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Walker signs bill to reorganize Commerce Department

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker greets Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson after the governor's State of State address to a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers at the state Capitol on Feb. 1. Walker signed a bill to reorganize the Department of Commerce Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law a measure that will replace public employees at the Department of Commerce with private workers in a dramatic reorganization of the agency.

The new Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. will be a public-private hybrid in charge of attracting and retaining businesses in the state.

Existing regulatory duties of the Commerce Department will be moved elsewhere in state government.

Walker said at Wednesday’s bill signing that the new law sends a strong message that state government will be working closely with private economic development interests.

The reorganization will take effect sometime after July 1.

Even though workers will now be private, they will be eligible for the state retirement system and health benefits.

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