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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Both sides of the gun control issues are intrigued with plan to eliminate the ATF

Conflicting gun interests are uniting against a plan by Wisconsin House Republican Jim Sensenbreenner to eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.  Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation says the A-T-F's "high-profile missteps" are not enough to warrant the agency's disbanding.  On the other side, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says new A-T-F director Todd Jones should be given more time to correct the problems.  Sensenbrenner, a Menomonee Falls Republican, says it's proper to disband the A-T-F in the wake of some botched enforcement operations.  That includes the storefront in Milwaukee that was supposed to round up gun-toting criminals -- but instead was burglarized, arrested the wrong people, and had a machine gun and sensitive records stolen.  The Journal Sentinel says the National Rifle Association has not weighed in on the idea to have the F-B-I and other agencies split up the A-T-F's current duties.  Sensenberenner says he's getting support from lawmakers of both parties.  House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Janesville says he wants to look for ways to eliminate duplicated efforts by the A-T-F and other agencies.  Ryan, the Republicans' vice-presidential nominee in 2012, says he looks forward to seeing the bill that Sensenbrenner plans to bring forward.


The National Weather Service said straight-line winds of up to 100-miles-an-hour caused a three-and-a-half mile path of damage near Kenosha.  The storm hit late Saturday night about three miles southwest of Kenosha.  The Weather Service surveyed the area yesterday, and found widespread tree damage and numerous house fences blown down.  Some roofs and power lines also fell.  Southern Wisconsin also had another round of heavy rains Saturday night and yesterday.  Milwaukee had just over three inches of rain, and Milton in Rock County had close to two inches.  We Energies reported no weather-related power outages this morning.  Meanwhile, a massive cold front is moving into Wisconsin today -- and parts of the state might not hit 70 today.  Highs are expected to be in the 60's-and-70's the next few days, with isolated showers today and a slight chance of rain tonight and tomorrow.  A gradual warm-up is due to begin on Thursday. 


Scott Walker is not the only Republican governor toning down his rhetoric against gay marriage.  At a weekend meeting of the National Governors Association in Nashville, both Walker and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad both said the G-O-P is better off focusing on economic and fiscal issues.  The Associated Press calls it a "dramatic turn" for a party that has long been defined by social conservatism.  It appears to stem from a report drafted after the 2012 presidential election, which called on the G-O-P to be more "inclusive and welcoming" -- especially on issues involving the "treatment and rights of gays."  Walker said gay marriage remains an important issue, and he's defending a state constitutional amendment for one-man, one-woman marriage voters approved seven years ago.  National and state polls since then show support for gay marriage, but it still goes against the G-O-P's platform.  On Friday, the federal appeals court in Chicago combined similar appeals from Wisconsin and Indiana of district court rulings which struck down their respective states' gay marriage bans.  Another group of cases is also heading toward the U-S Supreme Court.  That includes an appeal of Kentucky's gay marriage ban.  That state's governor, Democrat Steve Beshear, is also playing down his rhetoric.  He says he just wants the Supreme Court to settle the issue once and for all.


Scientists at U-W Madison want to find out if cranberry growers can attract native bees to pollinate their crops, and rely less on bee-keepers to bring in honey-bees.  A team led by entomology professor Claudio Gratton is about to study whether planting things like flowers in the cranberry fields would attract native bees.  The goals are to increase pollination and produce more berries, while reducing their reliance on bee-keepers that are getting more expensive to hire.  Tom Lochner of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association says it's a "significant cost" for growers -- and it's been rising in the wake of recent declines in commercial honey-bee populations.  Jeremy Hemberger, a U-W graduate student who's performing the research, says cranberry growers appear to be optimistic about using native bees.  However, they point out potential problems like weed growth.  It's also possible that the wildflowers might lure the bees away from their intended pollination cranberry targets.


If you plan to hunt for wolves, or catch that elusive sturgeon, you have a deadline coming up.  The state D-N-R says folks have until August first to apply for a host of sporting licenses for the fall and winter.  That includes the wolf season which begins in mid-October -- plus seasons for turkey, bobcat, fisher, otter, and sturgeon on the up-river lakes from Lake Winnebago.  License applications are available at D-N-R service centers, licensing facilities in sport stores, on-line at the D-N-R's Web site, and by phone.  Here's the toll-free number for that -- 1-877-LICENSE.