In Florida, the competing sides on just one November ballot question — about controlling solar power production in the state — already have raised $23.65 million to try to sway the state’s voters. That amount pales in comparison to the $313 million raised so far to influence the outcomes of referendums in California, which routinely leads the nation in the number of issues on the ballot and money raised and spent on them. But it’s strikingly more than what’s been spent in the Sunshine State in the past. And what’s happening in Florida is happening across the country. State ballot campaigns this year are attracting millions of dollars from corporations, unions, wealthy individuals and special interest groups, as referendums increasingly replace legislatures as a battleground for people who want to make state policy, on issues ranging from legalizing marijuana and raising the minimum wage to gun control and drug pricing, and from tobacco taxes to solar energy and education. So far this year, 165 statewide ballot measures, in 35 states, have been certified to go before voters. Of those, 74 were put on the ballot by citizens through signature petitions, rather than by state legislatures — the most since 2006.
Michigan State Rep. Dan Lauwers, Chair of Ag Committee, will hold a hearing on HB 5987 concerning delaying the requirements to provide space for animals’ certain movements (including egg laying chickens). The hearing will be Wednesday, November 9, 10:30 am in Rm 519 House Office Building in Lansing
See Diane Sullivan speaking against the Massacusetts Ballot Initiative that will make it illegla to sell eggs and meat products from confined animals.
A heavy burden – the potential future of the state’s dairy industry – now rests on the shoulders of the New Hampshire Legislature. The Milk Producers Emergency Relief Fund Board met for the second time in as many weeks Tuesday and recommended that legislators approve a $3.6 million one-time payment to the state’s dairy farmers in response to this year’s drought. The recommendation, one of three included in the board’s annual report, will be passed along to Gov. Maggie Hassan and House Speaker Shawn Jasper on Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley serves on the relief fund board, and already has the report. The board hopes the Legislature can address the issue, perhaps in a special session, before Dec. 7. That’s when newly elected legislators are sworn in. “Drought is a significant problem,” said Rep. Bob Haefner, the board’s chairman, Tuesday. “We don’t have enough feed at a lot of the farms to get through the winter.”
Dan Zumbach lost 50 acres of corn when the Cedar River flooded. Yet he considers himself lucky. Most of his 160 acres would have been lost if not for family, friends and neighbors who gathered Saturday with combines, grain carts and semitrailer trucks to harvest a field near Palo. They worked from noon until 11 p.m. before the rising waters forced them to quit. Iowa's widespread thunderstorms and torrential rains have done more than flood Iowa's cities and towns. They have also slowed much of the state's corn and soybean harvest. Officials are trying to assess how many acres have been impacted by flooding, but it's likely to be thousands, they say.
How states compare on taxpayer-funded reimbursements for lawmakers' lodging and food away from home — a payment typically provided on top of lawmakers' annual salaries. They vary from no per diem at all for states like Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Ohio to $249 per day for Alaska. Some are based on length of session, Arizona is $35 a day for the first 120 days and $10 a day thereafter, some are an annual payment - Michigan $10,800 a year.
Surely, the silly season in campaign politics is upon us when Minnesota state Sen. Matt Schmit’s standing as a rural leader is called into question. Unfortunately, a Brainerd-area legislator did that last week — and the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. In this day and age, it seems the very least we can expect from our elected leaders is a modicum of integrity. Certainly the Gazelka letter violated that and many other standards. Through those efforts and in many other areas, Sen. Schmit has been a champion for rural Minnesota in his first term in office. He worked closely with rural legislators — including those from the Brainerd area — and many others from both sides of the aisle to create Minnesota’s nation-leading “Border-to-Border Broadband” competitive grant fund, which already has extended connectivity to more than 12,000 Minnesota homes and businesses in hard-to-serve areas of the state.
To achieve the livestock-friendly designation, counties voluntarily apply to the NDA, which evaluates applications to determine if the county is taking measures to support livestock development, such as through its zoning regulations pertaining to livestock. The first counties applied to enter the program in 2005, and currently 37 of Nebraska’s 93 counties have achieved the designation. With the program in place for more than a decade, a group of researchers from the University of Nebraska and Oklahoma State University conducted a study to evaluate how the growth or decline of livestock operations in those counties compares with other Nebraska counties not participating in the program. Their report, titled “An economic analysis of the Nebraska Livestock Friendly County Program ” is published in the in Online Journal of Rural Research & Policy.
The researchers studied 21 counties that achieved the LFCP designation between 2002 and 2012, using data from the 2002, 2007 and 2012 censuses to track trends in farm numbers. According to the report, the number of cattle operations in counties with the livestock friendly designation grew by 12 percent between 2007 and 2012, compared to an 8 percent increase in counties without the designation. Of the 21 counties studied, 16 saw a net increase in cattle-farm numbers during that period. As for hog farms, the number declined across Nebraska during the study period, but the decline was less severe in LFCP counties. According to the report, from 2007 to 2012, there was a 15.6 percent decline in the number of hog farms in LFCP-participating counties. In contrast, non-participating counties saw a decline of 62 percent.
The head of the AVMA Professional Liability Insurance Trust (AVMA PLIT) has been hired as the day-to-day leader of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Janet Donlin, DVM, CAE, will replace Ron DeHaven, DVM, MBA, as executive vice president and CEO of the 88,000-member organization Sept. 12. Dr. DeHaven is retiring after nine years in the post. The decision came days after the AVMA House of Delegates amended a bylaw so the position of executive vice president or assistant executive vice president may be filled someday by a non-veterinarian. The change was proposed by the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association with the intent of opening the door to the most qualified candidates available.
Designed to help ensure timelier processing of Michigan farmers' applications and tax credit payments through the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program (PA-116), the legislation saw overwhelming support earlier this year in both the state House of Representatives (109-0) and Senate (36-1). Sponsored by Dist. 81 Rep. Dan Lauwers and Dist. 65 Rep. Brett Roberts, House Bills 5189, 5190, 5191 enhance government accountability and reduce the time it takes to complete PA-116 contract changes. "These bills were crafted as a result of many farmers not receiving their 2014 tax credit payments from the Department of Treasury," said MFB Legislative Counsel Rebecca Park. "Combined with program staff cuts at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, this was becoming a problem for farmers with land enrolled in PA-116. "The problem was significant enough that we feared it could have deterred potential enrollees from preserving their land through the program." Specific provisions include: Hold Treasury accountable for timely payments by requiring them to apply interest on late refunds if certain provisions are met. Ensure the appropriate funds are allocated to MDARD for program administration, equal to the recapture tax revenue collected by Treasury. Allow e-filing regardless of the number of land agreements.