GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: State officials warn homework will be needed if one wants to adopt a puppy
You'll need to do some homework if you want to adopt a puppy. State officials warned yesterday that a number of puppies are being imported from countries with rabies' problems -- and they have questionable documents about their previous vaccinations. The state agriculture department said it found records claiming that puppies were fully immunized and over four months old -- while they actually younger. Officials say it's also possible that puppies may be listed as being from the U-S when they're actually not. State veterinarian Paul McGraw urges consumers to inspect the breeding-and-sales locations where their new puppies are kept -- and reputable outfits would gladly let buyers do that. The ag department also urges folks to be wary of those who don't provide information on veterinary care. Also, the state requires breeders to list their license numbers in their advertising. More information on reporting problem breeders is available at the ag department's Web site, accessible at Wisconsin-Dot-Gov.
It appears that state Representative Brett Hulsey will be on the ballot against Mary Burke in the August 12th primary for governor. The state Government Accountability Board said yesterday that Hulsey appears to have the two-thousand valid signatures he needed. An initial review shows him having 131 more than the minimum. Another Democratic hopeful, Marcia Mercedes Perkins, did not make the cut. Both major candidates for governor, Burke and Republican incumbent Scott Walker, each turned in around 38-hundred signatures -- almost twice as many as they needed. Challenges to the petitions and their signatures can be filed through tomorrow. The accountability board plans to certify primary candidates next Tuesday.
Wisconsin taxpayers have spent almost 300-thousand dollars to defend public officials sued by targets of the John Doe investigation into the state's recall elections. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the state has been paying for private lawyers to defend judges, prosecutors, and elections' officials sued by those seeking to halt the probe. And the price-tag does not include a new lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Club for Growth this week against the state Government Accountability Board. The Journal Sentinel says the state Justice Department will not represent the elections' agency, because it could pose a conflict. That's because the justice agency is already representing the presiding judge in the John Doe, Greg Peterson. The two-year-old John Doe has been looking into alleged illegal coordination between outside groups and Republicans in the 2011-and-'12 recall elections -- including Governor Scott Walker. A federal judge halted the Doe probe last month as part of a lawsuit alleging that the Club for Growth had its free speech rights violated. Talks are reportedly taking place to settle that suit, but a state suit to drop the John Doe is also pending.
It appears that former state Senator Gary George of Milwaukee will have enough nominating signatures to challenge fellow Democrat Gwen Moore for Congress. House candidates need one-thousand valid signatures to get on the ballot, and an early review by the Government Accountability Board showed that George was almost 250 short. However, the Board later revised the total to 12-hundred-94 signatures, almost 300 more than what's needed. George said he was able to fix some minor omissions on his nominating petitions. George was recalled from his Senate seat in 2003, and he later spent four years in prison for taking illegal kickbacks from a now-defunct Milwaukee social service group. The board plans to meet next Tuesday to certify candidates for this fall's state and congressional contests. Primaries are set for August 12th, with the winners to advance to general elections in November.
The Wisconsin elections' agency is getting heat for the way it's enforcing a new state law that requires those who sign nomination papers to print their names legibly. The State Journal of Madison said it found some legible names among 90 that were stricken by the Government Accountability Board's staff, after petitions for this fall elections were filed. The head of the Assembly elections' panel, Chippewa Falls Republican Kathleen Bernier, said the board was going too far to enforce a law passed by her own party after the 2012 recall elections -- when Governor Scott Walker's people complained that too many signatures supporting his recall could not be easily identified. Board spokesman Reid Magney said the law is causing more names to be stricken, but he noted that the law requires each signer to legibly print his or her name -- and cursive handwriting is not printed, even if it's totally readable. Bernier said she'd ask the Board next week to accept all readable names, saying it complies with the law's intention that all signers be identifiable. Two candidates -- including Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Marcia Mercedes Perkins -- had nobody print their names. So all of those signatures were tossed out. Most candidates had well beyond the required numbers of signatures. Some didn't -- like Manitowoc Republican Senate candidate Barry Nelson. He said he was told that some of his printed names looked too squiggly, and they were construed as second signatures. He lost almost 100 signatures that way, and fell below the 400 he needed.
The Madison School Board will vote this morning on a set of one-year contracts with five unions for the school year that begins in July of 2015. The deals were negotiated after a Dane County judge struck down the Act-10 collective bargaining limits as they pertain to school and local government unions. The state has appealed the decision, and a final ruling is pending before the State Supreme Court. In the meantime, the Madison teachers' union endorsed a contract that contains only a one-quarter of one-percent pay hike for the 2015 term. Without Act 10 over its head, union director John Matthews said his group would never have considered what he calls an "embarrassing low" pay hike. But School Board President Arlene Silveira said there are too many financial unknowns for the 2015 school year. That's because the governor and Legislature must determine funding in the next state budget. She said the quarter-percent pay hike is nowhere near the value the School Board puts on its employees. Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said the district authorized the collective bargaining because of the process works -- and it balances fiscal needs with the stability that staff members need to do their best work.