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Over 500 union workers in Lacrosse County are feeling a little more confident today after the County Board adopted contracts last night.
Since they were approved at the same time Governor Scott Walker is trying to quash collective bargaining rights, we asked County Administrator Steve O'Malley about the timeliness of the votes. He said they have worked closely with the unions for the past 5 months, so a vote now is pure coincidence.
O'Malley said they approved one-year collective bargaining agreements with zero percent wage increases for clerical, professional, health, highway and sheriff’s department employees.
O'Malley thanked not only union employees throughout the county but also the head's of the unions that came together and peacefully came to the table to approve the contracts.
La Crosse mayor Matt Harter knows where he's going to look when anticipated state budget cuts comes his way. The mayor says he's taking aim at the city's $20 million police and fire budgets. He's certain a current study of the city's public safety services will point the way towards more savings in both police and fire departments. Because of the size of the city's police and fire budgets, the mayor says they have the most possibility for greatest savings.
Paying more to fish and hunt in Minnesota could be the future. The state's DNR wants to add a few dollars to license fees to help balance its budget. Winona state senator Jeremy Miller is on the senate's natural resources committee. He's a little undecided about the fee hikes; worried that they'll keep some people out of the field, but understanding of the DNR's need to keep workers out in the field for service and safety. The DNR's proposal would take the Minnesota fishing license from $17 to $24. And the resident deer license from $26 to $30, among other fee changes.
A big billboard battle in La Crosse won't be settled today, or even this week...
County Judge Elliott Levine apologized to attorneys for Collins Outdoor Advertising and the city of La Crosse for delaying a final ruling in a condemnation trial that happened in November. Levine wants another month to consider documents in the case. City Hall tried to condemn a hotel billboard on the Causeway, so a competing hotel could be built on the spot. Collins accused the city of coming up with a phony reason to get rid of the sign, which is still in place.
La Crosse county democrats clearly have discussed a recall possibility for state senator Dan Kapanke. Proof of that comes from Democratic party chair Andrew Londre in a statement today. He says his party will wait for votes on a budget repair bill in Madison before considering a recall for the Republican senator. But Londre also says Kapanke would be foolish to vote for a bill which his constituents clearly oppose.