LEGISLATIVE AND POLICY REPORT
The first month of a year when a new Congress and a new Ohio General Assembly convene usually result in a slow legislative and policy month and January 2013 has proved no exception.
The 113th Congress convened on January 3 and President Obama’s second inaugural was held on January 21. Congress spent most of the month organizing itself by finalizing committee and subcommittee assignments and approving rules for conducting business in the House and Senate, and each party held its annual retreat. As the month drew to a close Congress passed a $50 billion Hurricane Sandy emergency aid bill. The President will deliver the State-of-the-Union address on Tuesday, February 12.
Fiscal Cliff Legislation: As its final legislative act, the 112th Congress passed HR 8, American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 on January 1, which was signed by President Obama on January 2. The bill addressed the Bush tax cuts by retaining them for individuals earning under $400,000 annually and couples jointly earning under $450,000 annually and increasing rates for those earning above those levels. The bill also extends long-term unemployment benefits but ends the two-year federal payroll tax reduction for all workers. Left unaddressed were spending cuts and increasing the U.S. debt ceiling.
Budget and Appropriations: FY2013 - With the federal debt ceiling deadline drawing closer Congress approved a bill that would suspend the debt ceiling to May 19. This gives Congress time to address other looming deadlines, including the March 1 sequestration and expiration of the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution on March 27, the latter which would trigger a government shutdown.
Meanwhile, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) told federal agencies to “intensify” their efforts toward planning for the March 1 sequestration. The memorandum urges agencies to reduce civilian workforce costs, review grants, and take other steps to reduce outlays while minimizing impacts to core missions. Non-defense agencies are preparing for an approximate six to eight percent cut in budgets.
FY2014 – The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) informed House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) that the Administration’s FY2014 proposed budget will not be released by its statutory deadline of February 4 due to the ongoing fiscal crises and debates. No release date has been set, but Hill observes suggest that the budget may not arrive before March.
Farm Bill: The race to the finish line to address the “fiscal cliff” included more than avoidance of automatic federal spending cuts. It also contained an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill through September 30, 2013. Since Congress could not come to an agreement on reauthorization during 2012 the extension was included in the fiscal cliff deal without reforms. Although it leaves the Conservation and Forestry Titles of the bill virtually in-tact, it did not include additional authorized funding for some programs that have expired without any appropriations.
Comings and Goings:
Former Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette will lead a new lobbying subsidiary of McDonald Hopkins LLC in Washington, DC, serving as president of McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies. He also is beginning a three-year term as president of Republican Mainstream Partnership, also headquartered in Washington. Mr. LaTourette and former Governor Strickland have been rumored to be under consideration as a possible successor to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who has announced his resignation.
STATE OF OHIO
New General Assembly Organizes: Members of the 130th Ohio General Assembly convened on January 7 with official committee hearings beginning the last week of the month. The schedule for the first six months of the year includes spring break from March 25-April 5 and a tentative summer recess date of May 31. House Speaker Bill Batchelder announced 17 standing committees that includes shake-up in committee structure. Senate President Keith Faber announced 17 standing committees, an increase of four from the previous General Assembly.
The House continues with a committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources chaired by Representative Dave Hall (R-Millersburg), who served as chair in the 129th General Assembly and Representative Jack Cera as ranking member. There is no dedicated House committee on energy issues. The Senate has created a stand-alone Agriculture Committee chaired by Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) and a separate committee on Energy and Natural Resources chaired by Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville). This is a change from the past two years when Agriculture, Energy and Natural Resources was a single committee. The House Finance and Appropriations Committee again will be led by Rep. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) and Rep. Vernon Sykes as ranking member; and the Senate Finance Committee will be chaired by Republican Senator Scott Oelslager, who is a Statehouse veteran with a history of service on the Finance Committee. Democratic Senator Tom Sawyer continues as ranking member.
Governor John Kasich will introduce his FY2014-2015 Biennial Operating Budget on February 4th and has formally requested the General Assembly permission to deliver the State-of-the-State address on February 19 in Lima.
Clean Ohio Fund: The Clean Ohio Coalition continues to develop and implement strategy and tactics to help secure $52 million in bonding for the three conservation programs in the budget bill that will be debated this spring. All member of the General Assembly will receive personalized letters urging them to support the request. Over 100 stakeholder organizations or groups representing business, sportsmen, conservation, local government, and community development signed on to the letter. There also will be personal meetings with many of the members both in Columbus and in their respective districts at sites where Clean Ohio funding has been invested. Other advocacy efforts will be used as the budget process moves forward.
