State News: PFAS Bills, Robocalls

PFAS Bills Draw Mixed Reviews in Assembly Committee Hearing

Supporters of legislation that would address contamination from chemicals known as PFAS say such legislation would protect the environment and public health, but opponents say the bills would create costly requirements for industry and the local governments that would have to comply.

The chemicals, which are found in many everyday products, don’t break down easily in the environment and are associated with harmful health effects.

Northeastern Wisconsin lawmakers introduced two bills last week that would require the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to create and enforce standards for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The bills would also provide funding for PFAS programs and positions, $5 million biennially for grants to local governments, free blood testing, and a cancer cluster study of individuals living near PFAS contamination in the Marinette area.

“Our goal through this legislation is to take a reasonable and meaningful step forward in addressing the contamination in northeast Wisconsin and elsewhere,” said Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette).

An Assembly committee held a public hearing on the bills Thursday, which drew support from the DNR.

To Avoid Getting Scammed by Robocalls, Hang Up

During November, Americans received 5 billion robocalls, or about 2,000 calls per second.

Sometimes these scammers claim you can lower your utility bills or credit card rates. Some scare you into thinking there’s a problem with your accounts. Others offer ways to get money fast. 

Tiffany Bernhardt Schultz, southwest Wisconsin regional director at the Better Business Bureau, defined robocalls as pre-recorded messages that are coming from a potential scammer.

But that’s not always the case. There’s a difference between legal and illegal robocalls. Calls about a candidate running for office, charities asking for donations, and messages reminding you of appointments and your child’s school-lunch balance are all legal. 

The scammers – who buy phone numbers from marketing companies that sell them, find them on the dark web or get them from people inputting information on bogus websites – represent the majority of robocalls to Americans, Bernhardt Schultz said.

If you’ve been scammed, report the incident to the Better Business Bureau and your local police station.

Bernhardt Schultz said the best thing you can do when you answer a robocall is to hang up. Don’t speak or press any buttons to supposedly remove your name from a list.

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