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Author: Wisconsin Public Radio

New Amtrak service running between Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Chicago could roll out by late 2023

Some Wisconsinites could soon have a more convenient commute between Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Chicago. A new Amtrak service, tentatively called the “Great River” route, could become available to passengers as early as late 2023. The Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago, or TCMC train, will run on the same track as the Empire Builder, which travels between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest, with stops throughout Wisconsin. “The plan was 2024, but we’re all trying to get it done faster,” said Lisa Stern, chief of railroads and harbors at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Stern said it will offer additional transportation opportunities for...

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Resettlement agency aims to place nearly 300 refugees across Central Wisconsin within two years

In its first year of operations, a central Wisconsin refugee resettlement agency has helped 160 people from Afghanistan and other nations find homes in Wausau, Stevens Point or Marshfield. Agency leaders said employers in the labor-challenged region have embraced the new arrivals, and some have contacted the nonprofit to request job interviews with the refugees. At a celebration last week of the Wausau Multicultural Community Center’s first year, individuals and families who had settled in the region thanked their communities for helping them, and agency leaders outlined plans to place roughly another 150 refugees in the region in 2023....

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Governor Evers proposes expanded spending to cover unmet mental health needs in Wisconsin schools

The state of mental health in Wisconsin is a “quiet, burgeoning crisis,” and that includes unmet mental health needs in schools, Governor Tony Evers said during his State of the State address. He dubbed 2023 “the year of mental health” and laid out a long list of proposals to address that cause. The wish list totals $500 million over two fiscal years, and more than a half of the proposed funding relates to education. Last year, Wisconsin officials announced one-time pandemic relief funding, so that schools could develop comprehensive mental health programs. Governor Evers suggested spending more than $270...

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Ranked-choice voting: Green Party leader pushes for broader changes in how Wisconsin elections are run

As ranked-choice voting gains steam elsewhere in the country, a leader of Wisconsin’s Green Party is calling for that method of electing government officials to be adopted here, as the future of democracy and a way to increase enthusiasm for voting. “The current system is centered around getting people to fear and hate the other side,” said party co-chair Dave Schwab. “Ranked-choice frees people from the idea that you have to vote for the lesser evil.” “The current system is centered around getting people to fear and hate the other side,” Schwab said. “Ranked-choice frees people from the idea...

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Federal funding to help Wisconsin communities boost investments in solar and clean energy solutions

Communities across Wisconsin are funding a variety of solar projects after the $1.7 trillion bipartisan Omnibus Appropriations Act earmarked more than $255.7 million for Wisconsin. Sun Prairie is receiving a hefty $3.2 million in federal funding that will go toward a solar radiation water pollution control facility. Leaders describe it as a more sustainable process for treating wastewater. Jeremy Cramer, Sun Prairie’s wastewater treatment director, said the system cleans water using bacteria before it’s removed and digested in an anaerobic digester — a material that becomes “biosolids,” or sewage sludge. “We would use the sun’s solar rays to actually...

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Reinforcing Redlining: Why Wisconsin’s outdated zoning codes adds to housing shortage difficulties

Wisconsin’s housing shortage is expected to worsen by the end of the decade, and outdated zoning codes could make it harder for municipalities to address the issue. A recent report from Forward Analytics, the research arm of the Wisconsin Counties Association, found the state needs to build at least 140,000 housing units by 2030 to keep up with current demand. If Wisconsin hopes to increase its working-age population by the end of the decade, the number of housing units needed jumps to 227,000. The report said the number of baby boomers retiring and remaining in their homes long after...

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