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SARL Members and Alumni News

Bills limiting broadband move forward in Missouri and Tennessee Legislatures

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 22, 2017

Broadband planners and supporters in Missouri and Tennessee say that legislative battles for publicly owned broadband have reached the tipping point this week.  In Missouri, a bill that would prohibit municipalities from running broadband networks passed out of the State Senate Jobs, Economic Development, and Local Government Committee into the full Senate for debate. State Senator Ed Emery initiated Senate Bill 186 in January. In Tennessee, several competing bills are in play, including one touted as a compromise that keeps the ban on municipal networks while allowing co-ops to offer broadband under certain conditions. Other proposals would remove municipal broadband limitations completely. On Wednesday, March, 8, the Tennessee bill was amended with the governor’s cooperation to allow co-ops to provide video. The original bill prevented co-ops from providing voice or video over any broadband networks they built. The last-minute change indicates that the wording of the bill is still open to negotiation — either to favor municipalities or to favor the positions of large telecommunications corporations that oppose the measure. In 2016, for example, when the Legislature was on the brink of removing municipal broadband restrictions entirely, AT&T forestalled the vote by helping push through a measure to study the issue for another year. Rural broadband advocates tout municipal and co-op broadband as one method of improving broadband service for rural consumers, where commercial providers have been reluctant to invest. With municipal broadband, local governments help build out, manage, or underwrite costs of the network. Power co-operatives are membership entities managed by an elected board of directors.


Five Bills To Benefit Racing Filed In Texas Legislature

Texas Thoroughbred Breeders Association | Posted on March 21, 2017

The Texas Thoroughbred Association and Texas Horsemen’s Partnership are excited to report that five bills have been filed with the Texas Legislature that could benefit the Texas racing industry.  Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R) filed three bills in the Senate: SB #1971 (Co-authored by Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R)) – Would create a purse matching fund from the state’s general revenue fund that is expected to increase purses by $25 million. Committee substitute language is expected to clarify specifics. SB #1972 – Would shift Accredited Texas-Bred funds from the Texas Racing Commission’s budget and establish an escrow account for the money. SB #1973 – Would utilize existing state tax revenue on simulcast wagers that currently goes to the Texas general revenue fund in order to help pay the costs of operating the Texas Racing Commission. Presently, all of the costs of operating the Commission are borne by the racing industry through track and occupational license fees. Rep. John Kuempel (R) of Seguin filed two bills in the House of Representatives. Kuempel, Chairman of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, is a longtime friend of the Texas racing industry. The House bills are: HB #3925 – Would legalize account wagering on Texas racing and create mechanisms for the Texas Racing Commission to license and regulate account wagering operators.  HB # 3926 – Would authorize purpose-driven pari-mutuel wagering at the 10 Texas facilities currently licensed to conduct live or simulcast racing. Purpose-driven pari-mutuel wagering would provide funding for enhanced bulletproof vests and body armor for all peace officers in Texas, funding to increase death benefits for the spouses and families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, and donor-directed funding for 501(c)(3) charitable organizations operating in Texas. It would also increase purse money available for racing in Texas.


Ohio’s maple syrup (Infographic)

Farm and Dairy | Posted on March 21, 2017

With 69 of Ohio’s 88 counties producing maple syrup, it’s easy to see that “liquid gold” is an important part of the state’s agriculture. The Ohio Maple Madness Driving Tour allows people to see just how maple syrup is made.


Kansas house passes new tax break for rural jobs despite skepticism from some lawmakers

Lawrence Journal World | Posted on March 21, 2017

The Kansas House on Tuesday passed and sent to the Senate a bill that would offer tax incentives for investment companies that finance business projects that bring jobs to rural areas.  The Ad Astra Rural Jobs Act, as the bill is called, passed the House, 97-22, over the objection of some House members who said it had not been thoroughly studied, and worried that it could lead to giving taxpayer subsidies to factory hog farms or other kinds of confined animal feeding operations.  Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, made that argument during debate on the bill Tuesday. He also noted that a nearly identical bill was introduced in the Missouri General Assembly in 2016, under the name "the Show-Me Rural Jobs Act," and that the same venture capital firm executive who supported that bill was also the leading proponent of this year's bill in Kansas. The Missouri bill passed out of a House committee last year but was never considered by the full House. Another version of the bill has been reintroduced this year. Rep. Troy Waymaster, R-Bunker Hill, one of the sponsors of the bill, said he believes those concerns are being exaggerated. "I think it was a little overstated (Tuesday) and in committee when they were working the bill in regards to the approved investment companies coming into the state of Kansas and looking at businesses who want to either start a business in rural Kansas, expand, or if a company wants to move in from another state into the state of Kansas using this program," he said. Waymaster said the bill provides that the Department of Commerce would have to approve the investment companies and their business plans before they could be eligible for the tax credits, and they would only get the credits if they actually create jobs.


