- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014
UW offers funding plan for high school students

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross is proposing a one-year plan to cover tuition costs of high school students who take UW classes offered in their schools for college credit.

The plan Cross announced Thursday calls for tapping $1 million in cash reserves to pay for the classes. UW System spokesman John Diamond says Cross plans to present it to the Board of Regents in two weeks.

The state budget allowed high school students to enroll in up to two courses from qualified higher educational institutions at a time, with school districts picking up the cost.

The plan Cross unveiled would only cover UW courses.

Gov. Scott Walker and state superintendent Tony Evers, who is also a UW regent, each voiced support for Cross’s funding plan in prepared statements.


No last-minute political retirements expected

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - No last-minute surprise retirement announcements by office holders in Wisconsin were expected this week ahead of a deadline for incumbents to announce whether they will seek re-election.

Office holders not seeking re-election must file the paperwork by Friday. They can miss the deadline, but that would give anyone running for the seat three additional days to circulate nomination papers.

As of Thursday, two retiring Republican state lawmakers had yet to file the required form, but both were expected to meet the deadline. They are Sen. Dale Schultz, of Richland Center, and Rep. Chad Weininger, of Green Bay.

“I am not running,” Schultz said. He said his form would be turned in by the deadline.

The head of the committee working to elect Republican Assembly members said that Weininger still planned to retire and should submit the required document on time.

Jenny Toftness, executive director of the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, said she did not expect any last-minute retirement announcements. Likewise, the head of the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, Joel Gratz, said he did not think any more Democrats would retire.

Fifteen Assembly Republicans and seven Assembly Democrats - 22 out of 99 members - are not running for re-election this year. In the Senate, four Republicans and three Democrats - seven of 33 members - are moving on.


Judge signs off on deal ending donation cap

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A federal judge has signed off on an agreement that will result in the state of Wisconsin no longer enforcing a cap on how much people can donate in total to candidates running for office.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman on Thursday signed the settlement agreement reached between the state and donor Fred Young of Racine. The deal, first announced two weeks ago, ended a federal lawsuit and brought the state law in line with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The nation’s high court struck down overall limits on how much individual donors can give to multiple candidates for Congress and political committees.

The Wisconsin law prohibited donors from giving more than $10,000 a year to all candidates. The settlement will result in that law no longer being enforced.


Army Corps sued over river-management approaches

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - Environmental groups sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday over the agency’s use of man-made structures meant to keep the Mississippi River navigable, claiming the techniques provoke flooding as seen during historic inundations four times in the last two decades.

The federal lawsuit asks the Army Corps to resist building more “river training structures” such as wing dikes, arch-shaped dikes known as chevrons, and rock dikes called bendway weirs until it comprehensively evaluates their environmental impacts along the vital commerce corridor.

Such projects, the lawsuit claims, have “thoroughly transformed the Upper Mississippi River system to the detriment of wildlife,” leaving that river stretch “in an extremely ecologically degraded state” and surrounding communities vulnerable.

“The risks to public safety will only increase as the corps constructs more river structures,” the lawsuit says.

“We don’t want to stop navigation by any means whatsoever. We are trying to keep the public safe,” said Melissa Samet, senior water resources counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, a plaintiff along with the Prairie Rivers Network, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, River Alliance of Wisconsin, Great Rivers Habitat Alliance and the Minnesota Conservation Federation.

The Army Corps consistently has stood behind the projects, their engineering and environmental record, rebuffing requests by the wildlife federation to abandon the questioned river-management approaches that use the river’s current to clear sentiment out of navigation channels, lessening the need for more costly dredging.

The groups argue that dozens of published scientific studies since 1986 link the construction of river training structures to increased flood heights. More than 15 studies from 2000 to 2010 suggest such Army Corps projects “significantly” elevated the mid-Mississippi’s water levels, by 10 to 15 feet in some cases, posing a threat to riverside communities, the plaintiffs claim.

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