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SARL Members and Alumni News

Nevada Governor signs 3 marijuana bills into law, vetoes one

Las Vegas Sun | Posted on June 15, 2017

Medical marijuana cards will now cost as low as $50 for Nevada patients, edible products will come in opaque, child-proof packages and a 10 percent excise tax on sales of recreational weed estimated to generate $70 million will be designated for Nevada’s rainy day fund after three of four remaining marijuana bills passed by the Nevada Legislature were signed into law Monday by Gov. Brian Sandoval.  Senate Bills 478 and 344 were inked by the governor Monday along with Assembly Bill 422. Only Assembly Bill 259 - which would have allowed those convicted of past marijuana-related crimes involving an equal or lesser amount of what’s now legal to have that crime vacated from their criminal records – was vetoed. SB478 also calls for a 15 percent wholesale tax on both medical and recreational marijuana, a move praised by dispensary owners as cost-cutting, despite increasing current wholesale tax on the medical plant.The added tax allows a single-stream wholesale process from cultivation and production facilities to marijuana dispensaries, said Armen Yemenidijian of Essence Cannabis Dispensary, and saves weed vendors from the added internal costs and logistical headaches of having to classify marijuana plants as either medical or recreational from the moment the seed is planted.

Senate committee passes "cookie bill" with $25,000 income limit for home bakers

WKOW | Posted on June 15, 2017

One week after a state judge ruled Wisconsin's law banning the sale of home-baked goods unconstitutional, a State Senate committee passed legislation allowing people to sell up to $25,000 worth of home-baked goods per year without obtaining a food processing plant license. The original version of SB 271 would have set the income limit at $7,500, but an amendment passed by the Senate Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Regulations supported boosting the limit to be more in line with neighboring states.The $25,000 limit would put Wisconsin on the same level as Illinois, and above both Michigan and Minnesota. Iowa has no limit on the amount of home-baked goods that can be sold in a calendar year.All of those states already allow the sale of home-baked goods without a license.
The bill does subject home bakers to some state oversight."Home bakers would need to adhere to labeling, signage and training requirements, as well as register with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. And they would have to document their sales," said Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), who authored the SB 271.The bill would also require all sales to take place on a face-to-face basis, while prohibiting door-to-door sales.A separate bill being circulated by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) would eliminate food processing plant license requirements for bakers of all sizes.

Texas budget includes funding for vet school at Texas Tech | Posted on June 15, 2017

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a 2018-2019 state budget worth around $217 billion, vetoing about $120 million in planned expenditures but keeping $4.2 million in funding for a Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo. “For everyone in the Panhandle, this is a big victory,” Smithee said. “The establishment of a vet college here has been a dream goal for some for at least 30 years, most thought it was unreachable within our lifetimes, but now it looks like it will be a reality.”The amount of funding is down about $1.5 million from the House’s initial proposal and well short of the $16.75 million that the Texas Tech University System initially requested from lawmakers to build the school.Smithee said previously that the more than $4 million was a commitment from the state of Texas that a veterinary college would be established in Amarillo.

Court Rules Chimpanzees Are Not Persons

JD Journal | Posted on June 15, 2017

An appeals court ruled that chimps are not legal persons but are they missing something? The New York State Appeals Court rejected an appeal by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) seeking rights for a pair of chimpanzees. The group is not going to let this setback stop them for finding a way to give highly intelligent animals legal rights. The captive chimpanzees in question – Tommy and Kiko – will remain in their cages for now until the NhRP can find a way to help them. The New York appeals court unanimously found that the chimps are not persons so they do not deserve the same protections afforded to humans. The NhRP lawyers were fighting to have the chimps released and placed in a sanctuary. Tommy is held at a trailer dealership in a warehouse in Gloversville, NY while Kiko get a storefront cage in Niagara Falls, NY.Efforts have been underway for a number of years to achieve legal personhood for a select group of nonhuman animals like apes, dolphins, whales, and elephants. The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Techologies (IEET) has established a Rights of Nonhuman Persons Program and there is a world conference focused entirely on the subject.

New York will sink $1.5B into renewable energy projects to spur clean energy jobs

Utility Dive | Posted on June 15, 2017

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week announced a new Clean Climate Careers (CCC) initiative that will aim to create 40,000 clean energy jobs by 2020. Renewable energy, aiming to procure an additional 2.5 million MWh each year. According to the governor's announcement, it is "the largest clean energy procurement by a state in U.S. history." New York rolled out its plan in the wake of President Trump's announcement that he would pull the United States out of the United Nations Paris climate accord. Similarly, the California Senate voted to move to 100% renewables after the decision was announced.

