State lawmakers failed to comply with a voter-approved constitutional amendment to buy and preserve environmentally sensitive lands, a judge ruled. Leon Circuit Judge Charles Dodson sided with environmental groups in the lawsuit centered on whether lawmakers defied the 2014 Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative by improperly diverting portions of the money to such expenses as staffing. Legislative leaders have repeatedly disputed such allegations as they continued to make such budget allocations. Attorney David Guest — representing the Florida Wildlife Federation, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, the Sierra Club and Florida Wildlife Federation President Manley Fuller — called Dodson’s Friday bench ruling a “100 percent victory.” “The people of Florida voted with a firm, clear voice. And the court said today that counts,” Guest said after the hearing. “The Legislature has to comply with the law like everybody else.”
The world's system for allocating fish stocks is being outpaced by the movement of fish species in response to climate change, according to a study undertaken by an international team of marine ecologists, fisheries and social scientists, and lawyers.
Michigan began enforcing the nation's strictest rules for lead in drinking water, a plan that eventually will result in replacing all 500,000 lead service pipes statewide in the wake of the contamination of Flint's supply.The lead and copper rules will drop the "action level" for lead from 15 parts per billion, the federal limit, to 12 in 2025. Underground lead service lines connecting water mains to houses and other buildings will be replaced by 2040, unless a utility can show regulators it will take longer under a broader plan to repair and replace its water infrastructure. The rules also will prohibit the partial replacement of lead service pipes except for emergency repairs; require preliminary and final inventories of the lines and other components of a water supply by 2020 and 2025; and ensure samples are taken at the highest-risk sites and with methods designed to more accurately detect lead.
Amid sharply rising rates of teen suicide and adolescent mental illness, two states have enacted laws that for the first time require public schools to include mental health education in their basic curriculum.Most states require health education in all public schools, and state laws have been enacted in many states to require health teachers to include lessons on tobacco, drugs and alcohol, cancer detection and safe sex.Two states are going further: New York’s new law adds mental health instruction to the list in kindergarten through 12th grade; Virginia requires it in ninth and 10th grades.Nationwide, cities and states have been adopting a variety of initiatives over the past decade to address the rising need for mental health care in schools.But until this year, mandated mental health education had not been part of the trend.
A Hamlin County cheese manufacturer expanding its operations needs a permit from the South Dakota environmental office to dump millions of gallons of waste water per day into the Big Sioux River. But environmental buffs and officials with several water systems in the region say the move could put drinking water supplies downstream at risk.Wisconsin-based Agropur earlier this year began a substantial expansion to its facility in Lake Norden that would increase its ability to process milk by six million pounds per day. In conjunction with the expansion, the waste water treatment facility on the Agropur campus is also being upgraded to keep up, but the plans still call for discharging up to two million gallons of waste water a day into the nearby Big Sioux River watershed.
A Texas couple claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that burdensome state regulations have put them in a pickle because they’re prevented from supplementing their income by selling more of their produce at farmers’ markets. Jim and Anita McHaney argue in their lawsuit filed against the Texas Department of State Health Services that the so-called cottage food law only permits them to sell one pickled item: cucumbers.The law governs the sale of produce, pies and other goods at places like markets and fairs. It also requires that sales don’t exceed $50,000 a year.The McHaneys say “value-added products” such as pickled okra, beets or carrots generate more revenue in their retirement and are important to help sustain their Berry Ridge Farm in Hearne, in Robertson County, according to one of their attorneys, Nate Bilhartz.Pickling also allows them to reduce the amount of aging produce that’s tossed to a neighbor’s cows for feed, Bilhartz said. If the state loosened its regulations, then the couple could take the produce that doesn’t sell at market, pickle it and sell it at a value-added price — generating added revenue to cover farm costs, he said.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the owners of a proposed large-scale dairy near Wisconsin Rapids can farm 6,388 acres of related land despite a town zoning ordinance. The court, in a 5-2 decision, reversed an appeals court's 2017 ruling that building permits for the proposed 5,300-cow dairy did not allow the Wysocki Family of Companies to farm the adjacent land.
A U.S. Interior Department appropriations bill, just passed out of committee, includes an amendment from Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., that defunds transporting grizzly bears into the North Cascades, delists gray wolves and increases transparency of grazing permit monitoring.
Experts say the dizzying evolution of Oregon’s marijuana industry may well be a cautionary tale for California.
Andrea Cabral had a long and successful career in Massachusetts law enforcement, serving stints as a county prosecutor and sheriff before getting appointed as the state’s top public safety official in 2012. So you could be forgiven for not predicting this: she now runs a pot company.