WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Letter to inform 92,000 of loss of BadgerCare
About 92,000 Wisconsinites will soon be receiving letters from the state that their BadgerCare coverage will expire on December 31.
The loss of coverage comes from the restructuring of state-funded health care by Governor Scott Walker’s administration during this summer’s legislative session. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that the letters are being sent before Oct. 1, when the federal health exchange goes into effect.
Another tumultuous week is on tap for Congress this week. On Friday, the House passed a measure to fund government operations through mid-December and cut funding for federal health care. The measure now goes to the Senate, where if a deal is not reached by next week… the government could shut down. Wisconsin U.S. Representative Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) says the last thing the country needs is a shut-down and become a “dead-beat” nation. The house-passed farm bill is also on the table. Kind says there’s still a lot of work to be done and that President Obama will likely not sign the bill because it cuts billions of dollars from food stamps. He adds that Congress needs to focus on jobs and the economy, not on “high-risk games”.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is reminding people to avoid dot-com or dot-org website that charge for DMV forms and other services. Bureau of Field Services Director Donna Brown-Martin says web searches can often lead to unofficial, for-profit website. She adds that while these websites can be deceiving, they are not illegal. The rule of thumb is DMV forms are always free through the state’s official website at www.wisconsindmv.gov.
Three UW-Madison students are safe and accounted-for in Kenya, after Saturday's attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi. Campus officials confirmed to WISC-TV in Madison today that the students are okay. At least 62 people have died since the attack on an upscale mall in Nairobi. It began Saturday by members of a Somali terrorist group reportedly linked to al-Qaida. This morning, four loud explosions spread through a neighborhood in Nairobi, raising concerns about whether hostages held by the terrorist group were okay. By mid-day today, Kenyan security forces said they've taken control of nearly the entire mall. Three attackers were killed in fighting this morning, and over 10 suspects have been arrested at last word.
No criminal charges will be filed against the first protestor arrested for possible felonies as a result of the crackdown on the State Capitol's Solidarity Singers. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne tells the Madison Capital Times that Damon Terrell could probably not be convicted of the proposed charges -- felony battery and misdemeanor resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The DA says Terrell still faces a possible civil citation from the Capitol Police. Terrell spent three days in jail after his August 26th arrest, and was then freed on a signature bond with an order to stay away from the Capitol. Videos of the incident showed that Terrell was backing away from officers -- and as he fell to the floor, one reached for Terrell's head and several piled on. Officer James Brooks injured a finger in the incident. Terrell's brother was arrested the same day for misdemeanor resisting arrest and a citation for assembling without a state permit. The Capitol Police began a crackdown on the Solidarity Singers in late July, for not obtaining required gathering permits for the statehouse. Around 300 arrests were made.
For the second year in a row, a pro-life Republican wants to create pro-life license plates. State Assemblyman Andre Jacque of De Pere is proposing a special plate that says "Choose Life," along with a baby's foot-print. Motorists who want the plate would have to pay the normal registration, plus a $15 to the DOT for special plates, and $25 for the group "Choose Life Wisconsin." Jacque proposed a similar measure a year ago, but it went nowhere. It's one of five requests for specialized license plates that will get public hearings tomorrow at noon before the Assembly Transportation Committee. The others seek to raise awareness and funding for Trout Unlimited, the ALS Association, relatives of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, and to create a plate with the words "In God We Trust."
Wisconsin Realtors have seen their home sales rise for 26 months in a row. The state's Realtors Association said today that its members sold almost 14-percent more existing homes in August than a year ago -- and the median sales price jumped by six-point-three percent. Just over 75-hundred houses were sold by Realtors throughout the Badger State last month. For the first eight months of the year, just over 48,000 homes were sold -- an increase of just over 13-percent from January-through-August of 2012. The median home resale price for August was $152,000, about nine-thousand more than the same month a year ago. From January-through-August, Realtors said the median sales price was $145,000, an increase of just under eight-percent. Steve Lane, who chairs the Realtors' group, said it was a strong summer for home sales -- and that's important for a state like Wisconsin where the sales patterns are seasonal.
Seven criminal charges were filed today against a Taylor County man accused of shooting and wounding a sheriff's deputy who was investigating a domestic dispute. Alexander Schneider, who turned 28 this past Saturday, is due in circuit court tomorrow afternoon. Authorities were called to Schneider's home on September eighth, to investigate a violation of a restraining order for sending 16 text messages to an ex-girlfriend. Prosecutors said Schneider fired at Deputy Chad Kowalczyk once through his front door, and then three other times as the officer fled. Kowlaczyk was shot once in the abdomen. He was expected to make a full recovery. After the shooting, prosecutors said Schneider went off to an abandoned house where he took a 12-gauge shotgun that he hid in a wall. Officials said he talked about killing himself before surrendering later. Schneider has been held under a million-dollar bond since his arrest. He's now charged with attempted homicide, possessing a short-barreled shotgun and a firearm while under an injunction, violating a domestic abuse order, and three counts of bail jumping.
