Wisconsin to have a strong representation during Inauguration Day in WashingtonWisconsin News
-- As always, Wisconsin will be well-represented at President Obama’s second inauguration today in the nation’s capital.
As always, Wisconsin will be well-represented at President Obama’s second inauguration today in the nation’s capital. Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Janesville expects to greet residents from his district who are escaping the sub-zero cold to attend the Washington festivities. Last month, Ryan stirred up speculation that he would seek Obama’s job in 2016 when he spoke at the Jack Kemp Foundation’s conservative awards dinner. But his spokesman Kevin Seifert says the G-O-P’s 2012 vice presidential nominee will keep politics out of the festivities and quote, “spend the day just like any member of Congress will do.” This afternoon, Brandon Almagro of New Berlin will join the U-S Navy Concert Band in marching down Pennsylvania Avenue during the president’s inaugural parade. The state Democratic Party says Wisconsin will not host its own inaugural ball tonight – but folks have had no shortage of galas to attend all weekend. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden took their official oaths-of-office yesterday, as required by the Constitution. But whenever the Inauguration Day falls on Sunday, the public proceedings are normally pushed back to Monday. An estimated 800-thousand people are expected to attend today’s outdoor festivities. Temperatures are expected to reach the relatively balmy 40’s in Washington.
Majority Republicans say they’ll hold only one public hearing on their bill to encourage new mining in Wisconsin – and that hearing is set for Wednesday in Madison. Folks in Ashland and Iron counties wanted legislators to come to the place where Republicans are trying to encourage Gogebic Taconite to revive its plans to build an iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties. Attorney Kimberlee Wright of the Bad River Indians said lawmakers are not representing democracy by making those who are most affected drive for hours to southern Wisconsin. Others accused Republicans of trying to bury the word about the hearing by announcing it on a Friday afternoon – when people with a three-day holiday weekend had other things on their minds. Senate Mining Committee chair Tom Tiffany says lawmakers have been meeting with affected people for months – a hearing was held in the north on a similar package a year ago – and lawmakers have set aside 12 hours on Wednesday, so everyone should have a good opportunity to testify. Republicans say the mine would provide much-needed jobs to the region. Democrats say it would hurt the environment, while giving people less of a chance to oppose the D-N-R’s decisions. The Bad River tribe is downstream from the Gogebic site – and tribal members fear it would hurt their groundwater, wetlands, and wild rice beds.
It’s Martin Luther King Day, and Governor Scott Walker will again take part in two major events to honor the slain civil rights leader. Walker will appear at the annual King Day breakfast at Milwaukee’s main Y-M-C-A – and then he’ll speak at Wisconsin’s official observance during the noon hour at the State Capitol. Author and journalist John Fountain will be the main speaker at the Capitol event. And there will be performances from the Latino Arts Strings of Milwaukee, Malcolm Williams and the Voices of Great Faith, the Madison Bag-pipers, and the Ho-Chunk Native American drum and dance ensemble. King Day is an official state holiday. State and federal offices are closed, and you won’t get mail delivery. Banks will generally be open. Numerous local governments and public schools will also be open, mainly in smaller areas.
Political loyalty only goes so far. Wisconsin House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner is among those distancing himself from Lance Armstrong, after the disgraced Tour de France champion admitted using performance-enhancing drugs. Like many, Sensenbrenner believed Armstrong’s previous denials. Last summer, the former House Judiciary chairman from Menomonee Falls told federal drug control officials that Armstrong has quote, “never failed a drug test despite having been tested over 500 times.” And Sensenbrenner co-sponsored a bill to require anti-doping officials to give athletes a fair hearing and a chance to prepare a defense. The bill never went anywhere. And today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Sensenbrenner won’t talk about it. His news secretary, Amanda Infield, said the bill was quote, “never about Armstrong or any specific athlete or case … This is a question of fairness.” And about Armstrong’s admission, Infield said quote … “Mr. Sensenbrenner is pleaded that the U-S Anti-Doping Agency reached the right outcome in catching an athlete that doped-and-cheated to win.” Meanwhile, Trek Bicycles of Waterloo – which made the bikes on which Armstrong won his seven Tour de France titles – said it cut ties with Armstrong last year after the Anti-Doping report came out which resulted in Armstrong losing his tour titles. Trek said it had nothing to do with Armstrong’s new admission and quote – “We watched the interview like others, and will monitor the development of his statements.”
As lawmakers work on a new state budget this spring, one of the biggest items of debate could be an expansion of Wisconsin’s Family Care program. Only 57 of the state’s 72 counties offer the 13-year-old Family Care – which provides long-term home care with the goal of keeping lower-income seniors out of nursing homes. It’s a Medicaid program – funded by both the state and federal governments – which serves just over 40-thousand people at a cost of one-point-two billion dollars a year. In the last session, Governor Scott Walker and legislative Republicans wanted to cap the program’s enrollment. The federal government later ordered the state to abolish the cap, and to actively look for new clients – but Republicans refused to expand the program to the counties which don’t have it. For this year’s budget, the Health Services Department proposed the present level of funding for Family Care. Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades says lawmakers – and not bureaucrats – should decide whether the program should be expanded. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau issued a report this month indicating that Family Care generally saves money in the first year-or-two where it’s offered. But in the long run, the fiscal bureau said costs can rise as the program becomes more regarded as an entitlement.