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SARL Members and Alumni News

Foxconn in Choppy Waters Over Plan to Drain the Great Lakes

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on April 4, 2018

The approval of a new factory just outside the Great Lakes Basin could mark the beginning of a manufacturing revitalization that relies on draining millions of gallons of water from the lakes. It’s what Wisconsin’s government hopes for — and environmentalists fear.If given the go-ahead by Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group, which is based in Taiwan, would make liquid crystal displays, more commonly known as LCDs, in a factory just outside Racine, Wisconsin.Wisconsin courted Foxconn hard. The state offered $3 billion in incentives and exempted the plant from the state’s wetlands regulations and an environmental impact review. In luring Foxconn, Wisconsin beat out many of its Great Lakes neighbors — Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania also vied for the plant. The company has pledged to hire 3,000 people in Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district in a largely rural part of the state with a struggling economy. But the company needs more than just a wealth of manufacturing workers. Making LCD panels also requires large volumes of clean water: The plant is seeking approval through Racine’s water utility to drain 7 million gallons a day from Lake Michigan.But other Great Lakes states are questioning the legality of the deal, and some environmentalists say it could create a slippery slope that will allow other outside interests to tap into lakes.Environmentalists object to Wisconsin leaders allowing Foxconn to skirt some environmental regulations, and they worry Racine’s wastewater treatment center won’t be able to treat all the pollution from the plant before releasing the water back into Lake Michigan.


State Rep. Gipson Named Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner

US News and World Report | Posted on April 4, 2018

Rep. Andy Gipson will succeed fellow Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith once she moves to the U.S. Senate. He will serve the rest of the current commissioner's term, which ends in January 2020.Gipson, 41, is an attorney and Baptist pastor and has been in the state House since 2008. His family lives on a farm in Braxton, and he has been posting photos and videos on Facebook of fresh eggs from their chickens and milk from their cows."I want to see us grow the pie, let the pie grow of agriculture— not regulate it too much, not put it out of business, not shrink it, but to grow it," Gibson said as he stood with Bryant during a news conference at the Mississippi Museum of Agriculture and Commerce.


17 States and Cities Have Sued the Government Over Plans to Add Census Citizenship Question

TIme | Posted on April 4, 2018

 Seventeen states, the District of Columbia and six cities sued the U.S. government Tuesday, saying the addition of a citizenship question to the census form is unconstitutional. Federal funding and congressional representation are at stake in the dispute over the Trump administration’s move to reinstate the citizenship question to the 2020 census. It would be the first time in 70 years that the government uses the form sent to every household to ask people to specify whether they are U.S. citizens. New York Attorney General Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who announced the new lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, said the plans would have a “devastating effect on New York, where we have millions of immigrants.”“It’s unlawful. It’s unfair,” Schneiderman said at a news conference. He added that it would end a longstanding bipartisan effort to ensure the census is accurate and that the Bureau of the Census carries out its mandate to conduct a full and fair count of the population, including citizens and non-citizens.


Foxconn in Choppy Waters Over Plan to Drain the Great Lakes

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on April 3, 2018

The approval of a new factory just outside the Great Lakes Basin could mark the beginning of a manufacturing revitalization that relies on draining millions of gallons of water from the lakes.


Low unemployment but slow growth in Nebraska

Kansas City Fed | Posted on April 2, 2018

Nebraska’s economy has remained relatively strong, but recent growth has been slower. Measures of economic output and employment growth both slowed through 2017 alongside historically low levels of unemployment. Tightening labor markets likely have contributed to some of the recent slowdown as wage gains in Nebraska also have continued to accelerate. Though unemployment has remained low across the state, economic activity in rural areas has continued to weaken alongside persistently low agricultural commodity prices.


Lawsuit challenging constitutionality of Iowa “Ag Gag” statute allowed to proceed

Texas Agriculture Law Blog | Posted on April 2, 2018

A federal district judge in the Southern District of Iowa recently allowed a First Amendment challenge to the state’s “Ag Gag” law to go forward.  The law, passed in 2012, makes “agricultural production facility fraud” a crime.  A person is guilty of this charge if he or she willfully obtains access to an agricultural production facility by false pretenses or makes a false statement as part of an application or employment agreement with the intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner of the agricultural production facility.  The lawsuit, filed in October 2017 by several animal rights groups, claims that the statute violates the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.  The court dismissed a Fourteenth Amendment challenge upon finding that the State’s rationale for the law–the need to prevent trespasses at ag facilities and preventing employment fraud–was sufficient to survive rational basis review.  The First Amendment claim, however, was allowed to proceed.


State Rep. Gipson Named Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner

Jackson Free Press | Posted on March 31, 2018

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has appointed a lawmaker to be the state's new agriculture commissioner. Rep. Andy Gipson will succeed fellow Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith once she moves to the U.S. Senate. He will serve the rest of the current commissioner's term, which ends in January 2020.


Washington state has the first comprehensive drug take-back program. Which state will be next?

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on March 30, 2018

After years of skirmishes, the most comprehensive statewide drug take-back program in the nation became law late last week in Washington, potentially creating a new template for states to press the pharmaceutical industry to underwrite these efforts. The Washington law requires drug makers to fully finance and operate the program, which is designed to lower the threat of drug abuse stemming from medicines that linger in households and also reduce contamination in drinking water.


West Virginia bill requires food stamps recipients to work

Washington Examiner | Posted on March 30, 2018

Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill into law Tuesday that will require state residents to work or volunteer to receive food stamps. The requirement will begin Oct. 1 and will apply to people who use the program formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The program funds up to $192 for food a month, or $6.40 a day.To continue receiving SNAP benefits, West Virginia residents on the program between the ages of 18 to 49 will need to work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week. People with disabilities, parents with dependent children, pregnant women, and veterans will be exempt.


Oklahoma governor inks tax hikes, teacher pay raise

News OK | Posted on March 30, 2018

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law the largest teacher pay raise in the state's history and a massive package of tax hikes to pay for the plan. Flanked by educators and GOP leaders, Fallin on Thursday signed a bill to give public school teachers raises of between 15 and 18 percent, an average boost of about $6,100 a year. She also signed a bill to increase taxes on cigarettes, motor fuel, lodging and oil and gas production that would raise an estimated $450 million for lawmakers to spend.


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