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SARL Members and Alumni News

Michigan governor shakes up state government to focus on drinking water

Detroit Free Press | Posted on February 6, 2019

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a reorganization of state government she said is largely aimed at ensuring safe drinking water for Michigan residents and fighting climate change. Whitmer announced the restructuring of the Department of Environmental Quality as the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. She also announced the creation of the following new offices within the restructured department: Climate and Energy, Clean Water Public Advocate and Environmental Justice Public Advocate.Michigan was rocked by the Flint drinking water crisis in 2015 and more recently by statewide threats to drinking water safety from PFAS — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances used in firefighting foam and other substances.Now, "we need to be laser-focused on cleaning up water in our state," Whitmer said.Though mostly a shifting around of existing resources — officials said no net gain in state employees will immediately result from the shake-up — Whitmer's reorganization, which is effective April 7 and could face rejection from the GOP-controlled Legislature, does create new offices with new responsibilities.

Massachusetts Pilot Will House Homeless Students

Inside Higher Ed | Posted on February 6, 2019

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker, announced a series of new programs for homeless youth, and one of the programs is a pilot to house homeless community college students. Through the program, 20 homeless students at four community colleges will be provided with dormitory rooms in which to live at nearby four-year public colleges and universities. The state will reimburse the colleges for the cost of dormitory space for 18 months during the pilot, which will include access to the rooms during the summer and academic term breaks. The colleges will cover the cost of food for the students.

New Jersey investing public retirement funds in other states farms

New Jersey Spotlight | Posted on February 6, 2019

NJ pension officials finalizing $100 million stake in private-equity fund that specializes in buying and leasing farmland in West, Midwest and Mississippi Delta.

Long-awaited Oregon carbon cap bill is released

Capital Press | Posted on February 6, 2019

After nearly a year of work by a legislative committee, a bill released Thursday afternoon outlines how Oregon would drastically cut its greenhouse gas emissions and become the second state to implement a cap and trade system. The anticipated legislation — criticized before it even appeared — instantly became the talk of the Capitol, though many legislators weren’t exactly certain what had emerged. At 98 pages, the legislation is more something to devour after dinner with a bottle of wine than something to skim through between committee hearings.Lawmakers, lobbyists and nonpartisan legislative analysts alike scrambled to read the proposal, what is called the Oregon Climate Action Program, branded as Legislative Concept 894.

To Control Drug Prices, States May Have to Face Off Against Feds

Pew | Posted on February 6, 2019

Frustrated by federal inaction, state lawmakers in 41 states have proposed detailed plans to lower soaring prescription drug costs. Some measures would give state Medicaid agencies more negotiating power. Others would disclose the pricing decisions of the drug manufacturers and the companies that administer prescription drug plans. The more ambitious proposals would bump up against federal authority, such as legislation that would allow importing drugs from Canada or alter federal statutes on the prices states pay for drugs in Medicaid. They likely would have to survive a challenge in federal court. And many likely would face resistance from a deep-pocketed pharmaceutical industry.

South Dakota passes a bill allowing concealed handguns without a permit

Argus Leader | Posted on February 6, 2019

A bill allowing South Dakota residents to carry concealed handguns without a permit, also called "constitutional carry," is heading to Gov. Kristi Noem for a decision.  The House passed Senate Bill 47 in a 47-23 vote.Bill sponsor Rep. Lee Qualm, R-Platte, called it a "simple" bill that repeals the permit requirement, but doesn't change who can carry a concealed handgun in South Dakota. 

Oregon marijuana regulators fail to meet even basic standards, state audit finds

Oregon Live | Posted on February 6, 2019

 Oregon’s marijuana program has failed to keep up with mandatory inspections, its weak testing system threatens to expose consumers to contaminants and regulators haven’t done enough to address black market diversion, according to an unsparing new audit the Secretary of State released. The audit represents the first detailed examination of Oregon’s regulation of the legal cannabis market since voters said yes to legalization in 2014, when supporters promised that state oversight would rein in an industry that had flourished for decades in the underground market.The audit represents the first detailed examination of Oregon’s regulation of the legal cannabis market since voters said yes to legalization in 2014, when supporters promised that state oversight would rein in an industry that had flourished for decades in the underground market.

Horse racing bill introduced in Georgia General Assembly

Atlanta Business Chronicle | Posted on February 6, 2019

Georgia lawmakers are expected to steer clear of casino gambling this year, but legislation introduced into the state Senate calls for legalizing pari-mutuel betting on horse racing. The Rural Georgia Jobs and Growth Act pitches horse racing as an economic development boon for struggling rural communities, which could see the creation of a new industry surrounding the raising of racehorses.

Washington hemp bills line up on allowing CBD

Capital Press | Posted on February 6, 2019

House and Senate bills now agree on removing two major barriers to the cultivation of hemp in Washington. The bills would legalize processing hemp into cannabidiol, or CBD, for human consumption, an attractive market now closed to Washington farmers and processors.The bills also would strike down a state Department of Agriculture rule that forces hemp farmers to shut down if a marijuana grower decides to plant within 4 miles. Meant to prevent hemp from cross-pollinating with marijuana, the rule subordinates hemp to recreational marijuana. 

Arizona Joins Colorado River Drought Plan, a Move That Could Help Protect California Drinking Water

KTLA | Posted on February 6, 2019

Arizona will join a drought plan for the Colorado River, narrowly meeting a federal deadline that threatened to blow up a compromise years in the making for the seven states that draw water from the constrained river. The Arizona House and Senate overwhelmingly supported the legislation and Gov. Doug Ducey promptly signed it, delivering the final puzzle piece needed to avoid potentially more severe cutbacks imposed by the federal government.