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Government and Political Roundup: Schultz to face a primary challenger if he runs again

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The most moderate Republican in the Wisconsin Senate will have a primary challenger next year if he runs again. G-O-P Representative Howard Marklein of Spring Green said yesterday that he'll run for Dale Schultz's Senate seat 19 months from now. Marklein is in his second two-year term in the Assembly, while Schultz - a 30-year legislative veteran from Richland Center - says he won't decide until this fall whether he'll run again. Schultz rankled hard-line Republicans by voting against the G-O-P's mining incentive legislation two years in a row. He has also formed an alliance with veteran Senate Democrat Tim Cullen of Janesville, calling for an end to the divisiveness and polarization that's been a hallmark in recent years in both Madison and Washington. Marklein did not criticize Schultz in his Senate campaign announcement, but he did say he supported the mining bill. Marklein, an accountant, says he would keep trying to provide tools that help businesses grow. Schultz said he votes with Republicans almost 99-percent of the time - and he thought it was enough to avoid a primary challenge. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Democrats believe they have a chance to win the seat if someone more conservative than Schultz goes on the ballot.

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Only one of every 14 state government employees got pay raises in the first year that public unions lost most of their bargaining power. The Wisconsin State Journal said more than half the increases were one-time merit awards. And those who did get raises got an average of six-and-a-half percent - well above the zero-to-two-percent increases given to all workers in the decade before the 2011 bargaining limits. Almost 28-hundred employees were given more money - and most are with the U-W. The law allows unions to negotiate for raises at-or-below inflation. But the biggest unions lost their official state recognition, after they refused to go along with a provision that required annual re-certification votes. The Wisconsin State Employees Union was among those which stay in business without certification. Director Marty Beil complained that there's no longer objective criteria in granting raises to his members - and it can open the door to favoritism. Compensation consultant Charles Carlson says Wisconsin has excellent public employees - and their experience and expertise could be lost if they resign or are replaced. Governor Scott Walker's office says the raises that were granted are a good start, and more agencies will offer merit hikes in the future.

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A new bill in the state Legislature would nullify a Supreme Court ruling on what doctors have to tell patients about alternative treatments. Assembly Republican Jim Ott of Mequon says medical costs will go up because doctors would have to expand their "informed consent" duties. But Democrats say patients would be hurt in the process. The court ruling said doctors must tell patients about tests-and-treatments that might be appropriate for their symptoms - even if it involves diseases the patients don't have. The court's action was in the case of a man with Bell's Palsy. His doctor ordered tests that ruled out one type of stroke - but another test was not ordered which would have alerted the patient to a second type of stroke that he suffered less than two weeks later.

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About 50-thousand people have seen a You-Tube video, in which U-S Senate Republican Ron Johnson showed how the Army Corps of Engineers came down hard on an Iowa farmer. It's the first of a video series called "Victims of Government," in which the Wisconsin lawmaker wants to highlight those he says have been harmed by a bloated federal government - and its excess of red tape and regulations. Johnson said he wanted to bring back former Wisconsin Senator Bill Proxmire's Golden Fleece Award, which highlighted waste in federal spending. But Johnson said his Oklahoma colleague Tom Coburn's already doing that. So after consulting with conservative author David Horowitz, Johnson developed the idea of showing victims of the federal bureaucracy. He told C-N-B-C that it's not an anti-government project - but rather, a demonstration of how the national government has gotten too large. Just like Proxmire's Fleece Award decades ago, Johnson's project has its critics. The liberal One Wisconsin Now calls it an unproductive effort to trash the government - and tax money shouldn't be used for it.

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U-W Madison and five other research institutions will share 14-and-a-half million dollars for new studies on cancer treatments. The Saint Baldrick's Foundation is providing the money. The research will focus on genomics - studies of D-N-A to find genetic causes of cancer. The scientists will then try to find immuno-therapeutic treatments which use the body's own immune system to fight the genetic diseases. The U-W and the five other institutes will analyze childhood cancer genomes and normal tissues to find susceptible molecules on cancer cells, before looking for suitable medicines. The work begins in July, and the initial tests will be performed on mice.

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