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SARL Members and Alumni News

Judge: New Arizona law regulating citizen initiatives can take effect, for now

Arizona Central | Posted on August 15, 2017

A new state law making it tougher for residents to put issues on the ballot will take effect Wednesday, a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge has ruled.  But "it's certainly a possibility" the ruling will be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court, said attorney Roopali Desai, who represents those challenging the law. And Judge Sherry Stephens left the door open for groups to file lawsuits at a later time.A broad coalition of individuals and advocacy groups filed the lawsuit challenging House Bill 2244, which requires the mechanics of an initiative effort — from the size of the petition paper to the font size of the text — to strictly comply with state law.

High-tech ideas to fix opioid crisis compete for Ohio grants

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on August 15, 2017

 A call by Republican Gov. John Kasich for scientific breakthroughs to help solve the opioid crisis is drawing interest from dozens of groups with ideas including remote controlled medication dispensers, monitoring devices for addicts, mobile apps and pain-relieving massage gloves.The state has received project ideas from 44 hospitals, universities and various medical device, software and pharmaceutical developers that plan to apply for up to $12 million in competitive research-and-development grants. The grant money is being combined with $8 million for an Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge, a competition similar to one spearheaded by the NFL to address concussions.Research grant-seekers in Ohio, which leads the nation in opioid-related overdose deaths, proposed solutions aimed at before or after an overdose

SARL member wins special state Senate election to succeed lieutenant governor (also a SARL member)

News-Leader | Posted on August 15, 2017

Rep. Sandy Crawford, R-Buffalo, ensured future GOP control a southwest Missouri Senate seat by defeating Democrat Al Skalicky in a special election Tuesday to succeed Lt. Gov. Mike Parson. Crawford had been elected four times to the Missouri House. "I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as the 28th District’s voice in the State Senate, and I look forward to fighting for our region’s rights and values when session begins next year," Crawford said in a statement. "Moving forward with commonsense, conservative legislation to lower the tax burden on families and small businesses, reduce the size of government, and protect Missouri values will be my top priority."

Outdoor Recreation Now the Largest Sector of Montana’s Economy

Wild Montana | Posted on August 9, 2017

Governor Bullock's Office of Outdoor Recreation now makes more sense than ever, as does taking good care of our public lands.

Programs help Michigan food, agriculture companies to expand

Crains Detroit | Posted on August 8, 2017

Steve Cooper recently added a butter production line at the dairy processing facility in Ottawa County where he is general manager, a $50 million project. He hired 10 people. To keep pace as Michigan farmers produce more milk each year, Cooper's company, Continental Dairy Facilities LLC, needed more wastewater treatment capacity to handle the increased volume. It can churn out 300,000 pounds of milk powder and 42,000 gallons of cream every day. Continental Dairy and neighboring Fairlife LLC, which share a 100-acre dairy campus on a former General Motors facility in Coopersville, sought funding for their business expansions through traditional means, which generally means applying for incentives from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. But their project got a boost from another source — the state Agriculture Department, which is piloting its own business development incentives program this year to help food-related companies achieve growth in smaller projects that won't create enough jobs to meet MEDC requirements.  That boost is about to get bigger.The program will expand to $4.7 million starting Oct. 1 after funding was inserted into the department's 2018 budget.Most of it will go to companies wanting to expand their food and agriculture businesses, Holton said, Money also will be used to fund competitive grants for companies that want to add equipment or training, for instance, and to help companies export products.State agriculture administrators believe the new incentives will deliver a level of flexibility to help businesses that the department previously didn't have.

