State News: Marijuana, Harley-Davidson, Airbnb

Walker Called ‘Hypocrite’ For Accepting Marijuana Money

Democrats are calling Gov. Scott Walker a “hypocrite” for accepting a political donation from a pro-marijuana group while pushing more drug testing for public benefits recipients in Wisconsin. Walker chairs the Republican Governors Association, which accepted a $25,000 donation from the National Cannabis Industry Association earlier this year.

One Wisconsin Now called out the donation as hypocritical, citing Walker’s continued push for more drug testing for public benefits recipients. “While Scott Walker wants to deny poor people food, health care and job training if they test positive for marijuana, he’s taking money from the marijuana trade industry,” said Scot Ross, director of One Wisconsin Now.

Wisconsin already tests participants in its welfare-to-work program for drug use. The state is seeking a federal waiver to begin drug testing in its Medicaid program, and the governor has also proposed drug testing for some food stamp recipients.

“Gov. Walker’s hypocrisy in playing politics with people who need health care access is extremely appalling,” said Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee.

Fitzgerald Unveils Senate GOP Budget Plan

State Senate Republicans unveiled a budget proposal Tuesday they said should help resolve Wisconsin’s budget impasse, but the plan is remarkably similar to ideas already rejected by GOP leaders in the Wisconsin Assembly.

When it comes to transportation – the major sticking point in negotiations that have already dragged on 18 days past Wisconsin’s budget deadline – Senate Republicans would borrow $712 million to keep major highway projects on schedule.

That’s a far cry from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ suggestion that Assembly Republicans will support no borrowing for roads without a new tax or fee to pay for it.

During the unveiling at the state Capitol, Fitzgerald reiterated Senate Republicans’ objections to new gas taxes or vehicle registration fees for roads even as he floated the prospect that a future Legislature might have to raise them.

Beyond transportation, Fitzgerald said Senate Republicans would support spending the same amount on K-12 education as Gov. Scott Walker proposed in his budget.

Harley-Davidson Announces Job Cuts

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. is telling workers at some of its United States plants that layoffs are on the way. The company has not announced the total number of layoffs. But union officials told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Harley is eliminating 180 production jobs at its U.S. plants, with the biggest impact happening at the Menomonee Falls and Kansas City plants. Temporary furloughs are expected in the fall.

The company recalled 57,000 motorcycles in June, and its shares have dipped by 11 percent since the start of the year.

Green Bay Reaches Tax Deal With Airbnb

Airbnb will now pay the city of Green Bay a 10 percent tax for the use of its services. Green Bay is the second Wisconsin city the online short-term rental company is paying a room tax on behalf of clients who choose to stay in private homes instead of hotels. Madison also gets a room tax through Airbnb.

Manure Spill Enters Creek

Manure at a 950-cow dairy farm in northeastern Wisconsin spilled and ran into a local creek that feeds into the Fox River.

The owners of Neighborhood Dairy reported the spill July 17 and have installed a temporary clay dam to contain the runoff. An agricultural runoff specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said it’s not known how much manure entered Dutchman’s Creek located outside of Freedom, southwest of Green Bay. Ben Uvaas said Neighborhood Dairy reported at least 20,000 gallons of manure were released from a holding pit.

“The farm estimates 20,000 gallons was lost from the pit,” Uvaas said. “So out of that a fraction, a percentage would have gotten to Dutchman’s Creek. That’s probably the best estimate we’re ever going to have for this.”

Legal Marijuana Bill Introduced

A Wisconsin lawmaker is proposing to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana as a way to create jobs and generate revenue without increasing taxes.

Democratic state Rep. Melissa Sargent, of Madison, has tried to pass bills legalizing marijuana the last two sessions. They never even got a committee hearing in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

The bill is being introduced as the state faces a $1 billion transportation deficit. “There’s not a simple, single other solution that’s put on the table by my Republican colleagues or by Gov. (Scott) Walker to solve our state’s severe budget crisis that can simultaneously increase hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue without increasing taxes,” Sargent said.

The bill would allow an individual to grow six marijuana plants for personal use. More than that would require a permit. Twenty-nine states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes and eight allow it for recreational use.

In May, Wisconsin Republican state Rep. Adam Jarchow, of Balsam Lake, introduced a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Sargent is a co-sponsor of that legislation but said her bill goes further.

A Marquette University Law School poll conducted in 2016 showed 59 percent of Wisconsinites want marijuana to be legal and regulated like alcohol.

First Half Of 2017 Is Second Wettest On Record

The first six months of 2017 were the second wettest on record in Wisconsin. Wisconsin recorded almost 21 inches of precipitation from January to June, 1 inch below the record set in 2013, according to data from the National Centers for Environmental Information.

UW-Extension Agronomist Joe Lauer said the historic rain means the state probably won’t be setting any crop records this year. Lauer said farmers have less management options to guard against the weather as crops continue to grow.

Whether more rain is wanted or not, Wisconsin will likely see more thunderstorms this summer.

“If you get a southerly wind flow bringing humid air from the Gulf of Mexico, which has been one of the cases, it interacts along that frontal boundary, weak disturbances move along it and we can start picking up thunderstorms,” said Ed Hopkins, assistant state climatologist through the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2017, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.

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