Much needed reform of Ohio’s CAUV formula has been included in the Ohio House’s biennial budget proposal, which is good news for Ohio’s family farmers, according to the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. The budget proposal would address nonfarm influences from the formula that tend to artificially raise CAUV values. It would also ensure that farmers are not penalized for adopting conservation practices that protect water quality.
A bill restricting antibiotic usage in Oregon’s livestock industry has died despite objections from critics who claim federal controls insufficiently limit usage of the drugs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has worked with pharmaceutical companies to change antibiotic labels to disallow uses aimed at livestock growth promotion.However, critics such as the Consumers Union have said the approach creates a “loophole” by continuing to permit antibiotic usage for disease prevention in livestock.Senate Bill 785 would have restricted antibiotics to treat or control the spread of a disease under the supervision of a veterinarian and required confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, to report usage.
The Massachusetts House on Monday agreed to a significant expansion of tax credits aimed at spurring land donations to public or private conservation agencies. A Republican-sponsored amendment approved without debate increases the amount of money available through the conservation land tax credit from $2 million to $5 million over a three-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2018.The increased credit would sunset on Dec. 31, 2025, according to House Minority Leader Brad Jones.There’s a backlog of tax credit applications and more credits will lead to more land protection, according to Jones.The credit is equal to 50 percent of the fair market value of the donated property, with a maximum credit of $75,000 for each qualified donation.Between 2011 and 2016, the program provided $10.7 million in credits associated with the permanent protection of 10,435 acres of donated conservation land valued at $46.3 million, the minority leader’s office said.
A dozen groups representing free speech advocates and labor unions are helping fight the Idaho law banning secret filming of animal abuse at agricultural facilities. The groups have filed friend-of-the-court briefs with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals detailing their opposition. They argue that the law violates the First Amendment. No groups have filed similar briefs in support of the law. Idaho lawmakers passed the law making it a crime to surreptitiously videotape agriculture operations in 2014 after the state's $2.5 billion dairy industry complained that videos of cows being abused at a southern Idaho dairy unfairly hurt their businesses.
A bill drawn up by Republican Gov. Paul LePage would make public the names of animal activists hired to film undercover footage of animal cruelty. An adviser to LePage said this week that the governor's bill would prevent "unwarranted political attacks" by letting businesses know "if the person has a history of undercover filming operations.""It is very easy for a person with a video camera to film things completely out of context and make a business or organization look bad in the public eye even when the business could be doing everything in accordance with the law and best practices," Lance Libby, senior policy adviser for LePage, said in written testimony.
This past March, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) initiated NextGrid, an 18-month, consumer-focused collaborative process to “transform Illinois’ energy landscape and economy.” Specifically, Next Grid aims to uncover opportunities to value and optimize distributed energy resources (DERs) like rooftop solar panels or energy efficiency, and facilitate grid decarbonization. As the power sector and technology industries converge toward DER integration, NextGrid will highlight opportunities to enable a more dynamic relationship between customers and their utilities. Diverse voices like ComEd, Environmental Defense Fund and Citizen’s Utility Board have praised NextGrid’s efforts, and the latter two are collaborating on a parallel effort building a new regulatory framework that increases customer and community choice among energy suppliers, drives economic development and updates utility business models.
Arizona consumers could get some limited relief from surprise medical bills that exceed $1,000 under legislation approved by the state Legislature. Senate Bill 1441, sponsored by Sen. Debbie Lesko, R- Peoria, passed a contentious House committee hearing last week before sailing through the Senate. Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law Monday. The measure seeks to limit the financial exposure of consumers who get care from a hospital or doctor that are part of their insurance provider's network — only to be billed by an out-of-network anesthesiologist, emergency-medicine doctor, surgical assistant or others who were part of the chain of care.
A bill that would protect North Carolina’s hog farms and agricultural operations from lawsuits over smells and other nuisances won approval in the N.C. Senate Wednesday night. The bill passed in a 30-19 vote, with four Republicans joining all Senate Democrats in opposition to the bill. The legislation, House Bill 467, will now go to the House for final approval. The House has already passed a similar bill, which limits the amount of money people can collect in lawsuits against agricultural operations. Rep. Jimmy Dixon, a farmer who represents Duplin and Wayne counties, introduced the bill to protect hog farmers. The bill would have originally applied to existing lawsuits and would have limited the potential financial payouts from 26 lawsuits pending in federal court against Murphy-Brown, the state’s largest hog producer.
The House of Representatives passed the Governor's Tennessee Broadband and Accessibility Act in a 93-4 vote, sending it to Governor Haslam's desk for signature. The bill aims to increase broadband access to Tennessee’s unserved citizens. Tennessee currently ranks 29th in the U.S. for broadband access, with 34 percent of rural Tennessee residents lacking access at recognized minimum standards.The Senate passed the legislation 31-0 on April 3. The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act provides $45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for service providers to assist in making broadband available to unserved homes and businesses. In addition, the plan will permit Tennessee’s private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to provide retail broadband service and make grant funding available to the state’s local libraries to help residents improve their digital literacy skills and maximize the benefits of broadband.
A proposal to impose a new annual fee on all water rights in Oregon has passed a key legislative committee but the amount is no longer specified. House Bill 2706 originally sought a $100 yearly fee for every water right, capped at $1,000 for individual irrigators and $2,500 for municipal governments.The bill is intended to pay for water management conducted by the Oregon Water Resources Department, but opponents say it unfairly targets irrigators who are already under financial strain.Rep. Ken Helm, D-Beaverton, proposed an amendment stripping the specific amounts from HB 2706 to “lower the heat” on the bill and demonstrate that a fee amount is not “pre-ordained,” he said. The House Energy and Environment Committee approved the amended bill 5-4 during an April 17 work session, referring it to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, which isn’t subject to normal legislative deadlines. Helm said he’s overseeing a work group that’s discussing a companion bill, House Bill 2705, which requires irrigators to install measuring devices to gauge water use and was previously referred to the House Rules Committee.