hode Island is considering a bill recently rejected by Maine that would allow owners the right to pursue noneconomic damages in civil lawsuits involving the inadvertent injury or death of a pet through medical care, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. This could mean the state's veterinarians could be liable for damages for pain and suffering, loss of companionship and punitive damages. "Allowing for recovery of noneconomic damages would place an enormous burden on veterinarians by raising the costs of veterinary insurance, which all veterinarians need to have," wrote the AVMA in a statement. "Many veterinary clinics are small businesses with limited resources, and veterinarians can't absorb these significant cost increases. There's no doubt that higher insurance costs would have to be passed along to consumers through increased medical expenses for pets. These higher costs would hurt pets and their owners."Other states also are considering permitting noneconomic damages; nine bills related to noneconomic damages have cropped up in state legislatures around the country this spring.
The use of elephants, primates, snakes and other wild animals by businesses that profit from their exhibition could be banned in a Maryland county outside Washington, D.C.WTOP-FM reports the Montgomery County Council held the first hearing on Tuesday about a proposal to ban the use of animals in circuses or other business that "exhibit or financially benefit" from them. The bill wouldn't apply to agricultural fairs where livestock is displayed.Humane Society of the United States vice president Nicole Paquette says the bill would focus on prohibiting the use of wildlife in traveling shows. She says the public doesn't see most of how animals are coerced with abusive training.According to the county council, the bill will be heard in a public safety committee work session on Sept. 9.
A clean energy financing program in Michigan reached a milestone last month when it helped homeowners and businesses install 1 megawatt of solar energy across the state. Michigan Saves — which was created by a $6.5 million Michigan Public Service Commission grant in 2009 — acts as a green bank by financing clean energy projects at homes and businesses. While it deals mostly in energy efficiency projects, it also removes the barrier of high upfront capital costs for solar installations.Since June 2011, the program has helped finance installations at 132 homes and nine businesses, totaling $3.5 million in solar investment. In all, Michigan Saves has been involved with roughly 8,600 projects totaling $102 million in clean energy investment.
U.S.-initiated negotiations to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement are bound to be long and hard. Canadian officials maintain that Mexico is the real target of President Donald Trump’s determination to renegotiate what he considers to be a bad deal for America. Nevertheless, there are a number of issues bound to spark friction between Canada and the United States. Here’s a primer on five of them:Dispute resolution mechanism, Dairy, Wine, Investment, Duty Free Cross Border Shipping.
The most critical commentary came from a columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. A. Barton Hinkle wondered whether state government should even bother trying to help rural communities. “If [rural residents] can improve their economic circumstances by moving to urban areas, then why not let them?” he asked.If that means rural communities depopulate themselves, so what? “You could argue that, environmentally speaking, it might be better to keep some swaths of the state unpopulated,” Hinkle wrote. These libertarian sentiments may seem shocking to many rural residents, in much the same way that Parisians were shocked by the quote often attributed to Marie Antoinette: “Let them eat cake.” They aren’t new, though. In fact, the question of whether the state and federal government should even try to save rural economies is one that’s been asked before. The conservative writer Kevin Williamson expressed the same view a year ago in a controversial piece in The National Review, in which he looked at Garbutt, a former gypsum-mining town in upstate New York. Williamson argued that efforts to save the town are “the indulgence of absurd sentimentality” — and a waste of taxpayers’ money. He went on to say that many rural communities “deserve to die.”“Economically, they are negative assets,” Williamson wrote. Residents of rural communities “need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.” Ouch.Unfortunately, President Trump is effectively putting that economic policy into practice, he’s just not saying it so bluntly. His budget zeroes out the very agencies that have paid for economic development infrastructure in rural communities — starting with the Appalachian Regional Commission. Congress probably won’t go along with a lot of those proposed cuts, but Trump’s budget does underscore an important point: Struggling rural communities probably can’t count on Washington, which puts more onus on state governments to intervene.Or not.From our vantage point outside the urban crescent, we naturally disagree with Hinkle’s premise — but he does ask a very good question. Why should state government care what happens in rural Virginia?
Ask advocates of marijuana legalization how their cause fared during the 2017 state legislative sessions and they’ll tell you that though the gains were incremental, they’re hopeful that several legislatures will eventually make possession and sale of the federally prohibited drug legal. Ask the same of people who oppose legalization and they’ll say it’s been a banner year — they choked efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in many statehouses and stalled implementation of pot sales in at least one other.Lawmakers in at least 23 states considered legislation to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana this year and 16 states weighed bills to establish medical marijuana programs.But even as public support for marijuana continues to grow, few of those measures survived. That’s in part because many lawmakers are concerned that the Trump administration may begin strict enforcement of federal drug laws, political analysts say. Many legislators are also beholden to conservative supporters and face little political pressure to sign off on marijuana legislation, the analysts say.
The price of marijuana is going up — for Ohio taxpayers.The State Controlling Board, a legislative panel that oversees state expenditures, on Monday approved an additional $6 million to pay for startup expenses for the Ohio Medical Marijuana Program. That brings the total to about $11 million so far that taxpayers have paid for the program. In separate votes, the board approved an additional $1.6 million for the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and $4.4 million for the Ohio Commerce Department. Both agencies are involved in setting up the new program to permit sale of medical marijuana to qualifying patients by September 2018.
Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay, said he’s amenable to negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement but hopes the talks proceed with caution. “It’s put a lot of money in the farmers’ pockets in the U.S. and Canada, so let’s be sure to continue down that path,” MacAulay said. “If you’re going to fix something that’s in good shape, be careful.”MacAulay stopped in Portland July 24 for the annual summit of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, a non-profit created by five American states and five Canadian provinces.NAFTA is top of mind in agriculture these days, with negotiations over the agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico set to begin Aug. 16-20 in Washington, D.C.After meeting with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, MacAulay sees an ally who’s also supportive of the strong trade relationship between the U.S. and Canada.
Some determined activists will say almost anything to convince people to go vegan. One example of this is “What The Health,” a film you might have seen while scrolling through Netflix. If you’ve watched the movie, it may have left you feeling confused about the nutritional value of meat, milk, poultry and eggs. Several scientists, dietitians and agriculture advocates have started speaking out against the film and helping viewers find factual information to make decisions about their diets. Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise analyzed each health claim made in the film and concluded that 96 percent were bogus and not based on sound science. Dr. Harriet Hall, a retired family physician says the film “cherry-picks scientific studies, exaggerates, makes claims that are untrue, relies on testimonials and interviews with questionable “experts,” and fails to put the evidence into perspective.”
Visit any dog park in urban Canada these days and you’re bound to encounter at least one or two: rescue dogs adopted from an exotic foreign or domestic locale.It’s estimated, in fact, that tens of thousands of winsome canine refugees enter the country every year — while many others are shipped vast distances inside Canada.But the growing, humanitarian-motivated trend is inadvertently creating a major public-health headache, fuelling a rebound in the deadly rabies problem and importing other nasty diseases, public health officials warn.A federal-government journal has just documented three recent cases of stray puppies being taken from Nunavut or northern Quebec — where the deadly disease is endemic among Arctic foxes — to new homes in southern Canada, only for the owners to discover they had acquired rabid animals. Meanwhile, as dogs stream in from the Caribbean, Latin America, east Asia and the Middle East, Canada’s pet-import rules are among the loosest in the world, vets say. “There are thousands upon thousands of dogs that come into Canada every year, and it’s a completely unregulated process,” said Scott Weese, Canada research chair in zoonotic (animal-to-human) diseases at the Ontario Veterinary College. “Animals aren’t supposed make it into the country if they’re sick, but we see it all the time.”