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Author: Wisconsin Watch

A workforce dilemma: How Wisconsin’s labor shortage has transformed the jobs market for years to come

To understand how Wisconsin’s labor shortage has transformed the jobs market, look no further than an October 14 job fair to hire workers for expansions of Pierce Manufacturing’s production plants in Neenah and Fox Crossing. The fire truck manufacturer aimed to hire 200 assemblers, welders, electricians and painters. Pierce touted competitive pay, health and well-being services and matching retirement contributions as most major employers do now, and it highlighted another incentive: $10,000 in educational reimbursement per year for employees working toward a college degree. The company conducted interviews and drug tests on the spot, and it welcomed candidates with...

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MATC offers free tuition and debt forgiveness to make college more available to diverse student population

MATC offers 200 programs that can help prepare students for careers in one or two years and provides a more affordable avenue for students who transfer to other schools to pursue four-year degrees. Jasmin Treske had planned to go to college after graduating from South Milwaukee High School. She picked out classes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and attended orientation, but the looming financial commitment spooked her. So she decided to take a year off. And in that year, Treske got pregnant. “Going to school just became that much harder. Now somebody else was in the equation,” she said....

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A detriment to democracy: State GOP senator implores Wisconsin Republicans to end brazen election attacks

The Republican chair of the Wisconsin Senate elections committee on December 13 urged members of her own party to halt their attempts to discredit the bipartisan elections system they created and to oust the state’s top official. The moves began after President Joe Biden’s narrow victory over Donald Trump in Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential race. “We have a great system here, and no one should falsely accuse election officials of cheating,” Sen. Kathleen Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, said at a state Capitol event organized by Washington, D.C.-based Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR), a nonprofit that works with Republican and...

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Lake Michigan’s shrinking beaches: DNR considers how much land to preserve as nature erodes state parks

The winds and waves of Lake Michigan have sculpted the landscape of Whitefish Dunes State Park, a must-see treasure along Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula. Water delivers fine sand to a shoreline that supports threatened plants like the dune thistle. Wind stacks that sand into the mighty dunes that inspired the park’s name. Summer visitors splash on its beach or hike to Old Baldy, the park’s tallest dune that rises nearly 100 feet above the lake. Come winter, gazers marvel at erupting ice volcanoes — cone-shaped mounds formed when waves shoot slush and water through cracks in ice. These shores have...

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A climate tug of war: Wisconsin communities expect to spend millions to protect Lake Michigan shorelines

Wisconsin’s Great Lakes communities expect to spend more than $245 million in five years to protect shorelines as a climate ‘tug of war’ drives extreme shifts in water levels. Mike Kahr, an engineer and owner of Death’s Door Marine, has watched Lake Michigan’s water levels fluctuate during his 40-plus year career. But even the veteran engineer hasn’t seen the lake’s water levels swing from low to high quite this rapidly. Eight years ago, Kahr and his crew stayed busy dredging sand from the lake bottom so boats carrying passengers or heavy cargo could reach port. But as water levels...

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Utility Rights: Proposed Wisconsin bill would remove barriers to third-party solar ownership

Wisconsin is the only state where third-party solar ownership has been blocked, advocates say. Legal uncertainty has prevented property owners from using the financing model. After years of regulatory uncertainty, a new proposal in Wisconsin would finally clarify that utility customers do not need to own their rooftop solar installations. The draft legislation would authorize an arrangement known as third-party solar, in which a company installs panels for a customer and then either leases the panels or sells the power or net-metering credits to the property owner. The model is allowed in most states and is a popular option...

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