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(AP) A panel of federal judges has barred the state elections board from using new Republican-drawn election maps. The decision Thursday marks at least a partial victory for Democrats and a Hispanic-rights group who argued the maps hurt minority voters. The ruling says the new maps redrew two Milwaukee voting districts in a way that violates the Voting Rights Act. The ruling means the two specific districts will have to be redrawn. Critics of the new maps had said the boundaries divided minority blocs and disenfranchised voters. Supporters argued it's impossible to draw maps that please everyone. Election boundaries have to be redrawn every 10 years to account for changes in the most recent
(AP) New data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development show the state added 6,200 jobs in February. DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips says the state has now seen three straight months of ``strong job growth.'' DEED says the state has added 32,300 jobs in the last three months regaining more than half of the jobs that were lost during the recession. The state unemployment rate went up a tenth of a point in February to a seasonally adjusted 5.7 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate is unchanged at 8.3 percent. Most of the jobs came in education and health services. The government and construction sectors also added jobs, but the state saw losses in professional and business services.
Last year, the Department of Revenue admitted to an error that would have created a huge property tax increase for a Monroe County town's residents. Governor Scott Walker has seen to it that it won't happen. The Governor signed a bill, authored by State Senator Kathleen Vinehout and Senator Julie Lassa, that will permit the Village of Warrens to correct for an error made by the Department of Revenue in assessing the value of a TIF district. While the error would lower tax bills in the short term, the correction would result in a property tax increase of nearly 100 percent the following year. The bill permits temporary adjustments of levy limits to allow Warrens to even out tax levies over two years.
A state agency is simultaneously warning about fires and planning to set them. The DNR has warned about the high potential for wildfires across Wisconsin so far this year. Greater, apparently, than in years past because of the lack of snow cover. But the DNR also sent out notice this week that it plans its regular prescribed burns for this spring.
The agency says without the use of prescribed burning as a management tool, Wisconsin could lose many of its native grassland, wetland, woodland plant communities. Typical burns range in size from 10 to 25 hundred acres and the DNR says they only burn when it's safe to do so. Meanwhile, the agency has responded to nearly two hundred uncontrolled wildfires so far this spring.
It's possible, the city of La Crosse parks department may have to go back to the printers to get more boat launch permits. Depends on how many they sell in the first year of the passes. But they're a hot commodity so far. Recreation supervisor Jay Odegaard says he's sold more than five hundred since the first of the year. Impressive, considering there was ice on the river until just a few weeks ago. We asked Odegaard if that's what he expected. Not really, he says
Odegaard expects a big push for the boat launch permits once spring is more than a couple days old.