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SARL Members and Alumni News

Wisconsin passes AB 353 on Cooperatives

Wisconsin State Farmer | Posted on November 9, 2017

Cooperative Network applauds the bipartisan support delivered yesterday in both the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate in the approval of Assembly Bill 353. The leadership of Representative Gary Tauchen (R – Bonduel) and Senator Patrick Testin (R – Stevens Point) was crucial in the success of this legislation. Also known as the Cooperative Statute Modernization Bill, this legislation was drafted with the goal of providing the state statute that governs cooperatives, Chapter 185, with its first update in over 30 years.“By voting in favor of this bill, our legislators have shown that they believe members of cooperatives and their elected boards should be trusted to make the right decisions for the future of their cooperatives,” says John Manske, Cooperative Network’s Senior Government Affairs Director.The legislation was designed to provide member cooperatives with the freedom and flexibility to best serve their member-owners by allowing for outside director perspectives on a minority basis, an opportunity to consider patronage-based voting for the one cooperative holding company in the state and updates on the process for notification of unclaimed capital, among other provisions.

California accepting proposals for Healthy Soils Program

Lake County News | Posted on November 9, 2017

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation, or OEFI, in coordination with the agency’s Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel, is now accepting new proposals for soil carbon sequestration management practices for inclusion in its Healthy Soils Program, or HSP. As part of program development, CDFA identified specific soil management practices eligible for initial funding through the HSP. Some of these practices include no or reduced tillage, planting cover crops and compost application. 

Forest Bonds may provide a way to support fire prevention

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 9, 2017

Managing public forests in ways that prevent wildfires could save millions of dollars in future fire-emergency costs. But restoring forests is expensive, and limited public budgets emphasize short-term disaster spending rather than long-term management. A private firm is testing a new model that they say could fill the short-term budgetary needs to get forest restoration practices up and running.“The value of forest restoration oftentimes exceeds the cost,” said Leigh Madeira, one of Blue Forest Conservation’s founders. “But that doesn’t mean that the beneficiaries have the capital to pay for needed restoration projects.”Blue Forest says they’ve come up with a way for communities to use that future increased value or cost savings of forests to pay for restoration activities today.Blue Forest’s funding model is to collect private capital through a “forest resilience bond,” based on the money the forest owner is likely to make later, either through the reduced chance of forest fires or through additional earnings from forest products like lumber. Blue Forest then helps to coordinate forest restoration activities with business partners on the ground, often small, local enterprises who do the actual restoration work. The beneficiary of the restoration, whether a federal agency like the Forest Service or a publicly-owned water utility company, then pays for the services on a long-term contracted rate.

Illinois House, Senate energy panels discuss Dynegy 'bailout' request

The News Gazette | Posted on November 9, 2017

Opponents referred to a package of bills to benefit Texas-based energy company Dynegy Inc. as a "multimillion-dollar state of Illinois bailout" and urged Illinois lawmakers to act cautiously on the proposals. Meeting jointly Tuesday, the Senate and House energy committees took no votes on the bills drafted to benefit Dynegy, which operates eight coal-fired power plants in central and southern Illinois. The company has warned lawmakers that under downstate Illinois' current electricity-distribution system, it may have to close at least four of its power plants by 2021 and possibly sooner."These closures would cause the loss of almost 550 well-paying union jobs and threaten approximately 4,000 indirect jobs," Dynegy said in a statement.The appeal from Dynegy is similar to one advanced successfully last year by Exelon Corp., which got state help to continue the operation of two downstate nuclear plants, including one at Clinton.But some of the groups that supported Exelon's plan now oppose Dynegy's. In fact, nearly all of the testimony, including from the attorney general's office, consumer groups and others, was in opposition.

‘Ponce’s Law’ bill allows animal abusers to be barred from having pets

Daytona Beach New Journal | Posted on November 9, 2017

A bill called “Ponce’s Law” would put more bite into Florida’s animal cruelty cases by allowing judges to prohibit people convicted of abusing animals from owning pets and giving prosecutors more leverage in the cases, said state Rep. Tom Leek, who introduced the bill. The bill is named in honor of Ponce, a Labrador retriever puppy found beaten to death in the Ponce Inlet backyard of Travis Archer earlier this year. The bill is a positive note to an otherwise grim event, said Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican.

