Derecho Ambiental / Environmental Law

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New Zealand Parliament passes zero carbon Bill

Source: Jurist

November 08, 2019

Lawmakers in New Zealand approved a bill on Thursday that aims to reduce the country’s non-biogenetic greenhouse emissions to zero by 2050. The Zero Carbon Bill provides a framework for limiting average global temperature increase to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as set forth in the Paris Agreement.

The bill establishes a Climate Change Commission, which will advise the government and monitor and review the government’s progress towards meeting the goal. The 2050 targets set forth are: gross emissions of biogenic methane to be reduced to at least between 24 percent and 47 percent below 2017 levels and net emissions of all other greenhouse gases to be reduced to zero. The separate targets for biogenic methane, the greenhouse gases released by livestock such as cattle and sheep, will make it easier for New Zealand to hit their zero emissions goal. Greenhouse gases from agriculture make up 48 percent of the countries total emissions.

The Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw praised the bill:

Climate change is the defining long-term issue of our generation that successive Governments have failed to address. Today we take a significant step forward in our plan to reduce New Zealand’s emissions. … We’ve led the world before in nuclear disarmament and in votes, now we are leading again…This Bill belongs to New Zealand, and together we have ensured law that ensures we shift towards a low emissions country that keeps us all safe.

New Zealand joins more than sixty other countries that have committed to zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, the countries with the largest greenhouse emissions—China, India, and the US—are not on that list. On Monday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on twitter:

Today we begin the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens. Ours is a realistic and pragmatic model.

A number of US states have passed their own zero emissions goals including California, Washington and New Mexico.

Derecho Constitucional / Constitucional Law

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Florida House approves bill allowing more armed teachers      

Source: Jurist

May 2, 2019

-United States-

The Florida House of Representatives on Wednesday approved HB 7093 (School Safety Bill), which will expand opportunities for teachers to become armed school guardians. The bill will be passed on to Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it.

The School Safety Bill will loosen the requirements of the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, which was enacted in response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Under the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, only teachers who had a second role at the school, like athletic coach, could apply to be a school guardian. Such school guardians would be allowed to carry guns on campus as a last line of defense.

The School Safety Bill will let any teacher be a part of the program. No teacher will be required to participate in the program.

Derecho Constitucional / Constitucional Law

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Utah Senate approves hate crimes Bill

Source: Jurist

March 06, 2019

-United States-

 The Utah Senate passed a hates crime bill (SB 103) by a vote of 18-11 on Tuesday. The bill now moves to the Utah House of Representatives for consideration.

SB 103 would authorize increased penalties for criminals who target victims based on certain personal attributes including age, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.

(2) A defendant is subject to enhanced penalties under Subsection (3) if the defendant intentionally selects:

(a) the victim of the criminal offense because of the defendant’s belief or perception regarding the victim’s personal attribute or a personal attribute of another individual or group of individuals with whom the victim has a relationship; or
(b) the property damaged or otherwise affected by the criminal offense because of the defendant’s belief or perception regarding the property owner’s, possessor’s, or occupant’s personal attribute or a personal attribute of another individual or group of individuals with whom the property owner, possessor, or occupant has a relationship.

Senator Daniel Thatcher, who sponsored the bill, said the biggest hurdle facing the bill came from senators worried about prosecuting thought crimes. As written, SB 103 would not operate as a standalone criminal offense, and only increase penalties for those convicted of other crimes.

SB 103 faced significant debate on the floor, including over what classes should be covered.