Posted By Administration,
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
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2015 OFA Annual Meeting, Feb.11-12 at the
Dublin Embassy Suites#
Last call for late registrations. On-line
registration is closed. Those wishing to register can call the OFA
office at 614-497-9580 and ask for Gayla through 12:00 today. After that, registrations can be taken the day of
meeting at the registration desk.
Ohio Statehouse News#
SB 1, Algae Control, Introduced in Senate; Transfers Ag Pollution Abatement
from ODNR to ODA - The first bill hitting the Senate in this session
is SB 1 dealing with Algae Control, one of the hot-button issues from the last
session. There are a number of requirements on farmers regarding
fertilizer and manure application. One of the provisions transfers
authority for the Agricultural Pollution Abatement Program from the Department
of Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture. The Agricultural Pollution
Abatement Program includes silvicultural activities as part of its
oversight. It remains to be seen how this proposal will play out and
whether the silvicultural component will be included with the change if it
takes place. This is something that OFA will take a close look at to see
what impact this will have on SWCD involvement with the Ag Pollution Abatement
program. Currently, ODNR staff work closely with OFA on the Master Logger
Program and there is a strong relationship in dealing with silvicultural
Tax Proposal Shows Up in Budget submission - Governor Kasich released
his tax reform proposals last week with the release of the executive budget
proposal. Among the tax items included are a 23% across-the-board income
tax cut and elimination of most small business income taxes. The top
marginal tax rate would be set at 4.1% in 2017, down from 5.925% in 2011, and
there would be an expected loss of $4.6 billion in revenues over the 2016-2017
fiscal biennium. The proposal would also eliminate taxes on income from
all "pass-through entity” businesses with annual gross receipts less than $2
million, which would reduce tax revenues nearly another $700 million. For
low and middle-income Ohioans, the budget would ease tax burdens by increasing
the income tax personal exemption from $2,200 to $4,000 in 2015 for those
earning less than $40,000. For those earning $40,000 to $80,000 the
exemption would increase from $1,950 to $2,850. To pay for all these
reductions, the administration proposes a number of tax increases including;
increase in the sales tax rate from 5.75% to 6.25%;
and gas severance tax rates increased to 6.5% for oil and gas produced at the
wellhead, with a lower rate of 4.5% for natural gas and gas liquids taken
increase in cigarette taxes from $1.25 to $2.25 per pack;
the commercial activity tax rate from 0.26% to 0.32% while cutting the annual
minimum amount from $800 to $150 for companies with less than $2 million in gross
income tax deductions and credits for wealthier taxpayers which would
eliminate the retirement income credit, Social Security deduction and lump sum
senior credit for those with more than $100,000 in income.
All together these tax
"adjustments” would raise $5.2 billion in revenues and off-set the income tax
revenue reductions. The budget also calls for the creation of a tax
expenditure review committee to assess the roughly $8.5 billion in credits,
deductions, and exemptions found in Ohio code now. The committee would
meet over a 4-year period and include members from the legislature, state
agencies and public.
ODOT Director Proposes New Freight Division
and Says No Recommendation for Gas Tax Increase - Ohio Department of
Transportation (ODOT) Director Jerry Wray last week in his budget testimony
asked the House Finance and Appropriations Committee to authorize the creation
of a new Freight Division within ODOT that would oversee the rail, maritime,
and trucking industries. He advised the committee that Ohio has become a
hub of intermodal activity, particularly with expansion of rail capacity by
Norfolk Southern at the Rickenbacker complex, CSX expansion in North Baltimore
and the Columbus Buckeye Yard as well as smaller projects throughout the
state. During the testimony, he advised the committee that the
administration has no plans for an increase in gas taxes to raise additional
road maintenance funding, and that the agency would try to be more efficient
with spending existing funds.
Energy Mandates Study Committee Told Carbon
Rules Could Affect Green Energy Mandates - The legislature created an
Energy Mandates Study Committee (EMSC) to review Ohio’s current green energy
laws and make recommendations for revising the law. Last week, OEPA and
PUCO Directors advised the committee that they believed the current federal
carbon mandates should figure into discussion on the green energy law, but they
aren’t sure how they will play out at this point. Both directors advised that
they think the carbon emission rules for power plants will prove costly for
Ohio consumers. They also advised that they weren’t sure if the current
renewable and energy efficiency standards will help or hinder state compliance
with carbon mandates.