California imposes new pesticide restrictions near schools

Capital Press | Posted on November 8, 2017

Beginning Jan. 1, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s new rule will prohibit many applications within a quarter-mile of public K-12 schools and licensed day care facilities from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.This includes all applications by aircraft, sprinklers and air-blast sprayers and all fumigant applications as well as most dust and powder applications such as sulfur, according to a state news release.The rule will also require nearby growers to provide annual notifications to area schools and county agricultural commissioners of the pesticides they expect to use in the upcoming year.

Breed bans are popular, but do they make the public safer?

AVMA | Posted on November 7, 2017

Breed-specific laws ban or restrict ownership of dog breeds believed to be responsible for the most serious attacks on people. Pit bull–type dogs are the poster child of breed laws, but they can also apply to Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and other large breeds. The American Kennel Club explained in a statement to JAVMA News that "pit bull" is a term commonly used to describe a particular type of dog—many being of mixed breeding—that has some ancestry relating to breeds in the United States, such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers. The AKC said "pit bull" is also used sometimes to describe mixes or breeds not registered with the AKC with names such as American Pit Bull Terrier or American Bully. "AKC does not consider Pit Bulls to be purebred dogs, and we register no such dogs," the organization said.Breed restrictions emerged and proliferated during the 1980s as news reports increasingly portrayed pit bull–type dogs as an apex predator, one on which no other animals prey. Sports Illustrated highlighted a story on dogfighting in its July 27, 1987, issue with a cover featuring a snarling dog under the headline "Beware Of This Dog: The Pit Bull Terrier." Hollywood, Florida, enacted the nation's first breed-specific ordinance in 1980 after a pit bull–type dog scalped a 7-year-old boy and mangled his face. That law, which required owners of such dogs to prove they possessed $25,000 in personal liability insurance, was overturned two years later; the judge cited a lack of evidence that pit bull–type dogs were more dangerous than other dogs.Communities reeling after a vicious dog attack may respond by prohibiting or strictly regulating what is assumed to be the responsible breed as a quick fix to a legitimate problem, according to Rebecca Wisch, associate editor and clinical staff attorney with the Animal Legal and Historical Center at Michigan State University College of Law. "Breed-specific laws give people a sense of security," she explained, adding that owners of a banned breed sometimes email MSU's animal law center. "These people face either having to get rid of a dog they consider a family member or move out of the city. That's a pretty tall order for some people," Wisch said.

Virginia’s uneven recovery mirrors its growing political divide

The Washington Post | Posted on November 7, 2017

The averages may say that Virginia’s job growth almost tracks the nation’s recovery. But those overall numbers are driven by large urban counties, especially in the northern suburbs of the District. Across Virginia, as voters decide the nation’s most-watched election this year, most areas had fewer jobs in 2016 than in 2007.This uneven economy could impact the governor’s race between Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. Of the 133 counties and cities in Virginia, 85 have lost jobs since 2007. Job growth was mainly concentrated in booming urban areas, like Northern Virginia and the central part of the state around Richmond. Meanwhile, to the south and west, communities are still dealing with the decline of their four key industries — coal mining, tobacco, textiles and furniture-making.Those differences matter because the divide between job winners and losers mirrors Virginia’s growing political divide. Virginia voters rank the economy as their most important election issue, along with health care. Virginia’s last gubernatorial race in 2013 was close, decided by only 2.5 percent of the more than 2.2 million votes cast. And so is the current race, according to recent polling. So a shift in the votes of any region of the state could be decisive.

Sexual misconduct allegations rock statehouses

Politico | Posted on November 7, 2017

Statehouses from Boston to Sacramento have been rocked by an onslaught of sexual misconduct allegations, creating unprecedented pressure on state legislative leaders to take immediate action. Amid a flood of recent testimonials from female legislators, staff and lobbyists, a portrait is fast emerging of male-dominated state capitol cultures rife with sexual harassment and bereft of protections for victims, where complaints from women frequently languish — or are outright ignored.

Illinois’ first fracking permit withdrawn

The State Journal Register | Posted on November 7, 2017

Woolsey Companies Inc., the Kansas firm awarded the first permit under the state’s 2013 “fracking” law, released a statement Friday citing regulatory compliance costs in the decision to drop drilling plans near the southeast Illinois community of Enfield. The practice relies on high pressure chemical and water injections to release oil and gas from deep-rock formation. “The process we have gone through to receive a permit was burdensome, time consuming and costly due to the current rules and regulations of Illinois,” the company stated, “and it appears that this process would continue for future permit applications.”The company said the area of southeast Illinois known as New Albany Shale had significant energy production potential, but that stringent Illinois rules combined with low oil and gas prices made the project too costly compared with other states.