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SARL Members and Alumni News

In Florida, a fight over dog racing pits a waning generation of gamblers and trainers against animal rights advocates

SF Gate | Posted on August 16, 2018

Florida, which hosts a dozen of the nation's 17 surviving tracks, is set to vote in November whether to ban greyhound racing. Those in favor of a ban see racing as animal cruelty akin to cockfighting, contending that dogs are caged for most of the day and risk life-threatening injuries for the sake of gambling.Groups including the Humane Society of the United States and celebrities such as Doris Day, a longtime animal rights activist, have raised $2.5 million to pass the ban. Greyhound racing supporters have raised a miserly $24,000 to defend it. "We're going to get squashed," said Norm Rader, 62, a greyhound trainer. "It's a David and Goliath fight. They're going to overpower us with TV commercials. We can't dispute the lies they're telling about us."They are a target, Rader insists, because horse racing is too moneyed to take down."There's too much money there, so they're coming after us. I don't know what I'm going to do or how I'll survive," he said.Earlier this month, a controversial state judge ordered the measure to be removed from the ballot because its language was unclear, saying it amounted to "outright trickeration"; ban supporters then appealed the decision, prompting an automatic stay that put it back before voters. A hearing in the state's Supreme Court has now been confirmed, but both sides anticipate it will be on the ballot.

AVMA State Legislative Update June 2018

American Veterinary Medical Association | Posted on August 9, 2018

Two veterinary related bills have passed the Norht Carolina legislature. SB 750 will allow a licensed veterinarian to continue to prescribe targeted controlled substances from valid written, oral, or facsimile prescriptions. Licensed veterinarians will also be added to the definition of a “dispenser” when that person dispenses any Schedule II-V controlled substances. The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board will require continuing education on controlled substance abuse and be added to the membership composition of the Prescription Drug Abuse Advisory Committee. SB 99 removes the exemption of pet and animal feed from the state's retail sales and use tax.

Pennsylvania officials admit their state is behind in curbing Chesapeake pollution

Baltimore Sun | Posted on August 9, 2018

Pennsylvania officials on Tuesday conceded to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and other state leaders in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that the commonwealth has not done its part to reduce pollution washing into waterways. Patrick McDonnell, Pennsylvania’s secretary of environmental protection, said that will change as a target to restore Chesapeake ecosystems by 2025 approaches.“We are committed and developing a plan that gets us to 2025,” he told the Chesapeake Executive Council, a group that oversees the federal Chesapeake Bay Program, at a meeting in Fells Point.“We are clearly behind,” he said. “But we’ve taken that as an opportunity to double down.”The promise came a week after Hogan publicly criticized Pennsylvania and New York for sending a deluge of debris and pollution down the Susquehanna River during recent flooding.

Florida judge strikes down HSUS dog-racing ban, calling it ‘outright trickeration’

Florida Politics | Posted on August 9, 2018

Saying it “hide(s) the ball” and calling it “outright ‘trickeration,’ ” a Tallahassee judge has ruled that a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ending dog racing shouldn’t go on the November ballot. But in a statement, Attorney General Pam Bondi – who supports a dog-racing ban – said her office “will appeal this decision immediately and seek an expedited review by the Florida Supreme Court.” Among other things, Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ 27-page order (also posted below) said Amendment 13‘s ballot title and summary would mislead voters into believing a ‘yes’ vote was an outright ban on greyhound racing. The amendment bans betting on live dog racing in Florida, and doesn’t make clear that trackgoers in Florida could still bet on ‘simulcast‘ dog races outside Florida, she said. Live racing is still conducted at 11 tracks in the state. It also doesn’t make clear, Gievers added, that a vote for the amendment is a vote for other gambling – such as card games and slot machines – to continue at tracks that have them.

Hawaii's new fuel price performance incentive gives HECO 'skin in the game'

Utility Dive | Posted on August 9, 2018

Hawaii regulators took a step toward performance incentives for its dominant electric utility, but transitioning to true performance-based regulation (PBR) will be contentious, judging from the stakeholder response. The cost of importing expensive fuel oil for power generation in the state has led to many debates over the best way to align utility incentives with customer interests — such as using a sharing mechanism to split fuel price volatility risks between the utility's shareholders and its ratepayers. On June 22, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) approved a risk sharing mechanism proposed by the environmental group Blue Planet in a new foray into performance-based incentives. Many in the state see the move as an indication that more reforms are coming in the state's regulatory docket on PBR, initiated this year.The new risk sharing mechanism is mean to give the Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) "skin in the game," said former Colorado regulator Ron Binz, who testified at the HPUC on behalf of Blue Planet. But both HECO and Hawaii's consumer advocate question whether the new PBR provision will ultimately serve customer interests.

