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Ohio Legislative and Policy News
- Legislature to Review Oil and Gas Severance Tax Separately from Biennium Budget Bill. House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) announced that there will be a joint effort between the House and Senate to review the proposed Kasich severance tax hike over the next 3 months separately from the budget bill. The deadline for the effort is October 1 of this year. Both chambers felt that the issue demanded more review and it would not get the appropriate discussion during budget deliberations, which must be completed by the end of June.
- Budget Bill Includes Transfer of Silvicultural Pollution Abatement Authority to Division of Forestry. The current version of the budget bill recently passed out of the Senate contains language that will transfer the authority for the Silvicultural Portion of the Agricultural Pollution Abatement Program to the ODNR Division of Forestry. The program currently resides in the ODNR Division of Soil and Water Resources (DSWR). But the Kasich Administration is proposing that the agricultural enforcement component of the program be shifted to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, with DOF taking over administration of the silvicultural section. Just as DSWR had done, the DOF will work through the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to deal with logging complaints and it is expected that the program will largely work as it had in the past. The Budget Bill is still yet to be passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor and the full transfer of authority has not yet taken place. However it is expected that the change will make it through conference committee discussions and will eventually take place with the passage of the bill.
- CAUV Tax Rates May Be Discussed in Budget Bill Conference Committee. In spite of the Department of Taxation recently issuing its revised CAUV tax rates for the coming tax year, the rate determinations are still causing concern among many, including the formula for determining woodland values based on land clearing costs. The Ohio Farm Bureau is calling on the Budget Bill Conference Committee to address the method for determining the capitalization rate in the CAUV formula as well as placing all agricultural land enrolled in conservation practices at minimum values. OFA will be working to include the appropriate handling of woodland value determination. In the meantime, OFA is working with OSU Extension and Agricultural Economics staff to develop survey methodology for woodland clearing costs.
- Legislature Gets Better Revenue Projections from OBM; Ohio Unemployment Remains Unchanged in May. As the legislature tries to tie up the remaining budget bill, both the Office of Budget and Management and the Legislative Services Commission are reporting higher revenue projections for the fiscal year. However, it appears that the legislature will take the anticipated revenue and shore up the rainy day fund rather than allocate additional funds to spending authorities. Meanwhile, Ohio unemployment remained at 5.2% for, virtually the same as for April. The national rate for May was 5.5%.
Wayne National Forest Extends Comment Period on Buckeye Habitat Improvement Project
The Wayne National Forest advised that it has extended the public comment period for the Buckeye Habitat Improvement Project through June 30, 2015. OFA had provided brief comments on the project and you can see those here. OFA supports efforts by the Wayne National Forest to complete forest management projects on the forest, particularly those involving commercial timber harvesting. The Wayne National Forest, originally created to be managed as a working forest, has completed far too little forest management in recent decades. The proposed project is an appropriate step in the direction of more active management, and OFA fully supports the effort. Please take a moment to send a note of support. Comments should be submitted to Patrick Mercer, Ironton Ranger District, 6518 SR 93, Pedro, OH 45659. Comments can be submitted by snail mail or can be sent via email to Mr. Mercer at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can get more information on commenting on this page.
Biomass Carbon Neutrality Included in Senate Appropriations Bill/FIA Garners Good Funding Authority in the BillThe Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Committee included language on biomass carbon neutrality in an appropriations bill it passed out of committee last week, in spite of efforts to get it removed by Ranking Member Tom Udall (D-NM). Carbon neutrality had also been included in the House version of the same bill. Currently there is good bipartisan support in the Senate to include this provision in the bill but work continues to get additional Senators to sign on to the measure. In the same bill, the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA), the long-standing inventory program administered by the US Forest Service that provides critical inventory information on the nation’s forests and forest products industry received an $80 million funding authority for the next fiscal year. This is a good amount and will allow the program to continue its valuable work.
|US Department of Transportation (DOT) Recommends "No” Changes to Truck Weight Law in Spite of Contrary Evidence|
The long-awaited findings of the DOT Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study confirmed what had been long expected by the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP): that heavier, 6-axle trucks are safe and efficient and offer no greater risk to highway drivers than 5-axle trucks with an 80,000# GVW. In virtually every performance measurement, the results were the same. In spite of these findings, the US DOT recommended to Congress that no changes be made in the federal truck weight law, violating its own pledge not to make policy recommendations upon release of the report. Inside experts believe that politics are responsible for these results. In spite of these recommendations, CTP will continue to fight to make Congress aware that a change in the truck weight law can offer immense benefits to the United States economy and manufacturing. Those wishing to take a look at the CTP Overview of the study can do so here. You can see the full report here
"Hardwood Check-Off” Reminder
The Hardwood Lumber and Hardwood Plywood Promotion, Research, and Information Order, referred to as the "Hardwood Check-Off” has been re-opened for public comment following a number of changes from the first round of comments. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posted the Supplemental Notice on-line, and you can read the changes to the original order. Note that comments will be taken by AMS through July 9, 2015. Anyone interested in filing comments can submit them on-line at this site. If you prefer, you can submit comments in writing and mail them to AMS. You can read the comments already filed on the supplemental order here.OFA is currently assessing the order for comment submission. NHLA has posted a brief on the changes to the Harwood Check-Off which you can read here.
