STATE NEWS ROUNDUP: Burke not capitalizing on her apparent female support, yet...
So far at least, Mary Burke has not tried to capitalize on an apparent lag in female support for the man she hopes to replace next year, Governor Scott Walker. Burke -- the former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive -- tells the A-P she does not believe her campaign will focus on gender. However, she'd love to blaze the trail to become Wisconsin's first female governor. A Marquette Law School poll last July shows that 52-percent of women disapproved of the Republican Walker's job performance, while just 39-percent of men disapproved. 54-percent of men gave Walker a favorable job rating, and 43-percent of women. State Senate Democrat Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is still deciding whether to run against Burke in a primary next August. Vinehout says health care and education will be major issues in the Walker race -- and female candidates are in a better position to attack Walker on those subjects. Vinehout tells the A-P quote, "The tone of the state would change if we had a woman governor." Marquette pollster Charles Franklin says Walker's campaign needs to determine how to get more women on his side. Jonathan Wetzel of the Walker camp says the governor's record appeals to all voters with quote, "lower taxes, more jobs, and real reform" that Democrats would not be able to match.
If a state Democrat has his way, Wisconsin employers would no longer force pregnant women to take unpaid leaves. Freshman Representative Eric Genrich of Green Bay says the current law allow employers to send pregnant women home if problems develop which make it hard for them to perform their normal duties. The Genrich bill would force employers to create new considerations for keeping them on the job longer -- with things like for breaks during the day, and letting them sit on stools and carry water. The bill does provide an exemption in cases where it's an "undue hardship" for employers to keep certain women on the job. The current law makes it illegal for bosses to discriminate against their pregnant workers. Genrich says it's not acceptable just to tell women to come back when they're not pregnant. He hopes the measure would provide clarity for both employers and their workers.
Wisconsin's Democratic U-S senator is asking that the safety net for dairy farmers be brought back, until a new program can take effect. Tammy Baldwin and Minnesota Democrats Al Franken and Ben Cardin are among 13 senators who have asked a conference committee on the new Farm Bill to extend the Milk Income Loss Contract program. Family farm states like Wisconsin are among the biggest users of the MILC program, which expired September 30th when the last farm bill ended. The long-running MILC program provides federal subsidies to dairy farmers when their market prices drop below certain levels. The Senate's version of the new five-year package of farm programs includes an immediate extension of the program until a new one can begin. The House bill does not have such an extension. The 13 senators say dairy farmers have no safety net right now -- and even if a new Farm Bill passes soon, it could be months before a new dairy program begins.
More of Wisconsin's sexual assault and human trafficking victims could get state-funded mental health services, under a new bill sought by Democrats. Stevens Point senator Julie Lassa and Assembly freshmen Mandy Wright of Wausau and Evan Goyke of Milwaukee are asking colleagues to sign onto the measure. The bill would extend the time limit for victims to report sex assault or trafficking crimes to the police. That limit is now five days -- and the ability to receive mental health service funding expires after a year. The funding comes from the state Crime Victim's Compensation Fund. Wright says it should cover the entire six years that a statute-of-limitations now covers for the sex crimes. She says many victims don't come to grips with their victimization until later in life -- and they should remain eligible for help if they need it. Wright says lawmakers of both parties show growing support for her measure -- and the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Network also endorses it.
The Middleton-Cross Plains School Board has asked the State Supreme Court to consider firing a teacher for looking at pornography on school computers. The school district wants the court to overturn an arbitrator's ruling which gave Andrew Harris his job back, and reduced suspensions for two other teachers. Their union filed a grievance on behalf of seven school employees accused of viewing-or-sharing porn or sexually-inappropriate jokes, images, and videos. Harris, a middle school science teacher, lost his job while the others got suspensions or reprimands. School officials said the content Harris downloaded was more inappropriate than what the others called up. So far, the case has cost around 600-thousand dollars for taxpayers in the Middleton-Cross Plains district, which is located west of Madison.
Investigators spent the weekend rustling through garbage at a landfill, looking for any trace of a Milwaukee woman missing for two-and-a-half weeks. 27-year-old Kelly Dwyer was last seen October 10th. Her boyfriend -- who was reportedly the last to see Dwyer before she vanished -- has since been arrested twice for maintaining an illegal drug house, and possessing child pornography. 38-year-old Kris Zocco is due in court today for a preliminary hearing on three drug charges. Police say they're continuing to investigate Dwyer's disappearance, so they're not saying much about the weekend at a landfill in suburban Menomonee Falls. Milwaukee lieutenant Mark Stanmeyer said no evidence was found on Saturday, and a search was continuing yesterday.
A prosecutor is deciding whether to file criminal charges against a former long-time Greek Orthodox pastor in Milwaukee. Annunciation Church members were updated at yesterday's service about the Reverend James Dokos. He's suspected of taking 200-thousand-dollars in trust funds for his own use. Dokos was the church's leader for about 20 years until he moved to suburban Chicago. He's now serving at Saints Peter-and-Paul Orthodox Church in Glenview Illinois. The Orthodox bishop in Chicago ruled in August that Dokos did not do anything wrong. An attorney for the parish council at the Milwaukee church said his group was not planning to seek criminal charges -- but eventually, they decided they had no choice. Assistant District Attorney David Feiss (fyss) is trying to determine if Dokos misused part of a trust of more than a million dollars, left to the church in 2008 by Ervin-and-Margaret Franszak. Attorney Emmanuel Mamalakis told the congregation that questions about the trust first arose in February, when the church received a nearly 200-dollar check to reimburse Dokos for a health insurance premium. Dokos had already left for Glenview by then. Mamalkis said the parish council investigated the matter for six months before going to the D-A.
Wisconsin firms would no longer have to pay sales tax on aircraft maintenance, under a bill that's up for a committee vote tomorrow. The state Senate's economic development panel will decide whether to endorse a tax break for aviation firms like Gulf-stream of Appleton and Cessna of Milwaukee. Neenah Republican Mike Ellis says those firms are at a competitive disadvantage, because aircraft owners are getting their planes fixed in other states where a sales tax is not charged. Other taxpayers would have to make up for a three-million-dollar loss in revenue -- but Ellis says his bill would generate almost twice as much in higher business for the aviation firms.
Halloween is already over in Milwaukee County -- and just over a dozen sex offenders were arrested over the weekend for inviting kids to their homes for trick-or-treating. The sheriff's department in Wisconsin's most populated county was on the prowl along with the ghosts-and-goblins. Officers checked on 200 sex offenders to make sure they did not have porch-lights on, or had Halloween decorations or candy in sight of their doors or windows. One Milwaukee resident told WISN TV she didn't know she lived near a sex offender until he was hauled away yesterday. The state Justice Department said officers would be checking statewide to make sure that sex offenders follow the rules for Halloween. Many communities still allow trick-or-treating on the actual night, which is Thursday.