EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Free tuition to college may seem too good to be true but a state lawmaker is looking to make it a reality.
Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) is proposing a bill that would make tuition free at Wisconsin's technical colleges and two-year campuses.
Vinehout says her own struggle to save enough money in order to attend a two-year college after graduation is a driving factor for the legislation.
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Legislation to make tuition free at Wisconsin’s technical colleges and two-year campuses was unveiled Monday by state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma.
“Expanding our skilled workforce is the surest way to grow our economy and raise wages, which are 18th lowest in the country,” Vinehout, one of several Democratic gubernatorial candidates seeking to unseat GOP Gov. Scott Walker, said in a news release. “Other states that have moved in this direction have seen enrollments increase.”
Legislature Gave Unanimous Approval To Join More Than 30 States In Allowing Farmers To Grow Industrial Hemp
Two state senators say they see no reason why Gov. Scott Walker won't sign into law a bill that would make it legal for Wisconsin's farmers to grow industrial hemp.
Both the state Senate and Assembly approved a bill earlier this month that would establish a pilot program to allow farmers to grow hemp with a license.
The 2014 federal Farm Bill opened the door to allow states to decide if hemp, which is closely related to marijuana but with much lower levels of THC, the active ingredient that makes people high, could be grown. More than 30 states, including neighboring Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois, have legalized growing hemp.
The bill's Senate author, state Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, said unanimous approval in the Legislature sends a strong message to the governor that lawmakers should support legalized hemp.
"We import $500 million annually of industrial hemp from Canada," he said. "This is a prime example that we can lessen our dependence on foreign imports by growing it right here in the state of Wisconsin."
From food to textiles, hemp is a versatile crop that can be used in hundreds of products.
State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, who is challenging Walker in the 2018 election and has supported legalizing industrial hemp since she was first elected, said Wisconsin had the last hemp processing facility in the U.S. in the 1950s
"The crop was well-suited to our climate. It grew well, and it was profitable for farmers. Somehow in the 1950s, hemp got all mixed up with its cousin (cannabis) and poor hemp lost out," she said. "Over the years, people have realized that hemp is a commodity, like corn and soybeans."
The governor is still reviewing the bill and it's unclear if he will sign it into law.
Click here to listen to the program on WPR from November 20, 2017
Sunday, both Vinehout and Wachs discussed people first policies.
“I am running for governor to put people first, people as the center of state policy, the top priority when it comes to spending state dollars,” Vinehout said.
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With a huge field of Democrats vying to challenge GOP Gov. Scott Walker in next fall’s election, the only thing certain is uncertainty.
Of the 17 Democrats so far who have registered to run for governor in 2018, experts say eight to 10 are considered serious candidates. Two of them, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma and state Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire, are from west-central Wisconsin.
That raises a key question for Democrats seeking to deny Walker a third term: Would it be an advantage or disadvantage to select a candidate from regions outside the traditional Democratic strongholds of Madison and Milwaukee?
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Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, said she's "all in" when it comes to beating Gov. Scott Walker in next year's election.
Vinehout won't run for a fourth Senate term and may get into farming full-time at her family's farm if she doesn't take the governor's office.
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Vinehout said in a statement that she is running for governor to turn the state’s priorities upside down.
“I am running for Governor to turn the state’s priorities upside down, to put people first, at the center of state policy and the top priority when it comes to spending the state’s dollars. My vision is very different from where the state is today,” she said during her announcement on Monday.
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Another Democratic face is in the 2018 race for Gov. Scott Walker’s seat.
State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, announced her candidacy for governor Monday, a widely expected move after she explored entering the race for months. She joins a number of other Democrats — including state Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire, state education Superintendent Tony Evers, businessman Andy Gronik and non-profit leader Mike McCabe — who have declared their candidacy, and a few others who are still considering running.
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