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Senate debate continues into night on biennial budgetSubmitted: 06/20/2013
Senate debate continues into night on biennial budget
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

MADISON - The biggest bill in Wisconsin government is just two steps from becoming law.

But that second-to-last step is taking a long time.

The Senate started to debate the state budget this morning.

But they're several hours into debate late at night.

The biggest debate between Democrats and Republicans has been whether Wisconsin is going in a fundamentally good or bad direction.

"Forty-seven states plus the District of Columbia are doing better than the state of Wisconsin. Of those three states, Wisconsin lost the most jobs," said Sen. Julie Lassa, (D) Stevens Point.

"Look at what you have done to the property-taxpayers of this state. We aren't going to apologize for giving people back their money. We will not apologize for that," said Sen. Mike Ellis, (D) Neenah.

Minority Democrats have brought several amendments to the floor.

One of the most controversial was to kill the proposal to expand private school vouchers.

Each amendment has been defeated so far.

Democrats plan to introduce several more amendments.

Democratic leader Chris Larson told reporters they hoped to have a final vote "before midnight".

Republicans expect the budget bill to pass.

If it does, it will go to Governor Walker for final approval.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission will get its long-awaited federal funding installment by October 4.

The timing means no Northwoods Transit Connections drivers will have to voluntarily furlough their pay, but the requirement of 24-hour advance notice for rides will stay in place.

Transit Commission Chair Erv Teichmiller learned the news over the weekend.

The commission is waiting on an expected payment of $300,000 from the federal government. In 2016, that money came in early September. As of last Friday, the commission wasn't expecting the payment until as late as November.

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MINOCQUA - The Minocqua Town Board approved spending nearly $8,000 on a study for the public fishing pier on Highway 51 in Minocqua.

The findings will help board members decide whether to replace the entire bridge or just repair parts of it.

Public Works Director Mark Pertile says the exact age of the pier is unknown but he guesses it's around 100 years old.

"When you look underneath you'll see some of the problem areas. Some of the things we check are the railings to make sure they are stable. But the wood [is starting to] rot," explained Pertile.

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MINOCQUA - Typically, most people avoid spending time in junk yards but one Minocqua couple finds beauty in turning old antiques into art.

Since 2012, the retirees opened up the Rusty Truck, a business that turns aged, rusted pieces into rustic furniture and art.

Owner Mike Gang says after he retired from being a firefighter, he wasn't going to let his hidden talent go to waste.

"I love seeing things and seeing what they could be. [Taking] old things and turning them into something that's useful and practical," said Mike.

Mike's wife Ruth Ann says she is more than happy to bring old memories to life with their creations.

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MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker has selected a former legislator to run the state Department of Natural Resources.

Walker's office announced Monday that he has chosen former Republican state Rep. Dan Meyer to serve as DNR secretary. He replaces Cathy Stepp, who resigned in August to take a position in President Donald Trump's administration.

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RHINELANDER - Caramel apples seem to be a go-to treat this time of year, but a tough growing season almost made them hard to find this Fall.

Fun Factory Sweet Shoppe in Rhinelander only uses Granny Smith apples for its caramel apples.

Throughout the last few weeks, manager Judy Fritz says she had trouble finding enough green apples in the Northwoods.

Stores said bad crops and little rainfall made the Granny Smith apples scarce this season.

She eventually found some sold in bulk in Milwaukee to bring up north.

Fun Factory is very particular about their apples, so in the meantime, Judy hand-picked from the produce aisles in local stores.

"We always make sure that there are no bumps or bruises. We want a nice, perfect apple," says Fritz.


Judy says you shouldn't worry about getting your hands on one of her caramel apples.

Shipments of granny smith apples from Washington State have started to come in to a local store she works with.

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander factory that makes smoke flavoring caught fire early Monday morning.
 
Shortly before 6:00 a.m.,  Rhinelander, Crescent and Newbold Fire Departments responded to a fire at Red Arrow Products on Rhinelander's west side.

An employee says there were about eight workers inside at the time.

No one was injured.

"Flames were coming out of a conveyor area as high as the roof. We made an interior attack and knocked that flame down. Came in from the other side of the partition wall, then made another interior attack and knocked that down," says Chief Terry Williams.

As of 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, firefighters were still working to make sure the flames were out.

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HARSHAW - Oneida County sheriff's deputies found three runaway sisters, ages 14, 14, and 12, in the woods in Harshaw just after 1 p.m. on Monday.

The sisters had been reported missing by their parents Monday morning. The parents had gone to wake the girls up for school, but instead found a note saying they had gone on an "adventure."

The missing girls triggered a search from the Oneida County Sheriff's Office Special Response Unit, Newbold Fire Department Search and Rescue, Minocqua Fire Department, Lake Tomahawk Fire Department, and Little Rice Fire Department.

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