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SARL Members and Alumni News

Montana first state to prorect net nuetrality

Montana.gov | Posted on February 22, 2018

Governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order to protect net neutrality in Montana by requiring that successful recipients of state contracts adhere to internet neutrality principles. As the first governor in the country to implement action in the wake of the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules, Governor Bullock invited other governors and statehouses to join him. Governor Bullock’s administration will offer the framework to other states who wish to follow. The executive order notably sets the terms on which the State of Montana will be making purchases and makes a preference for a free and open internet clear. The State of Montana is a significant purchaser of internet services.


Six Tennessee ag businesses awarded grants from state

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on February 22, 2018

The Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture has recognized the first round of recipients of grants aimed at supporting rural agricultural programs in the Volunteer State. The grants from the Agricultural Enterprise Fund (AEF) are part of a plan to facilitate job creation, economic development and agricultural development in rural Tennessee, the agency said in a news release.


States look to lower drug costs, consider Canadian imports

Stat News | Posted on February 22, 2018

Lawmakers in more than two-thirds of the states are considering ways to reduce prescription drug costs, including importing them from Canada, as they strive to balance budgets without knowing for sure what their government’s share of the tab will be. A total of 87 bills in 34 states of all political stripes seek to save money on prescription drugs, according to the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy. Six of those states are considering bills that would allow drugs to be imported from Canada, where they cost an average 30 percent less than in the United States.


Idaho: Trespass bill backed by Idaho farm groups sent to House floor

Capital Press | Posted on February 22, 2018

A bill supported by dozens of Idaho farm groups and aimed at deterring trespassing on private property has been sent to the House floor with a “do-pass” recommendation. Dozens of people testified on House Bill 536 before the House Agricultural Affairs Committee, including many farmers and ranchers who recounted numerous examples of damage done to their crops and equipment by trespassers. “We have had corrals burnt for firewood, fences cut, crops destroyed, water tanks shot up, livestock chased and shot and calves run over,” said Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who crafted the bill.he bill is supported by at least 30 farm groups.


Media Bias Chart lays out where different media sources fall on liberal-conservative scale

All Generalizations are False | Posted on February 22, 2018

As discussed in my post entitled “The Chart, Second Edition: What Makes a News Source Good?” the most accurate and helpful way to analyze a news source is to analyze its individual stories, and the most accurate way to analyze an individual story is to analyze its individual sentences. Categorizing and ranking the news is hard to do because there are so very many factors. But the most accurate way to analyze and categorize news is to look as closely at it as possible, and measure everything about it that is measurable. We e can improve our media landscape by doing this and coming up with novel and accurate ways to rank and score the news, and then teaching others how to do the same.  


VA:Medicaid expansion is key to rural economic development

The Roanoke Times | Posted on February 20, 2018

Fortunately, there are things we can do to improve opportunity in rural Virginia. We can invest in workforce development training. We can expand Medicaid and improve access to broadband internet; improve the quality of our schools and ensure Virginia kids can access our best universities; make Virginia a place people want to build businesses; upgrade our infrastructure, like our roads and bridges; and address the opioid epidemic head on.Building out our rural broadband infrastructure is critical. Broadband is the new electricity, an essential connection for rural communities. It will help attract and keep new businesses, and encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses.Our community colleges and higher education institutions should be laser-focused on setting people up for jobs that local employers need to fill right now, particularly in rural communities.We need to expand Medicaid to provide health care access to up to 400,000 more Virginians, many of them in rural areas, while helping rural hospitals. It is simply unjust that there are people in Buchanan County who don’t have health insurance, but if they moved across the border to West Virginia or Kentucky, they could get the health care access that everyone deserves.Expanding Medicaid would also help our fight against the opioid epidemic, providing millions of dollars a year for treatment for substance abuse and mental illness. This epidemic is a problem statewide, but it is significantly more difficult to get treatment in rural areas where providers are likely to be a long drive away.


Florida legislators eye rural development

Panama City News Herald | Posted on February 20, 2018

Senate Bill 1496 would increase the maximum state grants for rural economic development in a “rural area of opportunity” from $150,000 to $250,000.


MD:Lawmakers propose study to begin tracking air pollution from Maryland chicken farms

Baltimore Sun | Posted on February 20, 2018

Maryland lawmakers are weighing a study of whether huge chicken farms are polluting the air around them — a new front in an ongoing debate over how the state’s expansive poultry industry affects the environment. The proposal is stirring conflicts pitting economic development against public health, and scientific research versus political activism. The poultry industry dominates state agriculture, and its representatives say farms have had to grow in response to the rising costs of complying with environmental regulation and animal welfare concerns. Modern chicken houses hold thousands of birds to supply poultry giants such as Perdue, Tyson and Mountaire Farms. In recent years the poultry industry has responded with “good neighbor” policies intended to buffer the sights, sounds and smells of modern chicken farming and to prevent water pollution. But critics say that isn’t enough, and are calling for state environmental regulators to more closely monitor what, if any, pollutants livestock farms are blowing into communities’ air — and whether they pose a threat to human health.The proposal in Annapolis would put Maryland ahead of other states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has spent more than a decade considering livestock farms’ emissions without establishing a reliable way to estimate such potential air pollution.


Rhode Island Awards $3.75 Million to Protect Green Space

US News and World Report | Posted on February 20, 2018

More than $3.75 million is being awarded to help Rhode Island communities and local organizations protect green space throughout the state.The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced Friday that 17 projects will receive matching grants to protect 889 acres of open space and farmland. The funding stems from the Green Economy Bond program, which was voters passed in 2016.The initiative aims to invest $35 million to preserve open space, improve recreational facilities and clean up land and waterways.The grants include $151,500 to acquire 15.6 acres at the headwaters of Little Creek in Portsmouth; $150,000 to acquire 75 acres on Saugatucket Road in South Kingston to help create a 120-acre stretch of protected land; and $400,000 to acquire 211.5 acres abutting Water Supply Board land in Cumberland.


Trump budget slashes farm programs, food assistance

Agri-Pulse | Posted on February 13, 2018

President Trump is proposing to slash crop insurance and other farm programs by $47 billion over 10 years and to dramatically overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, eventually shrinking its cost to taxpayers by one-third.  The proposals will be dead on arrival in the House and Senate Agriculture committees but they would provide ammunition to farm bill critics on the right and left who would like to reduce nutrition assistance and farm subsidies. 


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