GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Gov. Walker to sign heroin abuse bills into law today
MADISON -- Governor Scott Walker will focus on fighting heroin abuse today, in a series of bill-signing ceremonies throughout Wisconsin. The Republican Walker is traveling to Marinette, Stevens Point, Eau Claire, and Milwaukee to sign a group of bills proposed by Assembly Republican John Nygren. His daughter almost died from heroin abuse, and Nygren said he was glad he could turn a negative into a real positive. Among other things, the bills allow trained emergency responders to administer the heroin antidote Narcan to those suffering overdoses. Another bill provides limited immunity to encourage those who witness heroin overdoses to call 9-1-1 and get help.
Wisconsin lawmakers claimed just over a million dollars in daily expenses last year for the time they spend in Madison -- way more than the year before. The Wisconsin State Journal said the average per-diem reimbursement for Assembly members was almost 87-hundred dollars. That's 55-percent more than in 2012. The per-diem for senators averaged 92-hundred dollars last year, about a-third more than the previous year. Most lawmakers are entitled to get 88-dollars a day to cover their travel to-and-from Madison, and for their living expenses while in the city. Dane County lawmakers close to Madison get 44-dollars a day. Assembly Republican Scott Krug of Nekoosa had the biggest increase. He claimed just over 10-thousand dollars in third year in office, after claiming nothing in his first two. In 2010, Krug unseated long-time Assembly Democrat Marlin Schneider of Wisconsin Rapids, whose per-diems had been an issue. Krug claimed he would never accept the reimbursements -- but now, he said the promise was only for his first term. The money is in addition to the legislators' salaries, which are close to 50-thousand dollars a year.
Governor Scott Walker says it might take a month to decide whether he'll sign a bill to legalize a marijuana oil extract to treat childhood seizures. The Republican Walker says he wants to make sure there are no unintended problems with the way the measure's drafted. Experts say cannabidiol helps certain youngsters avoid up to 100 seizures a day, so they can lead more normal lives. The governor says it's his understanding that the bill would not come close to legalizing medical marijuana -- which lawmakers of both parties have opposed in recent years. Walker says the cannabidiol is a by-product that would be narrowly used.
Democrat Mary Burke says Governor Walker has left a lot of people hanging by holding up a decision on the proposed new casino in Kenosha. Burke, who's running against Walker this fall, said she agreed with the decision to do an independent study. If it shows it would create thousands of jobs, Burke said she'd waste no time approving it. The U-S Interior Department gave its blessing last August to the 800-million-dollar off-reservation casino for the Menominee tribe. The federal agency gave the Republican Walker a year to make the final call, and he's asked for a six-month extension which could delay the ruling until after the November elections. Burke says even a one-year decision period is quote, "ridiculous" and "politics as usual." Walker has said it took several years for the federal government to make its decision on the Menominee Casino, and he's also entitled to a thorough review. Supporters say the Kenosha project would create well over three-thousand jobs. The Potawatomi Tribe has fought the project for years, fearing it would reduce revenues at its casino in Milwaukee. For now, that casino is the only one in heavily-populated southeast Wisconsin.