Evening State News Briefs: Strike avoided at Alleton steel plantWisconsin News
-- There will not be a strike at the Maysteel plant at Allenton in Washington County. The maker of electrical cabinets and sheet-metal enclosures said today that its union approved a new three-year contract, after it turned down three previous offers.
ALLENTON - There will not be a strike at the Maysteel plant at Allenton in Washington County. The maker of electrical cabinets and sheet-metal enclosures said today that its union approved a new three-year contract, after it turned down three previous offers.
About 300 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers authorized a strike a few days ago. The union has not immediately commented on the new deal, and the terms have not been released. Union leaders previously said they rejected offers with no pay raises, fewer vacation days and holidays, and higher health insurance contributions. The union had said it had made concessions since 2003. The group said the average hourly wage at the Allenton plant was 19-dollars-an-hour.
Wisconsin’s attorney general says he’ll appeal today’s court ruling that permanently struck down the state’s photo ID law for voting. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess upheld the arguments in a lawsuit from the state’s League of Women Voters – that poor, elderly, and minority voters would be locked out of the voting process, because it would be harder if not impossible for them to get the ID’s allowed under last year’s law. But in a statement, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen insisted that the law is quote, “consistent with the Constitution.” Today’s ruling came six days after another Dane County, David Flanagan, issued a temporary injunction in a second state lawsuit against the voter ID law. Van Hollen is also appealing that case, which was brought by the NAACP and a Milwaukee Hispanic group. In an eight-page ruling, Niess said the state’s approval of the ID law quote, “sows the seeds for its own demise as a democratic institution.” And he warned that quote, “A government that undermines the very foundation of its existence – the people’s inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote – imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people.” Cullen Werwie of Governor Scott Walker’s office said it’s quote, “a shame activist Dane County judges continue to stand in the way of common sense.” Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy told local government clerks to keep preparing to implement the photo ID law, so they’ll be ready if the courts suddenly restore it.
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) says the Obama White House is grossly under-estimating the costs of its health care reform package. Johnson told reporters in a conference call that it’s “pretty obvious” the health reforms would not reduce the federal deficits, certainly not in the first decade. In fact, he said it’s going to quote, “blow a hole in an already broken budget.” Johnson ran against the health care law when he won the Senate seat in the 2010 elections. He said the administration is vastly under-stating the number of people expected to lose the health coverage they now get from employers. And Johnson said companies would have a strong incentive to stop offering coverage to their workers altogether – thus jacking up the government’s costs. At a Senate sub-committee hearing last week, Johnson quizzed Health-and-Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the package. He said the costs were so uncertain that quote, “Don’t you think we ought to put the brakes on?” Sebelius said the big increases in health costs show the need for a new insurance market. She said private insurance is on a “death spiral” – and the secretary said it’s not an option to do nothing.
A new website called VerifyTheRecall.com lets you search the signatures which have been submitted in the movement against the governor, lieutenant governor and four Republican state senators. The site has received donations for an upgrade after heavy traffic essentially shut it down last week. It’s sponsored by the Tea Party. The president of We the People of the Republic says, if you see your name on the list being used fraudulently, you should contact that organization to start legal action.
The estate of the late actor Marlon Brando and Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson say they have reached a settlement of a lawsuit filed last year. Both parties told the judge in Milwaukee they’d like to dismiss the case. The motorcycle maker had been accused of infringing on Brando’s publicity rights. The estate had said the line of boots called “The Brando” looks similar to the footwear worn by the actor in the 1953 biker film, “The Wild One.” The company was sued nearly a year ago for allegedly misappropriating the actor’s likeness for a commercial endeavor.
The Wisconsin elections’ panel ordered recall elections today for four Republican state senators. The Government Accountability Board agreed that there are enough valid petition signatures to order recall votes against Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls, and freshman lawmakers Van Wanggaard of Racine and Pam Galloway of Wausau. The Board did not recommend a date for the elections. Officials want to hold them at the same time as those expected for Republican Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. But a Dane County judge could have the final say on that. The Board said there were about 38-hundred more signatures than the 15-thousand-plus required to seek a recall election against Wanggaard. There were 3,700 more signatures than necessary against Moulton – 2,900 more than needed against Galloway – and about 1,500-hundred more than required for a vote against Fitzgerald. Board staffers have recommended that all recall votes take place May 15th, with primaries for those which need them. General elections are currently proposed for June 12th. Zac Kramer of Senate’s Democratic Committee said he was pleased with today’s approval of the petitions and quote, “We hope that this will stop the frivolous attempts by the GOP to halt the recall elections.”
