Sunday, April 21st

State

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and other Republican leaders plan to hire law firms to help them fight a redistricting ruling.(Photo: John Hart / Wisconsin State Journal)

MADISON - The leader of the state Senate said Tuesday he is holding off on confirming Gov. Tony Evers cabinet because of a dispute over whether 15 appointees of Gov. Scott Walker can keep their positions. 

"I think some of those cabinet members are going to be in trouble," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau said of Evers' top advisers.

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The Democratic governor's cabinet secretaries are able to do their jobs without confirmation, but Fitzgerald's approach gives Republicans the ability to push them out of their jobs with little notice.  

RELATED: In divided Wisconsin, the governor and legislative leaders are barely talking

RELATED: Wisconsin's Legislature is meeting, but it's not passing much legislation

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Wisconsin Capitol.(Photo: Michael Sears, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

MADISON - With Wisconsin's government divided, the state Legislature isn't doing much. 

That was underscored Tuesday when lawmakers began their sole session for the month. The day's plans for lawmaking are not robust.

The most substantive legislation they're taking up is Senate Bill 19, which would replace the phrase "mental retardation" with "intellectual disability" in state rules.

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But last month Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order to do just that — minimizing the effect of the legislation, which is meant to make Wisconsin a more welcoming state by taking an offensive term out of state rules. 

Also Tuesday, lawmakers will hear from Tehassi Hill, chairman of the Oneida Nation, for the annual State of the Tribes address.

RELATED: In divided Wisconsin, the governor and legislative leaders are barely talking

Beyond that, they're doing little.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (left), Gov. Tony Evers (center) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (right)(Photo: Journal Sentinel files)

MADISON - Republicans and Democrats in Wisconsin can't agree on much — including why they can't agree. 

Democrats say Republicans spoiled chances for bipartisanship with a lame-duck session that peeled power away from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul even before they were seated. 

Republicans say Evers packed so much liberal policy into the state budget he introduced in February that he left no room for compromise. 

The roots of the problem date to the election, when Evers edged out two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker. 

The next day, Evers received dozens of congratulatory phone calls — including one from Walker — but he didn't hear from the Republican leaders of the Legislature, who kept firm grips on the state Senate and Assembly. 

Instead, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester were busy working on the legislation to clip the new governor's wings before he took office.

The Department of Natural Resources is increasing surveillance this year in state waterways for so-called “forever chemicals” that are known to pose health hazards to humans.   

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The Department of Natural Resources will be monitoring rivers and streams this year for chemicals that pose health hazards. In one instance, they will be testing the Wisconsin River near Rhinelander, where elevated levels of the chemicals have been found in the blood sample of a bald eagle.(Photo: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The aim of this summer’s efforts is to learn more about the extent of perfluorinated chemicals, which are under growing scrutiny nationally, by taking fish and water samples at strategic locations around the state.

With data in hand, the DNR says it plans to propose standards for a safe level in state waters, although a timetable has not been set.

Separately, the Department of Health Services is expected this spring to recommend safe levels in groundwater.

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Milwaukee County Zoo is among the county-owned venues being made available for activities around the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.(Photo: Michael Sears, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Milwaukee County is putting its parks, its zoo and a block of its buses on hold for the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

County officials and the local convention organizing committee signed three agreements last month giving the host committee the right to reserve many of the crown jewels of Milwaukee County's park system, plus buses, from July 9-16, 2020.

The convention runs July 13-16, 2020, in Milwaukee.

While Fiserv Forum is the convention's centerpiece, up to 1,500 events will be held in and around the convention. That's why the local committee is locking down potential venues.

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"Good news, especially in the summer, we've got so many beautiful venues in the county, especially with parks," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said.