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GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: No special session to pass voter ID bill, says Gov. Walker

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news Ellsworth, 54011

Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

MADISON -- Governor Scott Walker now says he will not call the Legislature into a special session to make voters show photo I-D's by the time he stands for re-election in November.  The Republican Walker said earlier he would call the session if the courts throw out his party's I-D law from 2011 -- which Federal Judge Lynn Adelman did this week.  Walker says it's pretty clear that Adelman objects to the principle of the mandate, so it's best to try and appeal that decision.  Adelman said poor and minority voters would face an unfair burden if they had to get I-D's.  He also said there's virtually none of the voter fraud that Republicans cite as a justification for the law.  Republican Attorney General J-B Van Hollen is working to file an appeal of Adelman's ruling with the Seventh Circuit federal appellate court in Chicago.  Assembly Speaker Robin Vos initially urged the Senate to pass a modified I-D requirement that his house approved last fall.  But G-O-P Senate leaders say the issue will be tied up in the courts on Election Day, even if they do approve something new.  

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State Assembly Democrat Brett Hulsey plans to hand out Ku Klux Klan hoods to Republicans as they arrive at their state convention tonight in Milwaukee. Hulsey, who announced his candidacy for governor last month, told reporters that the white hoods will reflect what he calls the G-O-P's racist policies.  State Republican Party director Joe Fadness calls it a "reprehensive, vile stunt" -- and people should be outraged by it.  Hulsey said he made the hoods with his daughter's sewing machine, using material from curtains.

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A Wausau area propane dealer has told Congress that cutting back on U-S fuel exports could help avoid shortages like the one we had this winter.  Gary France chairs the National Propane Gas Association -- and he was invited to testify yesterday at a U-S Senate committee hearing on the subject.  France said one of every four gallons of propane are going overseas, and export facilities are being built "as fast as the concrete can be poured."  Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin scolded the Energy Department for what she called an "insufficient" response, after short supplies caused propane prices to skyrocket in January.  She said help eventually came for struggling Wisconsinites -- but it didn't come easy or fast enough.  The Energy Department's Melanie Kenderdine said she helped create a heating oil reserve for the northeast U-S during the Clinton years -- and she said a review panel will determine whether a similar reserve is needed in the Midwest.  Other witnesses called for an early warning system, so dealers and customers can know when shortages might be on the way.  Many Wisconsinites had their advance fuel contracts broken due to the rapid price spikes.

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Almost 140-thousand Wisconsinites have signed up for Obama-care as of April 19th.  Federal officials said enrollments skyrocketed close to the March 31st deadline for the uninsured to avoid penalties for not getting coverage.  Of the Wisconsin residents who signed up, 91-percent of them are eligible for federal subsidies to cover part of their costs.  That's more than the national average of 85-percent.  Earlier, there were concerns that mainly older people were enrolling in the federal exchanges -- and not the younger healthy people whose insurance premiums subsidize older folks who need more care.  However, the government now says that just over a quarter of Wisconsin's Obama-care sign-ups were from those age 18-to-34.  Thirty-two percent were in the 55-to-64 age group.  Wisconsin dropped a number of childless adults from the state's Badger-Care on April first, while letting more people who are in poverty get into that program.  State officials were not immediately sure how many of the newly-eligible Badger-Care recipients have signed up.  

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The U-W's game plan to prevent future hidden surpluses will be considered by state lawmakers on Tuesday.  The Joint Finance Committee will take up a plan endorsed last month by the university's Board of Regents.  It comes in response to what happened a year ago, when we learned that U-W campuses held onto millions of dollars of reserves at a time when students were paying maximum tuition increases year-after-year.  Under the new plan, campuses would finish each fiscal year with enough cash to cover ten-percent of their annual expenses.  If they have more than 15-percent, they would need approval from the Regents to keep it.  If they don't hit 10-percent, they cannot use that as an excuse to jack up tuition.  The proposed new policy was ordered by the governor and Legislature a year ago as part of the state budget.

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