- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Dane County would be shut out of water quality decisions

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Dane County would not have a say in its own water quality standards under a vote made by the Legislature’s budget committee.

The Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday voted to ban the state Department of Natural Resources from contracting with Dane County or any subsidiaries for input on extending sewage service to proposed developments or other issues related to its water quality management plan.

It was proposed by Republican Rep. Howard Marklein, of Spring Green, whose district does not include Dane County.

The provision would require the DNR to base decisions on proposed changes to water quality standards on state law. But Sen. Jon Erpenbach says Dane County sometimes has higher water quality standards.

It was added to the budget on a 12-4 vote, with no Democrats in support.

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DNR to hold hearing on phosphorous variance determination

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has determined that complying with Wisconsin’s phosphorus limits would cause substantial social and economic impacts.

Wastewater plants, paper mills and food processers contend they’ll have to spend millions of dollars on upgrades to meet the limits, driving up rates.

They need an impact determination to trigger a law that Walker signed last year. The provision allows them 20 years to come into compliance with the limits by meeting progressively tougher limits. They also would have to choose whether to pay their county to reduce phosphorus, invest in their own reduction project or help fund someone else’s reduction process in the same watershed.

The impact determination is preliminary. The Natural Resources and Administration departments have set a public hearing on the determination for May 12 in Wausau.

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Turkey farmer hit by bird flu sees emotional, financial toll

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Turkey farmer Greg Langmo says he knew right away when the flock that usually clustered around him turned lethargic that his Minnesota farm had been struck by the bird flu that has shaken the poultry industry.

Part of the loss is financial: Langmo lost more than 30,000 turkeys at his farm near Litchfield, and expects to lose well over $100,000 even after partial government compensation. But a big part is emotional, even for large-scale farmers, who take pride in caring for their birds.

The bird flu has affected nearly 28 million chickens and turkeys at over 100 Midwest farms, mostly in Minnesota and Iowa.

Langmo plans to cut expenses until he can start raising and marketing turkeys again. But he says if his bank account runs dry first, he’s finished.

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Lawmakers agree with Walker, cut $4 million recycling money

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Legislature’s budget-writing committee has voted to cut a local recycling program cut by 20 percent.

The Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday went along with Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to cut the state’s environmental management account from $20 million to $16 million for the fiscal year that starts in July. The money that goes to county and local governments would be restored in the second year of the budget.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says it’s not known how many local governments would have to change their recycling programs due to the one-year cut, or what kind of changes they would have to make.

The Fiscal Bureau says that while eligible recycling costs have increased the past 10 years, the amount of grants available to defray the costs have dropped.


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