators, including Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, with questions about how the US EPA seeking clarification on 6 questions relating to the definition in federal rule of what constitutes "Waters of the US” (WOYUS). The Senators indicate that they have heard from farmers and ranchers across the country who have raised serious questions about how the rule would impact land conservation practices, particularly those that are now voluntarily implemented on farms and ranches. Some of the more provocative elements of the proposed rule involve defining waters to include ditches and other constructed water features.
FirstEnergy Joins AEP and Duke Filing Electric Security Plans (ESP) Asking PUCO Approval for Possible Higher Customer Charges
Last week, FirstEnergy became the third electric utility to ask PUCO to approve a plan that would allow the utility to charge customers more money to keep its coal plants open in the event they lose money. AEP and Duke Energy filed similar requests earlier in the year, at least according to assertions from environmental groups. The electric utilities counter that these plans may result in early higher costs but will lead to lower costs in the years ahead. Higher rates would kick in if the electric plants lose money, but rates would be reduced if the companies realize a profit in the long run.
|Forest Heritage Festival a Success! |
The planners for the Forest Heritage Festival wish to thank all who attended the event or donated time for the event as well as donors who provided products for the Benefit Auction. The planning committee elected to change the date of the festival this year to mid-August from mid-October and held it for one day instead of two. The weather was outstanding in spite of the August date. The Benefit Auction held on behalf of the Akron Children’s Hospital did very well again. Final proceed numbers are not yet available but indications are that brisk sales took place once again.
Ohio Tree Farm Committee Holds Quarterly Meeting in Ashtabula County
The Ohio Tree Farm Committee held its summer quarterly business meeting in Ashtablula County at the DeBonne’ Winery in Madison, Ohio. Chairman Paul Mechling lives in and has his Tree Farm in Ashtabula County and invited the committee to that area of the state to see what the forests of far northeast Ohio are like. Following conduct of normal business, the group of approximately 15 people took a tour of winery operations. For those who could stay overnight, there was a tour of the Mechling Tree Farm the next day. Please note that the annual tour of Ohio’s 2014 Outstanding Tree Farmer will take place on September 20 at the Caldwell Family Tree Farm in Salineville, Ohio. All are welcome to have a great day in the woods touring portions of the Tree Farm and witnessing the practices Dave Caldwell and his family have undertaken.
August 12 Event, OSU Environmental Professionals Network (EPN) Breakfast "Pests and Invasives, Fragmentation, Changing Markets – Do Ohio’s Forests Need Foresters or Magicians?”
This is a reminder of the OSU EPN Breakfast on Tuesday, August 12, at 7:15 am at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on OSU Campus in Columbus. This breakfast will feature a panel discussion on forest issues in Ohio. You can see the flyerfor the event here and register for the event here.
Lumberman’s Outing, September 10, 2014.
Plan on a fun day of golf or clay shooting for a benefit fundraiser. The Lumberman’s Outing will again be held at The Pines Golf Course in Orrville and the Lost Bird Sporting Clays in Fredericksburg. Proceeds of the event will go to the Lumberman’s Benevolent Fund with the Charm Share ‘N Care. You can register now on the OFA website. Sponsorships for both golf and clay shoot are welcome.
|SEOWIG August Newsletter|
Here you will find the August 2014 Newsletter from the Southeast Ohio Woodland Interest Group (SEOWIG). The newsletter has information on an upcoming Second Friday Series on September 12 on "Young Forests and Wildlife Habitat”. The landowner education series is held at the Vinton Furnace State Forest the second Friday of each month and is a cooperative effort among a number of public and private groups and businesses. There is also information about upcoming Ohio Woodland Steward sessions on August 15 (Common Tree Problems – OSU Mansfield Campus) and August 16 (Wildlife in Your Woods – Holden Arboretum). The Division of Forestry will host its annual Southeast Ohio Tree Care Conference on September 18 in Athens for those with special interest in urban forest issues.
|Thoughts and Prayers for Martha McCarthy|
Recently we learned that Martha McCarthy, wife of OFA President Rob McCarthy, was diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer. Rob was not able to attend the OWIN Summer Meeting as Martha was just starting through the discovery process the day of the meeting. Since then, the McCarthy’s have learned that her condition is very serious and will require significant treatment. Rob and his family welcome all our prayers, and we ask that you keep them in mind through their ordeal ahead. They can seriously use God’s help. For those who may want to contact the McCarthy’s their address is 146 Apple Ridge Dr., Apple Creek, Ohio, 44606.
Lumber Grading Short Course, August 25-28, Yoder Lumber Company, Millersburg
The class is filling up but there are still spaces left to register. Those interested in the short course can register on-line or you can contact Gayla at OFA at 614-497-9580.
Other Upcoming Events:Lumber Grading Short Course, August 25-28, 2014. but there is still opportunity to register for those interested in the short course. Register on-line or contact Gayla at OFA, 614-497-9580.
RFA Appalachian Region Fall Meeting, September 16-18, 2014, Parkersburg, WV. OFA members are invited to attend the Forest Resource Association Appalachian Region Fall Meeting in Parkersburg, WV at the Blennerhasett Hotel. OFA members can participate at FRA member registration rates. The meeting will feature a one-day field tour including Globe Manufacturing in Beverly and Superior Hardwoods of Ohio sawmill in Barlow. See the this flyer for more information and registration.
Farm Science Review, September 18-20, 2014, Molly Caren Agricultural Center, London, Ohio
2014 Ohio Tree Farm of the Year Tour, September 20, 2014, Coldwell Family Tree Farm, Salineville, Ohio.
Paul Bunyan Show, October 3-5, 2014, Guernsey County Fairgrounds.
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