Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
Six states in the Midwest are part of a new legal effort to end laws in Massachusetts and California that regulate the housing of hens, calves and pigs in agricultural operations. Two separate lawsuits were filed directly with the U.S. Supreme Court in December. Indiana is leading the multi-state complaint against the Massachusetts law, which bans the sale of egg, pork and veal from farms (inside or outside the state) that don’t meet certain animal-confinement standards. These rules were established by Massachusetts voters in 2016 via a ballot referendum.
CSG Midwest
In the rural southern Indiana school district that Rep. Terry Goodin not only represents in the state Capitol but also leads as its superintendent, there is no pharmacy or hospital. The district, too, has no full-time school nurse.
“We have a lot of students without access to a local doctor or health care,” he adds, “and sick children can’t learn.”
But because of last year’s passage of HB 1263, a new model of delivering care to young people has been opened — school-based clinics that connect students with a health provider via telecommunication technologies. Along with establishing new standards for telemedicine, that 2016 state law allows prescriptions to be dispensed remotely and for physician-patient relationships to be established without an in-office visit.
CSG Midwest
With its 1,800 dairy farms across the state, Michigan produces a lot of milk (fifth among U.S. states), but even with all of this economic activity, Michigan Sen. Mike Green sees the potential for more. How much additional sales and revenue could be generated, for example, by adding greater value to Michigan’s homegrown milk — by diversifying or expanding the state’s dairy sector so that more buttermilk powder is being made or condensed milk is being produced for ice cream and baked goods?
The state’s new budget reflects this vision of adding more value to Michigan’s agriculture products. It includes a $4.7 million grant program for mid-sized food and agriculture processing facilities. 
CSG Midwest
In the northwest part of Ohio that he represents, state Sen. Cliff Hite says, “wind is our shale,” an energy resource that has the potential to boost revenue on agricultural land and improve the region’s entire economy.
And the comparisons don’t stop there.
Just as the hydraulic fracturing boom has raised questions about siting and government regulations, so too has wind power. Three years ago, responding to concerns about the impact of wind-turbine installations on adjacent landowners, the Ohio Legislature tripled the state’s setback requirements for turbines, a move that Hite and others say halted the development of wind energy. 
Under the 2014 law, for any operation with generating capacity of 5 MW or more, Ohio now requires a 1,125-foot minimum setback from the base of the wind turbine (plus the length of its blade) to the edge of the property line. That marked a big change from the state’s previous standards — first, a requirement that the setback from the property line be 1.1 times the height of the turbine, which amounts to about 550 feet; second, that there be a 1,125-foot setback from the turbine to the nearest home (the 2014 law changed the requirement from home to property line).
As a result of this statutory change, wind-energy proponents say, Ohio now has the most stringent siting rules in the country. In states such as Illinois and South Dakota, for example, a turbine must be set back at a distance from the property line that is 1.1 times its height. Under the Ohio law, it is approximately 2.3 times the height of the average turbine.  
CSG Midwest
Intensive animal production is an $86 billion industry, but growing conflicts between confinement livestock farms and some neighbors has spilled over into legislatures across the Midwest. Indiana Sen. Susan Glick, chair of an interim committee studying whether there is a need for special regulations for concentrated animal-feeding operations, is among those seeking ways to “bridge a divide between modern livestock farmers and some rural communities” over farm siting.
The clustering of cattle, hogs or poultry makes selection of locations for larger farms critical. Geology, ground and surface water, roads, neighbors and wind direction all factor into siting decisions.

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