Reading Time: 3 minutes

Racial disparities in marijuana arrests; Midwest in for more hot days; utility drops solar surcharge; 30 states tackle crimeless revocations; frac sand woes raise reclamation worries

Of note: This week we draw your attention to the latest installment in Wisconsin Watch’s The Cannabis Question series. In this story, reporter Izabela Zaluska finds that blacks are four times as likely to be arrested for possessing marijuana as whites, even though studies show there is little variation in usage between the two groups. Experts say African-American communities often are more heavily policed than majority white communities, leading to more enforcement — and more negative consequences for people of color.

Access to some stories listed in the Wisconsin Weekly roundup may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing. 

Thanks for reading!

To have the free Wisconsin Weekly newsletter (as well as story alerts and news about the Center) delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here! You can change your preferences at any time.

Blacks arrested for pot possession at four times the rate of whites in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Watch July 14, 2019

In 2018, blacks were four times as likely to be arrested as whites for marijuana possession in Wisconsin, a Wisconsin Watch review shows. Experts point to policing practices and the racial history behind marijuana prohibition as leading to arrest disparities. Even though marijuana is illegal in Wisconsin, officers have discretion if they come across someone with marijuana. An officer can ignore it, give a ticket or take someone to jail, Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said.

Study: Minn., Midwest could see more dangerously hot days as climate change worsens

MPR News July 16, 2019

The number of days with a dangerously high heat index could increase dramatically in Minnesota and the rest of the United States as the effects of climate change worsen, according to a study published Tuesday. The study was conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit that advocates for science-based solutions to problems like climate change. It projected both temperature and humidity into the future under three different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. Previously from Wisconsin Watch: Climate change causes roller coaster mercury levels in fish

We Energies drops proposal for surcharge on homeowners, small businesses that go solar

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel July 15, 2019

The Milwaukee-based utility and Renew Wisconsin said Monday they had reached a settlement over the surcharge that We Energies asked for as part of a larger rate case that is now before state utility regulators. The agreement comes as the price of solar power and solar systems are declining and, more broadly, large-scale renewable energy increasingly is being embraced by utilities, including We Energies. Previously from Wisconsin Watch: Solar flare up: Utility blocks Iowa firm from harnessing the sun in Milwaukee

Reforms to Post-Prison Technical Violations Passed in 30 States

The Crime Report July 17, 2019

Over 30 states, including Wisconsin, have enacted policy reforms to reduce the number of people returned to prison for technical violations through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), according to a report from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Pew Public Safety Performance Project. Technical violations refer to instances in which a person fails to follow the rules of probation or parole. Such rules can include maintaining employment, paying fees and attending appointments with officers. According to the report, Wisconsin is using just one of eight available strategies to reduce so-called crimeless revocations. As Wisconsin Watch previously reported, 40 percent of all new prison admissions in the state are due to rule violations.

Frac Sand Producer In Wisconsin Declares Bankruptcy

Wisconsin Public Radio July 17, 2019

Emerge Energy Services, which owns eight frac sand mining and processing facilities in Wisconsin under subsidiary Superior Silica Sands, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in federal court. Now, officials in Chippewa and Barron counties are working to find out how the bankruptcy might impact plans to reclaim idled sand mines. Emerge Energy filed for bankruptcy Monday, though court documents obtained by WPR show, one mine and two processing facilities are still in operation. The filings list more than $338 million in debt from creditors around the country including construction, excavating and contracting companies in Wisconsin. 

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Popular stories from Wisconsin Watch

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Watch editorial and business staff.