NRC issues report cards on Minn., Wis. nuke plants
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued its annual report cards on the nation's 100 commercial nuclear power plants, and it found room for improvement at two reactors in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin.
Xcel Energy's Prairie Island Unit 2 on the Mississippi River near Red Wing in Minnesota was assessed as needing to resolve one or more items of "low safety significance." The NRC says will give the reactor additional inspections and attention to follow up on corrective actions there.
The NRC says Xcel's Monticello nuclear plant on the Mississippi in central Minnesota and the NextEra Energy Resources Point Beach plant on Lake Michigan near Manitowoc, Wisconsin were rated one category lower with a "degraded level of performance." They'll get more inspections, senior management attention and other oversight.
Walker lobbies Kerry for Keystone XL pipeline
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is sending another letter in support of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would deliver oil from Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
Walker addressed the letter Thursday to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the project's approval. The letter is similar to one he sent in April and comes after the State Department found the pipeline would have little impact on the environment.
Walker says the pipeline would create up to 9,000 jobs in Wisconsin over 20 years.
The Obama Administration has delayed a decision on the pipeline for years. Environmentalists and some landowners oppose the project, while oil companies and the Canadian government support it.
Wisconsin governor touts Enbridge expansion plans
SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is touting plans by Enbridge Incorporated to increase its crude oil pipeline capacity.
Walker toured Enbridge's facilities in Superior for the first time Thursday. He says he's impressed by safety precautions at the Superior facilities, where Enbridge can store nearly 14 million barrels of oil in 64 tanks.
Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge is planning to build or expand three crude oil pipelines from North Dakota and Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. WDIO-TV reports Walker called the planned expansion a "tremendous opportunity."
Walker says the pipeline projects are "the right fit" and would help provide for energy independence in North America.
Environmentalists are fighting Enbridge's plans, saying they will contribute to climate change by carrying more of Alberta's tar sands oil to U.S. refineries.
Gov. Walker picked to lead Midwest governors group
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he plans to focus on propane issues as the new chair of the Midwestern Governor's Association.
The Washington-based group brings governors and staff together to solve significant problems in the region.
The association asked President Barack Obama for federal help in January as the region's propane supply dwindled. Walker said in a statement Thursday that as chairman, he wants to start the propane conversation immediately.
Walker's administration has already eased regulations for propane drivers and made more state aid available to help low-income residents afford propane. The fuel's cost has increased with the shortage.
Walker becomes the fourth Wisconsin governor to chair the Midwestern Governor's Association. Former Gov. Jim Doyle led the nine-member group in 2007.
Committee votes to extend donation time
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Senate committee has voted to expand the amount of time lobbyists can give personal donations to candidates running for office in Wisconsin.
The Senate Elections Committee voted 3-2 on Thursday to pass a bill that allows lobbyists to begin giving donations to candidates on April 15th. Current law doesn't allow donations to begin until June.
Republicans who support the change say it's needed to correspond with new election deadlines tied to the earlier August primary date. April 15th is the day candidates can begin circulating petitions to get on the ballot.
The committee removed a portion of the bill that would have allowed lobbyists to pass along donations from others at any time of the year, rather than after June 1st.
The bill now goes to the full Senate.
Senate committee passes bill limiting voting hours
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - In-person absentee voting hours would not be allowed on weekends or holidays in Wisconsin under a bill passed by a state Senate committee.
The measure passed 3-2 Thursday with all Republicans for it and Democrats against.
The bill would limit in-person absentee voting to between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Total in-person absentee voting would be limited to no more than 45 hours a week.
Democrats say it's designed to cut back on hours that people can vote absentee in large Democratic cities of Milwaukee and Madison. Both cities held extended hours during the 2012 election.
The Assembly passed a similar bill but because this one differs it would have to pass both houses again before being sent to Gov. Scott Walker.
ROLLER COASTER FALL
Man falls from roller coaster at Wis. resort
LAKE DELTON, Wis. (AP) - Authorities say a 64-year-old man has fallen off an indoor roller coaster at a Wisconsin theme park.
The Sauk County sheriff's office dispatch center says the man fell 15 to 20 feet and landed on the floor Thursday.
The dispatch center says it happened around 5:30 p.m. at Mt. Olympus Theme Park & Water Park Resort.
Paramedics were called. The man's condition is not known.
Wisconsin woman gets probation for judge threat
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin Rapids woman will spend three years on probation for threatening to kill a federal administrative law judge.
Fifty-one-year-old Norma Prince was sentenced Thursday. Prince pleaded guilty in December.
Prosecutors say the incident happened January 31st, 2013, when Prince appeared at a Social Security disability benefits hearing in Wausau.
Administrative Law Judge Thomas Sanzi was presiding over the hearing by teleconference from Madison. Prosecutors say Prince became upset and threatened to shoot Sanzi and cut off his head. The hearing was halted and Prince was escorted from the courtroom.
Prince's husband told a federal agent that his wife had bought two .22-caliber rifles about a month before the disability hearing.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman said Prince's mental health issues can be controlled through medication and supervision.
Madison man accused of fatally shooting brother
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Madison man is charged with fatally shooting his younger brother after an argument.
Thirty-nine-year-old Bonnell Hanger was charged Thursday with first-degree intentional homicide.
According to the complaint, Hanger cried before telling police, "I shot my kid brother."
Witnesses say Hanger and his 33-year-old brother, Fredica Hanger, had argued before the shooting Monday night on Madison's Near East Side.
The complaint says Fredrica Hanger was in his car installing a car stereo when his brother arrived. The two argued, and Fredrica Hanger was shot. He was pronounced dead at UW Hospital.
The Dane County medical examiner says Fredrica Hanger died from gunshot wounds to the head.
Bonnell Hanger surrendered to police at the scene. The Wisconsin State Journal reports he was jailed on $100,000 bail after appearing in court.
Wake up and smell the bacon ... with a bacon app
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Want to wake up to the sound of bacon sizzling on the stove with its aroma drawing you out of bed?
There's an app for that.
Oscar Mayer says it has created a bacon-scented app for the iPhone, developed by the Madison-based company's Institute for the Advancement of Bacon.
The company says that to emit a small puff reminiscent of bacon, the user needs an external device that plugs into the headphone jack. The app itself produces the sound of bacon sizzling in a pan.
Oscar Mayer says the aroma-producing device won't be sold in stores and that quantities are limited. The company is giving away 4,700 devices beginning Thursday.
Oscar Mayer is part of Kraft Foods Group Inc., based in Glenview, Illinois.
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