A powerful group of state lawmakers approved sweeping proposals Wednesday designed to encourage people and businesses to move to rural Georgia.The group voted unanimously to support income tax breaks worth up to $6,000 a year, high-speed internet lines in unconnected areas and better health care access.
A legislative panel focused on the challenges facing rural Georgia has proposed a slate of changes meant to spark job growth and reverse population declines in the state’s beleaguered counties.A report, approved Wednesday by the House Rural Development Council, takes on such mammoth issues as rural health care and spotty broadband Internet service. That document provides a framework for the initiatives that will be debated in the coming legislative session, which starts next month.Specific ideas include proposals such as creating a tax break for people who move to counties with a steady stream of residents leaving. It’s an incentive especially meant to attract high-wage professionals to rural communities.Or easing requirements in the state’s certificate of need program, which controls how many health care facilities can crop up in one area. That proposal is designed to give rural hospitals more flexibility to operate as small-scale “micro hospitals.”
Illinois' taxing model for wind energy companies is touted as one of the best in the country, bringing in $30.4 million in property taxes in 2016, according to economic experts. Barton DeLacy, a tax expert from Chicago, said that the Illinois system is a good model that is very close to the value he gives to wind farms and is much more consistent than in other states.
Massachusetts is being sued by 13 other states that claim a voter-approved law to ban the sale of eggs and other food products from farm animals that are confined in overly restrictive cages is unconstitutional.
California and Washington state joined five nations on the Pacific coast of the Americas on Tuesday to agree to step up the use of a price on carbon dioxide emissions as a central economic policy to slow climate change.The U.S. states were acting in defiance of President Donald Trump who says he doubts that man-made greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels are the prime cause of global warming and plans to quit the 2015 Paris climate accord.
The number of local ordinances across the country banning the sale of pets from commercial breeders, defined as large operations that raise pets for wholesale distribution, has grown from about a hundred last year to about 250. “The momentum is there,” said Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society’s Stop Puppy Mills campaign. California this fall became the first state to outright ban sales of commercially raised animals in retail shops — a new success for activists working across the country to transform the way pets are taken in by families.Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates large-scale commercial breeders, animal welfare activists say that as shelter adoptions continue to rise, consumers are becoming more aware of the unsafe, unsanitary conditions in which commercially bred pets are sometimes raised.Activists nationwide hope California becomes a model of how to turn local ordinances into a statewide law. The idea is to approach smaller jurisdictions first, planting the seeds for statewide action, said Elizabeth Oreck, national manager of puppy mill initiatives at Best Friends Animal Society, a nationwide organization.In California, at least 36 municipalities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, approved banning the stores from selling pets before the California Legislature acted.
Indiana and 12 other states are suing Massachusetts over its farm animal confinement law, which is set to take effect in 2022. The lawsuit, which was filed by the State of Indiana in Supreme Court of the United States, takes exception to the future law, which makes it illegal for farmers to keep sows in gestation crates, layer hens in cages, or calves in veal crates. The law will also make it illegal for products raised in other states and not in accordance with those standards to be sold in Massachusetts.The law was approved through a ballot initiative, known as Question 3, in 2016, gaining approval from about 78 percent of Massachusetts voters.Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin joined Indiana in the suit. The states allege that the Massachusetts law is an effort to regulate farming in other states, which is a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Republican leaders are pushing Iowa House members to get behind a $27 million water quality bill the state Senate passed last session, calling it the Legislature's most viable option for long-term, sustainable funding. "I feel pretty strongly that it’s a good bill. Nothing is perfect, but it's a good bill," said Sen. Ken Rozenboom, R-Oskaloosa, the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee chairman."I'd be delighted if we could pass what we have in the House and move on," he said.Gov. Kim Reynolds says she wants water quality to be the first bill she signs into law next year.And getting legislation passed to clean Iowa's water could be critical to Reynolds' and other lawmakers' re-election efforts, with pressure mounting for state action, political watchers say.The House also approved a water quality bill last session, and even though it doesn't carry over to the new session, Republican members want some of its features built into the Senate legislation.
Protestors spurred on by the environmental group Deep Green Resistance gathered at dusk in front of the Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse in downtown Denver Friday. High above their heads, the words "Colorado River Rights of Nature" loomed, lit by a spotlight projector placed outside the protester circle.The activists had come in support of a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in the U.S., the Colorado River Ecosystem v. the State of Colorado, which seeks to grant direct rights to nature in the United States. If successful, the case would allow anyone to file a lawsuit on behalf of the Colorado River ecosystem, including all the river's tributaries.And even as the protestors gathered on Friday, the attorney general's office filed a second motion with the federal court to dismiss the lawsuit. A Dec. 1 deadline to do so had been set by the court in response to an amended complaint filed by the plaintiffs on Nov. 6.
Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, and Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell participated in the grand opening of the first Head Start center in Philadelphia to use agriculture and environmental lessons for teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts to young children. The School District of Philadelphia welcomed Wolf Administration officials, local leaders and families to celebrate the opening of the Agricultural and Environmental Learning Center with Outdoor Engagement Learning Gardens. The Pratt Head Start Center facility, which serves 150 pre-school children, will become a model for the district’s other 100 Head Start facilities.