WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Gas prices 18 cents lower than a month ago
Wisconsin gas prices are 18 cents lower than a month ago. The Triple-"A" said regular fuel sold for an average of 3.54-a-gallon throughout the state this morning. That's down from 3.60 a week ago, and 3.72 at this time in June. Experts cite a lack of the most severe weather throughout the country, with no emergency refinery shutdowns. Darrell DeHaan of GasBuddy-Dot-Com says we've probably seen our peak prices for the year -- and they should stay within the mid-three-dollar range in the Milwaukee area for the next month or two. The Triple-"A" said Wisconsin fuel prices peaked at 3.73-a-gallon around Memorial Day. While conflicts keep flaring up in Israel and the Ukraine, Nick Jarmusz of the Wisconsin Triple-"A" says they're not affecting the flow oil from the Middle East like the violence in Iraq could have done.
With the governor's race in a dead heat, Republican Scott Walker says the key to his re-election is for his supporters to call voters and knock on their doors. A new Marquette Law School poll released yesterday shows Walker leads Democrat Mary Burke 46-to-45 percent among registered voters -- while Burke has a 47-46 edge over those likely to vote in November. Both are well within the margin of error, and poll director Charles Franklin says nothing has statistically changed since the last survey in May. Burke said she's glad to be leading among likely voters for the first time -- although the error margin puts that in doubt. Also, just under half of voters said they still don't know enough about Burke to form an opinion of her. Burke's campaign is trying to fix that with ads that profile her business experience with her family's Trek Bicycle company -- which Walker has criticized lately for shipping jobs to China. Three-fourths of respondents in the Marquette poll said they were aware of the now-halted John Doe probe into Walker's campaign activities in the recall elections. Of those, 54-percent said it was just more politics.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan is unveiling a new package today which aims to fight poverty. The Janesville Republican has spent a year visiting low-income communities and holding hearings. Ryan says his proposals seek to find common ground between both parties -- a change from his previous packages of social spending cuts that the Democratic Senate and White House wanted nothing to do with. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was given an advance copy of Ryan's package. The paper said it includes anti-poverty approaches that both parties have supported in the past. They include Democrats' ideas to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, and reduce prison populations with new guidelines for minimum sentences. The Ryan plan also includes long-proposed conservative measures which would place some social programs into block grants -- and giving fewer federal mandates to the states. Ryan planned to unveil his agenda today at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. In a draft paper, Ryan said "Far too many people are stuck on the lower rungs," and "government has a role to play in providing a safety net and expanding opportunity for all."
Democrats and women's advocates are upset about the state's decision to stop enforcing a law requiring insurers to cover birth control for employers who object for religious reasons. The state insurance commissioner's office said this week it had no choice, in the wake of last month's U-S Supreme Court decision which upheld Hobby Lobby's policy of not insuring contraceptives due to the owners' religious beliefs. Democratic attorney general candidate Jon Richards said the Walker administration interpreted the ruling way too broadly. If he's elected, Richards said he would file suit to require the state to enforce its insurance requirement for all employers. The justices said the Hobby Lobby case only affected private firms with small ownership groups. Richard said the court made it clear that the decision would not strike down laws like Wisconsin's. The state Assembly voted last year to exempt employers with religious objections -- but the measure failed to pass the Senate.
At least two Wisconsin groups have canceled trips to Israel, amid security concerns at Tel Aviv's airport. The Milwaukee Jewish Coalition called off a trip as part of its teen summer camp program. Also, Madison's Temple Beth El has postponed a 33-person trip to Israel that was scheduled to begin August third. Temple Rabbi Jonathan Biatch is optimistic that the group will go eventually -- but for now, he tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel there's a lot of disappointment. Flights at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv were halted for 24 hours on Tuesday, after a rocket landed about a mile from the facility. The F-A-A said yesterday that the flight ban would be extended -- but the American agency changed its mind late last night, and allowed U-S flights to resume.
The world's best lumberjacks have gathered in Hayward for three days of competition that begin today. Dozens of competitors will take part in the Lumberjack World Championships at Hayward in northwest Wisconsin. Today's events include logging, chopping, and pole climbing. More than 12-thousand spectators are expected to look on, as competitors go for a total prize pool of over 50-thousand dollars. U-S House Republican Sean Duffy of Wausau once competed in the lumberjack championships.
A construction worker was injured yesterday in Kenosha, where Amazon-Dot-Com is building a new merchandise distribution center. Kenosha Police said the man was pinned between a beam and an aerial lift unit. Rescuers were called around 3:30 p-m. Police said the man was taken to a hospital with a shoulder injury, after he was freed by co-workers. Beiler said none of the employees saw what happened.