Tuesday, March 21, 2023

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Texas lawmakers consider legislation to prevent cities from self-governance, Connecticut considers policy options to alleviate an eviction crisis, and Ohio residents await community water systems.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis breaks his silence on Trump's potential indictment and attacks Manhattan prosecutors, President Biden vetoes his first bill to protect socially conscious retirement investing, and the Supreme Court hears a case on Native American water rights.

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The 41st state has opted into Medicaid which could be a lifeline for rural hospitals in North Carolina, homelessness barely rose in the past two years but the work required to hold the numbers increased, and destruction of the "Sagebrush Sea" from Oregon to Wyoming is putting protection efforts for an itty-bitty bunny on the map.

Asking IA Lawmakers to Prioritize Water Quality, Renewable Energy

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Tuesday, January 17, 2023   

The Center for Rural Affairs wants the Iowa Legislature to prioritize water quality and renewable energy in the new session.

One priority is more funding for the 27 Watershed Management Authorities in Iowa.

Kate Hansen, senior policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs, said funding for the people who staff the authorities is critical, because they are working with locals who know the area best, and have insight into ways to protect Iowa's water.

"Quite literally, boots on the ground," Hansen explained. "They're building those relationships with local landowners and farmers who are ready to implement new practices, but maybe don't know where to look, or don't know if there's even funding available for them."

The Center is also asking lawmakers to consider renewable energy's role in rural Iowa. There has been legislative resistance in the last few years, but Hansen said the Center continues working to promote local cooperation.

"Decisions regarding land use are best made at the local level through a process in which the community and local leaders are involved," Hansen said.

As the popularity of green energy grows across the country, many Iowa counties have not jumped on board.

Andy Johnson, executive director for Clean Energy Districts of Iowa, said opponents have limited where solar panels can be installed based on the amount of corn a farm can grow; the higher the potential crop yield, the less chance of solar being installed on the land.

"The point is, it's still a poison pill that would effectively ban solar from almost all farmland, because to build significant scale solar, you need to put together significant acreage," Johnson contended. "And if any little piece is over the limit that they're talking about, that you need to put together a project, then it would effectively nix the whole project."

Johnson added Iowa has the potential to become a leader in solar power production, much as it has done with wind power, but said the Legislature will need political muscle to overcome fossil-fuel industry opposition.

Disclosure: The Center for Rural Affairs contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Environment, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, and Rural/Farming Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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