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MADISON — The Wisconsin Legislature has passed a bill creating a program that gives employers an alternative to laying off employees when work slows.

The bill passed by the Republican-controlled Senate on a party line 18-15 vote Tuesday creates a work-share program. Under that program, instead of laying off a few workers, hours for groups of employees would be reduced. Those affected could collect unemployment, paid for by the federal government.

Republicans rejected a Democratic-sponsored amendment supported by unions and business groups on a state advisory council to provide a protection for labor agreements.

The measure previously passed the Assembly on a bipartisan vote and now heads to Gov. Scott Walker for his consideration.

The program will be in effect by the end of the year.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports