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PIXABAY.COM

Michigan will lift all indoor capacity restrictions and mask requirements next week, 10 days sooner than planned amid vaccinations and plummeting COVID-19 infections.

The state’s main coronavirus order will expire at the end of Monday instead of on July 1, ending 50% occupancy limits inside restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues and at indoor events like weddings and funerals.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made the announcement Thursday.

PIXABAY.COM

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is unchanged for May at 3.9%.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development reported the latest figures on Thursday.

The nationwide unemployment rate in May was 5.8%.

A year ago, in May 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic was worsening, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 10.4%.

Wisconsin added 3,400 private sector jobs in May, bringing its total to 201,100 more than a year ago.

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The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is tracking a new variant of COVID-19 with more than two dozen cases in the state.

The Delta strain has been elevated to a “variant of concern” in Wisconsin. The strain is fueling the coronavirus surge in the United Kingdom and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is more contagious and more resistant to vaccines.

DHA says the vaccines currently available in the U.S. have been shown to provide some protection against the Delta strain.

Pixabay.com

The Wisconsin Assembly is poised to send a package of police reform bills to Gov. Tony Evers, including a measure banning police use of chokeholds except in life-threatening situations or in self defense.

The proposal is among a dozen bipartisan policing bills up for approval on Wednesday that have broad support among the law enforcement community.

The Senate passed many of them last week, including the chokehold ban.

All of the measures grew out of an Assembly task force on policing and racial equity and have bipartisan support.

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The effort to expand broadband internet to underserved rural areas in Wisconsin would get a $125 million boost under the budget being written by Republicans.

 

That’s about $75 million less in state funding than Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed.

 

The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee voted Tuesday to approve the spending, which would be borrowed to pay for grants issued by the Public Service Commission.

 

The state funding would be on top of federal coronavirus relief money coming to Wisconsin that can be spent on broadband.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Postcards are being mailed this week to about 187,000 voters in Wisconsin who have not cast a ballot in the past four years, informing them that they will have their registration deactivated unless they take action within 30 days.

If the voter does not take action, or the mailing is undeliverable, the voter will have to reregister in order to vote.

To remain registered, voters must sign and return the postcard indicating that is their intention by July 15.

State law requires the mailing to be sent every two years following the November election.

PIXABAY.COM

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul is seeking permission from Republicans on the Legislature's budget committee to join a multistate decision to drop a lawsuit challenging Trump administration obstacles to abortion.

Twenty states including Wisconsin sued the administration in 2019 over a rule banning taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers.

The Biden administration said it plans to undo the rule by the end of the year, prompting the states to seek to dismiss the lawsuit.

Wikimedia Commons

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed key approvals by state regulators of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project. A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 on Monday that the Public Utilities Commission correctly granted Enbridge the certificate of need and route permit that the Canadian-based company needs for the Minnesota segment. Enbridge wants to replace the 1960s-era pipeline because it has been deteriorating and can run at only half capacity.

Wisconsin DNR Facebook

Wisconsin’s top sturgeon biologist has pleaded no contest in Winnebago County to obstructing a warden. Ryan Koenigs was charged following an investigation into illegally processing sturgeon eggs into caviar. A judge ordered him to pay a $50 fine. The Department of Natural Resources said Koenigs is on leave is pending the conclusion of an internal investigation. An investigation revealed that DNR employees, including Koenings, would allegedly collect eggs from spearers, telling them they were for research purposes.

Pixabay

How much and what taxes to cut is one of the largest remaining questions for the Legislature’s budget-writing committee to tackle this week as it nears the end of its work writing the state budget. The Republican-controlled panel hopes to complete its work on Thursday. It has dramatically scaled back the two-year spending plan from what Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed in February. Once passed by the committee, the Senate and Assembly will vote on the budget, likely the last week of June. Once passed by the Legislature, it then heads to Evers who has broad line-item veto authority.

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A plant in Kansas that prints sewing patterns for most of national sewing pattern companies is closing after more than 50 years.

McCall Pattern Company officials announced this week the plant will close by the end of the year.

It currently employs 85 workers.

A spokeswoman for Design Group, which owns McCall, says the work will be transferred to Neenah, Wisconsin.

At its height the plant printed and folded about 200 million patterns a year.

That's dropped to about 25 million today.

Michigan DNR Facebook

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources is enrolling private property owners in a program that pays them to allow controlled public hunting access on their land.

 

Interested landowners should have at least 40 acres of land with some wildlife habitat, such as forest, brush, grassland and/or wetland.

 

Priority will be given to land near urban and suburban areas with limited public access.

 

Enrollment in the DNR Hunting Access Program also will focus on areas where the distance to public land is more than 30 miles.

 

Western Illinois University Facebook

Western Illinois University is giving students a chance to gain teaching experience at Native American tribal schools in Wisconsin.

 

The school says that beginning in the fall, students can take part in what's called the Tribal School Teaching Program.

 

One student has already been selected to participate in the 16-week program and others are encouraged to apply.

 

The program is similar to one the school had in the 1970s and 1980s in which students completed their student teaching in Montana.

en.wikipedia.org

A federal judge has halted a loan forgiveness program for farmers of color in response to a lawsuit alleging the program discriminates against white farmers. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports U.S. District Judge William Griesbach in Milwaukee issued a temporary restraining order Thursday suspending the program from President Joe Biden' administration for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The program pays up to 120% of direct or guaranteed farm loan balances for Black, American Indian, Hispanic, Asian American or Pacific Islander farmers.

Kirk Bangstad

A conservative newspaper in northern Wisconsin has filed a libel lawsuit against a former Democratic state Assembly candidate.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the Lakeland Times of Minocqua and its owner, Gregg Walker, filed suit against Kirk Bangstad in Oneida County on May 12.

The lawsuit alleges that Bangstad refused to take down Facebook posts last year in which he called Walker a crook and a misogynist and alleged the newspaper called a local business official a derogatory name for a person with cognitive delays.

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