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Morning State News Roundup: The snow has ended the drought

The U.S. Drought Monitor reports the recent rain and snow seen over much of Wisconsin has ended the state's drought. The latest weekly update indicates less than 13 percent of Wisconsin is in drought, although 14 percent is rated abnormally dry. More than 60 percent was in drought as this year started. It's not all good. The heavy rainfall has been delaying the start of planting for some farmers. Farmland in southern Wisconsin is covered by several feet of water in some locations. That area has received about 10 inches of rain over the past two weeks.


A dozen years ago plans for the abandoned Badger Army Ammunition Plant included using the land for conservation, education and agriculture, plus low-impact recreational activities like hiking and bird-watching. Now, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says it has to weigh whether conditions have changed and the use of the land should change with them. Petitions have been presented to the state agency bearing the signatures of hundreds of people opposed to changing the first approach. The DNR is going to offer three alternatives this summer, then hold open houses to see what the public wants. The ATV Association is already asking the state to set aside 500 acres with 20 miles of trails for enthusiasts.


A researcher from Washington, D.C., says the Affordable Care Act seeks to improve the quality of care people get in this country. James Reschovsky says that doesn't necessarily mean the costs will go down. Reschovsky is a senior fellow at the Central for Studying Health System Change. He says the new federal health care reform law is pushing states to become more aggressive about finding their own solutions. He says that helps bring on improvements. Speaking at a health care forum in Madison yesterday, he also said the reforms are leading to consolidation of health care providers. That change could be good or bad. The intent of yesterday's discussion was to evaluate progress toward implementation of the new health care law backed by the White House.