“News-April 2, 2011”

Restraining Order to Remain in Effect

4/2/11 – Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he doesn’t see much point in trying to pass the controversial budget repair bill again.  Both houses of the legislature passed it last month, but a judge blocked it with a restraining order.  Republicans thought they had gotten around the restraining order when they had the legislation published to their website by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.  Governor Walker’s administration began implementing the law, which virtually eliminates nearly all of the collective bargaining rights of public employees. That was stopped yesterday and Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi ruled that the restraining order will remain in place for at least two months while she decides whether Republicans passed the law legally.  Fitzgerald says the law was passed properly the first time, so there’s no reason to do it again.  Opponents of the bill say the legislature doesn’t want to vote on the bill again because they want to avoid a repeat of the tens of thousands of people coming to the capitol to protest.

First Recall Petitions Given to GAB

4/2/11 – The first of 16 efforts to recall Wisconsin politicians will move forward if enough petition signatures are valid.  Democrats say they have collected petitions bearing 21 thousand, 700 signatures to recall state Senator Dan Kapanke.  Democrats are trying to recall eight Republicans who backed the governor’s union rights law.  It will take about a month for the signatures to be validated.  Recall elections would be held on the first Tuesday, six weeks after an adequate number of petition signatures are found to be valid.  Meanwhile, Republicans are also collecting signatures in an effort to recall eight Democratic lawmakers.

Evers: Budget is “Crushing Challenge” to Public Education

4/2/11 – The head of the Wisconsin’s DPI calls the governor’s budget “a crushing challenge” to public education. State Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers says Governor Scott Walker’s two year budget would cut some $840 million in state school aids, the largest cut in state history, as well proposing a five and a half percent reduction to school district levy limits.  Evers says depending on the school district, schools will have to reduce their spending between $480 and $1100 per pupil.  Evers told the Joint Finance Committee this week that statewide, the proposed revenue limits will result in a $1.7 billion cut over the biennium as compared to the current law.  Walker has said that greater contributions to health care and pension costs by school employees will help districts recoup those costs.

Reeseville Gets CDBG Funds

4/2/11 – The Village of Reeseville is getting nearly $800,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding to help pay for improvements to the wastewater treatment system and help support a consolidation and expansion by Specialty Cheese, Inc.  Currently the company operates several plants in the area and wants to consolidate two of the operations in Reeseville.  The village will use the funds for a pump station, pretreatment system, and associated equipment to meet the needs for Specialty Cheese.  The rest of the funds will be used to upgrade their wastewater treatment plant, including a lagoon expansion, a lift station and pump upgrades.  In announcing the funds Governor Walker said it’s important to assist projects that can upgrade local infrastructure and support business growth.  Officials say the consolidation and the subsequent expansion of Specialty Cheese will create 40 jobs.

Janesville GM Plant Hoping to Reopen

4/2/11 – The president of Janesville’s auto workers’ union local says that they’re asking GM and the union to keep Janesville in mind, as the two sides prepare to negotiate a new national contract this summer.  But John Dohner, of UAW Local 95, says he doesn’t want to give anyone false hope. He says any talks of the Janesville plant reopening right now are pure speculation. Dohner says they continue to hear rumors about people walking around the plant but so far he’s heard nothing and is just asking that leadership keep them in mind.  This week, UAW’s national vice president, Joe Ashton, said that he thinks the chances are “great” that GM could reopen its plants in Janesville, and Spring Hill, Tennessee eventually.  The General Motors plant in Janesville closed in December of 2008.  The Janesville plant is listed as in “standby,” in case the automaker needs additional production.

Dells Amusement Park to Reopen

4/2/11 – Backers say the park where a young Florida girl was hurt last summer will reopen in the coming days.  Extreme World Park was closed after 12-year-old Tegan Marti fell 100 feet to the ground on the Terminal Velocity Ride.  The owners of Wisconsin Dells’ Alligator Alley bought the property and plan to operate the several of the previous rides but say they will be selling the Ejection Seat ride to a Canadian buyer while the Terminal Velocity ride will stay on the site, but not reopen.

State Prepared for Flooding

4/2/11 – If the rivers rise again this spring, Wisconsin will be ready.  Wisconsin Emergency Management officials say more than a half-million sandbags are in position, in case they are needed in Waukesha, Green Lake and Buffalo counties, as well as Camp Douglas.  The state says it also has a mobile command center, a communications trailer and a portable light and communications tower ready to go.  The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for three Wisconsin rivers:  the Rock, the Fox and the Mississippi.  Heavy rains and melting winter snows could bring major flooding conditions to several parts of the state.

Right to Life Group Dealt a Blow

4/2/11 – An effort by Wisconsin Right to Life to block matching funds for Supreme Court candidates has been rejected by a state appeals court.  The anti-abortion group had filed an emergency request for an injunction, but the Milwaukee court ruled against the filing yesterday.  The case is centered on the so-called rescue funds provision, which sends a candidate a matching amount of money if the opponent or a third party group spends more money than they do.  The group sued in 2009 claiming its free speech rights were violated in a federal case.

Meth Lab Busted

4/2/11 – Four people are arrested after the execution of search warrants at homes in the Loyal and Chili areas turned up evidence they were making meth.  Justine Bazinet and David Schreindl of Chili, and Candee McBride and Craig Tuchalski of Loyal, were arrested.  The residences were located in the Townships of Loyal and Fremont. An active meth Lab was located at the residence in the Township of Loyal. An environmental service was called in to assist in the clean up of the hazardous substances.  As part of this investigation, an additional search warrant was executed in Wisconsin Rapids that also resulted in the location of a meth lab. Additional arrests were made there.

Doctors Asking People to Sign Up for Organ Donation

4/2/11 – Only two to three percent of the population dies in a way which allows for organ donation.  Organ donation advocates say that’s why it is imperative that everyone signs up.  Trey Schwab is the Outreach Coordinator for the UW Hospital Organ Procurement Organization. “Well we have eight transplantable organs, so one person being an organ donor can save eight lives.”  Organs that can be donated include the kidneys, liver, pancreas, heart, lungs, and intestine. In addition to saving lives, donation improves lives. Schwab explains one cornea donor can potentially give sight back to two recipients. He estimates that a minimum of about 60 lives can be improved from just one tissue donor.  More than 650,000 people have registered to become organ donors since the Wisconsin Donor Registry was established a year ago this week.  More than 1,700 people in the Badger State are awaiting a life saving transplant and thousands wait for a bone or soft tissue transplant so they can live without pain.