Legislators and the rest of the policy crowd that hang out in the state capitols are again coming in for the unsolicited advice from the national editorial writers who want to influence processes on a variety of topics, including food safety. The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel is warning policy makers against turning the clock back “to the 1920s” when it comes to making raw milk more widely available. In an editorial published Nov. 18, the newspaper points to the potluck dinner this September for a western Wisconsin football team that left 38 attendees sickened from the consumption of raw milk. “Wisconsin has been at the heart of a heated debate over raw milk,” the editorial says. “The state allows limited incidental sales, but generally prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk, which may carry bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. But some advocates want broader access to unprocessed milk, arguing that raw milk contains beneficial bacteria that they claim are killed by pasteurization—when milk is heated to kill pathogens.” In the four years since former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill allowing commercial sales of raw milk in the state, there has rarely been a time when someone in the Legislature has not been ready with another bill. However, a broad coalition from Wisconsin’s $30 billion pasteurized dairy industry and the state’s public health advocates have held off the raw milk advocates in Madison. It’s just one of the sort of food safety policy debates that could erupt once most state legislative bodies assemble early in 2015. Nebraska’s Lincoln Star newspaper delivered a Nov. 19 message clearly intended for the state’s Unicameral. It says Nebraska’s “modern agriculture needs to do a better job of presenting itself to the world.” “Too often, the reaction in farm country has been to try to shut out consumers, using tactics like ‘ag-gag’ laws with new criminal penalties for crusaders to trespass on our farmland,” the Star’s editorial writers say. Last week’s state house elections saw the Republicans “run the table,” according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. When the nation’s legislative bodies are called into session in 2015, there will be at least 952 more Republicans holding power in those state houses than Democrats. According to NCSL, Republicans took away the majorities in 11 legislative chambers previously held by the Democrats. These include the: Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, Minnesota House, Nevada Assembly, Nevada Senate, New Hampshire House, New York Senate, New Mexico House, Washington State Senate, West Virginia House and West Virginia Senate. When, after the 2010 elections, the GOP’s lead in legislative seats topped 600, it was considered historic. With some counting still occurring, Republicans are certain of a pickup in the 350-seat range. They have not had that kind of dominance since the 1920s. The GOP holds both the House and Senate in 30 states, and holds a single legislative chamber in eight other states. Democrats hold both bodies in 11 states, and split with the GOP the opposite chambers in those other eight states. Republicans picked up the Governor’s mansions in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, but lost Pennsylvania and Alaska for a net pickup of two, taking the number of GOP chief executives to 31, the most by any party in 16 years. The count leaves 18 Democratic governors and one independent. And one other measure—Republicans control it all, both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in 23 states, compared to just seven for the Democrats. Since 2010, a couple dozen bills have been introduced attempting to impose penalties for taking pictures or making videos of agricultural facilities without permission. About handful of states have adopted them, and they’ve come to be known as ‘ag-gag’ laws for their effect. At a University of Nebraska –Lincoln policy conference held ahead of 2015 session of the state’s unicameral, the only one of its kind in the country, the Star said the food and agriculture sectors were told they’d do best for their brands if they listened to people and remained transparent. And in Wisconsin, the Journal-Sentinel said the state’s problem is not that raw milk is not sold commercially, it is that when the on-the-farm products make 26 people sick and sends ten to area hospitals, the Department of Agriculture sill is not required to tell the public the name of the supplier. The Star reported the Nebraska policy conference addressed “truths about science, emotion, the media, and food that should be taken to heart at farm country.”