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Wisconsin Republicans moved ahead Tuesday with a fast-tracked coronavirus response bill that is opposed by Democrats and appears likely to be vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers.

Teran Powell

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley is expected to annouce his decision Tuesday afternoon on whether to charge the officer responsible for shooting Jacob Blake last summer leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. 

On Monday, the Blake family and Kenosha community leaders held a press conference to demand Officer Rusten Sheskey be fired, charged and convicted. A few dozen supporters joined them.

Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., said he wants him charged with attempted murder. 

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Local economies across America struggled through 2020. The coronavirus pandemic brought many businesses to a grinding halt and has kept many people out of a job.

UW-Milwaukee professor and chair of the economics department Scott Adams says Milwaukee is struggling along with everyone else and is not doing much better or worse than comparable cities. 

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Updated at 1:31 p.m. CST

An Illinois teenager who fatally shot two people and wounded a third amidst sometimes violent summer protests on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges including intentional homicide.

Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, entered his plea in a brief hearing conducted by teleconference.

Paul Haubrich / Forest Home Cemetery

Cemeteries are not just for dead bodies; they contain a wide range of art meant to symbolize both the feeling of mourning and grief but also to create a space for those who have died to be remembered for what they did in their lives.

This genre of art exploded in popularity in the United States during the Victorian Era from the 1870s to the 1910s. During this time many of the popular symbols in cemetery art were created. For example, the use of leaves like oak leaves to describe upstanding citizens or lilies for those who were pure of heart.

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Wisconsin has already begun distributing vaccines for COVID-19. The vaccines currently being administered, made by Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses spread a few weeks apart from each other.

The process to choose who becomes eligible for available doses of the vaccine has in many parts been left up to state and local health officials with guidance from the CDC and federal government. That means in each state it can look slightly different.  

In Wisconsin, frontline health care workers and long-term care facilities have been first in line.

Matthew Horwood / Getty Images

Updated Jan. 5 at 10:41 a.m.

A Wisconsin pharmacist told police he tried to ruin hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine because he felt the medicine wasn't safe, a prosecutor said Monday.

Police in Grafton, about 20 miles north of Milwaukee, arrested the Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist Steven Brandenburg last week following an investigation into the 57 spoiled vials of the Moderna vaccine, which officials say contained enough doses to inoculate more than 500 people.

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A federal judge on Monday rejected a lawsuit filed by two Republican Wisconsin lawmakers, voting rights groups and others seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Wisconsin and four other swing states where Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump.

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While many businesses have adapted to a new normal during the pandemic, arts and music venues have continued to struggle.

Many performing artists count on a packed audience to make ends meet. The pandemic halted all of that and artists have had to pivot to more virtual, and often less lucrative experiences. 

Patrick Rath is the President and CEO of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF). He says despite the decrease in revenue, artists all over Wisconsin are still working and many are bringing art virtually to people that would have never had access before the pandemic.

Meg Jones / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Meg Jones, long time Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter and Milwaukee writer, died on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2020 at the age of 58.

ED BIERMAN / FLICKR

Marches and protests for the Black Lives Matter movement have sparked conversations about race in America from our personal lives to the workplace.

Here in Milwaukee, the Marcus Performing Arts Center is working to further advance racial equity in the performing arts on and off the stage. President and CEO Kendra Whitlock Ingram is the first female and person of color to lead the organization. She says that work needs to center around a theme of accountability.

PROMESAARTSTUDIO / FOTOLIA

In this week’s Capitol Notes conversation, we look ahead to the political stories that will likely top the headlines in 2021. 

WisEye

Updated Tuesday 7:31 a.m. CST

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature introduced a sweeping COVID-19 bill on Monday, the first day of the session, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said lawmakers will fast track it and pass it later in the week.

2020 was a year that was especially hard on artists — shows were cancelled, collaboration disrupted. And for many, the year was marked by loss, pain, and isolation. Milwaukee native Matthew Gutierrez is a creative writer and author of "Notes I Took Along The Way," a bilingual book of poems.

Ralph Pabst / Latino WI Films,LLC

For four years, Milwaukee journalist Georgia Pabst and media producer Ralph Pabst worked to document the Latino community’s impact in Wisconsin. Narrated by voices in the Latino community, the documentary film, Latino Wisconsin, looks at five different regions of impact — from farm workers to future entrepreneurs.

What comes through in the film is that while overcoming poverty, education barriers and immigration and civil rights challenges, the Latino community in Wisconsin has and will continue to contribute to the economic livelihood and growth of the state.

