Tuesday, July 27, 2021


The latest on the PRO Act, which could bring major changes to labor law, especially in "right-to-work" states; and COVID spikes result in new mandates.


Travel restrictions are extended as Delta variant surges; some public-sector employers will mandate vaccines; President Biden says long-haul COVID could be considered a disability; and western wildfires rage.

IL Budget Crunch Leaves Ag Conservation Funds in Danger


Wednesday, May 26, 2021   

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Some Illinois farmers say they want to help protect natural resources, but incentives are crucial to making that happen. A coalition tied to these efforts says lawmakers can't allow a key funding source to fall through the cracks.

As the General Assembly tries to meet its Monday budget deadline, agriculture and conservation groups are asking for more robust funding for a program that offers grants for improving soil health. It's due to expire this summer if lawmakers don't act.

Champaign-area farmer Steve Steirwalt, who uses methods such as cover crops, said not having an extra incentive for these practices could turn some producers off to the movement.

"It's difficult to get us farmers to adopt different practices that we don't know very well," he said. "it's going to take us some years to really learn because that introduces risk, and that's one of the few things that we can control is our practices."

Supporters are calling for an increase of $4 million for the program. While there's no clear opposition, the pandemic recovery and redistricting are commanding more attention as state budget talks wind down.

Liz Rupel, policy organizer for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, said more money for the Partners for Conservation Fund could help the state more aggressively meet the goals outlined for a strategy to reduce harmful runoff from farms.

"As far as the wastewater side of things, we're doing OK," she said, "but the agriculture side, we do need some more work."

The goals, established in 2015, call for a 45% reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus going into Illinois waterways by 2025. The ten groups that make up the coalition are asking lawmakers to include the proposal in any final spending plan. And while Illinois' revenues have rebounded, the state still faces a deficit of $1.3 billion.

get more stories like this via email
Smoke from the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon is blowing across Idaho and as far east as New York. (National Interagency Fire Center/Flickr)


BOISE, Idaho -- Wildfires are affecting air quality across the West, bringing hidden dangers in smoke that can harm people's health. The Boise-based …

Social Issues

DENVER -- The days of exponentially high increases in health-insurance costs may finally be in the rearview mirror. The Colorado Division of …

Social Issues

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Cultural institutions in the U.S. are facing scrutiny to be more accessible and inclusive. The organization in charge of Iowa's …

Electrifying heat pumps are key to lowering the carbon cost of buildings. (SkyLine/Adobe Stock)


BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Last month's deadly heat wave in the Northwest underscored the need to reduce carbon emissions, but advocates want to ensure low-…

Social Issues

MINOT, N.D. -- Many arguments are being floated about legislation before Congress that would bring big changes to U.S. labor laws. The bill has its …

Studies show Medicaid expansion could reduce costs for Missouri's health-care system as a whole, by getting more patients preventive care, which is less expensive than emergency care. (torwaiphoto/Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Health-care advocates called on Missouri lawmakers to allocate funds for Medicaid expansion right away, after the state …

Social Issues

AUGUSTA, Maine -- School meals in Maine will be free for all students again this year and into the future, but parents are being urged to fill out …


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A report outlines how federal efforts to bring solar energy to one in four American households could bring clean energy to …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021