An 18-year-old Milwaukee man was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for shooting an alternative high school student to death. Prosecutors said Jonathan Hennings had a dozen people show up to a technical college parking lot in West Allis to watch two students fight. But Hennings reportedly got upset when one of the students didn’t show up – and he shot the other one, Darnell Kendricks, four times. Hennings pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless homicide. He must spend five years on extended supervision once he leaves prison – and he was told pay seven-thousand-dollars in restitution.
Federal investigators say a microburst of wind most likely caused a plane crash in Colorado last summer that killed pilot from Marshfield. 41-year-old Salil Sinha was doing his job, taking aerial photos of real estate, when his single-engine Cessna R-182 crashed into a field in the Denver suburb of Thornton. The National Transportation Safety Board said a contributing factor was inadequate pre-flight planning on Sinha’s part. Forecasters had warned about micro-bursts, which are defined as violent local downdrafts of wind. Wind shears and strong gusts were also in the forecast for Denver that day.
Disabled Wisconsin students could go to any school their parents choose – public or private – under a bill that’s up for a vote in the state Assembly tomorrow. Democrats used procedural maneuvers to block that measure and a number of others last week. As a result, lawmakers have dozens of additional bills to consider when they begin the final week of their session tomorrow. The proposed “Special Needs Scholarship Program” is one of the more contentious bills. It would let special education students transfer to public, charter, or private schools – and the state would subsidize the youngsters in their new districts for up to $13,000 each. Freshman Assembly Republican Michelle Litjens of Oshkosh says the bill would help around 1,100 disabled students who are not doing well in their present public schools. Other supporters say it would let parents choose the best options for their kids. But critics say it would give up to $80-million in tax money to private schools, without making them follow the same rules as public schools. Among other things, it would not force private schools to hire certified special-ed teachers. Milwaukee Assembly Democrat Fred Kessler said it would quote, “take more money away from public education.”
Governor Scott Walker signed a bill today that places up to 500 unemployed Wisconsin in a pilot program where they’d get part-time training that could lead to full-time jobs. Those in the one-year program would be additional jobless benefits to receive on-the-job training. The bill was signed at J.X. Peterbilt in Oak Creek, which has expressed an interest in bringing in new people as part of the program.
Wisconsin’s average gas price jumped by eight-cents a gallon during the weekend. The Triple-“A” said unleaded regular sold for an average of about $3.82 this morning throughout the Badger State. That’s a penny-and-a-half more than yesterday, eight-cents more than on Friday, and almost 40-cents more than a month ago. MilwaukeeGasPrices.com said some stations in that area have broken the four-dollar mark. Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy.com said the national average price has jumped higher and faster than expected – and it’s now at the bottom of range of what Gas-Buddy had predicted for the whole year on average. DeHaan calls that “quite concerning.” And for now, he said any problems that arise from oil refiners will cause a fast price increase at the pump.
A business incubator in Whitewater is over 70-percent full, as it gets ready to celebrate its first anniversary. The Innovation Center opened last March on Whitewater’s east side. An anniversary event takes place on Wednesday. The 38,000 square foot incubator provides space for new businesses to get off the ground. Some of its tenants have been tied to UW-Whitewater and its faculty-and-staff. The incubator now has the “I”-Hub, a place for helping businesses that are formed by Whitewater campus personnel – Foundry Solutions, which speeds up the production of ceramic shells – Blackthorne Capital Management – and Renwig Custom, a maker of amplifiers for robotic guitars. Also, two public agencies are in the building – the local Cooperative Educational Service Agency, and the Interactive Distance Education Network for Jefferson and eastern Dane counties.
State Justice Department officials say they’re now on schedule for acting on requests for state concealed weapon permits. The agency got behind in the weeks after the law took effect last November. But now, spokeswoman Dana Brueck says many applications are processed within one week – much shorter than the state’s 21-day deadline for acting on permit requests. The agency has had a slight increase in permit requests lately. Over 96-thousand applicants have been sent to the Justice Department since November first – and over 82-thousand concealed carry permits have been printed and sent out. Brueck said the hirings of 11 part-time people in January helped alleviate a backlog of applications. Also, gun sales continue to be on the rise in Wisconsin. The Handgun Hotline – which handles background checks for prospective gun buyers – is taking 174-percent more calls than at the same time a year ago.