The value of a name driving intense debate over what is milk, meat or a G.M.O.

Food Business News | Posted on August 8, 2018

The ongoing debate over what products like almond milk and meat created through cellular generation may be labeled and commercially called has tremendous financial stakes. Like the value of an established brand, the value of an established product name is significant, and food industry regulators must balance the potential of innovative and emerging technologies with the need to prevent confusion in the marketplace. The debate over what may be called “milk” is not new. Dairy producers have been fighting for decades for the Food and Drug Administration to enforce milk’s standard of identity. They argue that the standard of identity for milk is clear, and the makers of plant-based beverages must stop describing their products as milk.The makers of soy milk and almond milk respond by noting the nomenclature does not violate the regulations because the name incorporates additional qualifying language. Calling such products soy milk and almond milk clearly differentiates them from regular milk.

Governor drops Medicaid adviser who spoke up for disabled Iowans after services were cut

Des Moines Register | Posted on August 8, 2018

Gov. Kim Reynolds has dropped an outspoken Medicaid adviser who repeatedly voiced concerns about how private management companies were treating Iowans with disabilities. David Hudson spent two years as co-chairman of Iowa's Medical Assistance Advisory Council, whose duties include monitoring the state's shift to private management of its $5 billion Medicaid program.“I felt that I was asking the questions the governor should have been asking,” he said in an interview at his Windsor Heights home. “… I guess I pushed back too hard or something.”

Oregon Supreme Court approves tax to fund state EV rebates

Utility Dive | Posted on August 8, 2018

The Oregon Supreme Court approved the use of a privilege tax to fund the state's Clean Vehicle Rebate Program on Sunday, after AAA Oregon/Idaho and Trucking Associations Inc. challenged the tax in November 2017, saying it violated Oregon's Constitution. The program is integral to Democratic Gov. Katie Brown's 2017 initiative to address greenhouse gases and climate change. One of the goals of the initiative is to have 50,000 or more registered and operating electric vehicles (EVs) in the state by 2020, according to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) air quality planner Rachel Sakata.  The clean vehicle program offers both a standard rebate option and a "charge ahead" option for qualifying low-to-middle income (LMI) customers. The standard rebate is $2500 towards a purchase or lease of a new EV with a battery capacity of 10 KWh or more, and $1500 with a battery capacity of less than 10 KWh. Charge-ahead rebates are worth $2500-$5000. 

Pennsylvania Governor Signs Bill To Limit Eminent Domain Use On Land Protected By Conservation Easements

Pennsylvania Environment Digest Blog | Posted on August 8, 2018

Gov. Tom Wolf Sunday signed House Bill 2468 limiting the use of eminent domain by government agencies on land with conservation easements for parks and open space purposes into law as Act 45.Two school districts in the state-- Cumberland Valley in Cumberland County and Lower Merion in Montgomery County-- have decided to use eminent domain to condemn privately-owned land permanently preserved by conservation easements held by local land trusts, over the objections of many residents of the communities. Other suitable non-preserved land in each vicinity is available, according to the bill sponsors.

The bill would require any government agency to obtain Orphans’ Court approval before using eminent domain to take permanently preserved land. The procedure is similar to that found in the Agricultural Area Security Law which requires additional scrutiny before condemnation of agricultural lands. The Orphans’ Court is given authority in the Donated and Dedicated Property Act over certain transactions related to publicly owned lands held for public uses.The bill exempts public utilities that condemn land (like pipelines) and exempt “emergency” condemnations from the provisions of the bill.

Wisconsin to hold Workshops Focusing on Farm, Food Entrepreneur Grants | Posted on August 8, 2018

Many Wisconsin farmers and food entrepreneurs have used grants to evaluate new crops or farming practices or to launch value-added businesses. Individuals interested in learning more about possible grant opportunities or other financial options are invited to attend informational workshops scheduled around the state this fall. Specific grant programs to be covered include:USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant program, which funds research and education projects that advance sustainable agriculture;USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) program, a program administered locally by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) which funds endeavors that enhance the competitiveness of Wisconsin specialty crops;Wisconsin's Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant program, a DATCP program which funds projects that increase the demand for and supply of locally produced foods in Wisconsin; and DATCP's Farmer-led Watershed Grants Program, which provides grants that go to projects that focus on ways to prevent and reduce runoff from farm fields and work to increase farm participation in these voluntary efforts. In addition, the workshop will briefly cover USDA financial assistance and loan programs for farmers.