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Schachtner defeats Jarchow in special election

Democrats give major attention to the environment

The environment is getting major attention at the State Capitol, now that Democrats control both houses and the governor's office.

Spencer Black, D-Madison, who chairs the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, says conservation efforts are going full steam after "a dozen years of rather relaxed efforts."

But Black's GOP-predecessor, Scott Gunderson of Waterford, says Democrats don't always consider the economic consequences of their actions.

For one thing, he says a plan to restrict the use of groundwater could hurt agriculture and numerous industries.

There are also concerns about a regional cap-and-trade system for air emissions if Congress doesn't act quickly enough.

But George Meyer of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation says the public demands new conservation laws, and they're sitting well with constituents.

Already in the new session, Gov. Jim Doyle has signed a ban on phosphorus in most lawn fertilizers, and a delay in the musky fishing season until spawning is over.

Development is now limited on parts of the Totagatic and Brunsweiler rivers in northern Wisconsin.

They're only the fourth and fifth rivers in 40 years to achieve Wild Rivers' status.

The proposed state budget would more than double garbage hauling fees, aimed at keeping out-of-state garbage from being dumped in Wisconsin.

The Senate and an Assembly panel have voted to make electronics' manufacturers pay to recycle their goods.

And Tuesday, the Assembly will vote on keeping oil filters and oil clean-up materials out of landfills.