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SARL Members and Alumni News

State files again to dismiss Colorado River ‘personhood’ lawsuit, threatens to sanction lawyer

Post Independent | Posted on December 13, 2017

Protestors spurred on by the environmental group Deep Green Resistance gathered at dusk in front of the Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse in downtown Denver Friday. High above their heads, the words "Colorado River Rights of Nature" loomed, lit by a spotlight projector placed outside the protester circle.The activists had come in support of a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in the U.S., the Colorado River Ecosystem v. the State of Colorado, which seeks to grant direct rights to nature in the United States. If successful, the case would allow anyone to file a lawsuit on behalf of the Colorado River ecosystem, including all the river's tributaries.And even as the protestors gathered on Friday, the attorney general's office filed a second motion with the federal court to dismiss the lawsuit. A Dec. 1 deadline to do so had been set by the court in response to an amended complaint filed by the plaintiffs on Nov. 6.

Wolf Administration Officials Tour New Agricultural, Environmental Learning Center at Philadelphia’s Largest Head Start Center

Pennsylvania State Government | Posted on December 13, 2017

Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, and Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell participated in the grand opening of the first Head Start center in Philadelphia to use agriculture and environmental lessons for teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts to young children.  The School District of Philadelphia welcomed Wolf Administration officials, local leaders and families to celebrate the opening of the Agricultural and Environmental Learning Center with Outdoor Engagement Learning Gardens. The Pratt Head Start Center facility, which serves 150 pre-school children, will become a model for the district’s other 100 Head Start facilities.

Florida agriculture desperate for post-Irma aid

Ocala Star Banner | Posted on December 13, 2017

While Florida oranges have long occupied iconic status in American life, if Congress does not act promptly, Florida’s agricultural industry, including its treasured citrus growers and the communities that depend on it, could mark the end of Florida orange production and the state’s vital agricultural sector. Hurricane Irma caused enormous damage to Florida’s citrus growers. Of the $2.5 billion in damages inflicted by Hurricane Irma on Florida’s agricultural industry, Florida’s orange crop suffered the most — at $760 million, according to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Compounding the struggles of Florida’s citrus growers, the storm struck just a few weeks before harvest, wiping out the crop in hardest hit areas. Irma’s impact not only decimated more than half of this year’s orange crop, it also affects future harvests. The latest crop of oranges from Florida’s growers was the lowest in 75 years.It will take years for Florida agriculture and citrus growers to recover from Hurricane Irma’s catastrophic impact.

Twelve states want the Supreme Court to axe California’s anti-confinement egg laws

The New Food Economy | Posted on December 13, 2017

Better make that back to the court we go—and this time with a bigger posse: Last week, 12 states banded together to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block the “egg sales law,” alleging that it cost consumers upwards of $350 million in higher egg prices and is unconstitutional because it violates the interstate commerce clause—meaning that it’s preempted by federal law.This suit cites a study from a University of Missouri economist, which, the L.A. Times reported in a December 4 article, had found that “the national price of a dozen eggs has increased between 1.8% and 5.1% since January 2015 because of the California cage requirements.”Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (who is seeking the Republican nomination in Missouri’s 2018 senate election), called the regulations discriminatory against farmers, announcing in a December 4 press release that they are “a clear attempt by big-government proponents to impose job-killing regulations on Missouri.”In addition to Missouri—which was part of the 2014 complaint—Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin have joined the challenge.

Minnesota joins U.S. states limiting Dicamba

Reuters | Posted on December 13, 2017

Minnesota became the latest U.S. state on Tuesday to restrict controversial weed killers made by Monsanto Co and BASF SE that were linked to widespread crop damage, while Arkansas took a step back from imposing new limits.The United States has faced an agricultural crisis this year caused by new versions of the herbicides, which are based on a chemical known as dicamba. Farmers and weed experts say the products harm crops that cannot resist dicamba because the herbicides evaporate and drift away from where they are applied, a process known as volatilization.Monsanto and BASF say the products are safe when used properly.Monsanto is banking on its dicamba-based herbicide and soybean seeds engineered to resist it, called Xtend, to dominate soybean production in the United States, the world’s second-largest exporter.However, Minnesota will prohibit summertime sprayings of dicamba-based herbicides after June 20 in a bid to prevent a repeat of damage seen across the U.S. farm belt this year, according to the state’s agriculture department.

To Fend Off Hackers, Local Governments Get Help From States

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on December 12, 2017

The city of Mill Creek, Washington, has only 55 full-time employees and just one of them — James Busch — is responsible for handling information technology and cybersecurity. He worries about the growing sophistication of hackers and cybercriminals and the city computer network’s vulnerabilities. So when the Washington State Auditor’s Office started offering local governments a free, in-depth evaluation of their cybersecurity systems, Mill Creek, a city of about 20,000 near Seattle, jumped at the chance in 2015.

Idaho wheat groups to move forward with proposed rule change

Capital Press | Posted on December 12, 2017

A rule change proposed during the 2018 Idaho Legislature would give the Idaho Wheat Commission the ability to collect the names and contact information of all wheat farmers in the state.After being delayed for two years, a proposed rule change that Idaho Wheat Commission officials say will benefit Idaho grain farmers will be re-introduced during the 2018 legislative session.IWC and Idaho Grain Producers Association board members last week agreed to move forward with the proposed rule change, which would require first purchasers of Idaho wheat, such as elevators, to submit the names and contact information of all growers to the commission.The commission’s enabling legislation gives it the authority to have that information but it currently lacks the mechanism to collect it, so the IWC only has a partial data base of Idaho wheat growers, said IWC Executive Director Blaine Jacobson.“The (IWC) has a statutory responsibility to educate Idaho wheat growers and to conduct periodic referendums of Idaho wheat growers on how their checkoff dollars are being spent,”

Wisconsin moving forward with drug-testing food stamp recipients

Wisconsin State Journal | Posted on December 12, 2017

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has finalized a rule that would require able-bodied adult recipients of food stamps to be screened and possibly tested for drugs.The move is the latest step in the ongoing battle over whether such testing is legal under federal law.Walker has framed the issue as addressing the state’s worker shortage and as a continuation of the state’s landmark welfare reform efforts begun in the 1990s under Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson.“Employers have jobs available, but they need skilled workers who can pass a drug test,” Walker said in a statement. “This rule change means people battling substance use disorders will be able to get the help they need to get healthy, and get back into the workforce.”

Conflicted Interests: State lawmakers often blur the line between the public's business and their own

Public Integrity | Posted on December 12, 2017

Investigation found many examples of legislators supporting bills that benefited their employers, their companies or even their own wallets. State lawmakers around the country have introduced and supported policies that directly and indirectly help their own businesses, their employers and sometimes their personal finances, according to an analysis of disclosure forms and legislative votes by the Center for Public Integrityand The Associated Press.The news organizations found numerous examples in which lawmakers’ votes had the effect of promoting their private interests. Even then, the votes did not necessarily represent a conflict of interest as defined by the state. That’s because legislatures set their own rules for when lawmakers should recuse themselves. In some states, lawmakers are required to vote despite any ethical dilemmas.Many lawmakers defend even the votes that benefit their businesses or industries, saying they bring important expertise to the debate.

Bayer launches new website to promote transparency

Feedstuffs | Posted on December 12, 2017

ayer recently announced that it has launched a new website that focuses on transparency by enabling access to scientific data needed for the evaluation of plant protection products. In launching the website,, Bayer said it is taking a leadership role in driving transparency while safeguarding the company’s confidential product composition and manufacturing process data.