Assemblymen reach across aisle for agriculture

Lodi News | Posted on August 8, 2017

On paper, Assemblymen Jim Cooper, a Democrat from Elk Grove representing California’s 9th District and Heath Flora, a Republican from Ripon representing the 12th District should be political adversaries. Despite their opposing party affiliations, the two found common ground in both their history as public safety employees and their commitment to advocating for California’s agriculture industry.Cooper, a second-term assemblyman, served in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department for 30 years, reaching the rank of Captain, and spent 14 years as Elk Grove’s founding mayor and councilman before joining the Assembly in 2014.Flora, who is in his first term, is a small business owner from a farming family, served as a volunteer firefighter for 15 years in Ripon, where he lives to this day, before joining the assembly in 2016 with Cooper’s endorsement.“I met Heath and thought he was a good fit. His family is in farming, and he was a firefighter, so we have that bond from our histories working in public safety, where you get used to working with other folks. All that matters to cops and firefighters is getting the job done, (political) parties and race don’t matter” said Cooper.In addition to Cooper’s law enforcement background, Flora was impressed by the Elk Grove Democrat’s dedication to learning as much as possible about agriculture.“Jim didn’t know anything about agriculture when he first started, but nobody else in the Assembly educated themselves like he did. We want to take his model and educate other Democrats as well,” said Flora.The two were quick to work across party lines to represent the Central Valley’s needs, including water conservation and agriculture, which Cooper says are different from the rest of California.

Florida gives homeowners tiny wasps to battle citrus disease

Capital Press | Posted on August 6, 2017

Florida homeowners with citrus trees on their property now have a new tool to fight off deadly citrus greening disease: parasitic wasps. The Gainesville Sun reports that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will provide residents who apply with small vials of the wasp called tamarixia, which hunt the invasive Asian citrus psyllid that spreads the fatal disease.The state provides more than 1 million tamarixia each year to commercial growers, but this is the first year homeowners have been eligible to receive them.

Regional planning across Louisiana will look at reducing future flooding

The Advocate | Posted on August 6, 2017

Hundreds of millions of dollars are set to flow to three regions in Louisiana devastated by flooding in 2016, with an emphasis on establishing coordinated, regional planning to mitigate future flood events. Gov. John Bel Edwards joined scores of local, state and federal representatives at University of Louisiana at Lafayette Thursday to detail the initiative aimed at providing multi-parish coordination to address the historic flooding that swamped parts of metro Baton Rouge and Lafayette in August 2016 and northeast Louisiana the previous March, damaging or destroying an estimated 113,000 homes and leaving tens of thousands languishing in shelters.“There’s nobody out there who’s going to do a retention project or detention project big enough to keep all the water, so it’s going to go somewhere — it’s going to go off to the neighbors,” Edwards told the group of elected officials, scientists, engineers and emergency management professionals gathered at Louisiana Immersive Technology Enterprise. “So why not have the neighbors sitting down all at one time to come up with one comprehensive strategy to manage the watershed?”The state, Edwards explained, is dispersing the money to local parishes, but will emphasize regional planning that deals with the three watersheds most affected by the 2016 floods — the Amite watershed in metro Baton Rouge, the Vermilion in the Acadiana region and the Ouachita in northeast Louisiana.

Anti-vax movement prompts Brooklynites to withhold inoculations from their pets, vets say

Brooklyn Paper | Posted on August 3, 2017

Some Brooklynites are refusing to vaccinate their pets against virulent and potentially deadly illnesses — some of which could spread to humans — thanks to a growing movement against the life-saving inoculations, according to borough veterinarians. “We do see a higher number of clients who don’t want to vaccinate their animals,” said Dr. Amy Ford of the Veterinarian Wellness Center of Boerum Hill. “This may be stemming from the anti-vaccine movement, which people are applying to their pets.”

Massachusetts Farm Bureau Helps Towns Write Ag-friendlier Regulations

Massachusetts Farm Bureau | Posted on August 3, 2017

The growth of small-scale farms, along with the expansion of many existing farms, in the past 15 years has led to a 30 percent increase in the number of farms across Massachusetts. In addition, interest in local agriculture has inspired many homeowners to keep backyard chickens, goats and other livestock in residential areas where neighbors are far more comfortable with dogs and cats.With suburban residents increasingly vocalizing their concerns about their neighbors’ flocks, however small, local boards of health, which have broad authority over backyard livestock operations, began implementing regulations that put unnecessary and often burdensome requirements on livestock owners—no surprise considering board of health officials’ lack of knowledge about livestock, according to Brad Mitchell, Massachusetts Farm Bureau’s deputy executive director.“In most towns, board of health officials are elected. They typically know much more about the food code in restaurants or septic systems than they do about animal husbandry—and that was clear in the regulations they were drafting,” Mitchell said.The regulations typically failed to distinguish between commercial and hobby farms, ignored laws protecting commercial agriculture and addressed issues—pesticide use, animal health and animal welfare—that were beyond the board’s authority.