Wisconsin

Democratic Part of Milwaukee County / U.S. Senate

National security issues loom large in Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Ron Johnson and Democratic challenger Russ Feingold.

They disagree on how to fight the Islamic State terrorist group, what to do about Iran, and whether to send U.S. troops into foreign hot spots like Syria.

Johnson tried to portray Feingold as weak on national security. He portrays the former senator as a hypocrite who talks tough on the campaign trail, but cast senate votes that undermined the ability of U.S. troops to succeed.

DWD

Unemployment rates dropped last month in every Wisconsin county and all 32 of the state's largest cities. The state's Department of Workforce Development reported Wednesday on preliminary local unemployment rates for September. It shows unemployment rates fell compared with August in all 72 counties and the largest cities.

City Clerk's Office -- Beloit, Wisconsin

Beloit City Clerk Lori Stottler says Wisconsin voters have another week to start the registration process online to avoid long lines at the polls on Nov. 8.

Being registered may not be a given to voters who only vote once in a while, perhaps just for presidential elections. That’s why Stottler says voters should check to see if they’re still registered, or even register again ahead of next month’s election.

A federal judge has ordered the state to investigate whether transportation officials have been denying people temporary photo identification to vote.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson issued the order Friday.

Peterson in July ordered the state to quickly issue credentials valid for voting to anyone trying to obtain a free photo ID for voting but lack the underlying documents such as birth certificates.

John Tann/Flickr

Due to cases of the Zika Virus, potential blood donors are now being asked if they've traveled recently to south Florida. The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center wants people who visited Miami-Dade and Broward counties to postpone giving blood for up to one month after their return.   

The center serves 88 hospitals in four states, and has already announced a "Zika Virus travel deferral" for anyone who's visited Mexico, the Carribean, Central and South America, and the Pacific Islands.  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Wisconsin recently had a large increase in the number of deer ticks throughout the state. But what does that mean for Illinois? 

Deer ticks are the ticks that could carry Lyme disease, and the peak time for reported cases of the disease is usually in June and July. The University of Wisconsin Arboretum saw the number of immature deer ticks increase by more than 1,000 percent from 2014 to 2015, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Primary Turnout High in Southern Wisconsin

Apr 6, 2016

County officials report high levels of voter turnout for Tuesday’s primaries.

Rock County reported levels of 62%, while Walworth county reported over 32%.   Polling places reported long lines, with some Janesville voters citing waits of 45 minutes or more. 

Yesterday’s election was also the first with high turnout to require a photo ID.  The Janesville Gazette reported that police had to confront a belligerent voter in Hedberg, but most people had no issue with the requirement. 

  In what might be called a “Citizens United” uprising, voters in the Green County towns of Clarno and York and the cities of Brodhead and Monroe will decide whether to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  

 

Although the wording varies among the four ballots, the basic propositions are these:

-Only human beings  -- not artificial entities like corporations, unions, and similar associations -- are endowed with constitutional rights.

Voters in Wisconsin can begin casting ballots in the presidential race. A Wisconsin state Supreme Court seat is also at stake in the state's April 5th primary.

This is the first presidential election where voters will be required to show photo identification in order to cast their ballots. Early voting runs through 5 p.m. on April first.

Planned Parenthood

Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker has signed legislation that would cut millions of taxpayer dollars for Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin.  

Walker signed the two bills Thursday at Life's Connection, a clinic in Waukesha that counsels in abortion alternatives.  

One bill restricts how much Planned Parenthood can be reimbursed for prescription drugs. The change is estimated to cost the agency about $4.5 million annually.  

Greg Younger / cc by 2.0

 

Wisconsin’s governor has signed a bill legalizing concealed switchblades and knives. Scott Walker signed the measure Saturday at an annual National Rifle Association gathering in Wisconsin.  Walker says Wisconsin citizens have the fundamental right to defend themselves. 

Manufacturing, selling, transporting, purchasing, or possessing a switchblade has been illegal in Wisconsin for decades. The Republican bill eliminates that prohibition as well as permits anyone who can legally possess a gun to carry concealed knives of any length without a concealed carry license. 

Planned Parenthood

The state Senate has passed a bill that would strip Planned Parenthood of federal grant money.

