Latest Stories

Frac sand news roundup: Minnesota county mining ban ‘an amazing move and victory for the people’

An overview of the 400-acre plot of Preferred Sands mine in Blair, Wis., in Trempealeau County on June 20, 2012.

The latest in Wisconsin frac sand. See our in-depth stories since 2011 on our frac sand project page. Minnesota’s Houston County may become the first in the state to permanently ban frac sand mining after an unanimous vote last week to approve a new mining ordinance. Meanwhile, Alberta-based rail company Canadian Pacific is upgrading its tracks, which carry crude oil as well as sand through the county, and a Houston County resident is still planning multiple frac sand mining operations in the area. But frac sand opponents are still optimistic: “This is an amazing move and victory for the people,” said one resident. Continue Reading

Scott Walker budget bill is rife with non-fiscal policy items

Jennifer Shilling

Some of Walker’s proposals appear to be policy changes with little or no fiscal impact. Wisconsin governors and lawmakers from both parties have often injected these into the budget. Walker, as a candidate for governor in 2010, made an unequivocal pledge to “strip policy and pork projects from the state budget.” By his first budget, this promise was labeled “broken.”
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Your Right to Know: Don’t let the UW hide research records

This blanket exemption would spare the UW from needing a good reason to deny access to these records, as current law requires. Instead, universities could categorically spurn inquiries from citizens, media and even lawmakers looking into controversial research, potential threats to public safety, conflicts of interest or how tax dollars are spent.
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Your Right to Know: State needs to fix drivers records access issue

Julia Hunter

In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled that the village of Palatine, Illinois, may have violated the act by leaving parking tickets, which included personal information, on the windshields of motorists. Some Wisconsin police departments, instructed by their insurers, began redacting personal information from police reports. No other state — not even Illinois, where the Palatine case occurred — adopted this interpretation.

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State workers punished after curbing non-union elevator shop

Cheryl and Scott Peterson in an elevator service room in Jackson, Wis., on Jan. 29, 2015. Cheryl Peterson’s complaint to the state that her company was being unfairly targeted led to a probe that nullified a restriction on Scott Peterson’s ability to service elevators, and to disciplinary action against the state workers who imposed it.

The employees said they acted to protect public safety in restricting the contractor’s ability to service a particular elevator model. But the state Department of Safety and Professional Services, responding to complaints filed with an office created by Gov. Scott Walker to assist small businesses, accused the employees of violating workplace rules and nullified this restriction. Continue Reading

Republicans seek Medicaid audit of all family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood

State auditors say two family planning clinics overbilled Medicaid for $3.5 million, largely for birth control; the providers say the state is using the wrong reimbursement rate. Now Republican legislators are seeking an audit of all such clinics in Wisconsin.

The 32 legislators’ action was prompted by a Center story in November about state auditors alleging that two family planning clinics overbilled Medicaid by $3.5 million, largely for birth control drugs and devices. Family planning providers say the auditors’ stance could force many clinics to close, while the state maintains it is protecting taxpayers. Continue Reading