Comings and Goings:
Ohio Department of Natural Resources promoted Scott Butterworth and Tim Parrett to district manager for Wildlife District Two (Northwest Ohio) and District Four (Southeast Ohio) respectively. Mr. Butterworth formerly served as Wildlife Management Supervisor and Mr. Parrett formerly served as Fish Hatchery Program Administrator. They replaced recent retirees John Daugherty and Mark Hemming.
Governor Kasich appointed the following individuals to serve on the Clean Ohio Council: Michael Lang, Dayton; John Detrick, Springfield; and Jack Everson, Chillicothe beginning January 22, 2013 and ending November 23, 2014; and James Samuel, Columbus, for the period January 22-November 23, 2013.
Green Umbrella’s Rhoads Headlines
Upcoming Three Valley Annual Meeting
Date: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Marcum Conference Center at Miami University, Oxford
Cincinnati Green Umbrella’s Brewster Rhoads will be the keynote speaker at the Three Valley Conservation Trust’s 18th Annual Meeting, being held on Saturday, February 9th, 5:30pm, at the Marcum Conference Center, at Miami University, Oxford. The entertaining Mr. Rhoads will share recent experiences in building constituencies among surprising partners and implications for successful conservation trusts. Green Umbrella facilitates collaboration among over 100 area non-profits, businesses, educational institutions and governmental entities focused on the environmental aspects of sustainability in the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky area. Among his diverse roles, Rhoads organizes Ohio River Paddlefest, and also formerly served as the Governor’s Southwest District Director.
There will be recognition of elected officials, and presentation of the sixth Annual Wallace I. Edwards Lifetime Conservationist award.
The Trust will also honor other conservation stars and retiring Three Valley Conservation Trust Board member Peg Schear as well as other local heroes and organizational partners.
In addition, Three Valley Conservation Trust conservation easement donors will share inspirational stories about why they have protected their farms and open space. To date, 123 easement donors have stepped up to forever protect properties covering 16,000 acres of ground with the Three Valley Conservation Trust in the Trust’s watersheds.
The Three Valley Conservation Trust Annual Meeting will include a brief summary of its accomplishments, and its plan for the coming year. Beautiful music will be followed by a specially prepared Marcum Center-catered meal. Finally, the organization will conduct its election of candidates for the group’s Board of Trustees.
Dinner and event are $22 per person. Please call the Trust office, (513) 524-2150 to reserve a place at the table. Advance reservations must be received by February 4, 2012.
For more information please contact: Larry Frimerman 513-524-2150
Green Umbrella’s Brewster Rhoads
will be the Speaker at the Three Valley Conservation Trust Annual Meeting on
February 9 at the Marcum Center, Miami University, Oxford.
SAVE THE DATE:
Ohio Environmental Council Lobby Day
Location: Athletic Club of Columbus and Ohio Statehouse
Date: Tuesday, March 19 2013
In collaboration with the Ohio Environmental Council, join COLT members in meeting with members of the Ohio General Assembly to advocate for CLEAN OHIO and other conservation policy issues. Details soon.
Ohio Environmental Council Legislative Summit 2013
Date: February 1, 2013
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Location: Columbus Sheraton on Capitol Square, 75 E. State Street, Columbus, OH, 43215
Click to learn more: Fiscal Cliff Deal Renews Tax Incentive Through 2013
Farmland Preservation Summit
The summit will be held on Thursday, January 17th 2013 at the Ohio State University (OSU) 4-H Center in Columbus. A hard-working committee headed by Katie Meyers-Griffith of the Countryside Conservancy has been planning the meeting. Please see the attached flier if you are interested in registering for the meeting. If you know individuals, organizations or companies which may be interested in sponsorships, please make the form available to them.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact:
Denise Franz King
Office of Farmland Preservation
Ohio Department of Agriculture
8995 East Main Street
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068-3342
Shale Summit 2013
Date: February 5, 2013 (Tuesday)
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 a.m.
Registration and Event Inquiries
Contact: Jessica D. Snyder
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 216-771-5388
Click to link to more information: Shale Summit 2013
Rally 2013: The National Land Conservation Conference
Date: September 17-19, 2013
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Cost: FREE to all until January 31, 2013.
Rally 2013 will be from September 17 - 19, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Stay up-to-date with the latest Rally details and announcements.
After clicking the link, scroll down the page to the Clean Ohio Trail Fund icon to read about the details.
Due date: February 1, 2013
• The Clean Ohio Trails Fund works to improve outdoor recreational opportunities for Ohioans by funding trails for outdoor pursuits of all kinds.
• Up to 75 percent matching State of Ohio funds are reimbursed under Clean Ohio Trails Fund.
• All projects must be completed within 15 months from the date that they are signed into contract.
• Eligible projects include: Land acquisition for a trail, trail development, trailhead facilities, engineering and design