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SARL Members and Alumni News

Bill to fund Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program passes committee

Capital Press | Posted on April 4, 2019

Oregon lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday to fund a new program that would provide state grants for projects to protect and conserve farmland. The House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use voted 5-0 to send House Bill 2729 to the Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for determining the state’s budget.HB 2729 calls for appropriating nearly $10 million from the general fund over the next biennium to subsidize the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program, created in 2017 as a voluntary grant program to help farmers and ranchers with easements, succession planning and conservation strategies to ensure working land remains in production.

Massachusetts advances bill to offset loss of federal funding for family planning

AP News | Posted on April 1, 2019

The Massachusetts House overwhelmingly approved $8 million Wednesday to offset the potential loss of federal funding to women’s reproductive health organizations under a new Trump administration rule. Twenty Republicans joined the vast majority of House Democrats in voting 140-14 to send the bill to the Senate, where approval is likely on Thursday. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has also voiced his support for providing state money to close any gap in funding in the family planning program known as Title X.

Maryland House OKs bill to create a prescription drug price board for government employees

Baltimore Sun | Posted on April 1, 2019

The Maryland House of Delegates approved Wednesday a bill that would create a state board to set limits on how much state and local governments pay for medicines for their employees and retirees. The bill was approved largely along party lines on a 98-40 vote, moving the measure to the state Senate for consideration.

Debate over what is considered milk and how to label it heats up

WAFB | Posted on March 28, 2019

If you walk through the dairy aisle, there’s quite the variety: two percent, whole milk, almond, and soy milk. Those last two are now in question as the battle over what is considered “milk” is heating up.Louisiana State Senator Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, has introduced a bill that would remove the term “milk” from anything that is not dairy. For farmers like Mike Brian, it could help sagging profits.Sen. Thompson believes Senate Bill 39, which he authored, is a possible solution."What we're trying to do is make sure people know that almond milk is not cow’s milk,” Thompson said.He says by labeling these milk alternatives as such, it will help consumers understand what they’re buying.

Bluetick coonhound signed into law as Tennessee's official state dog

Knox News | Posted on March 28, 2019

It's official. The bluetick coonhound is Tennessee's state dog — as if that was a debatable subject.Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill into law officially making the beloved University of Tennessee mascot a state symbol. The bipartisan bill, which was introduced by Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville, in early February, sailed through the House and Senate with unanimous votes.

States fear EPA crackdown on pesticide rules

Politico | Posted on March 28, 2019

States fear the EPA is preparing to override state-level pesticide regulations aimed at curbing crop damage and environmental fallout, after the agency quietly announced last week it’s considering a new way to handle state requests to impose stricter pesticide rules or training requirements.States can seek additional restrictions from the EPA for various reasons, such as accounting for local pests or environmental concerns. But the EPA noted that some requests it gets are to “narrow the federal label.” Rose Kachadoorian, president of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials, told POLITICO she doesn’t see what problem the agency is trying to address, adding that she believes the existing system is working well.“A lot of these states want to ensure the continued availability of a technology,” she said, stressing that making adjustments would limit states’ rights. “By having the ability to have increased training, cut-off dates and other restrictions, it’s actually enabling states to use that technology and they want to be able to use it.”

Mix of funding, policy ideas in Minnesota reflect rising concerns about chronic wasting disease

CSG Midwest | Posted on March 28, 2019

Chronic wasting disease already is a problem in the 24 states (including all but Indiana and Ohio in the Midwest) and two Canadian provinces where it has been detected in free-ranging deer, elk or moose.
This year in Minnesota, though, legislators have been exploring just how much bigger the problem could become — if the disease continues to spread and/or if it is transmitted to humans.Minnesota’s governor and legislators were proposing a more aggressive response to CWD. Gov. Tim Walz wants to invest $4.57 million during the next biennium, and then $1.1 million annually in subsequent years, to enhance the state’s surveillance of CWD, response and enforcement activities, and outreach to landowners. His proposal came in the wake of news that the disease appeared to be spreading in Minnesota; it was found for the first time in a wild deer outside of the state’s southeastern region.Along with Walz’s funding request, the Legislature is considering a number of bills that, if passed, would make Minnesota a test site for CWD control. These measures would appropriate new general-fund dollars (rather than relying solely on hunting fees) to the fight against the disease — for example, investing in research that leads to on-site tests and early detection. Some lawmakers also want to require double fencing of farmed deer and the depopulation of farmed herds at facilities where the disease has been found.

The rise in drug-related deaths has states still searching for a mix of strategies to properly address the public health crisis

CSG Midwest | Posted on March 28, 2019

Few if any U.S. states have been hit harder than Ohio by the crushing rise in drug use, abuse and overdose deaths. That state’s rate of overdose deaths was second in the nation in 2017: 46.5 per 100,000. Behind those numbers, too, are tragic stories that have personally touched many Ohio legislators — and helped lead their ongoing search for policy solutions.Ohio’s new law grants authority to pharmacists to dispense or administer a five-day emergency supply of naltrexone without a prescription, if they can verify the patient already has been on the drug.In 2017, Ohio expanded access to medication-assisted treatment programs (HB 49), including the creation of a specialized drug court program. According to the National Drug Court Resource Center, Ohio now has 72 drug-treatment court programs for adults, the most of any Midwestern state.An alternative sentencing option, drug courts target offenders with drug dependency problems. Treatment, monitoring, graduated sanctions and incentives are overseen by a multidisciplinary team. Drug courts have been shown to reduce recidivism and lower costs.

State officials work to dismantle business incentive transparency, accountability bill

The Tennessean | Posted on March 28, 2019

The agency responsible for attracting business to Tennessee has worked behind the scenes to dismantle state legislation that could increase transparency and accountability for business grants and tax breaks. Officials from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, with the backing of Gov. Bill Lee, pushed to strip nearly every significant provision from the House version of the FACTS Act, a bill designed to better protect public funds and allow taxpayers to see which companies receive tax breaks.The administration's opposition comes despite Lee's pledge for more government transparency. It also runs counter to efforts by two influential conservative groups at the statehouse: Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, and the free-market advocacy group Beacon Center of Tennessee.

New York DREAM Act held up by overly broad language

Albany Times Union | Posted on March 28, 2019

Heralded as a boon to undocumented immigrant New Yorkers, the DREAM Act has been on hold for more than two months because of legislative language that would allow foreign nationals attending college on temporary visas to obtain state tuition assistance.The legislation, which bounced around the Capitol for a decade before being passed by the Assembly and Senate in January, was crafted to benefit so-called "Dreamers," undocumented immigrant students who in many cases have lived most of their lives in America. There are between 6,000 and 8,000 undocumented students in New York's higher education system.The measure's immediate fate has become ensnared in the ongoing budget negotiations, with the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo hashing out changes to the eligibility requirements and identifying the $27 million in funding needed to pay for its provisions.The bill has yet to be sent to the governor for his signature. A spokesman for Cuomo, who wants the language rewritten to narrow eligibility for the funds, said officials "hope to resolve these issues soon."