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Senate debate continues into night on biennial budgetSubmitted: 06/20/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
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

BAYFIELD - Authorities in northern Wisconsin say a teenage girl has died in an all-terrain vehicle rollover.

The Bayfield County sheriff's office says the 14-year-old left her home in the Town of Barnes on the ATV Tuesday. She was reported missing around 10 p.m.

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PLUM LAKE - St. Germain ATV riders will need to find a new route that avoids Plum Lake.

That's because the Plum Lake Town Board voted against opening up parts of two roads: Kurtzweil Road and Birch Spring Road. Both are on the border of Sayner and St. Germain and are shared between the two towns.

A few months ago, St. Germain asked Plum Lake to open parts of those roads as part of an ATV route. At first, the Plum Lake Town Board approved them. That was before they found out a section of Kurtzweil Road was completely in Plum Lake.

"At that time the Plum Lake Town Board by a 2 to 1 vote approved letting them use that, assuming at the time the two roads were boundary roads equally shared by Sayner and St. Germain," said Will Maines, the Plum Lake Town Chairman.

So when St. Germain came back to the next town meeting with an ordinance for the roads ready to go, the Plum Lake town board then voted no.

Maines said most of the people in Plum Lake don't want ATVs on their town roads. The board found this out from a survey of residents and taxpayers they sent out in 2015, where he said about two-thirds of non-resident property owners and about two-thirds of Plum Lake resident voters voted against allowing ATVs on town roads.

"We'd like to cooperate with the town of St. Germain, but we represent the people of Plum Lake, and they have given us the message loud and clear: they don't want us to allow them on any section of our roads," Maines said.

The St. Germain Town Chairman Tom Christensen said the decision is "disappointing," but, "it is what it is."

About 6 towns in the eastern part of Vilas County allow ATVs on town roads, but the towns in the western part of the county don't allow them on town roads.

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RHINELANDER - Celebrating our nation's birthday with family and friends can be a great time. But it's good to keep safety in mind this weekend too.

The Rhinelander Fire Department responds to a few injuries every year from fireworks. That's far better than the national average of more than 10,000 fireworks-related injuries. But the most common injury actually comes from a firework many parents consider safe.

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MADISON - A Sun Prairie man accused of decapitating his mother with a sword last year has been committed to a state mental hospital.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed with a psychiatrist's report Wednesday that 41-year-old Matthew Skalitzky was mentally ill at the time of the killing.

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- You might enjoy getting on the water during this holiday weekend, but watch out for foreign plants and animals hitching a ride on your boat. Aquatic invasive species can attach to people's boats and trailers as they're entering or leaving the water.

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MERRILL - When you need to feed three children on a limited budget, Stanges Park becomes something of a summer oasis for Claire Barker.

"Two to three times a week we're here," Barker said.

The Merrill mother brought her kids to the daily free lunch program at the park Wednesday morning. For Barker, the healthy meals make a big difference in her life.

"The generosity, the park, we go to the library, so it's all in a convenient area," Barker said. "And, it's all healthy food."

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WAUSAU - Police officers in Wausau will now wear body cameras, according to a department release Wednesday.

The department also released video from one of the department's first traffic stops using the body camera on its Facebook page.

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