WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Ryan says no thanks on wanting to become the next House majority leader
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Janesville says he is not interested in becoming the next House majority leader. Republican Eric Cantor of Virginia says he'll resign from the post at the end of July. That's after he lost a primary on Tuesday to a more conservative tea party challenger, David Brat. Lawmakers of both parties said Cantor's defeat appears to kill the type of immigration reform that President Obama's been seeking. Ryan would not speculate about that yesterday, and said it was too early to discuss the policy effects of Cantor's loss. Ryan, the G-O-P's vice presidential nominee in 2012, has long said he's not interested in a top leadership post in the House. He has previous expressed interest in chairing the Ways-and-Means Committee after he leaves the budget panel he has led for the past three years. Ryan also continues to be mentioned as a Republican White House hopeful for 2016.
Wisconsin cheese-makers might have avoided a bureaucratic nightmare yesterday, when the F-D-A said it would not necessarily ban the use of wooden boards in the aging process for cheese. The U-S Food-and-Drug Administration said it would work with artisan cheese producers to determine which types of cheese are safe to age with wood shelves. That was after the F-D-A recently said the traditional wooden boards are unsanitary -- and it cited several plants in New York for using them, even though that state allows it. The F-D-A's new stance came at the urging of Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel, who asked officials to take a second look at the matter. Cheese-makers around the world have used wooden boards for over a century, in an aging process which gives cheeses their unique flavors. Governor Scott Walker said he was pleased with the F-D-A's decision to work with cheese-makers. Wisconsin is the country's top cheese producer, and Walker said the state's industry is vitally important to the nation.
Wisconsin's Ron Johnson was one of just three U-S senators to vote against a bill to improve veterans' health care. Yesterday's vote was 93-to-3 to spend 35-billion dollars over three years to pay for outside care, lease 26 new V-A facilities, and hire hundreds of doctors and nurses. Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin voted yes. The Republican Johnson balked at the cost. He said the Democratic majority rushed the bill through without considering the fiscal ramifications. Johnson said he agrees that veterans deserve high-quality health care, and he supported a previous bill that would have reduced patients' waiting times -- just like the current bill seeks to do, in the wake of a critical audit released Monday. It said 57-thousand veterans had to wait three months or longer for their initial V-A appointments. That includes 525 at Wisconsin's V-A hospitals in Milwaukee, Madison, and Tomah. The House unanimously voted Tuesday for a similar boost in V-A care costing much less than the Senate bill -- around 620-million dollars. Despite the cost differences, lawmakers are confident they can send a final bill to the president by the end of this month. President Obama supported the Senate package, saying it's a top priority to give veterans the care they've earned. That was after 35 veterans died while awaiting treatment at the V-A hospital in Phoenix.
The state Justice Department says it's not out of line by asking a federal appeals court to put gay marriages on hold -- even though a lower court has not made the decision yet. Attorney General J-B Van Hollen has been trying to get both courts to put a stay on last Friday's ruling from Federal Judge Barbara Crabb that the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. Crabb will hold a hearing tomorrow on a request by plaintiffs in the case to allow same-sex marriage licenses to be issued, and to let gay marriages in other states be legally recognized in Wisconsin. The state objects, saying Crabb has no authority to change marriage license forms which require that a husband and wife be listed. Tomorrow's hearing could also determine whether Crabb's ruling will be put on hold while the state appeals it. Yesterday, the Justice Department asked the federal appeals court in Chicago to step in, saying Crabb has effectively rejected the stay by not making a ruling on it yet. As of mid-day yesterday, the A-P said almost 500 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued in over 50 of the state's 72 counties. Earlier this week, the state said it would not register same-sex marriage licenses, and would put them aside for now -- but officials changed their minds yesterday. Should the courts uphold the marriage ban, officials say same-sex couples will have to arrange to make the proper adjustments to their license forms.
Loons in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota are being forced to abandon their nests, due to what one researcher calls "an explosion of black flies." Professor Walter Piper of Chapman University in Orange California says the biting black flies have forced 70-percent of nesting loons in north central Wisconsin to leave their eggs. That's more than twice the previous high for abandonment since 1992. Piper tells Minnesota Public Radio that the cold-and-snowy winter helped cause the proliferation of black flies -- and so did a cool spring and a sudden warming trend last month. In Minnesota, the D-N-R said at least eight loon nests have been abandoned in the past two weeks. And biologists believe there are probably lots more.
A pilot killed when his single-engine plane crashed at Duluth-Superior was identified yesterday as 47-year-old Alexander Obersteg of Steinfeld Germany. The medical examiner in Duluth said Obersteg died from injuries he received in the crash -- and he did not have a medical problem beforehand. Officials said Obersteg's kit-built Lancair-Four crashed into Lake Superior, about a mile-and-a-quarter east of a Duluth beach. It happened last Saturday, soon after the craft took off from the Duluth International Airport. Obersteg's body was recovered on Monday about 140-feet below the surface of Lake Superior. Crews could not pull up the wreckage. They'll try again next week. Obersteg was heading to Goose Bay in far eastern Canada when the crash occurred. Officials believe he was ultimately trying to get to Germany. The F-A-A continues to investigate the cause of the mishap.
If you bought a Powerball ticket in Tennessee this week, then you might have won last night's 259-point-eight million dollar jackpot. A ticket sold in the Volunteer State matched all the numbers to win a jackpot that was building since April 23rd. No Wisconsin players won any of last night's top prizes. Eight tickets won 500-dollars each by having the Power Play, and matching either four regular numbers or three-plus-the-Powerball. Just over 18-thousand Wisconsin players won something. Last night's numbers were 14, 18, 25, 33, and 49. The Powerball was 23, and the Power Play multiplier was five. The jackpot returns to 40-million dollars for the next drawing on Saturday night. In Mega Millions, the top prize for tomorrow night is 66-million dollars.
Four Wisconsin F-F-A members have received the state's highest awards for their achievements. Steven Salzmann of the Marshfield F-F-A chapter received the Star Farmer award last night at the group's annual state convention in Madison. Andrew Helmer of the Plymouth F-F-A was named Wisconsin's Star in Agricultural Placement. The Star in Agri-business award went to Rachel Leege of Sauk-Prairie. And Jared Holwerda of the Randolph/Cambria-Friesland F-F-A was given the Star in Agri-science award. Other members and chapters also received numerous awards during the ceremony, and delegates chose ten new state officers. A new state president will be named today, along with the award for the state's top F-F-A chapter.