Republicans urge faster processing of unemployment claims
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans at a sometimes heated legislative hearing are faulting leaders in Gov. Tony Evers’ administration for not doing enough to ensure unemployment claims are processed quickly during the pandemic. Wednesday’s hearing laid bare the partisan debate over who is to blame for the backlog of unprocessed claims. Republicans accuse Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman of not being prepared for the surge in unemployment applications and not reacting when it arrived. Frostman says his agency has been working to speed the processing of claims. Business shutdowns due to the coronavirus have caused the state’s worst employment crisis since the Great Depression.
Northern Wisconsin country music festival given green-light
RHINELANDER, Wis. (AP) — A country music festival in northern Wisconsin won approval to stage the event in July, despite opposition from the county health department and the cancellation of similar large-scale events across the state and country due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Hodag Country Festival won approval Tuesday from the Oneida County public safety committee. Festival organizers must implement 25 public safety measures, including providing masks for employees and volunteers and encouraging festival attendees to wear masks and practice social distancing. About 16,000 people a day are expected for the festival between July 9 and July 12.
Evers makes $200 million available to local governments
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers says that Wisconsin local governments will share in $200 million from the federal coronavirus relief bill to help with expenses related to the pandemic. Evers on Wednesday announced that $190 million will be allocated to every Wisconsin county, city, village and town based on a formula that takes into account population. Federally recognized American Indian tribes will share $10 million. The money can be used for a wide variety of expenses, including emergency operations and purchases of personal protective equipment. Evers has also earmarked $1 billion in federal funding for the statewide response to the pandemic.
Wisconsin Supreme Court tosses lawsuit challenging order
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has dismissed as moot a lawsuit that argued Gov. Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order was a violation of constitutional rights to worship, protest and travel. The court earlier this month, in a different lawsuit, ruled that Evers’ health secretary exceeded her constitutional authority in issuing the “safer at home” order. Since then, in the absence of a statewide order some local governments have issued their own limitations on activity to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Given that the order being challenged has been invalidated, the Supreme Court said Wednesday that the second lawsuit is moot.
ELECTION 2020-VOTING WORRIES
Mail-in voting could turn Election Day into Election Week
Delays caused by an increase in voting by mail may contribute to public doubts about the results. The public may not know the winner of the presidential race on election day because of a massive shift to voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s because mail ballots take longer to count due to security procedures and laws in some states that limit when they can be processed. Democrats are worried that President Donald Trump’s escalating rhetoric against mail voting is designed to take advantage of this delay in the instance of a close race or even his defeat.
Wisconsin hunters allowed to kill 10 elk, same as last year
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board has voted not to change the number of elk that hunters can kill in Wisconsin this year. The board voted Wednesday to set a 10-elk hunting limit. That is the same as it has been the past two years. DNR Big Game Ecologist Kevin Wallenfang had recommended that the harvest be limited this year to six bulls. The DNR has been working to repopulate the state with elk for years. Board members voicing support for not reducing the number of elk to be hunted say they are confident the herd can sustain it.
Wisconsin agrees to broad mailing of absentee applications
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Elections Commission has agreed to mail out 2.7 million absentee ballot applications, just a week after the commission split along partisan lines. There’s still a hangup, though. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the plan agreed upon Wednesday could still face obstacles if the evenly divided commission can’t agree on the wording of a mailing that goes with the ballots. Handling of absentee ballot applications has become a hotly partisan issue, with President Donald Trump warning that widespread use could lead to election fraud. Democrats say it’s a safe way to vote during the coronavirus pandemic.
ALLIANT ENERGY-SOLAR PROJECTS
Alliant Energy investing $900 million in solar power plants
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Alliant Energy says it’s buying about $900 million worth of new solar power plants in Wisconsin, making the utility company the largest solar operator in Wisconsin. The six projects are under development in Grant, Jefferson, Richland, Rock, Sheboygan and Wood counties. Together they will have 675 megawatts of capacity, which is enough to power about 175,000 homes for a year. The State Journal reports the announcement comes just days after Alliant announced plans to retire the 35-year-old, 380-megawatt Edgewater plant in Sheboygan. That marks another step in the utility’s plan to cut 80% of its carbon emissions by 2050.
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