WISCONSIN STATE NEWS BRIEFS: Protestors return to state capitol
MADISON - Several protesters returned to the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda today, 24-hours after the arrest and citation of at least two dozen protesters.
A permit is now required to gather in the building. Several groups were outraged by yesterday’s arrest, which spurned additional protesters today. Another 20 protesters were arrested and cited a 200-dollar ticket for not having a permit. A spokesperson for the Department of Administration says “Capitol Police are upholding the law to ensure the building can be shared by all citizens who come to the Capitol."
A spokesman for the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group says a student loan bill, approved by the U.S. Senate yesterday, will still make a college education difficult to afford. The bill is currently in the U.S. House. It calls for a cap just under 3.9 percent on federally-subsidized Stafford loans for undergrads, with future increases tied to government borrowing costs. The group says that could lead to even higher costs in the future.
The Wisconsin Humane Society is asking for donations to help with medical costs of a puppy. According to the Humane Society, the three-month-old puppy, named Bella, was brought to a Milwaukee rescue when a young child accidentally dropped her. Veterinarians were forced to amputate her front leg. The cost of Bella’s surgery is $2,500 and the Humane Society says any additional donations will benefit other recovering animals. Bella will be available for adoption when she is fully recovered.
Republicans approved a one-percent pay raise for state government employees – but a Democrat says it will not be given to a number of union workers. Middleton state Senator Jon Erpenbach said state employees with union contracts – and unions which cleared the hurdles to stay recognized by their bosses – have been omitted from the pay raise. Just over two-thousand people are affected in all. Erpenbach wrote Governor Scott Walker today, asking that the state’s raise be applied across-the-board. If Walker doesn’t do it, he’ll ask majority Republicans in the Legislature to grant the raises this fall. If they don’t, Erpenbach says it would be quote, “punishment” for those who kept their unions alive following the 2011 law which virtually ended most public union bargaining. Walker’s office and his Administration Department have not commented on the matter.
A Merrill area man has been ordered to stand trial on charges that he killed his wife, and dumped her remains in the woods near Medford. 49-year-old Mark Bucki was bound over for an arraignment today, during a preliminary hearing in Lincoln County Circuit Court. The defense wanted to reduce Bucki’s two-million-dollar bond, but the judge said no. The next hearing in the case is set for August 29th, when a trial date could be scheduled. Authorities said Bucki and his 48-year-old wife Anita were discussing a divorce just before he reported her missing in late April. Her remains were found in mid-May about 20 miles from the couple’s home. An autopsy showed that Anita was stabbed seven times, and had severe bruises around her throat. It was not immediately determined when Bucki will enter pleas to his three felony charges – first-degree intentional homicide, hiding a corpse, and strangulation-and-suffocation.
Criminal charges are expected against two people suspected of running a meth-amphetamine lab at a motel in La Crosse. Officers arrested 36-year-old Laura Rud of La Crosse and 27-year-old Brian Brainard of Lansing Iowa. Authorities received an anonymous complaint on Tuesday that meth was being made in a room at America’s Best Value Inn on the north side of La Crosse. Federal and state agents helped with the arrests, and cleaning up the site. Police said gas masks and toxic flammable chemicals were among the items removed. Police said they’re recommending charges of manufacturing meth, and possessing materials for making meth. As of early this afternoon, online court records did not list either of those counts. Those records showed that both Brainerd and Rud have been convicted in previous drug cases in southwest Wisconsin.
A suburban Milwaukee woman pleaded guilty today to leaving three of her kids home alone just before they died in a fire. 25-year-old Angelica Belen of West Allis struck a plea deal in which she was convicted of three counts of felony counts of causing death by child neglect. Six misdemeanor child neglect charges were dropped – but they can be considered when Belen is sentenced on September 13th. Prosecutors said Belen was about to leave for her first day at a new job on April 12th, when she locked four-year-old twin boys Adrian and Alex Colon in a bedroom along with their five-year-old sister Nayeli. They died in a blaze that was apparently started by an electrical problem in the home’s kitchen. A fourth child, a one-year-old boy, was away with his father at the time. The misdemeanor charges resulted from an incident in late March when Belen and another child went into a store, and three other kids were left in her car. The four-year-old twins got out and walked around the parking lot, and another vehicle almost hit them. Before the fire, officials said Belen was warned twice by a child welfare worker not to leave her kids alone. On March 28th, officials ruled that Belen’s kids were found to be in need of protective services – but she was allowed to keep them anyway.
If you think you’ll get an automatic pay raise right now from the new state income tax cut – you’re wrong. State officials say they will not change the amounts that employers should withhold from paychecks to reflect the 650-million-dollar statewide tax cut in the new state budget. Instead, the cut will be reflected in the tax tables that you’ll see with your 2013 income tax return you’ll file early next year. The only way you can get the benefit now is to ask your employer to change to the next-lowest withholding level. Todd Berry of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says the average person has too much withheld anyway – up to 25-percent too much in some cases.
The Wisconsin Senate’s most moderate Republican has raised very little money for a re-election campaign next year – but Dale Schultz says we should not read anything into that. Newly-filed campaign reports show that Schultz, a Republican from Richland Center, raised only $684-dollars from January through June. Assembly Republican Howard Marklein of Spring Green plans to run against Schultz in a primary next August – and he raised over $94,000 in the first half of the year. Schultz has been a thorn in the side of the Senate’s conservative GOP leadership. He voted twice against the bill that makes it easier for Gogebic Taconite to open a new iron ore mine – and Schultz was the only Senate Republican to vote against the new state budget. He tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that his moderate stands are welcomed by voters in his left-leaning district. He said that if he runs, he’s confident he’ll win. Schultz has said he will not switch parties and become a Democrat, and he has not said whether he would run next year as an independent – which would let him bypass a primary next year, and perhaps set up a head-to-head contest with Marklein next November.