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SARL Members and Alumni News

To Fend Off Hackers, Local Governments Get Help From States

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on December 12, 2017

The city of Mill Creek, Washington, has only 55 full-time employees and just one of them — James Busch — is responsible for handling information technology and cybersecurity. He worries about the growing sophistication of hackers and cybercriminals and the city computer network’s vulnerabilities. So when the Washington State Auditor’s Office started offering local governments a free, in-depth evaluation of their cybersecurity systems, Mill Creek, a city of about 20,000 near Seattle, jumped at the chance in 2015.

Idaho wheat groups to move forward with proposed rule change

Capital Press | Posted on December 12, 2017

A rule change proposed during the 2018 Idaho Legislature would give the Idaho Wheat Commission the ability to collect the names and contact information of all wheat farmers in the state.After being delayed for two years, a proposed rule change that Idaho Wheat Commission officials say will benefit Idaho grain farmers will be re-introduced during the 2018 legislative session.IWC and Idaho Grain Producers Association board members last week agreed to move forward with the proposed rule change, which would require first purchasers of Idaho wheat, such as elevators, to submit the names and contact information of all growers to the commission.The commission’s enabling legislation gives it the authority to have that information but it currently lacks the mechanism to collect it, so the IWC only has a partial data base of Idaho wheat growers, said IWC Executive Director Blaine Jacobson.“The (IWC) has a statutory responsibility to educate Idaho wheat growers and to conduct periodic referendums of Idaho wheat growers on how their checkoff dollars are being spent,”

Wisconsin moving forward with drug-testing food stamp recipients

Wisconsin State Journal | Posted on December 12, 2017

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has finalized a rule that would require able-bodied adult recipients of food stamps to be screened and possibly tested for drugs.The move is the latest step in the ongoing battle over whether such testing is legal under federal law.Walker has framed the issue as addressing the state’s worker shortage and as a continuation of the state’s landmark welfare reform efforts begun in the 1990s under Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson.“Employers have jobs available, but they need skilled workers who can pass a drug test,” Walker said in a statement. “This rule change means people battling substance use disorders will be able to get the help they need to get healthy, and get back into the workforce.”

Conflicted Interests: State lawmakers often blur the line between the public's business and their own

Public Integrity | Posted on December 12, 2017

Investigation found many examples of legislators supporting bills that benefited their employers, their companies or even their own wallets. State lawmakers around the country have introduced and supported policies that directly and indirectly help their own businesses, their employers and sometimes their personal finances, according to an analysis of disclosure forms and legislative votes by the Center for Public Integrityand The Associated Press.The news organizations found numerous examples in which lawmakers’ votes had the effect of promoting their private interests. Even then, the votes did not necessarily represent a conflict of interest as defined by the state. That’s because legislatures set their own rules for when lawmakers should recuse themselves. In some states, lawmakers are required to vote despite any ethical dilemmas.Many lawmakers defend even the votes that benefit their businesses or industries, saying they bring important expertise to the debate.

Bayer launches new website to promote transparency

Feedstuffs | Posted on December 12, 2017

ayer recently announced that it has launched a new website that focuses on transparency by enabling access to scientific data needed for the evaluation of plant protection products. In launching the website,, Bayer said it is taking a leadership role in driving transparency while safeguarding the company’s confidential product composition and manufacturing process data.

California extends vote on dairy quota program

Capital Press | Posted on December 7, 2017

The department has sent out 1,054 ballots, and only 400 had been returned before the deadline was extended from Dec. 4 to Dec. 22. At least 51 percent of eligible producers must vote to advance a stand-alone quota program if California joins the federal milk marketing order system.

Coping with fire loss, looking for solutions

Capital Press | Posted on December 7, 2017

The owner of one small ranch in Washington state is trying to educate firefighters on the value of rangeland and change policy that allows them to disregard it.Like many ranchers throughout the West, Molly Linville is trying to recover from a horrific fire season, but she’s also is trying to change how firefighters view rangeland and a state wildfire policy that allows them to let it burn.“Firefighters look out here and they don’t see anything. It’s wasteland in their minds. I thought they didn’t care. I said I lost everything and I got blank looks. What I’ve learned is they literally don’t understand the value of rangeland,” says Linville, 42, who operates the 6,000-acre KV Ranch, mostly by herself while her husband works overseas.

AVMA leads broad coalition supporting Public Service Loan Forgiveness

AVMA | Posted on December 7, 2017

More than 110 national and state animal health organizations have joined forces with the AVMA to urge Congress to preserve an important program that provides debt relief to veterinarians and others working in the nonprofit and public sectors. This broad animal health coalition, representing nearly all major veterinary groups, is mobilizing in response to efforts by some lawmakers to reduce or eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.Led by the AVMA, and with key support from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), the coalition sent a letter Monday to the chairpersons and ranking members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce. 

Partisan Climate Opinion Maps 2016

Yale program on climate change | Posted on December 7, 2017

Public opinion estimates by political party are produced using a statistical model based on national survey data gathered between 2008 and 2016 by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication. The model combines survey data with voter registration statistics at the state and district level. Note that party registration data is available for 32 states; party registration is imputed in the remaining states, as indicated.

Supreme Court rejects Dow's $455m appeal against Bayer

Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review | Posted on December 7, 2017

The US Supreme Court has refused to rule on a patent dispute between agricultural companies Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience. Yesterday, December 4, the court denied Dow’s petition for certiorari, leaving a decision made by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in March untouched.Dow had asked the Supreme Court to review the decision, which affirmed a $455 million award in damages for Bayer for Dow’s infringement of patents related to genetically engineered soybeans.