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Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, questioned the need for widespread COVID-19 vaccinations, saying in a radio interview “what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” Johnson, who has no medical expertise or background, made the comments Thursday during an interview with conservative talk radio host Vicki McKenna. Contrary to what medical experts advise, Johnson has said he doesn’t need to be vaccinated because he had COVID-19 in the fall. He went further on Thursday, questioning why anyone would get vaccinated or worry about why others have not.

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Gov. Tony Evers has vetoed Republican-backed bills that would have prevented health officials from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine and allowed churches to be closed during the pandemic.

Evers said in his veto messages Friday that he objected to the bills because they limited his ability to respond to the pandemic.

The action has little immediate effect.

There is no state order limiting how many people can gather in churches or any indoor venue, although there are some limited local ordinances.

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  A former priest who left Michigan decades ago has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing teens in the Upper Peninsula in the 1980s.

The attorney general's office says 75-year-old Gary Jacobs pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal sexual conduct in Ontonagon County and will serve at least eight years in prison.

Jacobs is scheduled to make a similar similar plea deal in Dickinson County on May 3.

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Gov. Tony Evers has issued an executive order directing the Department of Natural Resources to plant 75 million trees by the end of 2030.

Evers issued the order Thursday in recognition of Earth Day.

He said in the order that planting trees in urban and rural areas is one of the best ways to combat climate change.

Evers said in a news release touting the order that the new trees will store 28.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over the next 50 years.

Gov. Tony Evers has vetoed a package of Republican-authored bills that would have directed how the state would spend $3.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money.

Evers on Thursday also announced that up to $420 million in that money coming to the state would go toward a grant program targeting small businesses.

One of the bills he vetoed would have directed $200 million toward small businesses, an amount Evers said “won’t cut it for me.”

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  The Wisconsin Assembly’s bipartisan racial disparities task force created in the wake of a white Kenosha police officer shooting a Black man is making 18 recommendations.

But the group stopped short Wednesday of calling for a total ban on chokeholds and no-knock warrants as Gov. Tony Evers wants.

Jacob Blake was left paralyzed by the shooting.

The group could also not reach consensus on how to define what constitutes excessive police use of force for the purposes of a statewide definition.

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Gov. Tony Evers says Wisconsin schools will receive more than $175 million in federal funding to pay for school-based COVID-19 testing for teachers, students and staff.

The money announced Tuesday is coming to Wisconsin as part of $10 billion the U.S. Department of Health Services announced in March it was targeting to help schools reopen across the country.

The tests would be voluntary.

Concerns about new coronavirus variants more easily infecting people under age 16, who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, have increased as case counts have gone up.

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Foxconn Technology Group will qualify for up to $80 million in state tax incentives under a new contract that downsizes the scale of credits as the size of the envisioned manufacturing facility has also shrunk.

Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday announced details of the new contract. Under the original deal, signed in 2017, Foxconn would have qualified for $2.85 billion in state tax credits if it invested $10 billion and created 13,000 jobs.

Under the new deal, Foxconn will qualify for $80 million if it employs 1,454 people and invests $676 million by 2026.

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The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says taxes on the typical Wisconsin home over the next two years would not increase quite as much under Gov. Tony Evers’ budget proposal as they would under current law.

As Evers proposed, the owner of a median-valued home, which is $197.200 this year, would increase by $22 the first year of the budget and $63 the second.

That is $12 less over two years than what property taxes are expected to increase under current law.

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Michigan has extended by five weeks a pandemic order requiring masks in public, limiting capacity inside businesses and capping gathering sizes.

The measure announced Friday replaces one that had been due to expire Monday.

It includes one change. Children ages 2 to 4 in day care facilities or camps are no longer exempt from having to wear masks, starting April 26.

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  A new report shows Wisconsin's unemployment rate held steady at 3.8% in March, far below the national rate of 6%. The state Department of Workforce Development released a report Thursday that found the state added 12,900 total non-farm and 11,100 private-sector jobs from February to March. Wisconsin is still down 129,000 jobs from March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic seized the state. The state unemployment rate then was 3.3%.

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  Democrat Tom Nelson says he has raised nearly $264,000 in the first three months of the year in his bid for the U.S. Senate, about a quarter of what challenger Alex Lasry brought in over six weeks. Nelson, the Outagamie County executive, has cast himself as the financial underdog in the race. He facest Lasry, a Milwaukee Bucks executive and son of a billionaire, and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who is married to a millionaire. They are all running for the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who has yet to say whether he will seek a third term next year.

Wisconsin Supreme Court

Wisconsin's Supreme Court justices have chosen Annette Ziegler to replace Patience Roggensack as chief justice.

The court voted on the move Wednesday.

The 80-year-old Roggensack has been on the court since 2003 and had served as chief justice since 2015.

Roggensack replaced Shirley Abrahamson after voters approved a constitutional amendment giving justices the power to select their chief.

Before the amendment the chief was automatically the longest-serving justice.  

The 57-year-old Ziegler was elected to the Supreme Court in 2007.

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Michigan will expand the use of a COVID-19 treatment in hopes of substantially reducing climbing hospitalizations and deaths.

Additional doses of monoclonal antibodies will be given to hospitals and other providers, which will be asked to add infusion sites.

The treatment has concentrated doses of lab-made antibodies to fight coronavirus infections and is geared toward people who are at high risk for severe symptoms or hospitalization.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday the treatment could save lives.

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The Wisconsin Department of Justice has procured a federal tracking system to trace the status of sexual assault evidence kits in case the Legislature gives the green light to implement it.

Attorney General Josh Kaul said Wednesday that the system will be funded with a $327,000 federal grant.

It will monitor how long kits spend at different points in the processing system. Victims will be able to directly access information about their kits.

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