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Timber Talk 1/25/16

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Plan on Attending the 2016 OFA Annual Meeting on March 9-10 in Dublin, Ohio
The 2016 OFA Annual Meeting is coming and you can now register for the meetingon-line. The meeting will take place at the Dublin Embassy Suites, the same location as last year.The meeting will start on Wednesday, March 10 with the OFA Board meeting in the morning, followed by lunch and then a tour for participants to the Rickenbacker Inland Port, one of the world’s largest cargo-only airport and intermodal facilities, a facility that moves a large amount of agricultural and timber products to overseas destinations. The group will come back to the Embassy Suites for a reception and time to relax and network. The Ohio Tree Farm Committee will hold its annual silent auction fundraiser and is working on plans again for a gun raffle at the reception. The following morning will start off with an opportunity for fellowship with the Christian Lumberman for those wishing to participate during the continental breakfast. The meeting is scheduled to kick-off with the keynote speaker, Lt. Governor Mary Taylor (invited) to discuss Ohio’s business climate and opportunities for the future. ODNR Deputy Director and State Forester Bob Boyles will follow with an update on current state forestry activities for both public and private forestlands, most notably changes with Ohio’s property tax incentive programs. Joining us then from the US Forest Service Northern Research Station is Matt Bumgardnerto talk about "Hardwood Trade and Consumption Trends for the U.S. and Ohio” which promises to be an enlightening presentation. We will have the annual awards luncheon to recognize OFA award winners and the 2016 Ohio Tree Farmer of the Year and other Tree Farm volunteers. Following lunch, the "After WestRock, What Comes Next?” session will feature a panel of several presenters discussing several projects and opportunities for using the vast amount of wood fiber formerly used at the WestRock mill in Coshocton. At this point, the panel includes Tom Nelson, President, Renewable Carbon and Electric Ltd. to talk about Wood Pyrolysis and its Future in Oho Forestry; Helmut Schmidt, President, United Biosolutions discussing Briquette Production, An Alternative to Pellets; and Alberto Ramirez, Production Manager, Speyside Bourbon Cooperate who will take a look at new Ohio cooperage Production. (note that other presenters may be added). Finally after opportunity for questions and answers, the meeting will conclude with the President’s Reception. There is still opportunity to sponsor and/or display at the event. Contact Gayla at OFA for any questions (614-497-9580). Hope to see you all there!

News from CareWorksComp and Workers’ Compensation
CareWorksComp, the third-party administrator of the OFA Group Safety Rating Program for Ohio Workers’ Compensation is reporting that OSHA has created a streamlined reporting webpage that employers can use for reporting severe worker injuries, in response to new requirements for reporting injuries which took effect January of 2015. Worker fatalities must be reported within 8 hours of occurrence while severe injuries must be reported within 24 hours. Severe injuries are defined as "amputation, hospitalization, or loss of an eye.” Additionally, Workers’ Comp is reporting that unemployment costs for Ohio employers increased for 2016. Maximum claim costs increased from $14,872 to $15,262, which is the potential amount an employer can be charged for one unemployment claim. Maximum unemployment tax rates increased from 8.6% to 8.7%, with the minimum tax rate remaining at 0.3% Employers continue to pay unemployment taxes on the first $9,000 of each employees payroll (unless exempt).
Senate President Faber Outlines 2016 Priorities
Ohio Senate President Keith Faber advised that the Senate priorities for 2016 are to reform Ohio ethics law, promote efficiency in state government, streamline Ohio public records requests and fulfillment, and complete the Capital Budget. In Senate sessions last week, the Senate approved by a nearly unanimous vote HB 17, a bill which would provide civil immunity for architects, contractors, engineers, surveyors, and tradespersons in providing volunteer services during declared emergencies.
2020 Ohio Tax Policy Study Commission News
The 2020 Ohio Tax Policy Study Commission was created by the legislature to study Ohio’s current tax structure and make recommendations for streamlined Ohio taxes.The Ohio Manufacturers Association (OMA) recently advised the Commission that "shifting” taxes would not be good tax policy and advised against raising the oil and gas severance tax as a means for reducing income taxes. OMA position is that current oil and gas severance tax was created as an "excise tax” which it says is placed upon certain activities to defray costs unique to that activity. As a result, the tax should not be used or raised to offset other taxes. OMA believe that the income tax should be reduced, but should be done so by "finding government efficiencies.” OMA further believes that the current tax system grew from the agricultural and manufacturing economy of the 1930s, but the system has not shifted accordingly as the economy is now more service oriented. The tax burden remains heavily on the manufacturing sector. OMA supports reducing personal income taxes that treats all taxpayers fairly and believes it should be done by reducing tax exclusions and exemptions. No recommendations so far on Ohio property tax structure.
U.S. House Votes Against WOTUS and President Vetoes
Recently, the House passed a motion to disapprove of the EPA definition rule on the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) by a strong, bi-partisan vote, after the Senate had done so earlier. Following that however, the President vetoed the resolution, as expected. The rule still remains in limbo due to a petition filed by a number of state’s Attorneys General (including Ohio) to block the rule. Petitioners believe that they will still prevail through the court as they have demonstrated a substantial possibility of success based on precedent and the vagueness of the rule. Stay tuned.
WestRock Closes Another Mill in Connecticut
WestRock, formerly RockTenn, followed its closing of the Coshocton mill with the closure of another mill in Uncasville, CT. This corrugated packaging plant had 87 full-time employees. The article from the Norwich Bulletin cites the closure of the Coshocton mill late last year.
Wood Supply Research Institute (WSRI) Seeking Research Proposals; New Director Appointed
WSRI, of which the OFA Logging Standards Council is a member, is seeking proposals and ideas for research projects relating to the wood supply stream. According to this news release, "The project should be designed to have the potential to benefit the wood fiber supply chain and improve the efficiency and productivity of the fiber delivery process from the stump to the mill.” WSRI will take proposals from educators, WSRI members, and interested organizations until March 1, 2016. In other WSRI news, Steve Carruth will become the WSRI Executive Director replacing Jim Fendig who is retiring. Steve was the original director of WSRI when he was formerly with Westvaco.

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