GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Justice Department will do more to protect female victims of sensitive crimes
MADISON -- The state Justice Department will soon do more to protect female victims of sensitive crimes. Justice official Jill Karofsky says there will soon be a new assistant attorney general whose only job is to train police officers to protect female victims. She also said the Attorney General's Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team is doing a lot to help. Yesterday, Attorney General J-B Van Hollen spoke at a ceremony at the Capitol on the 30th anniversary of the federal Victims of Crime Act -- which uses surcharges from offenders to provide critical services for victims without making taxpayers spend more. Van Hollen said there's been a lot of progress in the fight, but more needs to be done. In the Rhinelander area, Melissa Dailey of a regional domestic violence and sexual assault council says too many people still blame victims for their plight -- and the focus needs to be put back onto the perpetrators. Members of her group are speaking to school students this month, which is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
Governor Scott Walker will sign a bill today to help Milwaukee Police learn when-and-where gunshots are being fired on a real-time basis. A bill-signing ceremony is scheduled at a police station, where the Republican Walker will approve 175-thousand dollars to expand the city's "Shot-Spotter" program. Right now, the program's equipment alerts officers when shots are fired in a radius of three square miles. The new funding will expand the zone to ten square miles. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Police Chief Ed Flynn also plan to use the occasion to repeat their call for tighter state gun laws. They said the accidental shooting of a two-year-old boy while he was watching cartoons on Wednesday night again highlights the need to get guns out of criminals' hands. The toddler was wounded when somebody fired a shot from an alley into a north side home. Flynn said the incident appears to involve retaliation against recent residents of the house -- not the current ones. The boy's family said he was about to have a second operation, but he's alert and his prognosis appears to be good.
State senators in Minnesota want Governor Mark Dayton's people to try and resolve a dispute with Wisconsin over income tax reciprocity. The request is included in a bill passed by the Senate which would give a new round of tax cuts to businesses, veterans, volunteer fire-fighters, and transit riders in the Gopher State. It's different from a House version, and talks would have to take place to hammer out a final version. The Senate bill shows that Minnesota lawmakers remain concerned about the reciprocity issue, after their former Governor Tim Pawlenty ended a long-time agreement between Wisconsin and Minnesota in 2009. It allowed border residents who live in one state and work in the other to file state income tax returns only with their home states. Last we heard, Wisconsin balked at paying a designated amount of tax credits to Minnesotans to make up for the Badger State's higher income taxes. Since the last agreement was scrapped, thousands of border residents have had to file income tax returns with both states.
A railroad has been ordered to pay 350-thousand dollars to a conductor who was fired for not saying quickly enough that he was hurt on the job in Manitowoc. The U-S Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the fine yesterday against the Wisconsin Central -- and the railroad was ordered to give the man his job back. The company's parent firm, Canadian National, says it disagrees with the penalty and is considering an appeal. OSHA said the conductor was injured during a 60-day probationary period. He reported his injury the day it occurred, but not until after his work shift ended. OSHA said the railroad fired him on his last day of probation, claiming he didn't report the injury early enough.
A federal budget alternative crafted by Janesville Republican Paul Ryan passed the House yesterday on a party line vote. Wisconsin's other four G-O-P members joined Ryan in voting yes. The state's three Democrats voted no. Ryan, the House budget chair, said his package would put the nation on a path toward prosperity by balancing the budget within a decade. Just like the last three years, the Democrat-controlled Senate has no plans to take up the House budget. Some Democrats said they'd use it to campaign against Republican House members who are running against Senate incumbents this fall. House Speaker John Boehner calls the Ryan plan "our vision for getting Americans back to work." Ryan says Congress owes the country an alternative budget which grows the economy, pays off the deficit, and lowers the long-term national debt. It includes key provisions Ryan has offered in the past -- like giving seniors less-expensive vouchers for Medicaid instead of covering their bills directly. Democrats said the Ryan budget would harm the economy by cutting social safety-net programs, and reducing the top federal income tax rate. It also includes higher defense spending.