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GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: State's job performance will likely determine the next Governor

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MADISON -- The race for governor in Wisconsin is likely to largely hinge on the state’s jobs performance. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has ranked Wisconsin 35th in private-sector job growth, an improvement from a ranking of 37th three months ago. Democrat Mary Burke says the progress is "not good enough" and that the rankings show the state continues to under perform on that measure. Governor Walker responded by saying the numbers are "significant" and the state is "putting people back to work." The Bureau of Lablor Statistics reported that the Wisconsin added some 28,300 positions during the 12-month period ending in September 2013. 

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The Assembly is poised to pass a bill that would restrict in-person absentee voting hours at local clerk’s offices to no more than 45 hours during the week and prevent clerks from staying open on weekends in the two weeks before an election. Democrats say the Legislature should be looking at ways to encourage voters to come to the polls, instead of limiting the ability of voters to cast a ballot. Republicans argue the change is needed to restore fairness to the system, since rural areas do not have the ability to extend their hours and stay open on weekends in the same way that clerks in urban areas have been able to in recent years.

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The Wisconsin National Guard employment program is finding success. The Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection works to secure jobs for returning service members. Since October of 2011, the program has been able to find jobs for more than 500 service members, at an average hourly wage of $17.

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Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 407 on Wednesday. The bill establishes a four-year requirement that all snowmobiles on Wisconsin’s trail system, have a state trail pass. Members of clubs affiliated with the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs will pay $10. Non-members will pay $30 and out of state snowmobilers will pay $50 for their trail pass. The registration sticker will be valid for three years and, under the legislation, the additional revenue is to be used to help maintain 18,000 miles of snowmobile trails.

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