Posted By Gayla Fleming,
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
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CAUV Woodland Clearing Tax Appeal Moves Forward
The legal counsel for the appeal of the Tax Commissioner’s ruling on the cost of woodland clearing in CAUV woodland value determinations advised that the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) has ruled the appeal can proceed per O.R.C. 5703.14, which is state law on review of tax rules. The Tax Commissioner had requested the BTA to dismiss the case and the appellants legal counsel advised he will continue to file a memorandum in response to the state’s motion to appeal. Regardless, the case is moving forward. See the order here.
OFA Conferences with JobsOhio About WestRock Closure
OFA had the opportunity to talk with JobsOhio staff to discuss the impact of the WestRock mill closure in Coshocton. JobsOhio is plugged into the issue and offering assistance as it can on the future disposition of the site as well as providing state assistance with new wood industry opportunities.
Mel Yoder, Yoder Lumber Recognized by Woodworking Network
In the November 1, 2015 issue of the Woodworking Network recognized Mel Yoder of Yoder Lumber in Millersburg, Ohio as a Wood Industry Market Leader. This article in the on-line site describes Mel’s efforts to build his business and work as an industry leader. Mel has been very active in OFA over the years and has twice served as the OFA President, the first time in 1991 and again ten years later in 2001. Congratulations on the recognition Mel!
Forestry Advisory Council Requests Legislature to Continue Operating
Every 6 years, according to state law, the Ohio Legislature reviews the need for all state appointed councils, advisory boards, task forces, and commissions through the Sunset Review Process. In the last review, 80 of those entities were eliminated. In the current review process, 13 appointed groups including the Forestry Advisory Council (FAC) are being reviewed. The FAC, an 8-member council with legislative appointments, requested that it continue to operate, offering advice to the ODNR Division of Forestry. At the same time, the Geology Advisory Council, a 7-member body which offers advice to the ODNR Division of Geological Survey, requested that it be disbanded. All other boards and councils up for review asked the legislature that they be continued.
Gene Walters Joins North American Veneer, Inc.
North American Veneer, Inc. (NAV) recently announced that Eugene (Gene) Walters, formerly with Yoder Lumber Co. has joined NAV as its Log Division Manager through which he will be in charge of all log marketing operations as well as handling the company’s purchase and harvesting of standing timber. Here is a news release from NAV announcing the appointment. Gene is a former OFA Board member and President of the Board in 2000. Congratulations to Gene on his new endeavor!
U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities Grants $1.5 million for Forestry Practices in Ohio River Basin
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) is a non-profit organization that promotes the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities. Recently, the Endowment announced that it has granted $1.5 million to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to integrate forestry as a best management practice on farmland, with a goal of reducing nutrient runoff into the Ohio River basin. It appears that the effort will focus on the creation of nutrient reduction credits and trading markets to exchange them. It’s unclear how something like this will work, so it bears watching.
Landmark Unemployment Reform Bill Gets First Legislative Hearing
Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Maumee) recently introduced HB 394 to revise Ohio Unemployment Compensation Law. The bill, introduced in the House Insurance Committee, is intended to provide program solvency and stability and will increase the taxable wage base for employers and reduce workers eligibility for benefits. According to the bill the taxable wage base on which employers pay state unemployment taxes increases from $9,000 to $11,000 until the Unemployment Compensation Fund reaches a minimum safe level, now expected to be reached sometime around 2025. Once that level is reached, the wage base would return to $9,000 and the new employer rate for non-construction employers falls from 2.7% to 1%. The bill would also freeze the maximum number of weeks a claimant can receive payments from the current 26 weeks to a range of 12 to 20 weeks, depending on the state unemployment rate at the time the application if filed. Unemployment claims will be denied under the bill if an employee has 3 "no-call, no shows” or if the employee is terminated due to a violation of the terms of an employee handbook. Other law changes would include a requirement that individuals applying for benefits must submit for a drug test as part of eligibility determination and the "base period" to be eligible to file a claim from earned wages in the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters to earned wages in at least three of the four calendar quarters.
September 2015 Housing Commentary
Hereis the latest monthly Housing Commentary from Urs Buehlmann at the Virginia Tech Department of Sustainable Biomaterials. The report indicates data was mostly positive for September 2015 on a month-over-month basis, as well as a year-over-year. The US economy is expected to grow slowly at 2.5% but China’s economy will continue to have world-wide ripple effects. It remains unclear what the Fed will do with interest rates.·
Workers Compensation Group Rating Deadlines
With the Bureau of Workers Compensation transitioning to prospective billing cycles, participation deadlines have changed. This is a reminder that December 31, 2015 is the due date for the next premium installment to BWC and January 22, 2016 is the enrollment deadline for Group Retrospective Rating Programs. Here is a flyer about group retrospective rating as well as a flyer on BWC webinars that you can learn more about group retro programs.
Forest Management Increases Bird Abundance
Most people have a hard time believing this, but the amount of early successional forest land in Ohio and throughout the east has declined sharply over the last 50 years, as the rate of timber harvesting has not kept pace with forest growth. The average size of trees has increased and continues to do so, as older forests dominate the landscape. The wildlife management community is aware of this and knows that more forest management is a great help increasing wildlife populations that depend on early succession, particularly many bird species. Here is an article from the Journal of Wildlife Management on research that shows general bird populations increased from forest management completed to improve woodcock habitat.
Weyerhaeuser Buys Plum Creek in $8.4 billion Timber Deal
Weyerhaeuser bought Plum Creek Timber recently for $8.4 billion to create one of the world’s biggest timberland and forest products companies. Weyerhaeuser will own more than 13 million acres after the acquisition which may not be consummated until early next year if approved by shareholders of both companies. According to this article in USA Today, the company is positioning for a recovering housing market. It indicates that it may also "spin off” its cellulose fiber business which includes 5 pulp mills.
Shale Development News
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reports that it has issued 2,078 permits for drilling in the Utica Shale since December 2009, including 13 more permits since October 31, 2015. During that same time, 1,635 wells have been drilled and 1,034 are in production. More than half the permits have been issued in 3 counties, with Carroll County having the most permits at 497, followed by Harrison County with 378 and Belmont County with 292. In addition, since the spring of 2015 more than $5.7 billion in new shale development investments have been made in Ohio, according to a Shale Economic Development Overview. Several larger projects include a large ethane cracker plant being explored in Belmont County, and eastern Ohio pipeline from Marathon Oil and Price Gregory that would bring in $1 million in weekly payroll and a $1.75 billion pipeline in Ohio and 2 other states.
ODNR Division of Wildlife Names New Chief
A former ODNR Wildlife official is coming out of retirement to serve as the new Chief of the Division of Wildlife, as recently announced by ODNR. Ray Petering had more than 30 years with DOW in fish and wildlife management programs and retired in 2011 as the Assistant Chief. Mr. Petering replaces Scott Zody who recently left ODNR for other employment. Many will remember that Scott served as OFA interim Director for several months in 2007.
December 2015 ECOFA Newsletter
Here is the December Newsletter from the East Central Ohio Forestry Association. Find out about the latest meetings, news, and activities with ECOFA.
2016 OFA Annual Meeting
March 9-10, 2015, Dublin Embassy Suites; "Ohio Hardwoods – Changes and Challenges.”
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