Afternoon State News Brief - Almost 7,800 Wisconsinites to lose unemployment benefitsWisconsin News
-- Almost 7800 Wisconsinites will lose their unemployment benefits on Saturday.
Almost 7,800 Wisconsinites will lose their unemployment benefits on Saturday.
That’s because the state’s unemployment rate has dropped below a national threshold in which residents no longer qualify for 86 weeks of jobless benefits. The state’s average unemployment rate for the last three months was 7% on a seasonally adjusted basis and that means Wisconsin’s long term unemployed are no longer eligible for 13 weeks of extended benefits. As a result, the maximum benefit will run for 73 weeks. And if unemployment stays below 7% in the next three months, the National Employment Law Project says the maximum benefit will be cut to 60 weeks on June first. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said the federal government notified state officials three weeks ago of the lower benefit period. But the state’s Workforce Development agency never announced it publicly until today, a day after the Journal Sentinel questioned officials about it. The agency said everyone affected by the change has been notified.
Last month’s traffic deaths in Wisconsin were the second lowest for a March in almost 70 years. Preliminary DOT figures showed that 27 people died in Wisconsin crashes in March. That’s two fewer deaths than in March of last year, and six fewer than the average for the past five years. Traffic normally goes down when gas prices get close to $4 a gallon, like they did last month. But March also had record warm temperatures, and that encouraged more folks to go outside. And that’s showing up in the fatality totals. Three motorcycle riders have been killed in Wisconsin so far this year, along with one motorcycle passenger and five pedestrians. The state had 107 traffic deaths in the first three months of 2012. That’s six more than the previous year, and two more than the five year average.
There is more heat on Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. The county’s tabulating system broke down Tuesday night, delaying the posting of election results online by about six hours. Workers had to count every ballot by hand. Voters checking the Internet for results were left in the dark. This is the second election bringing criticism to Nickolaus. Last year, her office was found guilty of reporting errors in a hotly-contests Supreme Court contest in April.
Action by the Environmental Protection Agency moves the use of E15 closer to being offered at Wisconsin gas pumps. It’s a victory for Wisconsin corn growers. The EPA approved 20 ethanol manufacturers to register as suppliers of E15 earlier this week. One of those companies is Ace Ethanol of Stanley, Wisconsin. A spokesman for the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance says before the fuel can be sold, the higher, 15 percent, ethanol blend must be registered as a fuel in each individual state. Opponents say more testing should be done to make sure the blend doesn’t damage engines.
Federal Bankruptcy Judge Susan Kelley said no today to unsealing some of the documents filed by the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese in its bankruptcy case. The records included a deposition given by former Archbishop Rembert Weakland on how he transferred pedophile priests from parish to parish without telling local church members about the sex abuse. Attorneys for 570 abuse victims said the documents would help justify their requests for financial compensation as part of the bankruptcy case. And the attorneys said the public’s right to know outweighed the church’s interest to keep the incidents private. But Judge Kelley said the records could identify victims, even if their names are blacked out. And Kelley called the material “scandalous.”
UW-Madison internally punished 11 faculty doctors and nine residents for writing medical excuses to protestors who lined up for them outside the State Capitol last February. The Wisconsin State Journal received records about the punishments today. The paper had requested those documents a year ago. Three of the UW doctors received the heaviest punishments, five days without pay and removals from their leadership positions for four months. Those doctors were Lou Sanner, Kathy Oriel, and James Shropshire. Those three were also among seven doctors reprimanded by the state Medical Examining Board last fall. Two UW residents received warnings from the state panel, which recently agreed to investigate 11 others for a consideration of state punishments. And eight of those have already received internal discipline from the UW.