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Finance committee OK's two Lake Michigan dredging projects

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Some eyebrows were raised Tuesday, as the state Legislature’s finance committee endorsed funding for two dredging projects on Lake Michigan.

The panel okayed $700,000 to dredge a marina in Racine at the mouth of the Root River – but only after some last-minute lobbying by an aide to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who’s from that area.

Racine Democrat Cory Mason initially proposed a somewhat larger project that was voted down.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Vos aide then talked with lawmakers during a break – and three of them later changed their votes to approve the project.

Mason said he did not speak with Vos about his funding proposal, and he’s glad it ended up getting bi-partisan support.

The other project was a $5 million dredging off Washington Island in Door County, part of a $19 million bonding package for state harbors. Officials say the dredging work is needed so boats can deal with low water levels.

Also, the finance panel endorsed a $70 increase in a surcharge for drunk driving fines to pay for maintaining breath test equipment. And the committee added over $5 million in additional funds to prop up a state fund that pays for veterans’ benefits.

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