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MADISON -- A debate over the new state budget lasted only 15 minutes in the Assembly Tuesday, as majority Republicans spent most of their time behind closed doors adding some last-minute items. The debate was scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday and a vote was set for 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, under new rules aimed at discouraging all-night sessions. The Senate is currently scheduled to take up the two-year, $68 billion budget Thursday.
The Stillwater Lift Bridge will close to vehicle traffic for a couple hours today, Wednesday, beginning at noon. The closure became necessary after a cable snapped Sunday, June 16, at around 8 p.m. -- leaving the lift area of the bridge in the down position. Since then boat passage along the St. Croix River has been limited. Vehicle traffic has been able to continue to use the span. Minnesota Department of Transportation officials said the bridge is expected to reopen to cars by 4 p.m.
"Wow," was all Harold Buckentin could say when he recalled how the Chilakoot Bowhunters Club had come to call a 53-acre parcel of challenging terrain just outside Somerset home nearly 60 years ago. According to club newsletter editor, Marlene Odahlen-Hinz, the club started in 1953 as an enthusiastic gathering of 30 bowhunters from the Stillwater, Minn. vicinity just looking for a place to target practice. "During the first couple of years, the club shot both indoors and out wherever they could.
MADISON -- State Assembly members shared impassioned family stories before approving three bills to restrict abortion rights. All Republicans voted yes and all Democrats voted no Thursday, as the house sent Gov. Scott Walker a bill to make abortion candidates get ultrasounds so they can see the fetuses they want to give up. Opponents say the bill would shut down the Planned Parenthood clinic in Appleton, because it forces abortion doctors to have admission privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their clinics.
If you think you're seeing fewer young people in Wisconsin, you're right. The U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday that 14.4 percent of the state's population was 65 or older as of last July. That's just less than one percent more than in the 2010 Census. Wisconsin had an estimated 824,500 seniors as of last July. That includes 124,000 who were 85 or older - an increase of 6,000 during the previous two years. Also, Wisconsin's percentage of senior citizens is larger than the national figure of 13.7 percent.
Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate blocked approval yesterday of a Republican bill to require women to get ultrasounds before getting abortions. The hold-up won't be long, as G-O-P Senate leaders said the bill would come up again first thing Wednesday. New Berlin Republican Mary Lazich proposed the bill, saying it would reduce the numbers of abortions by letting women see photos of the unborn children they want to abort.
MADISON -- The Wisconsin Senate was scheduled to vote Tuesday on a bill to increase weekly jobless benefits, while making it easier to recover money that was overpaid to recipients. The bill would increase the weekly payments by $1 to $7, while letting officials check private bank accounts for evidence of overpayments. Banks that do business with the state government would have to disclose information about the accounts held by those who owe money to the unemployment fund.
U.S. Senate Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says we need a "very delicate balance" between protecting civil liberties and gathering intelligence to fight terrorism. Johnson, a member of the Senate Homeland Security panel, was on "Fox News Sunday" to discuss the recent reports about the monitoring of phone calls and Internet usage. Johnson said he was "every bit concerned" about civil liberties as many Americans who criticized the extent in which national security personnel search for patterns of terrorist activity.
Home-bound senior citizens in New Richmond are receiving more deliveries of food thanks to a new pilot project in St. Croix County. The Aging and Disability Resource Center has partnered with the Five Loaves Food Pantry to better serve those who are stuck at home. According to Randi Hanson, preventative nutrition program coordinator, home-bound seniors receive four lunches per week thanks to the Meals on Wheels program. But for three days during the week, she explained, they get no meals delivered. "That means a lot of missed meals," Hanson said.
Tears, cheers and pleas filled the room as the St. Croix County Health and Human Services Board and Council on Aging and Disabilities met together in joint session Monday night. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the 2014 budget for all Health and Human Services programs, but the public hearing was almost completely dominated by debate about the future of St.