Weak farm income to drag Nebraska economy through 2019

Kearney Hub | Posted on June 14, 2017

Weak farm income will continue to hamper Nebraska’s economic growth during the next three years, according to the long-term forecast released this morning from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Bureau of Business Research and the Nebraska Business Forecast Council.“Farm incomes have been driven down over the last four years and are expected to bottom out in 2017,” said Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research, an applied economic and business research entity of UNL’s College of Business. “Weakness in its largest sector will cap growth in the Nebraska economy, despite strong performances in select sectors like construction and business services.”Net farm income is projected to decline by nearly 16 percent for 2017, to $3.7 billion, as federal support for agriculture continues to decline and yields normalize following a strong 2016 harvest. It would be the fourth straight year of decline, and the projected total is about half of the 2011 record high of nearly $7.5 billion.The forecasters say agriculture should hit bottom in 2017 and begin trending upward in 2018 and 2019.

Nuclear Subsidies Slow to Catch on as Opposition Steps Up

Bloomberg | Posted on June 14, 2017

Almost a year after New York became the first state to approve subsidies for nuclear reactors threatened with closure, efforts to replicate the model elsewhere are proving a tough sell. Lawmakers in Connecticut failed to pass a bill overnight that was designed to shore up a nuclear plant. Dominion Energy Inc., which mounted a high-profile campaign to win higher revenue for its Millstone station, said it would “continue assessing our investments” in the state as a result. With the exception of Illinois, supporters of state aid are similarly struggling to make headway in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Those with the most to lose -- such as renewable energy providers and big electric customers -- are pushing back in state legislatures, said Peter Bradford, a consultant who used to serve on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. That’s making it harder for states to come to the rescue of reactors grappling with plunging power prices.At least five nuclear power plants have retired in the past five years including Fort Calhoun in Nebraska, which closed in October. Those in favor of state subsidies say the carbon-free electricity provided by nuclear is needed to help states meet ambitious clean-energy targets and preserve local jobs, while opponents counter that they distort the idea of a level playing field.Dominion had backed a bill proposing that the state takes competitive bids for both nuclear and renewable power. “Continued inaction harms customers, the state’s ability to meet its climate goals, and the state’s economy,” Ken Holt, a spokesman for Dominion’s Millstone plant, said in a statement on Thursday. 

FirstEnergy's nuclear zero emission credits may have stalled | Posted on June 14, 2017

FirstEnergy's effort to convince state lawmakers that it must have more than $300 million a year in new customer charges to keep its nuclear power plants running is approaching a stall point.The Ohio Senate's Public Utilities Committee wrapped up its fourth hearing Thursday on the special nuclear funding legislation, without reaching a conclusion.In fact, most of the 13 members on the committee had drifted away by the time the last witnesses gave their testimony opposing Senate Bill 128.Over 40 witnesses have submitted written testimony, much of it in opposition.  Many of them have then appeared before the committee to present the testimony formally and take questions from lawmakers.State Sen. William Beagle, a Tipp City Republican and chairman of the utilities committee, said there were still a few requests from opponents of the legislation to appear before the committee.

Oregon: Fight continues over Boardman mega-dairy

Capital Press | Posted on June 12, 2017

Opponents of a 30,000-cow dairy farm in Morrow County are pressuring state regulators to change their minds on a recently approved water pollution permit for the facility, or risk taking the matter to court.  A coalition of groups has filed what’s known as a petition for reconsideration, asking the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Quality to take a closer look at Lost Valley Farm and either tighten protections or reject the dairy outright. Lost Valley Farm received its confined animal feeding operation permit on March 31. At the time, ODA and DEQ claimed they had crafted “the most protective of any (CAFO) permit issued to date,” requiring 11 groundwater monitoring wells on site — seven more than usual — and a minimum of three annual inspections, versus one every 10 months.The permit became effective on April 20, and a spokeswoman for Lost Valley said the dairy is now up and running at the former Boardman Tree Farm. There are currently 16,000 animals at the farm, with about 8,700 being milking cows.Regulators anticipate Lost Valley will build up its herd to a full 30,000 cows over the next three years, making it the second-largest dairy in Oregon. Only Threemile Canyon Farms is larger, with 70,000 head of cattle just 25 miles away in Morrow County.

Webinar—Recent Developments in Agriculture & Food Law: Impacts on States

Midwestern Legislative Conference | Posted on June 8, 2017

Agriculture and food law, at the local, state and national level is changing constantly and impacting our farmers, foresters, food producers, rural residents. It is almost impossible for state legislators to stay abreast of the legal challenges and changes impacting their constituents and state laws.  In collaboration with the National Agricultural Law Center, the regional offices of the Council of State Governments and State Agriculture and Rural Leaders will present an agriculture and food law update webinar that will address developments related to:the Waters of the United States rule;state "purple paint" trespassing legislation; property tax assessment for farmland; the Philadelphia soda tax; a stay on organic practice rules; and other recent legal developments in agriculture and food legislation and law.The National Agricultural Law Center (headquartered at the University of Arkansas) is the nation’s leading source of agricultural and food law research and information, and is collaborating with the Midwestern Legislative Conference Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to bring this webinar to you on a pilot basis. If there are specific agriculture, natural resource, or food law question you might want to have specifically included, please let Carolyn Orr know.  We will be able to take additional questions during the webinar.After registering for the webinar, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join. If you are unable to attend, register now and a link to the recording will be sent to you.