Morning State News Roundup: Analysts predict gas prices will go up again...Wisconsin News
-- Social Security taxes may not be the only things going up for Wisconsinites as the result of avoiding Washington’s fiscal cliff.
Social Security taxes may not be the only things going up for Wisconsinites as the result of avoiding Washington’s fiscal cliff. Oil industry analyst Jim Ritterbusch says gas prices in Milwaukee might go up to at least $3.50-a-gallon this year. And when gas goes up, so do the prices of food and everything else that gets carried by motor vehicles.
Ritterbusch says there are quote, “plenty of hot spots in the Middle East that will force up crude oil prices.” Patrick DeHaan of Gas-Buddy.com said the sparing of the fiscal cliff also reduces the possibility of a new recession. After the Great Recession took hold in 2008, gas prices dropped below two-bucks-a-gallon because lots of folks drastically cut back on their driving. The Triple-“A” expects lower average fuel prices this year than in 2012. Pam Moen of the Wisconsin Triple-“A” predicts flat-to-modest gains in travel, as long as the economy shows some signs of getting better. This morning, the Triple-“A” said the average statewide price for regular unleaded is $3.21-a-gallon, down a fraction of a cent from yesterday. That’s also down by over six-cents from a year ago.
The state Justice Department is working overtime to handle the large increase in background checks required for handgun purchases. The state handled just over 138-thousand requests for background checks last year on its Handgun Hotline – 55-percent more than in 2011. Last year was the first full year of Wisconsin’s concealed weapons law – but the background checks for concealed carry permits are not the same ones as for actual handgun purchases. Dana Brueck of the Justice Department said her agency hired extra people to keep up the demand – and occasionally, they’ve had to pay overtime or move people from other duties. Terence Pavlic follows the industry as the head of a Delafield investment firm. He tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Wisconsin is following a national trend, as gun sales rise and manufacturers can barely keep up with the growing demand. Last month, the F-B-I conducted two-point-eight million background checks for gun buyers nationally. That’s more than any other month since Washington started keeping track in 1998. There are no records which show actual gun purchases. The background checks are the closest thing to a state or a national count – but they’re not precise because multiple gun purchases can be handled with one check, and those buy guns from a friend or at a gun show are not required to have their backgrounds checked.
A Sikh religious publication in Canada has named Oak Creek Police lieutenant Brian Murphy as its “Chic Sikh of the Year.” The annual award comes from the online art-and-culture magazine Sikh Chic of Canada. It honors those who serve beyond the call of duty, while reflecting the Sikh idea of caring for everyone. Murphy took 15 bullets from gunman Wade Michael Page during the August shooting massacre at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. Six people were killed, but the magazine said many more could have died if it wasn’t for Murphy intervention. The magazine said Murphy received an overwhelming number of nominations from Sikhs throughout the world – and he beat out notables like author J.K. Rowling and British House-of-Lords member Indarjit Singh. A ceremony is planned soon in Oak Creek, in which the magazine’s award will be presented to Murphy.
It happened six weeks ago – but we just learned today that a Marquette University graduate was kidnapped in Syria. 38-year-old James Foley is a free-lance reporter. The Global Post, an online news outlet from Boston, said Foley was driving toward Syria’s border with Turkey when his vehicle was stopped by another. His father John said James Foley was forced away by two armed men – and he has not been heard from since then. He said his family wants Jim to come home safely, or at least talk with him to know he’s okay. Foley graduated from Marquette in Milwaukee in 1996 with degrees in history and Spanish. He and three other journalists were held in Libya for 45 days in 2011, while they were reporting for the Global Post on Libya’s civil war. He talked about his experience in a visit to Marquette in late 2011. Foley has also done reporting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both candidates for Wisconsin public school superintendent appeared to secure their places on the spring ballot today. Incumbent Tony Evers brought more than five-thousand nominating signatures to the Government Accountability Board today – but under the law, he could only submit four-thousand. Evers’ challenger, state Assembly Republican Don Pridemore of Hartford, submitted 85 more signatures than the minimum of two-thousand. But he said he planned to submit more before the end of the day, which is the deadline for submitting signatures to get on the spring ballot. By mid-afternoon, two of the three announced candidates for the State Supreme Court filed their papers. Incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack filed four-thousand signatures last week, and Marquette law professor Ed Fallone turned in 32-hundred today. Milwaukee Lemon Law attorney Vince Megna was also planning to file today – which is also the filing deadline for local government and school board contests throughout the state this spring.
Police in suburban Milwaukee say a man pulled over with marijuana in his car apparently tried to hide the evidence by eating the pot. The 26-year old Germantown man was pulled over Sunday afternoon because his vehicle had expired license plates. Officers with the Village of Jackson police say they smell marijuana smoke inside the vehicle, spotting traces of the drug on the floor and console. The man and his passenger denied using the drug, but their story didn’t hold up. An officer reports the suspects mouth was covered with marijuana flakes and his tongue was coated green. He was arrested for driving under the influence and carrying a concealed weapon. The club found in his car was a violation of his court-ordered probation.
The Vilas County Sheriff’s office reports a 40 year old Illinois woman died of internal injuries when she crashed her snowmobile. The accident happened Monday night in the Town of St. Germain. The woman apparently failed to make it through a curve and rolled the snowmobile down an embankment. Investigators say alcohol might have been a factor in the crash. The victim was a resident of Morton, Illinois, but her name hasn’t been released yet.
Two hazardous materials units from the Madison Fire Department joined Sun Prairie firefighters have contained a diesel fuel spill affecting traffic on the interstate highway north of Dane County Regional Airport. A tanker truck leaked the fuel on the highway, then continued to leak when it pulled into the Pine Cone Truck Stop. One of the things the crews are trying to determine is whether the source of the leak was the truck’s own fuel tanks, or whether it was hauling diesel fuel which was escaping. As of early this afternoon, the spill was contained at the truck stop. The Wisconsin State Patrol and Department of Natural Resources had been informed about the problem on the interstate.