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Wisconsin Senate passes bill to ban texting by drivers

Madison (AP) — Texting would be banned for all Wisconsin drivers under a bill that passed the state Senate on Tuesday.

The measure originally would have applied only to drivers under age 18. But the Senate voted to change it to apply to all drivers after some lawmakers objected to limiting it only to young drivers. They argued if it’s unsafe for younger drivers, it’s unsafe for all.

A similar bill covering all drivers awaits debate in the Assembly.

The bill passed prohibits drivers from sending a text message using a cell phone, iPhone, BlackBerry or other similar device.

The penalties would be between $20 and $400, the same as disorderly driving.

The bill passed 27-5.

Assembly Committee on Labor sends two industry bills to floor

Madison — The Assembly Committee on Labor on Tuesday unanimously passed two industry-related bills, sending them to the Assembly floor for a vote.

One, authored by state Rep. Louis Molepske Jr., D-Stevens Point, revises the state requirements for certification as a professional engineer. The other, authored by state Rep. Jim Soletski, D-Green Bay, updates the definition of work performed by a plumber in state Department of Commerce statutes.

Report: 16 percent of Wisconsin land is for conservation, recreation

Madison (AP) — A new report says about 16 percent of the total land area in Wisconsin is publicly owned for conservation or recreational uses.

According to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance report, in 2006 about 5.7 million acres was being used for conservation or recreation.

The land is owned by federal, state and county governments.

According to the report, all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties except for Menominee had some public land. The amount ranged from more than 464,000 acres in Bayfield to about 3,100 in Kewaunee County.

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