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Alliance Laundry Systems: The Ripon-based laundry equipment manufacturer announces plans to expand its plant, spending an expected $46 million and eventually adding 150 jobs, with more tax credits available for additional jobs created. The proposal, which is pending approval of $6 million in assistance from Fond du Lac County, follows a $25 million expansion last year that added 270 positions. The county-funded assistance would help secure a lower interest rate for the company — similar to a proposal that helped secure Mercury Marine’s presence in Fond du Lac. Under the newly proposed expansion, Alliance would employ more than 1,500 workers in Ripon.
Kenosha casino: Gov. Scott Walker had established a deadline of last Friday to announce his decision regarding a proposed casino project in Kenosha. But the governor postpones his announcement that day, saying he needs more time to consider the complex legal arguments before him. Walker met with Menominee officials earlier in the week about their proposed casino on the site of the former Dairyland Greyhound Park — and about their claims that they had satisfied Walker’s conditions for approving the project. The governor has maintained that new casino projects must include community support, no net increase in gaming and consensus among the state’s 11 tribes. He then reached out to the Forest County Potawatomi and the Ho-Chunk — which continue to oppose the project — after the Menominee argued those tribes had essentially approved the Kenosha project through their previous compacts with the state. Walker says he has no timeline for a decision as he reviews the data, though no new negotiations will be scheduled.
Frac sand regulations: Two Republican lawmakers roll out legislation that would prevent local governments from using certain regulatory powers to prevent non-metallic mines, such as frac sand mines, from operating. At a hearing on the measure, Republicans and business interests argue it would protect the rights of private property owners, while Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst and the bill’s author, says businesses who are creating jobs in western Wisconsin with frac sand mines be should be given some regulatory certainty. Democrats and environmental activists counter the bill would take away vital protections for local governments, particularly since, they say, the Department of Natural Resources has insufficient staff to properly oversee the burgeoning frac sand industry. Following the hearing, Tiffany concedes the bill language needs some changes and says he expects the Legislature won’t take it up until next year at the earliest.