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Author: Wisconsin Examiner

Thousands of veterans have flooded VA with health claims since President Biden signed Toxic exposure law

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is processing claims at the fastest rate in its history, hoping to avoid a significant backlog as hundreds of thousands of veterans apply for health care and benefits under the landmark toxic exposure law Congress passed earlier this year. The day after President Joe Biden signed the bill into law in August, veterans set an all-time record for benefits claims filed online and more than 136,000 have applied for benefits under the toxic exposure law as of mid-November. The VA expects the number of veterans and surviving family members applying could reach more...

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Support grows for oversight of how electric utilities plan to charge consumers for upgrades to power grid

An aging electric grid, fossil fuel power plant retirements and a massive renewable electricity buildout are all contributing to a boom in transmission and distribution wire projects by electric utilities across the country. In 2020, investor-owned electric utilities spent $25 billion on transmission, up from $23.7 billion in 2019, figures that the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned electric companies, expected to only grow going forward. Ohio-based American Electric Power, which is one of the nation’s largest electric companies and which operates the largest transmission system in the country (serving 5.5 million customers in 11 states) said last year...

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Why proposed development for new downtown soccer stadium should include pay guarantee for service jobs

A proposed development that would bring a new soccer stadium to downtown Milwaukee should include guarantees of good wages and a path to union representation for workers in the stadium district in return for public subsidies, a new report recommends. The report, “Worker Power Levels the Playing Field,” was released on November 29 by COWS, a think tank at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It says taxpayer-funded support for the proposed Milwaukee soccer stadium project, dubbed the Iron District, should come with strings that ensure local hiring and strong job standards even after the project is built out. “In Milwaukee,...

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Political storm clouds already forming ahead of new year as State prepares debate over 2023 biennial budget

Eyeing a state surplus topping $6 billion, Governor Tony Evers and the Republican-led Wisconsin Legislature are both already putting down markers ahead of deliberations in 2023 on the state’s next biennial budget. They are doing so in rare circumstances. “The state is in a much better position this year to shoulder the increasing costs of ongoing state and local services and make new commitments,” according to a report released on December 6 by the Wisconsin Policy Forum. At the same time, budget projections are by their nature “freighted with uncertainty,” the report stated. Budgets themselves rely on forecasts of...

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Majority at stake: Why Wisconsin’s spring 2023 supreme court race will be an “electoral ground zero”

Just weeks after the 2022 midterm elections, Wisconsin is already moving on to this spring’s state supreme court race in which the ideological tilt of the court is up for grabs. Justice Patience Roggensack is retiring at the end of her term, leaving an open seat on the body that conservatives currently control with a 4-3 majority. The current makeup of the court, with conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn serving as a crucial swing vote, has led to more 4-3 decisions than any supreme court term in 70 years. The conservative majority on the court has upheld a law that...

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Affirmative Action: Rightwing Supreme Court justices doubt legality of remedy for unlawful discrimination

The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority on October 31 questioned the legality of race-conscious policies in college admissions, as the justices weighed two cases that could upend the admissions process many colleges use to try to boost diversity on campus. At issue are two cases that challenge the lawfulness of affirmative action at Harvard University, the nation’s oldest private university, and the University of North Carolina, one of its oldest public universities. Depending on the scope of the court’s ruling, the outcome of these lawsuits could affect admissions at hundreds of colleges and universities across the country and even...

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