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Weekend Roundup: Wisconsin Democratic Lawmakers Push For Legalized Marijuana — Again

Green Bay Packers, Helping The 'Hidden Homeless,' An Aging Postal Fleet And More

Jake Crisco holds a mature bud of marijuana
In this Thursday June 17, 2021 photo shows Jake Crisco, general manager of the Green Leaf Medical Cannibis facility, holds a mature bud of marijuana at the company’s plant in Richmond, Va. Adult recreational use of marijuana will become legal in Virginia this week, but the commercial production and sale of marijuana is still almost three years away. Steve Helber/AP Photo

Earlier this week, Wisconsin Democrats headed over the boarder to South Beloit in Illinois to propose new legislation that would allow Wisconsin residents age 21 and up to purchase and posses up to 2 ounces of marijuana and six plants.

The bill would also create a medical marijuana registry, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Republicans haven’t supported such proposals in the past.

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People travel to other states to purchase marijuana, lawmakers said Tuesday.

It is legal to purchase marijuana in Illinois and Michigan for recreational and medical use. Minnesota allows medical marijuana use.

“The people of Rock County, just minutes across the border there, have shown strong support for legalizing cannabis. In a November 2018 referendum, nearly 70 percent of Rock County residents voted in favor of legalizing and regulating cannabis,” said state Rep. Mark Spreitzer, a Democrat from Beloit.

Democrats believe the proposal would boost the agricultural economy and reduce racial disparities in arrests for marijuana possession, according to the Journal Sentinel.

Wisconsin DHS: COVID-19 Weekly Recap

From Aug. 8-12, there were 6,330 new cases of COVID-19 reported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 636,344. Wisconsin has lost 7,471 total lives to the disease.

Fifty percent of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated — 82 percent of people age 65 and older and 30.9 percent of children age 12-15.

Report: Packers Estimated Worth $3.475B

Forbes has estimated the Green Bay Packers are worth $3.475 billion, according to a report in the Green Bay Gazette.

The Forbes valuation said that NFL teams’ values increased in the past year despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying blows to revenue.

The report said that the Packers ranked 13th in value among the NFL’s 32 teams, according to estimates released last week.

Dane County Creating Position To Focus On Aid For ‘Hidden Homeless’

The Dane County Board is using money from federal funds to create a position that will advocate for and support people who are “hidden homeless,” meaning they do not have their own homes so they stay with family and friends or pay for motel rooms. The position is the first of its kind in the U.S., reports the Wisconsin State Journal.

“If we don’t find solutions for people experiencing this type of homelessness, there will be no end to homelessness in our community,” said Sup. Michele Doolan, 28th District. Doolan is the lead sponsor of the resolution behind the position.

Plan To Replace Aging Postal Truck Fleet Delayed By Lawsuit

The United States Postal Service’s aging fleet of trucks is soldiering on even as a contract for greener replacement vehicles is being challenged.

In February, USPS announced it awarded a 10-year contract to Oshkosh Defense, a Wisconsin-based defense contractor. The losing bidder, an Ohio company called Workhorse Group, challenged the fairness of the decision in June.

The primary fleet of vehicles, dating back to 1987, is due to be replaced under the new contract, but the winning bid is being challenged. That means the delivery of new trucks set for late 2023 could be further delayed.

The new trucks — dubbed the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle — feature either fuel-efficient engines or electric battery powertrains, and they’ll be manufactured in the U.S., WPR previously reported.

There is not a deadline for a decision in the lawsuit, according to the Associated Press, but research suggests “contract challenges generally take about four to five months from filing to decision,” David Ralston and Frank Murray, Washington-based attorneys from Foley & Lardner LLP, told AP.

Workers don’t really care which model they get. They just want something that’s safe.

The current vehicles are catching fire at an alarming rate, they lack adequate heating and cooling, they deliver poor fuel economy and they’re becoming difficult to maintain.

The initial $482 million contract will cover design and preparations to begin building at least 50,000 trucks, according to a news release from the postal service. The contract could be worth more than $6 billion, according to The Motley Fool, if Oshkosh Defense delivers 165,000 new postal trucks.

A U.S. Postal Service truck
A U.S. Postal Service carrier delivers mail in Fitchburg, Wis., on Aug. 19, 2020. Delays in mail delivery in Wisconsin and nationwide are prompting concerns about the ability of the postal service to manage an expected flood of absentee ballots in November. Dee J. Hall / Wisconsin Watch

Evers Hands Wisconsin Hotels $70M In Coronavirus Aid

Gov. Tony Evers is handing Wisconsin hotels $70 million in federal coronavirus aid. The governor announced the move Monday.

He says grants of up to $2 million went out Friday to 888 lodging businesses around the state to help offset losses resulting from the pandemic.

The money is part of $140 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars designated for Wisconsin’s tourism and entertainment industries, including $11.25 million for movie theaters, $12 million for live-event small businesses, $2.8 million for minor league sports teams and $8 million for summer camps.

Jails, Phone Companies Profit Off Calls Paid For By Inmates And Their Families

The price for an incarcerated person to make a phone call from jail varies across state counties. But there is a constant, writes the Post Crescent: Those counties and phone service providers profit from the calls at the expense of those who are most financially vulnerable.

“There has been a lot of talk in this country over the last couple years about people who are a few hundred dollars away from a personal debt crisis. These are those people and they’re the ones that are being crushed by these phone rates,” said Wanda Bertram, communications strategist for the Prison Policy Initiative.

Data Show LGBTQ Adults Face Hunger At Almost Twice The Rate As Others

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many people across the United States to the financial brink. Food insecurity has increased across the country, but new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that LGBTQ adults are nearly twice as likely to experience food insecurity than non-LGBTQ adults.

NPR reports that of the more than 64,000 people who responded to the bureau’s latest Household Pulse Survey, just over 13 percent of LGBTQ adults reported living in a household that experienced food insecurity in the past seven days, compared to 7.2 percent of non-LBGTQ adults.

The Pulse survey is meant to be a window into how Americans are faring throughout the pandemic. The survey is sent to about 1 million households every two weeks.

According to Gallup survey data, 5.6 percent of U.S. citizens identify as LGBTQ.

Editor’s note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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