Wednesday State News Briefs: Mining to be at top of state legislative agendaWisconsin News
-- Mining will be jobe-one in the Wisconsin Legislature in the new session. Incoming Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) and Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) said a mining package will be the first bill that Republicans will introduce in the new session, which officially begins on Monday.
MADISON - Mining will be jobe-one in the Wisconsin Legislature in the new session. Incoming Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) and Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) said a mining package will be the first bill that Republicans will introduce in the new session, which officially begins on Monday.
They said the package would help bring thousands of jobs to the Badger State – but they did not offer details on what the bill might include. Some Republicans have said they want no changes from a mining package that passed the Assembly last year, but was killed by one vote in the Senate. It would have relaxed environmental protections, and taken away the public’s ability to challenge DNR mining decisions in contested-case hearings. Republican Governor Scott Walker is among those trying to get Gogebic Taconite to revive its proposed iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties. Today, Walker is highlighting the economic importance of mining in visits to businesses in Green Bay, Schofield, and Milwaukee. Gogebic Taconite and state business leaders have criticized a Democratic proposal made late last year. It includes a two-year time limit for the state to approve mining permits – and it would preserve environmental safeguards and contested-case hearings. The Democrats also said Indian tribes should be part of the bill-making process – which the Republicans didn’t do last time around.
A former president of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin is having his ashes buried in a holy river in India. Satwant Singh Kaleka was one of six people killed last August, as he tried to stop Wade Michael Page from carrying out his shooting rampage at the Oak Creek temple. Today, Kaleka’s son Amardeep told Wisconsin Public Radio from Punjab India that he was about pour his father’s ashes into a river that flows toward the Ganges River. Sikhs and Hindus believe the river is holy – and it brings a loved one closer to Heaven when the person’s ashes are poured into it.
For the third year in a row, home foreclosure cases went down in 2012 in Wisconsin’s most populated area. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said there 10,475 new foreclosure cases filed last year in the courts of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth counties. In 2011, there were two-point-two percent more filings, or about 10-thousand-700 cases. There were over 12,000 cases in each of the previous two years. Last month, new foreclosure cases were down by 36-percent from the same month the year before.
U.S. House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner says Wisconsinites will be hurt in the long run by the 11th-hour compromise which prevents going over the fiscal cliff. Sensenbrenner, of Menomonee Falls, was one of three Republicans who voted no when the House passed the measure late last night. Sean Duffy of Weston and Tom Petri of Fond du Lac were the others. Sensenbrenner said today that the bill raises taxes without cuts in federal spending, since the mandatory cuts at the fiscal cliff were held off for at least two months. Sensenbrenner said Congress must focus on cutting federal expenses and reforming the causes of the national debt – including entitlements. In the meantime, he says the latest deal discourages economic growth and new jobs instead of encouraging them. Sensenbrenner said it would only prolong a debt crisis that will cost taxpayers more in the long run. Two other Wisconsin House Republicans supported the compromise – Paul Ryan and Reid Ribble. All three state House Democrats also voted yes, as did both Wisconsin senators. It raises Social Security taxes by an average of $60 a month, by ending a temporary payroll tax cut which lasted two years. Families making over 450-thousand dollars a year would pay higher income taxes. A large consumer hike in milk prices was averted, along with lower unemployment benefits and smaller Medicare reimbursements to doctors.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is looking for up to 800 smokers from the Madison and Milwaukee areas who want to kick the habit. They’re being recruited for a new study on whether the drug Chantix, a nicotine patch, or a lozenge is most effective at getting smokers to quit. Doctor Tim Baker of the UW-Madison Center for Tobacco Research says the study will also determine whether one type of treatment works better for some types of smokers than others. The UW was recently given $10-million federal dollars to continue the Wisconsin Smokers’ Health Study which began nine years ago. The new smokers will join several hundred people who also took part in an earlier study on cessation treatments. About 15-hundred people in all will get Chantix, a patch, or a lozenge to see how well they do with quitting. In the earlier study, about a-third of the 15-hundred participants quit smoking and never started again. Doctor Michael Fiore says the rate is about six times as high as those who try to quit on their own. The original study also helped discover genetic links to stop-smoking methods. Fiore says the goals for the new study are to learn more about the health benefits of kicking the habit. He said they’ll look at the short-and-long-term implications of both quitting and continuing to smoke.
A baseball business group has completed its purchase of the “Field of Dreams” movie site near Dyersville Iowa, about 25 miles from the Wisconsin border. Mike and Denise Stillman and their investors’ group “Go the Distance” purchased the 193-acre farm for $3.4 million. That’s two-million dollars less than what Don and Becky Lansing originally wanted, when they put the site up for sale. A real estate firm headed by former Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher Ken Sanders posted the property over two years ago. The Lansings created the “Field of Dreams” for the 1989 movie classic which starred Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones – and in the years since, they kept the field just as it was, so visitors could see the site and play baseball there. The Stillmans had promised to keep the original field intact when they agreed to buy the property. They plan to set up a 24-field youth baseball-and-softball complex elsewhere on the land, called the All-Star Ballpark Heaven. Construction will begin this spring, with the first youth tournament games to be played there in 2014.
The U.S. Senate met for the last time today with Wisconsin’s Herb Kohl as one of its members. The Democrat Kohl of Milwaukee is stepping down after 24 years representing the Badger State. Kohl may have cast his final vote just after midnight on New Year’s Day, when the Senate passed the compromise which averts the fiscal cliff of massive tax hikes and deep spending cuts. Kohl and Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson of Oshkosh were among the 89 senators voting in favor of the measure. Only eight senators voted no. Kohl did not make a statement on his vote. Johnson said he was hoping to extend tax cuts for everybody – but he says the compromise will avoid a major tax hike for 99-percent of Wisconsinites. Madison Democrat Tammy Baldwin also voted for the fiscal cliff compromise in her final action after 14 years in the U.S. House. She’ll be sworn in tomorrow to replace Kohl as Wisconsin’s newest senator.
A cross-country skier was hospitalized after he fell through the ice on the Mississippi River in La Crosse. The 60-year-old man was skiing from La Crosse to his home in Galesville when he fell near La Crosse’s French Island, about 30-feet from the shore. Authorities said he was completely submerged when he crawled out and kept going. A La Crosse Tribune reporter found the man several hundred yards from where he fell – and he was shaking and icy at the time. The reporter took the man to an intersection, where rescuers checked him out and took him to a hospital. His condition was not immediately known.
Two people from central and northeast Wisconsin were seriously wounded in separate stabbing incidents early on New Year’s Day. And at last word, both men survived. Marinette Police were called to a home disturbance around 4:45 yesterday morning – and they found a 36-year-old man with multiple stab wounds. He was flown to a Green Bay hospital, and officials said he had life-threatening injuries. A 22-year-old man was arrested. Authorities did not immediately say what preceded the incident. Meanwhile, a 35-year-old Shawano man was in stable condition at a Wausau hospital after he was stabbed in the neck. Officers were called a little before six on New Year’s morning to a home near Wittenberg. He and a 20-year-old Keshena man went to the house. Sheriff’s deputies said there was an exchange, and the 20-year-old left and later returned when an altercation began. Officers said the Shawano man was stabbed with an “edged weapon,” and the Keshena man was arrested on a possible charge of attempted homicide. Investigators are still looking into both incidents.