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SARL Members and Alumni News

Michigan legislation would improve protections for companion and family pets

WXYZ | Posted on December 5, 2017

he Michigan House of Representatives approved legislation to improve protections for companion and family pets. Under House Bill 4332, it would be a crime to knowingly torture or kill an animal with the intent to cause mental distress or exert control over a person.The legislation would create first, second and third-degree offenses depending on severity, while partnering with Bill 4333 to update sentencing guidelines of up to 10 years imprisonment.

12 states ask Supreme Court to block California egg law

CBS | Posted on December 5, 2017

A dozen states are banding together to ask the US Supreme Court to block a California law requiring any eggs sold there to come from hens that have space to stretch out in their cages. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said Monday that he plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of the states alleging California's law has cost consumers nationwide up to $350 million annually because of higher egg prices since it took effect in 2015. The lawsuit, provided to The Associated Press, argues California's requirements violate the U.S. Constitution's interstate commerce clause and are preempted by federal law.A federal appeals court panel rejected similar claims last year in a separate case brought by six states, ruling that they failed to show California's law would affect more than just individual farmers. The latest lawsuit seeks to address that by citing an economic analysis of the California law. It also asks the Supreme Court to take up the case directly instead of requiring that it first move through the lower courts.

Cybersecurity Quest Sends States to Vets, Students and Women

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on December 4, 2017

Cybersecurity is the most pressing issue for state information technology officials, as hackers and cybercriminals increasingly take aim at government networks, which contain information such as Social Security, bank account and credit card numbers of millions of people and businesses. But hiring and keeping qualified IT staffers, particularly cybersecurity experts, continues to be a serious problem for states, according to a recent survey of state chief information officers. Job candidates “don’t perceive state government as an attractive and challenging work environment,” the report found.State cyber salaries generally can’t match those in private industry and it’s often hard to move up the ladder in state government. And the disappearance of generous government retirement plans is making the jobs less appealing to cyber professionals. Gatewood recommended that states rethink those requirements and seek out nontraditional job candidates who have different types of backgrounds, such as gamers, code writers, and law enforcement and military officials.

Some puppies brought from Puerto Rico have Leptospirosis

NBC | Posted on December 4, 2017

A group of dogs rescued from Puerto Rico and brought to New Hampshire have fallen ill, and now state health officials have a warning for residents who may have contracted the bacterial infection. Two of the ten rescued dogs have died from the infection. The woman who rescued them tells NBC Boston that she’s doing everything she can to keep the rest of the puppies alive.

To Cut Drug Prices, Academy of Sciences Tells the Government to Negotiate With Manufacturers

The New York Times | Posted on December 2, 2017

The National Academy of Sciences called Thursday for sweeping changes in the pricing, sale and promotion of prescription drugs to make lifesaving treatments more affordable without discouraging the development of new medicines. The federal government should negotiate drug prices with manufacturers, the academy said, an idea pushed by Democrats for years, embraced by President Trump during the 2016 campaign, but opposed by congressional Republicans. The government, it said, should also deny tax deductions for drug advertising aimed at consumers and set annual limits on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.“Consumer access to effective and affordable medicines is an imperative for public health, social equity and economic development,” a panel of 17 experts said in a report issued by the academy. “However, this imperative is not being adequately served by the biopharmaceutical sector today.”

Washington State Dept. of Ag favors tagging every cow with radio ID

Capital Press | Posted on December 2, 2017

The Washington State Department of Agriculture may adopt rules requiring producers to tag every cow with radio-frequency identification, a level of electronic monitoring opposed by some ranchers. The department says the tags will help follow a cow from birth to slaughter, aiding animal-health officials to speedily respond to diseases and bringing the state in line with coming USDA standards.“These (the rules) are all intended to track an animal within hours rather than within days,” State Veterinarian Brian Joseph told the Senate Agriculture Committee Nov. 14. “It’s very important we be able to do that rapidly because the more rapidly we can do that, the less economic impact there is.”WSDA continues to work on its ability to trace animal diseases more than a dozen years after the first U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy appeared in Washington, The state currently records changes in livestock ownership, though the department says the system, partly based on self-reporting of sales, has gaps.WSDA reports that only 5 percent of the state’s beef cows now have radio-frequency identification. Although 80 percent of dairy cows are electronically tagged, they come from a minority, 40 percent, of the dairies.The department envisions that by no later than 2023 every ranch, dairy and farm with cattle will have a “premises identification number” and that every cow that leaves the premises will have a radio tag.

MN:Grants available to keep wolves away from livestock

Duluth News Tribune | Posted on November 30, 2017

Minnesota livestock producers have until Dec. 15 to apply for grant money to help prevent wolf attacks. The deadline was extended three weeks due to a late harvest that kept farmers in the fields longer than average, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said.The Wolf-Livestock Conflict Prevention Grants are a new program funded by the 2017 Minnesota Legislature with $240,000 available over the next two years.

Virginia’s move to join regional carbon market faces several challenges

Southeast Energy News | Posted on November 30, 2017

Despite a unanimous vote by a citizen’s air pollution board earlier this month, Virginia faces several hurdles, including possible court and legislative challenges, before it could join a regional carbon emissions trading network. “The biggest threat,” said Will Cleveland of the Southern Environmental Law Center, is “legislation in the General Assembly attacking or rolling back DEQ’s (Department of Environmental Quality) authority to address carbon pollution or some sort of budgetary maneuver to defund DEQ’s efforts.”“In court,” Cleveland added, “I’d anticipate litigation similar to (opponents’) challenges to the Clean Power Plan, attacking DEQ’s authority to regulate carbon.”The DEQ is the agency coordinating Virginia’s bid to link up with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, by early 2019.State Sen. Frank Wagner, who chairs the committee that presides over energy legislation in that chamber, has promised to bring in “all of the key players” with a “barrage of questions about the legality” of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive directive to link up with RGGI as a state-based replacement for the Clean Power Plan.

After Investing Billions, Is Illinois Grid Modernization Paying Off For Utilities And Customers?

Forbes | Posted on November 29, 2017

Illinois has invested billions in electricity grid infrastructure, and now ranks 2nd nationally on grid modernization, but are these bulky efforts actually paying off nearly six years into the state’s initiative? State utilities have markedly improved reliability and operational efficiency through innovative smart grid technologies, but Illinois’ ambitious goal of adding more than 4 gigawatts (GW) of new wind and solar requires more than a modern grid - it requires more flexibility from customers.Fortunately, realistic policy solutions are within reach. By removing market barriers to expand “real-time” power pricing options and maximize the benefits of smart meter investments, Illinois citizens could save billions and create a flexible grid capable of handling a massive expected influx of renewable energy by 2030.

High school senior proposes bill mandating ag education

Capital Press | Posted on November 29, 2017

 A high school senior will propose a bill during the 2018 Idaho legislative session requiring high school students to complete at least two agriculture education classes.If it passes, that means every student in the state would have to take at least two semesters of classes that teach them about agriculture. In other words, they would emerge from those classes with at least a basic understanding of the farming and ranching industry and where their food comes from, said Anna Peterson, 17, an FFA member at Skyview High School in Nampa who is proposing the legislation.