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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

WI Eyes Deicer Training to Curb Salt Pollution

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Thursday, March 16, 2023   

Spring is almost here, but Wisconsin can't rule out the occasional snowstorm over the next few weeks, potentially resulting in more ice-melting products being used.

Amid environmental concerns, a proposed bill aims to encourage training for applicators.

This week, a state Senate committee heard testimony over a plan to create a voluntary de-icer certification program. The Department of Natural Resources would be tasked with establishing training for individual commercial applicators, who would learn methods for spreading snow- and ice-melting products designed to protect water quality.

Rep. Elijah Behnke, R-Oconto, is a lead sponsor on the Assembly side and noted the impact of salt in ending up waterways is becoming hard to ignore.

"Harmful effects have been noticed in our native aquatic organisms and our freshwater ecosystems," Behnke pointed out.

To ease concerns from the business community, the bill has language surrounding liability protections to shield applicators from lawsuits stemming from a slip-and-fall incident. Others who testified noted the plan can reduce salt from being spread around, while still protecting public safety. The measure has bipartisan support, as well as backing from environmental advocates.

Hilary Dugan, assistant professor of aquatic biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, testified in support of the bill. Speaking on her own behalf, she noted efforts to curb salt use go beyond protecting habitat in waterways.

"This hurts recreational activities, it hurts property values," Dugan explained. "Thinking about if your private groundwater well gets salty, your property value gets reduced, you're left without drinkable water."

Dugan added state and local snowplow operators have made strides in being more efficient with their application of road salt or switching to less-harmful products. She contended incentivizing private contractors can accelerate progress.


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