On August 30, a bill that would have upended the ability of California communities to choose their electrical power sources was defeated in the state senate. AB 2145 was rejected thanks in large part to the outpour of grassroots opposition by a coalition of local governments, elected officials, and nonprofits like the Sustainable Economies Law Center, who pegged the bill as a power grab by utility companies.Read more
Sustainable Economies Law Center Submits Recommended Changes to CA Money Transmission Act Regulations
In 2010, the California legislature passed the Money Transmission Act (2010), a sweeping law intended to regulate the payments industry and other activities broadly defined as "money transmission." Though the law was written to “protect the interests of consumers of money transmission businesses . . . [and to] maintain public confidence in financial institutions,” the proposed regulations erect significant financial and compliance barriers for small-scale and cooperative enterprises whose services may include "money transmission."
In particular, community currencies, lending circles, online peer-to-peer distribution platforms, and other small-scale enterprises that involve sending money or stored value may be implicated by pending MTA regulations.Read more
By: Cat Johnson
September 8, 2014
In June, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture alerted the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg that their seed library was in violation of the Pennsylvania Seed Act of 2004. According to officials, the library would have to follow the prohibitively expensive procedures of large-scale commercial seed companies or only offer commercial seed. The first option is impractical and the second option would gut the exchange of its primary purpose to serve home gardeners who want to save and exchange their own seed.
The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) reported in a recent article on Shareable.net that the Pennsylvania law may only apply to commercial seed operations. Despite what may be an incorrect interpretation of the law, other states are now considering adopting Pennsylvania's seed library protocol. This could kill a fast growing U.S. seed library movement.Read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Bill Promotes Food Security and Access Through Urban Agriculture
Sacramento, California – September 2, 2014 – On Wednesday, August 27, 2014, the California Legislature passed AB 2561, also known as the California Neighborhood Food Act. The Act guarantees tenants’ and members of homeowner’s associations’ rights to grow food for personal consumption by voiding contrary language in lease agreements or homeowner’s association agreements. Governor Jerry Brown must sign the bill in order for it to become law.Read more
Do you know a food lawyer? Ever heard the term before? How would you define it?
If you're not sure, don't worry you're not alone. Food law is a relatively new, and rapidly growing, area of law that includes a wide range of activities. Mary Beth Albright over at National Geographic's The Plate recently shared her definition in an article that features some great photos of SELC Executive Director, Janelle Orsi, and clients from our Resilient Communities Legal Cafe.Read more
After the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture cracked down on a seed bank in the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, hundreds of seed libraries in the U.S. are suddenly wondering if they are breaking the law.
There are seed laws in every state that regulate the sale and transport of seeds within state lines. At the federal level, seed laws govern interstate commerce in seeds. These laws exist to restrict the introduction of invasive species, protect consumers from unscrupulous businesses, and ensure fair competition in the seed industry. But should they apply to non-commercial, non-profit, community-based seed libraries? We don't think so, and we think that seed libraries have the laws on their side.
Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), along with our friends at Shareable and the Center for a New American Dream, published this article laying down the legal argument why seed libraries shouldn't be subjected to seed laws intended to regulate the commercial seed industry.
On June 28th, California took a significant step toward further legitimizing the creation and circulation of community currencies and other innovative means of exchange. Signed into law by Gov. Brown, the California Alternative Currencies Act (AB 129) repeals the outdated and vague Section 107 of the California Corporations Code, thus removing a significant legal barrier to the continued growth of the community currencies movement.Read more