- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015
Scientists targeted for cuts have studied GOP issues

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The group of state Department of Natural Resources scientists that Republican lawmakers targeted for cuts has been working on a number of politically charged issues in recent years, including climate change, pollution and mining.

Republicans say the cuts are designed to refocus the DNR on more practical research projects that help hunters and anglers. But Democrats say the GOP wants to slap the researchers down as political payback.

“It has to be political,” Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, a member of the Legislature’s budget committee, said of the cuts. “The public hasn’t called for this. Most people in the state want decisions about the environment to be based on science, not politics.”

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, included provisions in his state budget to slash 17.5 researcher positions from the DNR’s Science Services Bureau, which would leave it with 12.85 research positions. The budget says only that the positions no longer serve the DNR’s core mission. Asked to expand on Walker’s rationale, the governor’s spokeswoman, Laurel Patrick, said in an email that Walker is focused on streamlining state government and making it more efficient.

The Bureau of Science Services’ biennial research plan released in 2013 called for extensive study on how climate change has affected the Great Lakes, Wisconsin’s river ecosystems, and the state’s forests, wildlife and fish. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, of the 96,200 hours the bureau worked in fiscal year 2013-14, 2,800 hours were spent on climate change-related research.

The plan also called for research into what it termed “emerging” pollutants such as prescription drugs, hormones and industrial additives and agents. It also called for developing ways to predict and mitigate how sand, iron and sulfide mining affects air and water, plants and animals, and creating new monitoring strategies for newly permitted mines.

The bureau’s fish and wildlife-forestry sections undertook 109 projects in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 fiscal years, according to the Fiscal Bureau. Thirteen involved pollution research. One involved providing research to the DNR’s water division on recommendations for monitoring parameters in iron mining applications.

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New chair promises to unite Wisconsin Democratic Party

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The newly elected chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is promising to pull the party together after big defeats in the governor’s race and both chambers of the Legislature.

Sheboygan businesswoman and community activist Martha Laning was easily elected as chair of the state’s Democratic Party on Saturday, despite intense competition for the job.

Laning won 53 percent of the vote from the more than 1,300 delegates who cast ballots during the state convention in Milwaukee. Democratic National Committeeman Jason Rae of Milwaukee finished second with 32 percent of the vote. Current party chairman Mike Tate wasn’t seeking another term.

Laning, 52, promised a return to the “proud, progressive values that made Wisconsin great,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1KiW317) reported.

“We are going to work hard and take back control of the state,” she said.

She also pledged to unite the bruised party after ballot defeats and rancor associated with the competition for the chairmanship.

“We will work to mend bridges,” Laning said.

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Police ID 2 bicyclists struck, killed by SUV in Muskego

MUSKEGO, Wis. (AP) - Police are holding the driver of a sport utility vehicle after he struck and killed two bicyclists in Muskego this weekend.

Authorities identify the victims as 45-year-old Paul Brown of Franklin and 54-year-old Anthony Oliver of Oak Creek.

WISN-TV (http://bit.ly/1InEbQyhttp://bit.ly/1InEbQy ) reports the two were riding bicycles on State Highway 36 when they were struck just after 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Police say Brown died at the scene and Oliver died at a hospital.

Police say the 20-year-old South Milwaukee man who was driving the SUV was arrested on suspicion of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.

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Information from: WISN-TV, http://www.wisn.comhttp://www.wisn.com

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Bear at Racine Zoo diagnosed with cancer

RACINE, Wis. (AP) - An Andean bear living at the Racine Zoo has been diagnosed with cancer.

The Racine Zoological Society announced that Hallie has been diagnosed with oral cavity cancer.

During a routine dental exam for Hallie last month, the zoo’s veterinary team noticed something not right with the tissue surrounding a tooth and an area surrounding the jawbone. Results from tissue samples sent to a lab indicated cancer.

The Journal Times of Racine (http://bit.ly/1G4C3fBhttp://bit.ly/1G4C3fB ) reports surgery to remove the cancer is not considered possible because it would require surgeons to remove Hallie’s entire lower jaw, making reconstruction impossible.

Zoo staff decided against surgery and say they will ensure Hallie has a good life for a long as possible and as long as she is not in pain.

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Information from: The Journal Times, http://www.journaltimes.comhttp://www.journaltimes.com

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