State

The Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Carlton closed in 2013.(Photo: Handout)

OAK HARBOR, Ohio - Living in the shadows of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant’s cooling tower that soars above Lake Erie in Ohio like an oversized lighthouse brings with it some give-and-take.

On the plus side, it generates tax money that once paid for a high school swimming pool and auditorium. Then there are the stockpiles of radiation pills and emergency drills for students in case of a disaster.

For the small, mostly rural towns that are home to 61 U.S. nuclear plants that produce one-fifth of the nation’s electricity, each one has been like the golden goose supplying high-paying jobs and money for roads, police and libraries.

But those same places and their residents are bracing for what may come next due to the soaring costs of running aging reactors that have speeded up the closings of a handful of sites and are threatening at least a dozen more.

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Gov. Scott Walker delivers his budget address Feb. 8 at the Capitol in Madison.(Photo: Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo

MADISON - After three losses to Scott Walker, Wisconsin Democrats think they finally have a chance at the Republican governor in 2018.

There's just one catch: They don't have a candidate. Democrats still have time to find a leader who can raise money, hire staff, craft policies and a message to voters, but they don't deny the clock is ticking.

"If we get to late summer and early fall and lack one or more than one credible candidate, it'll be time to be worried," said Joe Zepecki, a Democratic strategist who worked on businesswoman Mary Burke's failed bid against Walker in 2014.

At the moment, the Democrats have no one on the field.

Former state Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville registered a campaign committee for governor this month, but even he isn't in for sure.

According to a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Wisconsin State Patrol, a 47-year-old woman died in a rollover accident near Reedsville on Monday night.(Photo: HTR Media file photo)

MADISON - Wisconsin officials are working to determine how to improve the statewide emergency communications network and who will pay for it.

The Wisconsin Interoperable System for Communications allows public safety agencies to communicate with one another across the state, and sometimes coverage can be spotty, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

The state hired a consultant last year to examine networks in surrounding states and provide recommendations for maintaining Wisconsin’s system.

“What we don’t have right now is a good plan for when the equipment on WISCOM reaches end of life,” said Josh Ripp, a program manager for the network at the Wisconsin Department of Justice. “We don’t have an idea of how we’re going to pay for the replacement equipment to put in that place.

A 3M Corp. plant in Wausau.(Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

A 2016 air pollution case against 3M Corp. represented the first time under Attorney General Brad Schimel the Justice Department allowed a company to make upgrades to a facility but avoid paying a financial penalty as part of the settlement.

Minnesota-based 3M agreed to make $665,000 in improvements at two facilities in Wausau for air pollution violations in 2014 and 2015, according to court records.

Unlike other major pollution cases, Schimel and his staff did not also seek forfeitures with 3M — a company that employs hundreds of workers at plants in Wausau, Menomonie, Cumberland and Prairie du Chien.

Former state Department of Natural Resources Secretary George Meyer and former Assistant Attorney General Tom Dawson were critical of the agency for relying solely on the use of a compliance tool known as a supplemental environmental project.

Supplemental environmental projects require a polluter to undertake projects that can demonstrate big reductions in pollution or reduce risks to public health.

Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison).(Photo: Greg Anderson Photography)

Viagra, the popular blue pills to combat erectile dysfunction, are sold tax-free in Wisconsin.

But anyone buying feminine hygiene products must pay state sales tax.

Wisconsin Rep. Melissa Sargent thinks that's unfair.

"There is no other example of a product where men are taxed for something women are not taxed for. In this case, women are being penalized simply on the basis of being a woman," said Sargent, a Madison Democrat. "It's not a choice to be a person who menstruates."

Sargent is trying to repeal the state sales tax on tampons, pads and sanitary napkins and she's hoping to get it done through the budget bill now under consideration.

With every female in the state affected at some time in their lives — roughly for four decades — the costs add up. U.S. sales of feminine hygiene products are estimated at more than $3 billion this year. The Wisconsin Fiscal Bureau pegs the amount of sales taxes collected in the state on those items at $2.7 million annually.