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Wisconsin Weekly is a Friday news roundup of reports from Wisconsin Watch and other trusted news outlets. Access to some stories 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, and sign up to get our free newsletters here

This week we highlight a story about how the state’s Joint Finance Committee has increasingly used its secretive “pocket veto” to thwart land acquisitions and other state spending requests. The committee may be violating state law, but Gov. Tony Evers has been reluctant to challenge a process that has been in place for decades under both Republicans and Democrats, Wisconsin Watch’s Jacob Resneck found. Instead Evers has called in his proposed 2023-25 budget for an end to the secrecy.

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Town of Grand Chute public works director Katie Schwartz and parks director Seth Westberg show a section of the Arrowhead Park wooden boardwalk. The Joint Finance Committee held up the state’s share of funding for the $1.3 million project for more than two months without explanation. (Jacob Resneck / Wisconsin Watch)

‘There’s no transparency’: Secretive ‘pocket veto’ scuttles Wisconsin projects

Wisconsin Watch — March 11, 2023

The Joint Finance Committee has long allowed members to anonymously block projects. Wisconsin Watch found that in many cases, the committee has failed to follow state law, which requires scheduling a public hearing on spending halted by such anonymous objections. The effect is a secretive “pocket veto” over projects, ranging from a $15.5 million easement to expand recreational access along the Pelican River to a $17.5 million incentive program to encourage low-income Wisconsinites on Medicaid to become vaccinated.

Thousands rallied at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis., on May 1, 2019, to advocate for driver’s licenses for all, regardless of immigration status. The Day without Latinxs and Immigrants rally and strike was organized by Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights organization. Voces organized buses to bring in demonstrators from 17 cities around the state, including Green Bay, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Dells and Appleton. (Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch)

‘Driver’s licenses for all:’ Why some advocates call for expanding access in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Watch/WPR — March 16, 2023

Immigrant advocacy groups have spent years pushing to repeal Wisconsin’s 16-year-old ban on driver’s licenses for people who lack legal status, saying doing so is not only humane, but would expand the state’s tight labor force and boost public safety.

An airplane takes off near the site where Starkweather Creek exits Truax Field Air National Guard Base and flows through pipes that feed the water downstream toward Lake Monona in Madison, Wis. Truax Field Air National Guard Base and Dane County Regional Airport have been cited as known sources of PFAS — hazardous “forever chemicals” — that have contaminated Starkweather Creek, Lake Monona and a municipal water well that was shuttered. Photo taken on Aug. 5, 2021. (Isaac Wasserman / Wisconsin Watch)

What EPA’s nationwide PFAS rule means for Wisconsin drinking water

Wisconsin Watch — March 15, 2023

A new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal issued Tuesday would tighten limits on toxic “forever chemicals” in Wisconsin’s drinking water. If finalized, the rule would establish the first national standard for PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in public water supplies, bringing uniformity to a jumble of state regulations.

Read more from Wisconsin Watch: What should I do about PFAS in my water? | Midwest river towns seek answers after 3M factory taints water with PFAS

The crew of the fish tug, Ava June, pick cisco, or lake herring, from gillnets after lifting them from Lake Superior during a fishing run near the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin, on Nov. 15, 2022. A recent study highlighting the potential dangers of “forever chemicals” has raised questions about the impacts of consuming fish exposed to toxins in the nation’s waterways. But oversimplifying or overstating the risks carries consequences. (Bennet Goldstein / Wisconsin Watch)

Why fish consumption advisories in Great Lakes states like Wisconsin carry their own risks

Wisconsin Watch — March 14, 2023

A recent study highlighting the potential dangers of “forever chemicals” has raised questions about the impacts of consuming fish exposed to toxins in the nation’s waterways, including the Great Lakes. For Indigenous nations like the Red Cliff band, where fishing is central to tribal lifeways, culture and sovereignty, contamination could pose disproportionate health burdens. Yet, oversimplifying or overstating the risks carries consequences.

Read more from Wisconsin Watch: Great Lakes pollution threatens Ojibwe treaty rights to fish 

Nearly 70% of Wisconsin snowmobile fatalities involve alcohol as bars dot trails

Wisconsin State Journal — March 13, 2023

For some who ride their sleds on networks of trails that are dotted with bars and restaurants, temptation and bad decisions can carry deadly consequences. Alcohol was a contributing factor in 109 of 156 snowmobile fatalities between 2013 and 2022, Department of Natural Resources data show. More than two months into the 2023 season, 16 people have died while snowmobiling, with alcohol involved in five of the deaths. Test results are pending in 10 other cases.

Election-denying donors pour millions into key Wisconsin supreme court race

The Guardian — March 14, 2023

More than $3.9 million has poured into the Wisconsin Supreme Court election from individuals and groups involved with promoting election disinformation and attempts to overturn the 2020 election, according to an analysis of campaign spending by the Guardian. The contributions, in support of the conservative candidate Daniel Kelly, come amid a race that has broken national campaign spending records. 


Administrators of the Pulitzer Prizes are coming to Wisconsin and invite the public to an evening of discussion. Pulitzer Prize winning reporters Corey Johnson of ProPublica and Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will discuss how journalism can help improve societal problems. “Pulitzer on the Road: How Local Journalism Helps You,” will be held Tuesday, March 28 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. There will be a reception with light food and beverages following the program. The event is free, but please register here.

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. 

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