Wisconsin counties say they should have the right to decide for themselves whether to take extra federal funds to cover their Medicaid recipients. Members of the Counties' Association voted yesterday to re-affirm its previous stance against a statewide rejection of the additional federal funds. More than a dozen counties have passed resolutions with the same stance. Governor Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers refused to accept additional Medicaid funds that the federal government offered under Obama-care. Instead, the Republican Walker decided to remove 92-thousand recipients from Badger-Care, and make them get their coverage from the federal purchasing exchange. Also, Walker ended a waiting list of childless adults who make less than 100-percent of the federal poverty level. As a result, officials say 82-thousand-500 will go onto that program.
Fifty years ago tomorrow, former President John F. Kennedy flew over the Apostle Islands and the Bad River, and then spoke in Ashland about the need to conserve pristine areas. Tomorrow, the anniversary of that occasion will be celebrated in Ashland. Tia Nelson, daughter of the late U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, will speak at a ceremony along with retired Congressman David Obey. Kennedy said the conserving of pristine lands was a plus for boosting both the economy and recreation opportunities. Rick Arnold of Superior tells the Duluth News-Tribune that over 12,000 people attended Kennedy's speech. JFK also visited Duluth the same day, less than two months before he was assassinated in Dallas. Nelson and Obey worked together to make the Apostle Islands part of the National Park System. That happened in 1970, seven years after Kennedy's visit.
The UW System now has a Web page where you can follow the hiring process for a new university president. Kevin Reilly announced in July that he'll leave at the end of the year, to become an adviser for the American Council on Education. A job description is expected to be posted in the next several weeks, and a video conference is planned next month to let those most affected discuss the qualities of a new president, and issues the new leader should address. The 63-year-old Reilly is leaving after nine years in charge of the 26-campus Wisconsin public university system. His replacement is expected to be named early next year.
Former Milwaukee Archbishop Tim Dolan calls Pope Francis "a breath of fresh air." Cardinal Dolan, who's now the Archbishop of New York, said after his Sunday Mass that he embraced what the new pontiff said in an interview last week. Pope Francis surprised both Catholics and non-Catholics when he said the church was wrong to emphasize moral doctrines over ministering to its people. Instead, Francis called for a more inclusive Catholic Church -- a "home to all" that's not "obsessed" with issues like abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage. Dolan tells the New York Times that the interview did not represent any change in church policy against gay marriage and the other social issues. Still, Dolan said he believes that New York's homosexual Catholics generally embrace Francis and quote, "I'm glad they do." Dolan, Milwaukee's church leader from 2002-to-'09, said the church should not look at people "first-and-foremost" as their sexual orientation -- but rather as a child of God, made in his image and likeness. Dolan said everything else is secondary and quote, "I hope that hits home."
Starting in three weeks, new applicants for Wisconsin's unemployment benefits will have to go online to sign up. John Fandrich, the deputy secretary of the state Department of Workforce Development, says it will be a lot easier to match the unemployed with jobs for which they're eligible. Once applicants log on, they'll be asked a series of questions that will help them build resumes -- and potential employers will have access to those documents. The new state budget requires those getting jobless benefits to apply for four jobs a week, instead of the previous two. Fandrich said the federal government has been requiring online registration for jobless benefits since about the mid-1990's. He tells Wisconsin Public Radio the state the first wanted to make sure it had the correct technology in place -- and that the staff was trained to the point where it would be a "seamless" process. He said Wisconsin has not been penalized for failing to go online in previous years.
It was 15 years ago today when a UW-Green Bay student disappeared. This morning, police issued a renewed call for help in finding Amber Wilde. She was 19 years old and four months' pregnant when she bumped her head in a traffic accident in 1998. The next day, she asked her father to give her a wake-up calls for a class at school. Four days later, he reported Wilde missing. Her car was later found in the parking lot of a sports bar in Ashwaubenon, and her cell phone and purse were locked in the trunk. In both 2001-and-'07, tips caused officers to excavate a place in Shawano County near Highway 29 -- but the search came up empty each time. Police have long said Wilde appeared to be the victim of foul play -- and they're still working through leads to try and give her family at least some closure.