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Politics & Government

Legislators Advance Bills on Testing, Speed Limit, Microbeads and Liquor Samples

Wisconsin would ignore student scores this year - the first year schools administer the Badger Exam, under a bill the state Senate approved Tuesday.

The exam is tied to the new Common Core standards, which spell out what skills students should acquire in certain grades.  On a voice vote, senators approved a one-year delay in holding schools accountable for the performance of their students. Eventually, some state leaders want to grade schools and teachers on how well their students perform on the Badger Exam, but there have been obstacles to its implementation and fears that students would score poorly this spring. The bill now heads to the Assembly.

The Senate also approved and forwarded to the Assembly, a bill that would ban microbeads. Those are tiny plastic exfoliants that some toothpastes and facial scrubs contain. Scientists have discovered that the beads are flowing in gigantic numbers into the Great Lakes via water treatment systems, polluting the water with plastic. Manufacturers have started replacing the beads with natural substances, as more states enact bans. Under the plan Wisconsin senators advanced on a voice vote Tuesday, the state would prohibit the making of products with microbeads starting in 2018, and ban their sale here in 2019.

On the Assembly side Tuesday, representatives approved a bill to raise the speed limit on some state roadways to 70 mph. The DOT would decide which stretches of freeways and highways are appropriate for a faster flow of traffic. Senators must now vote on the proposed change, weighing safety concerns against Wisconsin's 65 mph speed limit, one of the slowest in the region.

The Assembly completed legislative action on at least one item Tuesday, sending the bill to Gov. Walker. Representatives agreed with Senators that Wisconsin should allow stores that sell alcohol, to offer customers mini-shots of hard liquor. Customers could have only one per day.