That measure would require the state to apply for federal Title X grant money, which currently all goes to Planned Parenthood.

The money can't be used for abortions. Under the bill, abortion providers couldn't get any money; the grants instead would go to the state's Well Woman program, which provides breast and cervical cancer screenings.

The move would cost Planned Parenthood about $3 million per year.

Vijay Kumar Koulampet, CC BY-SA 3.0 / via Wikimedia Commons

The Wisconsin state Assembly has approved a tougher penalty for hiding a corpse.

Right now, hiding a corpse is a Class G felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The Republican-authored bill would classify the crime as a more severe Class F felony punishable by up to 12.5 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

The Assembly approved the bill on a voice vote Tuesday. The Senate approved the bill on a voice vote in June.

"Satsop Nuclear Power Plant" by Flickr User Tony Webster / (CC BY 2.0)

The state Assembly is set to take up a bill that would lift Wisconsin's moratorium on new nuclear power plants.

Republicans who control the chamber placed the bill on Tuesday's calendar during a meeting yesterday.

Under current law, state regulators can't approve a new nuclear power plant unless a federal storage facility for waste from nuclear plants nationwide exists and the plant wouldn't burden ratepayers.

No centralized federal repository exists. Nuclear plants have been storing waste on-site.

Flickr user Abulic Monkey / "that's methadone, not to be confused with the 'killer' drug mephedrone, got that kids?" (CC BY 2.0)

A Wisconsin legislative committee is poised to vote on three anti-heroin bills today.

The bill would require opiate dispensers to enter prescriptions in a statewide database within 24 hours. It would also create methadone and pain clinic registries.

Treatment programs using methadone would also be required to report the number of people receiving the medication, plans for tapering patients off it, and relapse rates.

State representative John Nygren, a Republican, introduced the bills. His daughter is struggling with heroin addiction.

Vijay Kumar Koulampet, CC BY-SA 3.0 / via Wikimedia Commons

The Wisconsin state Senate's health committee is set to vote today on a bill that would outlaw research using tissue obtained from aborted fetuses.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers and private scientists oppose the measure. They argue it could end ground-breaking medical research that relies on fetal tissue cells.

Republicans amended the bill to outlaw research on fetal tissue cell lines obtained from abortions after Jan. 1 this year, but the researchers say they need new lines.

It's unclear how much support the bill has in the Senate.

Vijay Kumar Koulampet, CC BY-SA 3.0 / via Wikimedia Commons

A Wisconsin state Senate committee is holding a public hearing on a Republican bill that overhauls the state's 110-year-old civil service system. It would affect about 30,000 state employees.

The bill would do away with the civil service exam, speed up the hiring process, define “just cause” for disciplining employees and eliminate “bumping” rights that protect more experienced workers from losing their jobs.

State of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's job approval rating dropped to record lows the month after he formally announced his run for president. A Marquette University Law School poll to be released today will assess how residents feel about Walker since he abruptly dropped out of the race last week.

Walker says he plans to refocus his energy on being governor and traveling around the state.

Walker spent little time in Wisconsin during his presidential run, which officially began on July 13th. But Walker was traveling extensively around the country all year before that.

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin would no longer be eligible for about $3.5 million a year in federal funding under a bill before the state Assembly.

The measure up for a vote Thursday seeks to have the state take control of the federal Title X money that currently all goes to Planned Parenthood.

The Ho-Chunk Nation is a step closer to legalizing marijuana use on its tribal lands in Wisconsin. 

No, marijuana is not legal to grow, use, or sell on Ho-Chunk lands…yet. But the Nation’s general council voted at a meeting in Madison, Wisconsin to reverse a ban on marijuana on tribal lands. 63% of the 1600 voting members wanted to overturn the anti-marijuana policy. The vote’s not binding: but now the tribe’s attorneys are looking into the legal implications.

Wikipedia

Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker is calling for sweeping restrictions on organized labor in the U.S. He says he seeks to replicate nationwide his successful effort as Wisconsin's governor to curb the power of unions.

At a town hall meeting in Las Vegas today, Walker will propose eliminating unions for federal workers and making all workplaces right-to-work … unless individual states vote otherwise.

