Burials and cremations could soon be laid to rest. Washington lawmakers have sent a bipartisan bill that would legalize an alternative—human composting—to the governor. The process involves placing the deceased’s body in a reusable vessel for 30 days with a mixture of alfalfa, straw and wood chips. The result is a rich soil, according to the Seattle company that hopes to offer the service. When the process is complete, families can take the soil home for use in the garden or donate it to a conservation site. Composting is cheaper than burial, which averages $8,000, uses one-eighth the energy of cremation and reduces the funeral industry’s resource consumption—30 million board feet of wood, 104,000 tons of steel and 1.6 million tons of concrete annually. For a culture that values productivity, here’s a sure way to a fertile afterlife.
Bans on Single-Use Containers Grow
Maine has enacted the first state ban on single-use plastic food and drink containers made from polystyrene foam. The law applies to “covered establishments,” such as restaurants and grocery stores. Hospitals, seafood shippers and certain other businesses are exempt. At press time, similar legislation had passed both chambers in the Maryland General Assembly with more than enough votes to override a veto should Governor Larry Hogan (R) issue one. Connecticut and Vermont were also considering plastic foam bans, and California lawmakers were pressing for the first statewide ban on single-use plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles in hotels and lodging businesses.
Colorado: Sweet Justice
When life gives you lemons … pass a law that lets you sell lemonade! A Colorado mom and her three sons were running a lemonade stand last summer in a public park near their home when the police shut them down. They didn’t have the necessary permits, they were told. “We were devastated,” the mom told Colorado Public Radio. “We had no idea lemonade stands were illegal.” They aren’t any more, thanks to a new law she and her family fought to pass. The law prohibits local governments from requiring people 18 and younger to get a permit or license to run small operations—lemonade or craft stands, lawn-mowing businesses—fewer than 84 days a year. New Jersey, Utah and Wisconsin have similar laws to protect young entrepreneurs.
Collared: Service Animal Scammers
North Dakota joins some two dozen states in making it illegal to pass a pet off as a service animal. Falsely claiming a pet as a service animal to “gain admission to a public place” or to obtain housing now can result in a fine of up to $1,000. The bill’s supporters say their efforts were aimed at protecting disabled people who truly rely on service animals.
ARIZONA and NORTH DAKOTA
Employment: Work Licensing Reforms Roll On
Lawmakers continue to unravel the red tape associated with work licensing. Arizona now automatically grants occupational licenses to anyone who moves there with a clean credential from another state. It’s the first state to knock down a common barrier for doctors, manicurists, home inspectors and many other workers who face new licensing requirements, paperwork and fees when they move to a different state. North Dakota recently became the 26th state to eliminate licenses for braiding hair and threading eyebrows. It’s welcome news to the state’s hair braiders, who once were required to complete 1,800 hours of classes but now are free to work without a government permission slip.
No Tether in Stormy Weather
Leaving a dog tied up outside during a hurricane or other dangerous storm would be a misdemeanor if proposed Florida legislation becomes law. Violators could face jail time or a fine up to $5,000, or both. Many Florida counties and towns prohibit tethering animals in extreme weather situations, but the bill, if passed, would be the first statewide law to address the problem. During Hurricane Irma alone, Florida animal control officers rescued 49 dogs and two cats. “We want to give dogs a fighting chance,” said Senator Joe Gruters (R), who introduced the bill.
Marking 200 Years With 13 Toasts
New Hampshire has been preparing since 2015 for the 200th anniversary of its State House in July. Notably, the building’s dome has been regilded with $2 million in gold leaf. Inside, workers have polished brass, restored sconces and refurbished visitors’ galleries. When New Hampshirites gathered in 1818 to place the carved eagle atop the dome, they celebrated with the “Toast to the Eagle,” a recitation of 13 toasts. “So, we’re going to recreate that,” said Clerk of the House Paul C. Smith. “We’re actually working in partnership with Henniker Brewing Co. for a special 200-year-old recipe of a cream ale that is going to be used for the toast.” Henniker’s founder, Dave Currier, served in both the state House and Senate.