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Updated 5:09 p.m. CST

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

In 2020 the medical field saw more than deaths and illnesses related to COVID-19, there was also a lot of discussion about racial disparities, senior citizens, skepticism and scientific breakthroughs.

One new development was the drive-through COVID-19 testing site, whether run by government health care workers, the National Guard, or the private sector — such as at the new mobile clinic temporarily outside Barack Obama School in Milwaukee.   

Screengrab from speech video

On November 10, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers offered this chilling forecast from the University of Washington in a statewide speech: "The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates 5,000 Wisconsinites could be lost to COVID-19 by January 1st, if no further actions are taken to get this virus under control.”

At the time, Wisconsin had seen 2,395 deaths. That number officially doubled by Wednesday of this week, when the state reported 35 deaths for a new total of 4,818.

So, barring a huge death toll Thursday, 5,000 won't be reached by January 1.

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As WUWM Education Reporter Emily Files visited virtual classrooms this month, she found that online school requires teachers to be intentional about how they deliver instruction, but also about how they connect with students.

Ashley Duley, an eighth grade English teacher at West Milwaukee Intermediate School, says she’ll carry those lessons with her, when life and school get back to normal.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Federal CARES Act money provided to state, local and tribal governments impacted by COVID-19 was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020. But Congress passing the $900 billion stimulus package earlier this month, means local municipalities have until the end of 2021 to use up their CARES funds. That’s according to Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

During a COVID-19 media briefing Tuesday, Crowley said the extension didn’t come with any additional funding and that could put the county in a tough spot next year.

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President Donald Trump's campaign asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to take its failed lawsuit challenging election results in swing state Wisconsin.

Trump lost the state to Democrat Joe Biden by about 21,000 votes. The president's campaign filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in Dane and Milwaukee counties, the state's two most heavily Democratic counties.

Emily Files / WUWM

There were a number of major news developments this year that intersected with just about every area of life — including education. The biggest education story of 2020 has been how COVID-19 changed schooling so dramatically.

On March 13, Gov. Tony Evers closed K-12 schools as coronavirus cases began to surface in Wisconsin. School leaders scrambled to provide meals and education options for students at home.

Teran Powell / WUWM

Much of the news of 2020 was dominated by two major stories: the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests against police brutality that were accompanied by calls for immediate police reform.

Here’s how some of those stories unfolded in Wisconsin.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Updated Wednesday at 7:41 p.m. CST

Earlier this week, an employee of Aurora Medical Center - Grafton intentionally removed 57 vials of the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine from refrigeration, resulting in more than 500 doses needing to be discarded. This is according to a press release sent out by Advocate Aurora Health Wednesday.

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A federal agency announced it has started to review an application to keep Wisconsin's only nuclear power plant open until about 2050. That's roughly two decades longer than currently authorized. 

The owner, Florida-based Next Era, says the two generators at the Point Beach Nuclear Plant along Lake Michigan, north of Manitowoc, are reliable sources of emissions-free energy. Milwaukee-based WE Energies used to own the large plant, and still buys power from it.

Ann-Elise Henzl

Gov. Tony Evers says COVID-19 vaccinations of residents and staff are now underway at some Wisconsin long-term care facilities, including nursing homes. Eligible sites are paired with two large pharmacy chains, which will provide storage and handling of the Moderna brand vaccine, as well as scheduling, administering the drug and reporting its use. 

About 57,000 doses will initially be available for the long-term care facilities.  The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says the vaccination program at those sites will continue for about two months.

Teran Powell / WUWM

Across the country this year, including in Milwaukee, protests over the treatment of Black people has taken center stage. While the police killing of George Floyd was the catalyst, some in Milwaukee have had concerns for decades about policing and the value of Black lives here. Protests in Milwaukee have now surpassed 200 days. Still, questions remain about the progress that’s been made.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

After a difficult year for rail travel in Wisconsin, passenger groups and government officials are hoping for a better 2021. One bright spot is that the newest COVID-19 relief bill President Donald Trump has signed includes aid that Amtrak hopes will carry them through the end of March. 

And, despite the pandemic, work continues on some rail projects not due to be completed for several years.

Who’s still riding?

Ann Althouse / Flickr

In this week’s Capitol Notes conversation, we’re going to look back at the top political stories of 2020. One of the biggest stories was the impact of the coronavirus, and how elected officials responded.

Here in Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and health officials declared a state of emergency at the outset, which resulted in a couple of stay-at-home orders, as well as mandates for masks and capacity limits on businesses. Several lawsuits ensued from Republican lawmakers and political groups.

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