He also wants to scrap the federal agency that oversees unfair labor practices and make it more difficult for unions to organize.

University of Wisconsin System

A University of Wisconsin-Madison fundraising drive that began last fall with a $100 million pledge has generated about $250 million.

Alumni John and Tashia Morgridge pledged last November to match up to $100 million in donations to fund endowments for faculty. UW officials announced Tuesday that more than 1,000 donors have responded with $125 million and the Morgridges have agreed to match that figure.

The Morgridges' donation is the largest in school history.

Vijay Kumar Koulampet, CC BY-SA 3.0 / via Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin may ban research on aborted fetal tissue. A bill moving through the legislature would outlaw selling, donating, and experimenting with fetal body parts in Wisconsin. Republican lawmakers behind the measure say it wouldn’t affect current research using existing cell lines.

  The Wisconsin Assembly’s criminal justice committee held a hearing Tuesday: supporters say they hope to have the votes lined up to pass the ban as early as next month.

Vijay Kumar Koulampet, CC BY-SA 3.0 / via Wikimedia Commons

The Wisconsin State Assembly has passed a bill banning non-emergency abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

The Republican-controlled chamber approved the bill 61-34 Thursday. The Senate passed the measure in June. It now goes to Governor Scott Walker, who has said he will sign it into law. 

Under the proposal, doctors who perform a non-emergency abortion after 20 weeks could be punished by up to $10,000 in fines and 3 1/2 years in prison. The bill doesn't provide exceptions for pregnancies resulting from sexual assault or incest.  

Facebook

A Wisconsin prison guard served a one-day suspension for a joke on Facebook about President Barack Obama and lynching.

Collin Visser posted in December a photo of Christmas tree ornaments depicting Obama and the text, “Look guys. Obama Christmas ornaments. Suddenly it's legal to hang a black man from a tree again!”

Visser worked at the Dodge County Correctional Institution in Waupun since April 2014. A newspaper obtained documents revealing his punishment months after requesting them under the state's open records law.

Wisconsin Public Radio

  Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says 9,500 people plan to attend his rally tonight in Madison, Wis.

The Vermont senator says he will draw on the state's long progressive political history during the event. Sanders says he believes the progressive movement that existed for years in Wisconsin is now spreading throughout the country.

Wisconsin Lawmakers Set To Make Deep Higher Ed Cuts

Jun 1, 2015
Wikipedia

As Illinois lawmakers deal with the final details of a state budget, Wisconsin’s legislature is poised to make deep cuts in university spending. 

Wisconsin’s legislative budget-writing committee has voted to cut the University of Wisconsin System by $250 million.  It also moved to eliminate university tenure in state law in an attempt to save Wisconsin some money.

Bird Flu Could Claim More Chickens In Midwest

May 11, 2015
Flickr user / Andrew "Chickens" (CC BY 2.0)

Agriculture officials in Iowa say bird flu will claim an additional four-million chickens on two more farms in a county already hit hard by the disease.

Officials say the latest outbreak of avian influenza has hit chickens at two farms in Iowa’s Wright County, although tests for the disease still need final confirmation. 

The county earlier reported a farm with almost three-million chickens affected.

Iowa's chicken loss is approaching 25 million.  That’s more than 40 percent of the state's egg-laying flock.

Former U.S. Representative Bob Kastenmeier has died at the age of 91. The Wisconsin Democrat was an early and staunch opponent of the Vietnam War.

Kastenmeier served 32 years in Congress. He was 91. His wife Dorothy says he died Friday at their home in Arlington, Virginia. 

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin says she was proud to walk in his footsteps representing the 2nd Congressional District.

“His public service is an inspiration to me today and his optimistic spirit will live on in me and other elected officials who were touched by his life's work.”

Dane County, Wis.

The Rock County Coroner’s office in Wisconsin will not close today, but they will undergo a lot of procedural and personnel changes when they merge with the Dane County Medical Examiner’s office. That's after 132 years of stand-alone service in Rock County.

The Rock County community wanted to see the administrator’s office take accountability for examiner services, and that’s what having an appointed medical examiner versus an elected coroner would do. That’s according to Randy Terronez, who is the county administrator’s assistant.

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