Minnesota Buffer Law Compliance

State of Minnesota | Posted on March 21, 2017

These preliminary compliance estimates were conducted by soil and water conservation districts based on parcel reviews via aerial/satellite imagery. It is important to note that these estimates do not imply or represent non-compliance. Additional field-level reviews will be the next step in the inventory process.


Breed-specific Legislation

AVMA | Posted on March 21, 2017

Across the country, communities have attempted to reduce the incidence of serious and fatal dog bites by restricting the ownership of certain types of dogs, most often pit bulls. But others, including some states, have made these types of breed-specific laws illegal. So are breed-specific laws an effective way to reduce the incidence of dog bites? Or do they unfairly target good dogs whose only crime is matching the description of what some people believe to be dangerous? In this podcast, Dr. Emily Patterson-Kane, an animal welfare scientist at the AVMA, discusses breed-specific legislation.


Dairy air debate centers on nearly decade-old report

Capital Press | Posted on March 21, 2017

Proponents of legislation requiring new air regulations for Oregon dairies, Senate Bill 197, claim it merely implements recommendations from the 2008 Dairy Air Task Force, which was composed of agricultural and environmental representatives, among others. Critics of the proposal argue the 2008 report didn’t actually require any action and that emissions from dairies still aren’t significant enough to justify new rule-making. Lawmakers created the task force in 2007 as part of broader legislation aimed at clearing up inconsistencies in state and federal law regarding Clean Air Act requirements for agriculture. The task force issued a report the following year recommending that Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission develop rules for a dairy air emissions program, which would initially be voluntary but become mandatory in 2015.


Limits on livestock nuisance lawsuits passes Iowa Senate

Des Moines Register | Posted on March 19, 2017

The Iowa Senate passed a bill Tuesday aimed at limiting lawsuit damages in cases filed by unhappy neighbors against livestock producers. Senate File 447 allows for an affirmative defense to be raised when an animal feeding operation is alleged to be a public or private nuisance or otherwise interfere with a person's enjoyment of life or property. The legislation suggests the public interest is served by preserving and encouraging responsible animal agricultural production. The affirmative defense could be raised regardless of the established date of operation or expansion of an animal feeding operation.The affirmative defense limits compensatory damages, as opposed to punitive damages, and specifies three categories of awards. Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan, an eastern Iowa farmer who chairs the Iowa Senate Agriculture Committee, said the legislation is intended to protect animal agriculture, which provides 160,000 jobs in Iowa and generates $38 billion annually in economic impact. The measure, which heads to the House, was approved on a 31-18 vote, with two Democrats joining Republicans in supporting the measure.


WA lawmakers asked to fund manure-into-water technology

Capital Press | Posted on March 19, 2017

An engineer told Washington lawmakers Tuesday that public funding would spur technology to distill cow manure into dry fertilizer and clean water, making polluted runoff from dairies a problem of the past.  “Wow,” said one legislator. “Yeah, wow,” said another.The Washington State Dairy Federation arranged back-to-back presentations to the House and Senate agriculture committees by Peter Janicki, CEO of Janicki Bioenergy in Sedro-Woolley, Wash.Janicki has worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to convert sewage into drinking water in developing countries. A YouTube video viewed 3.2 million times shows Janicki in 2015 in Africa serving Bill Gates water that five minutes earlier had been human waste.Janicki said that he could use the experience and knowledge that he’s gained to create new technology for distilling cow manure.


Limits on livestock nuisance lawsuits passes Iowa Senate

Des Moines Register | Posted on March 16, 2017

The Iowa Senate passed a bill Tuesday aimed at limiting lawsuit damages in cases filed by unhappy neighbors against livestock producers. Senate File 447 allows for an affirmative defense to be raised when an animal feeding operation is alleged to be a public or private nuisance or otherwise interfere with a person's enjoyment of life or property. The legislation suggests the public interest is served by preserving and encouraging responsible animal agricultural production. The affirmative defense could be raised regardless of the established date of operation or expansion of an animal feeding operation. The affirmative defense limits compensatory damages, as opposed to punitive damages, and specifies three categories of awards.


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