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States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules

The Hill | Posted on May 16, 2019

States are preparing to fight back as the Trump administration moves to erase Obama-era standards for lightbulbs. The Department of Energy has proposed new regulations for lightbulbs that would eliminate efficiency standards for half the bulbs on the market.The move has prompted a backlash from a bipartisan mix of state attorneys general and governors who say it is harmful to the planet and may be illegal.Washington and Colorado passed bills this month designed to backstop the Obama-era standards if the Energy Department proceeds to roll them back, and half a dozen other states are considering similar legislation. Vermont passed such a law as soon as President Trump was elected.


Michigan Gretchen Whitmer signs bills to limit asset forfeiture in drug cases

Detroit Free Press | Posted on May 16, 2019

Law enforcement will be unable to permanently take ownership of cash and other property seized in drug cases unless certain conditions are met under legislation signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. She enacted the bipartisan bills Thursday at a ceremony in the Capitol building with lawmakers, the state attorney general and others.The laws target civil asset forfeiture, a practice that critics say has been abused to fund police activities.Starting in 90 days, the laws will prohibit assets taken in suspected drug crimes from being forfeited unless the defendant is convicted or the value of the money and property is more than $50,000, excluding the value of contraband.


Wisconsin state officials wipe out deer on Portage County farm

WEAU | Posted on May 16, 2019

Wisconsin agriculture officials say they've killed all the deer on a Portage County deer farm after a buck from the facility tested positive for chronic wasting disease. Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced Friday that all 30 deer on the Grand View Whitetails LLC breeding farm were killed May 1. Six of them tested positive for CWD.Authorities announced in November that a 3-year-old buck from the breeding farm that was killed on the Deep Woods Hunt Ranch in Portage County had CWD. The discovery led to quarantines on both the farm and the ranch.


Inslee nixes river gravel removal; farmer 'livid'

Capital Press | Posted on May 16, 2019

 A proposal to protect eroding farmland in southwest Washington by taking gravel from the Lower Satsop River in Grays Harbor County was vetoed May 8 by Gov. Jay Inslee. In a veto message, Inslee said the sediment-removal project did not belong in a bill intended to supply orcas with more salmon. Inslee deleted the pilot project, along with ones in Snohomish and Whatcom counties, before signing the rest of the bill.Terry Willis, who has been losing land as gravel builds up and diverts the Satsop River, was on a tractor planting corn when she learned about the veto.“I’m livid about this,” she said. “Dumping our soil on top of fish is not the answer to saving salmon.”The pilot projects were intended to test whether removing gravel to save farms could also help fish by creating cooler pools of water and keeping shade trees from being ripped downriver. Numerous resource agencies would have been involved in planning and approving the work.

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Pennsylvania Senate passes a series of bills aimed at bolstering farm economy

Penn Live | Posted on May 16, 2019

In a year where state officials are paying increased attention to a depressed farm economy, the Pennsylvania Senate gave unanimous approval Tuesday to a set of bills they hope can help. Different planks of the package will:Make clear that farmers who have sold off development rights for their properties are permitted to use a portion of their preserved farms for “agri-tainment” activities like mazes, hayrides, petting zoos and the like.Establishes a blue-ribbon panel to take a year-long look at factors hurting and future opportunities for the Pennsylvania dairy industry, with recommendations for further state policy initiatives to follow.Create a new personal income tax credit to farmers who sell or lease their land to new farmers, offering an additional incentive for retiring farmers to keep their farms in agricultural production instead of selling for real estate development.Permit farm families who rent out barns for wedding receptions or other events to not have to comply with safety code requirements that typically apply to public accommodations.Permits milk haulers to get exemptions from weather-related commercial vehicle travel bans. This bill is a recognition of the limited time farmers have to get their raw milk to dairy plants for processing. (A similar bill to this one also passed in the state House.)
 

 


In Trump vs. California, the state is winning nearly all its environmental cases

Los Angeles Times | Posted on May 9, 2019

More than two years into the Trump presidency, California has embraced its role as chief antagonist — already suing the administration more times than Texas took President Obama to court during eight years in office.It’s having an effect.California’s lawsuits have targeted the administration’s policies on immigration, healthcare and education. But nowhere has the legal battle had a greater impact than on Trump’s agenda of dismantling Obama-era environmental and public health regulations.In its rush to delay, repeal and rewrite rules it considers unduly burdensome to industry, the administration has experienced significant setbacks in court. Federal judges have sided with California and environmental groups in cases concerning air pollution, pesticides and the royalties that the government receives from companies that extract oil, gas and coal from public land.


Vaccination-boosting bill passes Oregon House

Oregon Live | Posted on May 9, 2019

The highly controversial bill to eliminate loopholes in the state’s vaccination law passed the Oregon House on Monday and is on its way to the Senate. Gov. Kate Brown has already said she plans to sign House Bill 3063.The 35-25 vote fell largely along party lines, with two Republicans -- including Bend Rep. Cheri Helt, who introduced the bill -- voting in favor of its passage. Four Democratic representatives voted against it.


Protection for pre-existing health conditions passes in Nevada

Las Vegas Review Journal | Posted on May 9, 2019

Nevada stands to become the fifth state to fully incorporate the federal Affordable Care Act’s protections for patients with pre-existing conditions into state law after unanimous passage of a bill in the state Senate.Assembly Bill 170, which also sets up a procedure to help health care consumers navigate and resolve problems with insurers, was rewritten to incorporate safeguards that were originally the basis of a different Senate bill that passed earlier.The Assembly version passed on April 23 by a vote of 40-1, with Assemblywoman Robin Titus, R-Wellington, voting no. With Senate passage Tuesday, it now heads to the governor for his signature. Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, who sponsored the earlier Senate bill and carried the Assembly rewrite on the floor Tuesday, called its passage a “huge deal” 


Ohio lawmakers seek to relax profit limits on FirstEnergy, other utilities

Cleveland.com | Posted on May 9, 2019

State rules to prevent significantly excessive profits by FirstEnergy and other Ohio utilities would be loosened by language slipped into Ohio’s massive two-year budget bill. If passed, the Akron-based utility would stand to make more money from ratepayers, rather than having to issue refunds to more than a million customers in northeast and north-central Ohio.The amendment, one of dozens added by lawmakers last week, would change the state’s calculation of what constitutes “significantly excessive” profits in a way that allows the utility’s subsidiaries -- Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison -- to “artificially dilute” the profits they report, said Jeff Jacobson of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel


Washington sets aside $21.55 million for faster rural internet

Capital Press | Posted on May 9, 2019

Over the next two years, Washington plans to lend $14.44 million and give another $7.11 million to public agencies, tribes and businesses to bring high-speed internet to rural areas and Indian reservations. The money, set aside in the new two-year capital budget, is a fraction of the $1 billion the Washington Independent Telecommunications Association estimates will be needed to blanket the state with service that meets the federal definition of high-speed internet.Because the funding will be mostly loans, the program may not do much to introduce internet to isolated areas with few paying customers, the association’s executive director, Betty Buckley, said.“If we could make money or even repay a loan, we’d have done it already,” said Buckley, who represents 18 small companies that serve rural areas. “We are cutting out the really remote areas,” she said. “Everyone wants to make rural broadband happen, but no one wants to pay for it.”


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