Afternoon State News Briefs: U.S. Labor Dept. scraps proposed policy affecting child farm laborWisconsin News
-- The U.S. Labor Department has scrapped a controversial plan to put new restrictions on child farm labor. And at least one Wisconsin farm group calls that a big victory.
WASHINGTON D.C. - The U.S. Labor Department has scrapped a controversial plan to put new restrictions on child farm labor. And at least one Wisconsin farm group calls that a big victory.
Casey Langan of the Farm Bureau Federation said the face of family farms would have been drastically changed quote, “if these unworkable rules would have been implemented.” Among other things, children younger than 16 would have been prohibited from running tractors or heavy equipment of farms that don’t belong to their families. Children working on their own families’ farms would have been exempt. Langan said thousands of Wisconsin farmers and parents deluged their congressional representatives and the Labor Department with their concerns. But not everyone in Wisconsin was against the rules. Officials at Marshfield’s National Farm Medicine Center said something had to be done to curb the high numbers of childhood farm injuries and deaths. Langan said he understands that concern – and he appreciates that the U.S. Labor and Agriculture agencies will work with stakeholders to create an educational program aimed at reducing child farm accidents.
Wisconsin Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith says his department has made progress in improving the integrity of the state’s Food-Share program. Smith was reacting to a Legislative Audit Bureau report which found that 447 state prisoners illegally received benefits from the food-stamp program for the poor. And about 12-hundred other recipients got Food-Share benefits, even though they were not eligible for them due to various criminal activities. The Audit Bureau said prisoners often gave relatives and friends the Food-Share benefits they received while behind bars. Smith said the report offers numerous recommendations to make sure Food-Share benefits only go to the right people – and that they’re being used honestly. Among other things, the Audit Bureau suggested better coordination between agencies of fraud investigation services – determining the role of the state’s new Inspector General in rooting out Food-Share fraud – and verifying recipients’ Social Security numbers by the end of the year. Auditors said those caught intentionally stealing benefits would have to pay them back.
A judge ordered a Milwaukee man to spend the rest of his life in prison, for killing his 11-month-old daughter while claiming that an intruder did it. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner did not buy 29-year-old Littleton Jackson’s pronouncement of innocence – a claim he repeated during today’s sentencing hearing. 11-month-old Millie Smith was beaten to death last September 25th, while Jackson was baby-sitting. Authorities said the girl’s mother went to a relative’s house for a few hours to get baby food – and when she returned, Millie was naked on a floor. Jackson told police he was drinking, and he slapped and bit the infant several times because she wouldn’t stop crying. Doctors said the child had broken ribs, flesh wounds, bruised lungs, bruises to her face, and bleeding near her brain. Prosecutor Kevin Shomin said Jackson has shown no remorse – and that was proven by his story about an intruder.
A company started by two UW-Whitewater students has won a college competition for the best business plan. Joseph Scanlan and Ryan Boyd started Scanalytics – which makes equipment that helps stores analyze their customers’ foot traffic. Company president Dan Steininger says a mat with wires is placed under a carpet – and the foot traffic it measures can help stores make more informed decisions about the products they sell and where. Steininger says the biggest advantage is that stores learn immediately how much traffic goes around their shopping floors. Scanlan and Boyd won five-thousand-dollars for their business plan – and they’ll be entered in the Governor’s statewide Business Plan Contest.
Parents of students attending Madison’s Stephens Elementary School want to know more about a program for at-risk high school students. A high school senior in the Work and Learn program was reportedly found asleep in a school bathroom with a marijuana pipe in his backpack. The Work and Learn program is in the same building with the elementary students. A police department spokesman says he doesn’t know if drugs were found on the student, too. Stephens is one of three Madison elementary schools where alternative programs for high school students are held. The principal says parents will get even more answers during a PTO meeting scheduled for May 8th.
Five red-tailed hawks in Wisconsin have been watched with interest by people all over the world. Two parents and three chicks are living in a nest on a ledge at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The school set up a webcam last month, thinking people might enjoy watching the chicks develop. However, bird enthusiasts started sharing the link and now thousands of views of logging in each day from all over the world. The webcam provides a close-up view of the nest and the chicks. One or both of the parents are often in the picture. Viewers can sometimes see the parents bringing mice, rabbits or squirrels for the chicks’ meals.
Wisconsin’s largest city isn’t considered to be very fashionable by outsiders. A new list from Bundle ranks Milwaukee 43rd out of the top 50 metropolitan areas. The rankings are based on the number of households in each city which made at least four purchases from high-end fashion stores in the last 30 months. The number one city in the rankings is Irvine, California, and the last-place ranking was given to Buffalo, New York.