Lumber Grading Short Course Well Attended
The annual OFA Lumber Grading Short Course at Yoder Lumber Co. in Millersburg was completed last week and was again very successful. It was a very full class with 26 attendees from 14 different companies. Two Canadian companies, one from Quebec and one from Ontario sent multiple attendees. The annual class at the Yoder Lumber Co. Buckhorn Mill has become a long-standing tradition. Many thanks to the Yoder staff for their willingness to hold a class and help in making it happen. Lumber Inspector Barry Kibbey from NHLA was again the instructor.
Tree Farm Strategic Plan Session
The Ohio Tree Farm Committee held a 2-day strategic planning session at the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District Office on June 10-11 and OFA was invited to participate. American Tree Farm staff coordinated the effort, including Sara Anrrich, Manager ATFS Volunteer Capacity and Dave Halley, consulting forester from North Carolina who is a trained planning facilitator. The Ohio Tree Farm Committee had already decided that it wanted the Ohio program by remain "certified” such that all Ohio Tree Farms could maintain certified Tree Farm status. The session objective was to help the Ohio program focus its efforts on accomplishing the most important measures to maintain certification status. The following are the 3 key focus area that the group decided upon: (1) More clearly define what it takes to be an Ohio Tree Farmer and find out how many current Ohio Tree Farmers would like to remain certified; (2) Increase the number of active Tree Farm Inspectors in Ohio; and (3) Develop a communication strategy on what it means to be an Ohio Tree Farmer.
Follow Biomass101 Activities
We recently reported that several national forest products industry associations including the Forest Resource Association, American Forest and Paper Association, American Wood Council, and the National Alliance of Forest Owners formed a coalition to support Biomass101which is a campaign to fight misinformation about carbon neutrality of woody biomass. The effort will identify the misinformation in the media and take efforts to correct it. Part of the General outreach involves a Facebook social networkingcomponent and you are invited and encouraged to visit the site to see what is going on. You may then also participate in the efforts.
USDA Study Finds Wood Pellet Demand is Good for the Forest and Economy
A USDA economist has created a blog endorsing a study completed by Duke and North Carolina State University that finds increasing wood pellet demand boosts forest growth, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and creates jobs. Good information and its worth a moment to see what is on the blog post.
July ECOFA Newsletter
Here is the July Newsletter from the East Central Ohio Forestry Association. See what was talked about at the recent Board and General Meeting on June 3.
OFA Job NoticeBoard on Website
This is a reminder that OFA provides a page on its website for members to post Job Notices. Those looking for employees can simply notify OFA of the need and provide a brief description of the position, and we will post it on the website for as long as you request. Currently, there is a posting for a lumber grader at the new Murray Timber and Log sawmill in Athens County. The sawmill is expected to start operating the week of June 22. To find job openings on line, go to the OFA website, click on Membership, click Career Center on the drop-down menu, and then click search.
OFA Classified Ads – Used Equipment for Sale
The OFA website also offers the opportunity for members to post equipment and other items for sale. Right now, there is a posting from Haessly Lumber for a Lumber Grading System. Click on the link for system and contact information.
OWIN Summer Meeting a Month Away
This is a reminder that the OWIN Summer Meeting will be July 22-23, 2015 in Marietta, Ohio. You can register anytime for the meeting on-line at the OFA website or by calling OFA at 614-497-9580. The gathering will start on Wednesday afternoon with a reception and leisurely sternwheeler ride down the Ohio River. The following day will be golfing and sporting clay shooting. Those wishing to sponsor part of the meeting or a golf hole or clay station are welcome to do so and can call Gayla at OFA (614-497-9580) to let her know. Looking forward to a great meeting!
- Council on Forest Engineering Annual Meeting, July 19-22, 2015, Lexington, KY. The Council on Forest Engineering (COFE), a national member organization of businesses and people interested in forest engineering issues, is administered by the Appalachian Hardwood Center at West Virginia University in Morgantown. COFE is planning its annual meeting on July 19-22, 2015 in Lexington, KY and the meeting will be hosted by the University of Kentucky. The theme of this year’s meeting is Engineering Solutions for Nonindustrial Private Forest Operations. The meeting will be at the Downtown Hilton Hotel. There will be host of sessions on topics pertinent to forest operations in Ohio.
- Lumber Grading Short Course, June 29-July 3, 2015, Piketon, Ohio. OSU Extension, OFA, and NHLA are sponsoring a Lumber Grading Short Course in Piketon at the OSU South Centers facility in late June. The course is billed as a 4/5/1 Flex Day Short Course during which attendees can attend the usual 4-day short course, or attend a 5-day course which will include a 1-day walnut grading seminar. Those wishing can attend only the one-day course if they want. Instructor for this course will be Barry Kibbey, NHLA inspector.
- Ohio Society of American Foresters Summer Meeting, July 8-9, 2015, Cambridge, Ohio. The Ohio SAF Summer Meeting will feature reforestation reclamation of strip mine sites and will include a tour of a number of tree planting projects. You can find an agenda and register on-line.
- OWIN Summer Meeting, July 22-23, 2015, Marietta, Ohio. See above.
- Forest Heritage Festival, August 8, 2015, Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds.
- Ohio Tree Farm of the Year Tour, September 19, 2015, Sycamore Hills Tree Farm, Harrison County.
- Paul Bunyan Show, October 2-4, 2015, Guernsey County Fairgrounds.
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