Stateline | Pigging Out on Food Waste, Banning the B-Word and More

11/20/2019

Highway overpass

MAINE

School Lunches Don't Boar These Eaters

Maine schools and swine producers have teamed up to keep food scraps out of the landfill: They’re giving them to the pigs instead. A new law says that any individual or institution, including a school, can donate food waste to a swine producer to use as feed. Farmers must be licensed to feed pigs food waste, but the law makes clear that schools don’t have to know a producer’s licensure status to donate scraps. Supporters say the law will help cut back on waste while helping local farmers. More than half the states allow garbage feeding, according to the National Pork Producers Council.

MASSACHUSETTS

Using the B-Word? That's So 'Disorderly'

A Massachusetts statute allows citizens to file proposed bills directly through a representative. And so it was that Representative Daniel Hunt (D) was obligated to introduce a proposal to ban the use of the word “bitch.” The bill says that “a person who uses the word ‘bitch’ directed at another person to accost, annoy, degrade or demean the other person shall be considered to be a disorderly person.” Should the bill become law, it would almost certainly face a stiff First Amendment challenge. “It’s important whether you agree or disagree with the legislation being proposed that you honor the duty to represent your constituents and have their voices heard,” Hunt said.

ILLINOIS

Civics Education for Inmates

The Re-Entering Citizens Civics Education Act makes Illinois the first state to require prisons to offer civics education classes to inmates starting 12 months before their scheduled release. The classes will be taught by incarcerated peer educators who have been trained by nonpartisan civics organizations. The curriculum will cover voting rights, governmental institutions and current affairs and will include simulations of voter registration, elections and other democratic processes. Prisons across the country have offered similar classes, but until now no state has mandated that they be held at all state institutions. The law takes effect in January.

NEW YORK

This Just In

With local news outlets folding fast, two New York lawmakers have proposed a law requiring that any cable company operating in the state offer a local channel with “news, weather and public affairs programming.” The programming would have to be independently produced and could not be a rebroadcast of other news shows. New Jersey allocated $2 million to support local news, but New York’s law, if passed, would be the nation’s first legislative effort to bolster community journalism. Some media experts are leery of government being at all involved in the production of news reporting.

CALIFORNIA

Forego the New Fur

California is the first state to ban the manufacture and sales of new items made from animal fur. The law imposes a civil penalty for each violation and will apply to clothing, handbags, shoes, hats and other fur-bedecked items. Leather, cowhide and shearling are not covered, nor are products used by Native tribes for religious purposes. Also exempted are used-fur items, taxidermy products and fur from animals taken lawfully with a hunting license. Hawaii and New York are considering similar bans. The Fur Information Council of America, a trade group, has threatened to sue California over the law, which takes effect in 2023.

TENNESSEE

Felons and Antique Firearms

Tennessee is the latest state to allow felons to have antique guns. The new law lifts a ban on guns manufactured before 1899, certain replicas and black powder-using muzzleloaders for people convicted of felonies or certain misdemeanors. It brings the Volunteer State’s law in line with federal code, which doesn’t prohibit felons from having antique guns. The bill passed unanimously and took effect in May. Its sponsor, Senator Kerry Roberts (R), says his research found that antiquated weapons, which don’t use modern ammunition, are seldom if ever used to commit violent crimes.

PENNSYLVANIA

Hygiene Products in Public Schools

Needing a tampon and knowing the dispensers at her Pennsylvania high school hadn’t been refilled in years, 17-year-old Lilly Minor decided she’d had enough. She contacted her state representative, Danielle Friel Otten (D), and the two wrote Lilly’s Bill, which would require the state’s public schools (charter schools included) to provide free menstrual hygiene products in every bathroom accessed by female students in grades six through 12. The bill is pending. Meanwhile, other states have acted. California, Illinois, New Hampshire and New York all require schools to provide free menstrual products. Connecticut no longer charges sales tax on tampons, and Ohio has a similar measure pending.

—Kevin Frazzini

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