In July 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking the public’s suggestions regarding an environmental impact statement for an eight-state Midwestern plan designed to help conserve the habitats of several species of animals, including bats that can be harmed by wind turbines.
The governor and legislative leaders declined to say whether the governor himself was behind the original measure. A review by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism shows similarities between recent records request denials from the governor’s office and the state Department of Administration and changes inserted in the budget Thursday by Republican leaders — similarities that raise questions about whether Walker himself was involved in the budget proposal.
A provision snuck into the state budget bill by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee would deal a significant blow to open government in Wisconsin. The provision, part of an omnibus motion of changes affecting the University of Wisconsin System, would exempt universities from the rule in place for all other state agencies regarding the naming of finalists for key positions. No longer would they need to identify the five most qualified applicants, or each applicant if there are fewer than five.
While cities like Madison, Waukesha and Green Bay thrive economically, northern Wisconsin counties have been left behind in the state’s economic development efforts. Local economic development leaders share stories of being ineligible for economic development programs brought by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a quasi-governmental agency created in 2011 by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Northern counties are also receiving proportionally less help from the WEDC, with many local leaders saying they are ineligible or unable to meet basic requirements for certain programs or incentives.
Wisconsin’s walleye have been in decline for as long as scientists have been collecting solid data, about a quarter-century. They aren’t as plentiful, and they’re growing more slowly. Now the state Department of Natural Resources’ ability to research and reverse that decline could be at risk, with Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed cuts of DNR scientists.
A state law requires that before the DNR can lay off a single permanent staffer, it must let go any limited-term employees or probationary employees with the same job classification. According to numbers DNR furnished the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in early May, the science bureau has 95 LTEs.
Award-winning journalist Dee J. Hall, whose investigations unearthed one of the largest political scandals in Wisconsin history and exposed injustices against vulnerable residents, is joining the staff of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism to lead its daily news operations.