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Thumbs up/down for Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013

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September 3, 2013

Thumbs up to keeping pets vaccinated. In August, two cases of rabid bats were confirmed in Rock County. A dog discovered the first bat near Footville. In the second incident, two cats brought a dead bat home near downtown Janesville. Fortunately, in both instances, the pets had been vaccinated, and no human was exposed. The pets, however, still needed to be quarantined as a precaution. The Rock County Health Department says rabies was confirmed through testing, and it urges owners to vaccinate all pets against rabies, even if the animals live exclusively indoors. A rabies clinic for low-income families to vaccinate their pets will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at Telfer Park in Beloit. The health department encourages residents to cover small cracks or openings in doors and windows, to never touch a bat or wild animal and to have all dead, sick or easily captured bats tested for rabies if people or pets have been exposed. For more information, call 608-755-5440 or 608-364-2010.

Thumbs up to rising dairy exports. This is America’s Dairyland, after all, and milk and related products are among the best things to come out of Wisconsin. So it was great to read a report from Gov. Scott Walker that the value of Wisconsin’s dairy exports rose 23 percent in the first six months of this year compared to the same period of 2012. The impressive $171 million total ranks Wisconsin fourth nationwide in dairy exports. Canada, China and Mexico were key export destinations for our state’s dairy products. “The growth in our dairy industry is due to the hard work of the farmers and processors who produce quality and safe dairy products,” Walker said in a news release. We agree with him that agriculture remains a key cornerstone of Wisconsin’s economy. It likely will stay so for many decades to come.

Thumbs down to political robo-calls. Wisconsin residents won’t have to put up with annoying recorded political messages this fall, but that’s only because there are no elections this autumn. The calls probably will return the next election cycle, but they shouldn’t. Fortunately, Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville and Rep. Janis Ringhand of Evansville agree. They’re among co-sponsors of legislation that would end these automated invasions of privacy. Senate Bill 6 would halt these recorded calls, but not calls from actual people, which serve democracy better through an exchange of ideas and can be more effective but also cost much more. Whether this bill gets a hearing might depend on a compromise with a similar one that Sen. Jon Erpenbach has proposed. His would ban robo-calls except for those from schools and companies notifying employees of work schedules. If compromise is needed, let’s get on with it. Lawmakers should stop dragging their feet on this issue.

Thumbs up to keeping the pressure on United Ethanol. The state Department of Natural Resources says a new agreement allows it to push the Milton ethanol plant to alter operations whenever residents report odors. Plant officials automatically will adjust blends of chemical ingredients when people make formal complaints about bad smells. Earlier this month, the DNR met with plant officials after the number of odor complaints rose this year. The agreement says the DNR will monitor the plant’s odor investigation reports for compliance. We’re glad to see an agreement struck that everyone apparently can accept. While we want to see the plant continue to produce ethanol and keep workers employed, residents shouldn’t have to tolerate excessive odors.



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