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Five Wisconsin mail processing centers that are targeted for closure could get a reprieve, under a new bill to address the financial problems of the U.S. Postal Service. Eight senators, including Democrat Al Franken of neighboring Minnesota, introduced a bill Thursday which also seeks to modernize the postal agency. The bill would free up billions of dollars, by repealing a 2006 law that forces the Postal Service to set aside funds for up to 75 years of future health care benefits for the agency's retirees.
A series of exhibitions featuring mixed media collage by Carol Adleman, Luck; mixed media abstract expressionism by Charles A. Condon, River Falls; soda-fired stoneware by Jude Ryan Reiling, Minneapolis; mixed media sculpture by Mark D. Roberts and Denise Rouleau, Minneapolis; and acrylics and colored pencil drawings by Michael Tarr, Menomonie will be on view Feb. 15 through March 17 in The Galleries of The Phipps Center for the Arts. An opening reception will be held on Friday, Feb. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The Phipps Children's Theater will hold auditions for area students in grades 7 through 9 for the spring production of "The Adventures of a Comic Book Artist," with book and lyrics by Pat Lydersen, and music by Wendy Woolf, on Tuesday and Thursday, Feb. 26 and 28 at 6 p.m. in the Black Box Theater of The Phipps Center for the Arts. Callbacks will be held on Friday, March 1, at 6 p.m. All will be asked to read from the script, do some improvisation, and sing a few bars from a song of their choice. Sheet music should be provided for the accompanist, if possible.
MADISON -- The governor's office has indicated that Scott Walker would veto a proposed tax on minerals taken by mining companies. Spokesman Cullen Werwie remains opposed to tax hikes, but according to Senate Democrat Tim Cullen of Janesville, Wisconsin mines would still get a better tax deal than similar sites in neighboring Minnesota - even with the so-called "tonnage tax." The tax was part of Cullen's alternative mining bill, which he introduced after he objected to the package introduced by majority Republicans.
The early Wisconsin reaction to President Obama's State of the Union address fell along party lines, with Democrats praising the speech and Republicans slamming it. Obama spelled out an agenda that includes various economic initiatives without expanding the federal deficit. He said cutting the federal deficit is not an economic plan - but Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan disagreed.
Gov. Scott Walker was at the Hudson Community Daycare on Tuesday afternoon to discuss a series of initiatives designed to protect children against internet crime, fund services for sexual assault victims, provide monitoring of domestic abusers and other dangerous individuals and fund DNA collection for felony and some sexual-related crimes. The new initiatives are being funded through a $14 million budget allocation. "One of the basic functions of government is to ensure public safety and health," said Walker.
MADISON -- For the 10th year in a row, telemarketers are the number one consumer complaint in Wisconsin. The state's Consumer Protection agency will release its annual Top 10 list of the complaint letters it received in 2012. Almost 2,000 people were bothered enough by unwanted sales calls to write out complaints to Madison. The Wisconsin State Journal said over 300 cease-and-desist orders were sent to telemarketers last year. Illegal robo-calls are almost impossible to stop, even for those on the state's do-not-call list.
Another $1.1 million was overpaid to University of Wisconsin employees. That brings the total to $34 million in overpayments caused by glitches in the UW's two-year-old centralized computer payroll and benefit system. The Board of Regents was told Thursday that the latest overpayments resulted from billing errors as well as Social Security and federal income taxes that were not withheld from student employee paychecks. Board members criticized UW officials.
Mining committees in both the state Assembly and Senate endorsed a Republican bill Wednesday that makes it easier for Gogebic Taconite to open a new iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. The Senate's Mining Committee voted 3-2 in favor of the package with both Democrats voting no. None of the Democrats in the Assembly panel supported the bill. It was sent on by a 10-6 vote. Republicans said they made a number of changes which address Democrats' concerns about a reduction in environmental protections.
The Phipps Children's Theater will produce the area premier of Disney's "The Little Mermaid, Jr.," featuring music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and the book by Doug Wright, which is based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen and the Disney film, Feb. 8-24 at The Phipps Center for the Arts. In a magical kingdom fathoms below, the fun-loving and mischievous mermaid Ariel longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above.