Afternoon State News Briefs - Madison judge rules on public employee union duesWisconsin News
-- A federal judge in Madison had bad news today for public employee unions that recertified under the new collective bargaining limits.
MADISON - A federal judge in Madison had bad news today for public employee unions that recertified under the new collective bargaining limits.
Judge William Conley said members of those groups would have to ask that their union dues be deducted from their paychecks, instead of automatically making their employers do it. Conley did not rule on dues deductions for unions that de-certified themselves over the last year. He said an appellate court rule on that. In March, Conley said it was unconstitutional to prohibit public employers from deducting union dues as part of last year’s bargaining law. The judge had also struck down the requirement that unions must vote to re-certify each year with 51%of all members voting yes, instead of just 50+ percent of those who actually vote. The state appealed those decisions. Conley did agree to require employers that deduct union dues to do it on a yearly basis. The state wanted workers to be able to opt-out of dues deductions at any time. But Judge Conley said the police and fire fighters who are exempt from the union law have annual deduction arrangements, so other public workers should have the same privilege.
Wisconsinites with Alzheimer’s disease cannot be involuntarily confined under a major court ruling today. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled said it was wrong for an 86 year old Fond du Lac woman to be detained under the state’s involuntary commitment law known as “Chapter 51.” Those with mental illnesses and drug dependencies can be detained for treatment if they pose a risk to themselves or others. The justices agreed with an appeals court ruling from last year, which said that Alzheimer’s is not a qualifying mental illness because there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s. Justice Michael Gableman said it would have been more appropriate to place the woman under Chapter 55 with a place more tailored to her needs which provides necessary protections. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley explained in a different opinion why they agreed. The court did not say how it might have ruled had the case involved more than one condition besides Alzheimer’s. As of last year, Wisconsin had around 110,000 Alzheimer’s patients. After last April’s appellate court ruling, patient advocates praised the decision. They said it would end the variations in the way different counties apply the law and it would end the practice of nursing homes calling law enforcement when they have an Alzheimer’s patient lash out.
A prayer vigil will be held tonight in Milwaukee for a child hit by a car and killed on the city’s north side. Israel Brown was dead on the scene outside the HOPE Christian School Wednesday. He had run into the road, only to be fatally struck by a passing pick up truck. The vigil starts tonight at 6 p.m. at the corner of Port Washington and Keefe. That’s near the location of the accident. Grief counselors have been at the school the last two days, helping students deal with the death of their 11 year old classmate.
Hundreds of people attended a ceremony outside the State Capitol today, honoring Wisconsin law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty over the past year. Governor Scott Walker spoke during the ceremony, held at the state’s Law Enforcement Memorial. He said it was important to honor the officers’ lives, as well as note their passing. Three new names are being to the memorial, Craig Birkholz, a Fond du Lac police officer killed while responding to a domestic dispute last spring, Jamison Kampmeyer, a Marathon County sheriff’s deputy and Abbotsford firefighter killed while putting out a blaze at the Abby Theater in March of this year – and Frederick Stamp, a Beloit Merchant officer killed while on duty in 1935.
People living in Waukesha can’t be happy to learn their water supply is still tainted a dozen years after the EPA started a monitoring program. Utility manager Dan Duchniak says three shallow wells are okay, but eight of the deep wells show radium topping the limits established by the Environmental Protection Agency. Water Program for Clean Wisconsin Director Melissa Malott told WDJT Channel 58 news, quoting here, It’s scary to think about what you’re drinking causing bone cancer.”
The Green Bay Catholic Diocese wrapped up its defense this afternoon in a civil trial on allegations that the church committed fraud. Jurors will return on Monday morning. They’ll hear both sides make their closing arguments, and will then start deliberating on a verdict. Todd and Troy Merryfield are seeking undisclosed damages. They were molested as young boys in 1978 by Father John Feeney at a church in Freedom in Outagamie County. Feeney spent almost eight years in prison after he was criminally convicted. In the civil suit, the Merryfields contend the church committed fraud by moving Feeney from parish to parish without telling parishioners about his background. Church lawyer Patrick Brennan introduced documents from the late Bishop Aloysius Wycislo. He said in an old deposition that he would have immediately suspended a pastor if sexual abuse allegations had merit. Also, medical records were introduced showing that Troy Merryfield did not have depression or nerve issues in four reviews from 1986 to ’95.
All five Wisconsin House Republicans voted yes, and all three Democrats voted no, when a $642-billion defense package was approved today. The vote was 299-120 – and it faces the threat of a veto from the White House. The package adds eight-billion-dollars for the military next year – and it violates a deficit-cutting agreement that Republicans made with the Democrat Obama last summer. The bill includes a missile defense site on the East Coast which the military was against. It also restricted Obama’s ability to reduce the country’s arsenal of nuclear weapons under a treaty with Russia set in 2010. Lawmakers also said no to the military’s request for a new round of base closings.