The annual State of the State addresses that kick off legislative sessions typically include myriad proposals for new laws and government initiatives, and this year was no different. Here is a brief look around the region at nine ideas — one from each of the nine speeches from January.
Utah officials are working to reorganize the Utah Beef Council as the state faces a lawsuit from a rancher arguing that the council’s collection of a checkoff fee is unconstitutional because it supports political speech and lacks transparency.
America’s Dairyland stayed true to its name in 2017 as the state set another record for total milk production.
A judge has ordered California agricultural officials to stop spraying pesticides on public and private property to control insects that threaten the state's $45-billion agriculture industry.The injunction by a Sacramento County Superior Court judge, issued late last week, could throw a substantial hurdle in front of efforts by the state Department of Food and Agriculture to control dozens of crop-damaging pests such as the Asian citrus psyllid, which carries bacteria that have decimated the citrus industry in Brazil and Florida.Farmers and other property owners will still be able to use chemical insecticides, and the state can continue to use non-chemical means of pest control. But it will have to suspend spraying pesticides on vegetation in parks, school properties and even homeowners' backyards. The agency also will have to improve its public information process, including offering more opportunities for comment. The environmental groups that sued the California Department of Food and Agriculture documented a long-standing pattern of spraying under emergency provisions that exempted the agency from full disclosure of health risks.
Delaware is joining a growing number of states that are taking a collective approach to fighting gun violence, Gov. John Carney said. The "States for Gun Safety Coalition" was created earlier this month by the Democratic governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The governors of Delaware, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico all announced Monday that they would be joining the multi-state partnership. Each of the member states is pledging to share their registries of people prohibited from owning firearms in their jurisdictions, allowing police to better track gun purchases and permit denials outside their own state borders.
Iowa House Study Bill 623, proposed by Iowa House Agriculture Chairman Lee Hein, defines conventional eggs as eggs that are not specialty eggs and it further defines specialty eggs as ones that were laid by hens raised in enriched colony housing, cage-free housing or free-range conditions.
The head of Michigan's agriculture department is resigning to work for the Trump administration. Gordon Wenk will replace Clover Adams to lead the department. He's been chief deputy director since 2008 and joined the department back in 1978.
Colorado officials have agreed to pay Nebraska $4 million to settle old claims that their state violated a water-sharing compact involving the Republican River. The settlement requires Colorado to make the payment by Dec. 31, 2018, even though state officials did not admit to any violations of the Republican River Compact. Colorado legislators must approve the funding before the deadline, or the settlement will become invalid. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper touted the settlement as a way to promote cooperation between the states. The settlement was signed by both governors, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.“Nebraska and Colorado can now continue to focus on providing their water users with greater certainty and to pursue other collaborative opportunities to benefit our shared economies,” Ricketts said.
A new pilot project could help curb the declining number of veterinary services in rural Saskatchewan. The Preceptorship Program has been launched by the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. tarting in May, it will run for 14 weeks and employ five third-year veterinary students in the province. The program’s goal is to attract and retain students in veterinary practice in outlying parts of the province by providing opportunities to experience mixed- and large-animal practices in rural settings. The Preceptorship Program, the first of its kind in Canada, is expected to address the challenges of hiring and retaining qualified veterinarians. “We’ve tried to pick (students) for areas that have a high need or have a large service area. We picked based on what we thought would be the best to keep students in Saskatchewan and in those areas,” she said.
Washington lawmakers appear willing to throw a lifeline to the state Department of Agriculture’s hemp program. House and Senate budget proposals released this week allocated funds to resume issuing and renewing licenses to grow and process hemp. WSDA suspended processing applications late last year because it ran out of money.