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Wisconsin’s tradition of government transparency rests on the state’s open records and open meetings laws. They declare that nearly every government document is open to public inspection, and nearly every meeting of groups formed to do governmental work must be open to the public.

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Every week when I go to the grocery store, I pay close attention to the labels on the food products I purchase. It can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you need or want. I consider myself lucky to be a farmer because I am intimately connected to the food I eat and the milk I drin…

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From the very beginning of Governor Evers’ term, he made his priorities clear by declaring 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water. During his State of the State address in January, he promoted investing millions of dollars to address water quality, from replacing lead service lines, to addres…

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It’s really difficult to tell because his hands are so small, but it looks for all the world that President Donald Trump has an extended middle finger raised at, well, all the world. Who knew that he could speak in sign language? Or at least that he knew how to say one word? Come to think of…

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Efforts to implement Walker-era legislation to restructure Wisconsin’s youth justice program took another hit after members of a panel charged with making recommendations regarding new youth prisons roundly criticized the panel’s work.

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Recently, Legislative Democrats unveiled a list of priorities that are reflective of the voices and priorities of Wisconsinites – “Forward Together.” Thanks to Gov. Evers’ leadership, we made great strides in delivering on historic investments in our communities. However, there is still a lo…

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Early in his administration, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers was asked to produce a letter he’d gotten from departing Gov. Scott Walker, during the transition. He initially refused, claiming it was a “purely personal” communication outside of the reach of the state’s open records law.

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Under Gov. Tony Evers’ leadership, Republicans agreed to make a down payment on the People’s Budget and increase funding for our schools. Unfortunately, with school just getting started for the year, communities across Wisconsin are already realizing that their schools need more.

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Wisconsin had the 11th-most local governments of any state in 2017, due in part to a tenfold increase in the last five decades in special districts that manage lakes, sewers, and sanitation.

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In May, as the state Legislature’s Republican-controlled budget committee considered a plan to spend far less on education than what Democrat Gov. Tony Evers proposed, Sheila Plotkin started filing public records requests.

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With students heading back to school, parents and taxpayers are reminded of the opportunities and costs of quality education. While Governor Evers fought for record investments in our schools, many public schools and their taxpayers are forced to bear the costs of unaccountable choice progra…

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It’s no secret, small family farms are struggling in Wisconsin. There are a variety of issues that have impacted this downturn, and it’s more important than ever that we are paying attention and coming up with solutions to help alleviate the pain that our agriculture industry is experiencing.

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Last week, I stood with Governor Tony Evers to announce that I was introducing stand-alone legislation to increase the eligibility limit of the Wisconsin Medicaid program to 133% of the federal poverty level. I was happy to have Representative Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) with me, as the auth…

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As Justice Shirley Abrahamson ends her tenure on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, after 43 years and more than 1,300 authored opinions, she leaves a rich legacy of legal scholarship, importantly including her support for government transparency.

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We fear that talking Village finances will immediately scare off a few readers. But stick with us here… Granted, the message to share about the Village’s finances won’t necessarily change your life. Looking at it another way, what the Village is able to accomplish BECAUSE OF our strong finan…

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As Justice Shirley Abrahamson ends her tenure on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, after 43 years and more than 1,300 authored opinions, she leaves a rich legacy of legal scholarship, importantly including her support for government transparency.

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Now that the budget has come and gone, it should be a time that we both remember the missed opportunities, and celebrate the long-overdue and historic investments that were made in Wisconsin. Due to Governor Evers’ bold vision for our state, Republicans were forced to confront their failed p…

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At the beginning of each odd year, the Governor proposes a budget and the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) makes changes based on the Legislature’s suggestions and requests. This process has been in place since 1931.

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After Independence Day last week, we are all feeling a little bit more patriotic, not solely because of the stunning fireworks that lit the sky and the celebration of our independence, but because we were all reminded what it means to be an American.

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Wisconsin’s open records law applies to all records requests, big or small. But under former Attorney General Brad Schimel, the Wisconsin Department of Justice implemented a restrictive policy that limited access based on the number of potentially responsive emails.

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I’ve had my hair trimmed by a barber ever since I was able to climb up into a barber chair. Chuck at Paradise Barber Shop in Elkhorn took care of me all through my grade school days. I remember he kept a fake cockroach in a drawer and routinely “found” it in my hair. There was Keith in Brown…

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One hundred and seventy one. That’s not only the age of Wisconsin but also the age of its State Treasurer’s Office. This constitutional office has been serving Wisconsinites since the very beginning.

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In his proposed budget, Gov. Tony Evers sought to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize small amounts of the drug for other users. Evers’ decriminalization proposal would be unusual in allowing all Wisconsinites to possess 25 grams or less of the drug without any criminal or civil pen…

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Farming in general is a community-based system. I know this because I am a dairy farmer from central Wisconsin. I am so proud to have grown up in this industry and proud to support my community as much as my farm does. I recently evaluated how we spend money on our farm and found that 62% of…

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When University of Wisconsin-Madison student journalist Peter Coutu investigated frequent lottery winners in Wisconsin in 2018, he uncovered a pattern: The owners and clerks of stores that sell lottery tickets seemed to have more luck than normal.

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In 2016, I was fortunate to take part in the Barns on Main art project with my mom. Together we created a mosaic barn that, alongside 14 others, was displayed in downtown Waunakee for the summer. Creating that barn was a wonderful chance for my mom and I to spend time together, challenge our…

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Tax increment financing (TIF) is the primary tool that local governments in Wisconsin use to encourage development, particularly in the case of sites with blight, environmental concerns, or other factors that may make projects more costly or unattractive.

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Back when I was a TV local newspup, I met Muhammad Ali to do an interview. This was during his boxing days. While my video person set up, I discovered, to my utter surprise, during our chat that he was friendly but soft-spoken and cordial, the exact opposite of his loud, brash shtick.

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Addressing our growing transportation needs has become a hotly-debated topic at the state and national levels. In Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers’ proposed transportation budget offers a responsible and urgently-needed path forward to address an issue that has been studied, debated, avoided a…

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Waunakee Utilities has been providing services to customers since 1915 and is a locally owned, not-for-profit utility. The utility operates exclusively to provide reliable, affordable, safe, electric, water and sewer services to customers. The Village of Waunakee owns the Waunakee Utilities,…

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When so much about politics is partisan, one might expect a topic like police body cameras to be contentious, particularly as it relates to public access to recordings.

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Wisconsin support for Medicaid Expansion is growing. The most recent Marquette University Law School poll revealed 70% of Wisconsinites support the Medicaid Expansion—a significant increase from the 62% support reported in January of this year. As the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee re…

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The monthly Village Corner is a column to share the good news of the village authored by village staff and officials.

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One lesson the Washington reporter learns very quickly is that he or she should never EVER have unbreakable plans for the weekend. It's a major strain on the relationships that newspersons have with significant others who can accept only so many disappointments resulting from the Friday nigh…

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There’s been lots of talk lately about Dane County’s Henry Vilas Zoo. The county is proud of our community’s free zoo that we’ve been taking care of for a very long time – 35 years and counting.