Log and Lumber Yield Analysis Available for
Ohio Sawmills From West Virginia University#
The West Virginia
University - Appalachian Hardwood Center (AHC) has an ongoing program to
help sawmills better understand their log and lumber grade yields as a means of
determining whether their log pricing, by size and grade, is financially
justified. AHC has the ability over the next few months to offer a
limited number of Ohio sawmills the opportunity for conducting a yield study at
their mill. There is currently no charge for this service.
These studies ordinarily occur over a 2-day period and rely on some mill
personnel to assist in tracking lumber through the sawmill. For more
information or to schedule a study, please contact John Dorka at OFA
(614-497-9580) or Curt Hassler at AHC, (304-282-5417).
Get Better Electric Rates Through Riverside
A number of OFA manufacturing members have taken advantage of
better electric rates through the help and assistance of Riverside Energy, a preferred
OFA service cooperator. Riverside Energy offers electric rate analysis
and procurement services and will work with OFA manufacturers to find the best
available electric rates available to them. Services are offered at
no charge and there is no requirement to take their recommendations. RES
advises that this year, AEP has offered their company capacity for demand
response coverage in addition to their other demand response portfolio options.
Look for Sherri Loscko, President of Riverside Energy Services at the OFA
Annual Meeting on February 12 at the Dublin Embassy Suites.
U.S. Hardwood Exports Hurt by Rising Dollar#
A Hardwood Publishing article
posted on the Woodworking Network site, noted that U.S. dollar appreciation
against other currencies dampened demand for American hardwoods in export
markets, particularly in the European market. In November, 2014, U.S.
hardwood lumber exports were down 5% from November 2013 levels which ended more
than one and a half years of monthly increases from previous year’s levels.
OFA Part of Coalition Supporting Retention of
Current Timber Tax Policies
Here you can find two letters, one
each to U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee,
from a large coalition of forestry and industry partners urging the Congress to
retain current desirable tax treatment measures for timber. Those
capital gains treatment for the harvest of timber or sales of standing trees.
(Sections 1231(b)(2) and 631(a)&(b));
the costs of forest management, including prevention measures (fire, pest and
disease), thinning, fertilization, interest, taxes, protection of wetlands, and
forestry activities. (Sections 162 and 263A(c)(5));
in timberland Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS); and
up to $10,000 of reforestation costs per stand, with the remainder amortized
over7 years. (Section 194).
The letter was initiated by the National
Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) and organized the overall response.
US Forest Service Supports Wood Pellet
Bioenergy; No Issue With Emissions
A recent USFS
study shows that current European Union policies requiring renewable energy
are driving demand for wood pellets and supplies are coming from U.S. sources,
including the south and northern areas of the country. According to the
report, this could lead to increased prices and an increase in the amount of
forest land in the eastern United States. The report also indicates that
USFS has no concerns with emissions from wood pellets causing carbon problems.
BWC Sign-Up Schedule for Group Rating and
Group Retrospective Rating
Here is a schedule
provided by CareWorks Consultants, Inc. on the sign-up schedule for companies
wishing to enroll in group rating. With the new requirements for a switch
to prospective billing, BWC has moved up the schedule for sign-up. See
the schedule for specific dates. November 19 is the deadline for Group
Rating and January 2 is the deadline for Group RETRO. According to the
Ohio BWC this switch to a prospective billing system will provide the following
base rate reduction of 2 percent for private employers and 4 percent for public
for more flexible payment options (up to 12 installments);
opportunities for the BWC to provide quotes online or via the phone; and,
ability for the BWC to detect employer non-compliance and fraud.
The OFA service representative with CareWorks
Consultants, Inc. is Shawn Combs, (614)-526-7264 and Shawn.Combs@ccitpa.com. Members
with questions should not hesitate to give Shawn a call.
|Register for the 2015 American Tree Farm System (ATFS)
Washington, DC Fly-In|
ATFS is hosting a Fly-In April
28-29, 2015 for Tree Farmers and other forest landowners to travel to
Washington, DC to talk with their Congressional representatives about forestry
issues. If you are interested in participating with the event, you can register on-line.
ATFS advises there are a limited number of travel scholarships available for
the trip. Those interested should submit a scholarship application
which can be found at the registration site.
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