The tiny particles of silica sand found in Winona County are very round and hard — perfect for "fracking," the process of extracting oil and gas from below ground.But Minnesota Sands LLC, which leases about 3,000 acres in the area, can't mine the sand because Winona County banned sand mining for industrial purposes in 2016, citing environmental and health concerns.It's still allowed for construction and agriculture, among other local uses. Minnesota Sands will argue in an appeals court hearing Thursday that the ban violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and that the ban devalued its land leases."We are appealing because the ban is a significant threat to anyone who benefits from the use of their land," said Minnesota Sands spokesperson Mike Zipko. "Allowing it to remain in place also creates a very real risk that Winona or other counties will build on this by passing or imposing other future unconstitutional restrictions on landowners."
In March, former Minnesota state Rep. Tony Cornish made a surprise visit to the state Capitol, where he attended committee hearings and talked to former colleagues.His presence was enough to put at least a few women on edge. Sarah Walker, a lobbyist, said she heeded texted warnings to avoid certain areas of the building. State Rep. Erin Maye Quade said she made a point of staying in her committee room. When Cornish ended up walking in the room, she said, for a split second she thought he was there to kill her. Cornish, a Republican, resigned in November after Walker and Maye Quade, a Democrat, accused him of sexual harassment. Walker said he repeatedly propositioned her for sex and Maye Quade said he often made inappropriate comments — allegations that Cornish has denied. He did not return a phone call for comment. But that day in March, some of his former colleagues greeted him with smiles and laughter, Maye Quade recalled. The visit sent a potentially corrosive message to women in the Statehouse, Walker said — a message that nothing had changed.Seven months after the #MeToo movement began, state lawmakers across the country are still grappling with how to root out what many say is a longstanding misogynist culture in statehouses. After dozens of sexual harassment accusations against sitting male state lawmakers, at least 16 legislators in a dozen states have resigned or been expelled, according to a Statelinetally.In many states, accused lawmakers were knocked from leadership posts, or voluntarily relinquished them, while remaining in office. Others apologized and kept their positions, or maintain their innocence.
The Supreme Court cleared the way on Monday for states to legalize sports betting, striking down a 1992 federal law that had prohibited most states from authorizing sports betting.The 6-3 ruling is a victory for New Jersey and other states who have considered allowing sports gambling as a way to encourage tourism and tax revenue. The NCAA, NFL and NBA had backed the federal prohibition.
Researchers at Oregon State University are challenging the premise that trophy hunting is an acceptable and effective tool for wildlife conservation and community development. They argue that charging hunters to kill animals and claim body parts should be a last resort rather than a fallback plan.In a paper published today in Conservation Letters, the researchers label the practice as morally inappropriate and say alternative strategies such as ecotourism should be fully explored and ruled out before trophy hunting is broadly endorsed."Trophies are body parts," said lead author Chelsea Batavia, a Ph.D. student in OSU's College of Forestry. "But when I read the literature, I don't see researchers talking about them like that. Nobody's even flinching. And at this point it seems to have become so normalized, no one really stops to think about what trophy hunting actually entails."Furthermore, the authors point out, the notion that trophy hunting is imperative to conservation seems to have taken hold largely without compelling empirical evidence. Such an assumption is not only unsubstantiated but can also serve to squelch the search for alternatives.
Missouri will soon open a state office devoted to helping rural communities get access to high-speed internet. The Department of Agriculture and Department of Economic Development launched a joint broadband expansion initiative last week as part of a 16-point plan to address the needs of the state’s agricultural and rural communities.The newly established Office of Broadband will help these communities navigate federal programs to bring broadband networks where only expensive or low-quality internet access exists, said Chris Chinn, Missouri Department of Agriculture director.
Dennis Bowden has raised chickens in the town of Waldoboro, Maine, nearly his whole life. For more than 40 years, he raised his chickens in cages. Then four years ago, when he turned 65, he cut down his flock and went cage-free. The decision to switch was Bowden’s alone, but around the country many politicians have firmly taken sides on the issue of penning hens, hoping either to require egg producers to go cage-free or to protect conventional producers by mandating that stores stock their eggs.Eggs are a staple of the American diet, with 88 billion table eggs produced in 2016. Egg consumption is growing, and the quality of life of the hens that lay the eggs has become an issue not just for animal welfare groups but also for many consumers. Although cage-free hens represent 16 percent of U.S. chickens, their share of the flock grew by a third from 2016 to 2017, and the egg industry and its supporters are paying close attention.When California and Massachusetts enacted laws requiring that eggs produced and sold there be raised cage-free, 13 states including some of the nation’s largest egg producers sued, saying the laws violated the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Maine lawmakers overrode Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of an adult-use marijuana regulatory bill Wednesday, putting the state on track to regulate a retail market that has been in limbo since voters legalized recreational marijuana use in 2016. The proposal that survived the Republican governor’s pen was Maine’s second attempt to create a framework for the system after a veto of an earlier bill was upheld in 2017, sending a special committee that was convened to handle the issue back to rehash it.
Gov. Nathan Deal opened a new door of opportunity for economic revitalization for rural Georgia on Wednesday afternoon when he signed House Bill 951, creating a Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation that will be housed at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. “On behalf of all Georgians who live in rural Georgia or who grew up in rural Georgia, I want to thank Governor Deal and the legislators who turned this idea into reality,” ABAC President David Bridges said. “Rural communities face many challenges, hurdles, and obstacles as they attempt to revitalize and strengthen their situations.”Bridges grew up in rural Terrell County in the tiny town of Parrott. President of ABAC since 2006, he is the longest serving president among the 26 institutions in the University System of Georgia. He prepared a proposal for enhancing community and economic development in rural Georgia and presented it the Georgia House of Representatives Rural Development Council in February.“Shrinking populations, export of the most ambitious and talented young people, failing businesses, loss of access to primary health care services, closure of hospitals and loss of tax-paying brick and mortar retail stores plague much of rural Georgia,” Bridges said in the report.
In Missouri, plant-based proteins designed to look and feel like meat may no longer be allowed to use the term “meat” on their packaging, according to an omnibus agriculture bill which passed in the state’s House of Representatives yesterday. The unprecedented piece of legislation would specifically prohibit the use of the term “meat” on products that don’t come from animals. And, to be clear, the prohibition applies not just to plant-based products. Other forms of alt-protein, including so-called “clean” meat cultured from animal cells, would also be barred from using the term. According to the bill, meat is only “meat” if it comes from traditionally raised livestock—that is, from live animals specifically farmed for their flesh.
Niles officials awarded a contract for textile recycling, such as used clothing and rags, to a company last month which will begin pick up services in late June. Village trustees signed a contract with Great Lakes Recycling, which runs Simple Recycling, at their April 24 board meeting. The contract is expected to earn the village $900 in direct revenue and save Niles taxpayers nearly $28,000 by diverting nearly 600 tons of trash from landfills each year. Beginning Monday, June 25, Simple Recycling trucks will follow trucks from the village’s regular waste hauler Groot, along trash and recycling pickup routes on a weekly basis to collect textiles that residents want to recycle.