Beat was busy in 2013

In some newsrooms, reporters and editors fondly welcome odd-numbered years.

That’s because these are election-lite: No races for president, governor, attorney general or the state Legislature. No glut of partisan candidates trying to open new orifices in each other’s anatomies. Hooray.

But in covering a beat like money and politics, there is no break in the action. A glance back through a year’s worth of weekly columns confirms it. Continue Reading

Public wants action on redistricting

Recently the Wisconsin State Journal asked Dennis Dresang, political science professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, about state Republicans’ push to bar local governments from regulating everything from the sale of large sugary drinks to the use of explosives by sand mining companies. Negative reaction to these curbs on local control, mused the veteran political observer, might hurt Gov. Scott Walker at the polls. But he doubted the GOP would lose seats in the Legislature, given how voter boundaries have been redrawn to the party’s advantage. Continue Reading

Prions — in plants? New concern for chronic wasting disease

CWD national map - August 2012

Prions — the infectious, deformed proteins that cause chronic wasting disease in deer — can be taken up by plants such as alfalfa, corn and tomatoes, according to new research from the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison. The research further demonstrated that stems and leaves from tainted plants were infectious when injected into laboratory mice.The findings are significant, according to the researchers and other experts, because they reveal a previously unknown potential route of exposure to prions for a Wisconsin deer herd in which the fatal brain illness continues to spread.
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