- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015
Agencies, Enbridge plan Straits of Mackinac oil spill drill

MACKINAW CITY, Mich. (AP) - State and federal agencies are teaming with pipeline operator Enbridge Energy Partners for an oil spill response exercise in the area where crude is piped beneath the Great Lakes.

More than 300 people are joining the drill on Thursday, which will simulate a leak from Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. The twin lines carry 23 million gallons of crude daily. It’s part of a network that runs from North Dakota to Sarnia, Ontario.

Enbridge says Line 5 is safe, but environmental groups want it shut down.

Participating agencies include the U.S. Coast Guard, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with local law enforcement personnel.



Also attending will be Marie Therese Dominguez, head of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

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Assembly passes bill stripping Planned Parenthood money

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The state Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would take away $3.5 million of federal funding for Planned Parenthood despite objections from Democrats who said it would limit access to women’s health care services in Wisconsin.

Republican supporters said the goal was to ensure no money goes to abortion providers and that the measure would not limit women’s access to birth control, cancer screenings and sexually transmitted disease prevention and treatment.

The bill passed on a 60-35 vote - with no Democratic support. It must next clear the Senate, which could take it up in October, and then be signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker, who supports it.

“This is nothing more than a political witch hunt against Planned Parenthood,” said Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison.

The measure would require the state to apply for the federal Title X grant money, which currently all goes to Planned Parenthood. But under the bill, abortion providers could not get any money, instead giving it to the state’s Well-Woman program that provides breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for women between the ages of 45 and 64.

Federal law requires that the money funds family planning and contraceptives, and screening for breast and cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. It is not allowed to be spent on abortions, but Planned Parenthood can use it to fund other family planning services and wellness screenings. Abortion has been legal in the United States since the landmark case, Roe vs. Wade, in 1973, and states are forbidden from outlawing it.

Groups including the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition and the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health are opposed to the change, saying it could result in some women not getting health care.

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Walker supports bill to reshape state hiring process

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker wants to make it easier to hire and fire state workers, telling Republicans who control the state Assembly on Thursday that he endorses rewriting the 100-year-old rules designed to protect against political patronage and cronyism.

Walker’s strong endorsement of the changes came just three days after he abruptly quit the Republican race for president and now tries to reassert himself as governor. It also is a change from last year, when Walker’s administration denied having an interest in changing the civil service system, and another potential hit on state workers, who four years ago were enraged when Walker took away nearly all their collective bargaining powers.

Walker told Republican lawmakers he planned to travel the state to talk about the merit of reforming how public employees are hired and what constitutes just cause for firing them.

The proposal elicited immediate opposition from Democrats and union leaders, who said it will open the door to GOP cronyism and corruption.

“We’re excited,” Walker told Republicans who were meeting before heading into session to debate other measures. “There are many great reforms ahead.”

The 15-minute address to Republicans marked the first time Walker has spoken publicly since he dropped out of the presidential run due to fundraising drying up. Walker spoke to donors on a private call Wednesday, and said he planned to take reporters’ questions Friday. He declined to answer questions Thursday.

The bill focusing on the recruitment, retention and reform of state worker hiring and firing policies is being introduced by Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, and state Sen. Roger Roth. Steineke said he hoped to have it introduced no later than Monday.

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Man found guilty in death of his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A 25-year-old man has been found guilty in the 2013 death of his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son in Dane County.

The Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/1iPENqvhttps://bit.ly/1iPENqv ) reports Dakota Black was found guilty Thursday of first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Brayden Turnbill.

Prosecutors say Black was the only adult at a Sun Prairie home before the boy was found unresponsive by his mother. The boy died two days later, and authorities say he suffered a traumatic brain injury from blunt force trauma. According to prosecutors, the boy also had bruises on his chest.

Black’s attorney argued that prosecutors didn’t have evidence Black caused the boy’s injuries.

Sentencing will take place in about two months.

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Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, https://www.madison.com/wsjhttps://www.madison.com/wsj

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