Government and Political Roundup: State Treasurer will keep office runningWisconsin News
-- Wisconsin's state treasurer has given up trying to eliminate his office, as he promised to try and do when he ran for the job three years ago.
Wisconsin's state treasurer has given up trying to eliminate his office, as he promised to try and do when he ran for the job three years ago. Kurt Schuller's chief deputy told Gannett Wisconsin Media he's focusing on his duties, and not on merging his and the Secretary-of-State's duties into other agencies. Deputy Treasurer Scott Feldt said Schuller offered a constitutional amendment in the last legislative session, but majority Republicans chose not to take it up. The deputy said if there was a chance of disbanding the treasurer's office, it would have been in the last session. Feldt said the treasurer has a lot of work to do – like the returning of unclaimed property to its rightful owners, so that's what they'll do. Last fall, Schuller asked that four temporary project workers be made permanent. Assembly Republican Dean Kaufert of Neenah balked, saying it's a sign that Schuller's going back on what he promised to the voters in 2010. Schuller says the four workers are already on the payroll, so it's not like he's adding anyone new. Kaufert says the employees' status will be considered when the governor and lawmakers act on the next state budget later this year.
The state has filed a legal action against the alleged operators of a government paperwork scam that businesses were warned about almost two weeks ago. The Justice Department said the Mandatory Poster Agency of Michigan got businesses to pay 125-dollars each to have a government form prepared which outlines the minutes of the companies’ annual meetings. State officials want a judge to stop the solicitations for the forms, and to order fines of 50-to-200 dollars for each violation plus restitution. The Corporate Records Service allegedly said the form is required by law – but the government says it’s not. The Justice Department said the victimized firms sent their forms to an address in Madison, and they were forwarded to the agency’s headquarters in Lansing Michigan. The Department of Financial Institutions warned last month that those who filed the documents paid unnecessary fees – and they ran the risk of giving out confidential information. The Justice Department said some Wisconsin businesses took the bait, but they’re not saying how many. George Althoff of the Financial Institutions’ agency said his office received about 250 inquiries after the scam alert hit the news media on January 31st. And Wisconsin is not the only state affected. Media reports said the Mandatory Poster Agency has paid over 100-thousand dollars over the last seven years to settle scam allegations in 18 states.
With gold prices climbing, more Wisconsinites are rushing to sell their unwanted rings and trinkets. And while the offers they get may vary, at least they’re getting a fair shake on the weight of the gold they’re selling. State consumer protection officials checked 130 scales at Wisconsin’s precious metal dealers – and only one ripped off the consumer by understating the items’ weights. Jerad Albracht of the consumer agency said the others either showed exact weights, or they had errors in the customers’ favor. It’s a compliance rate of over 99-percent – and Albracht says its remarkable, considering that the state normally sees compliance rates of over 90-percent for gas pumps and grocery scales.
Wisconsin’s dairy industry does not appear to be alarmed by a new finding that dairy items cause the second-highest number of food-borne illnesses. The U-S Centers for Disease Control recently said dairy products accounted for one-point-three million illnesses from 1998-to-2008, second only to leafy vegetables. And dairy items caused 10-percent of food-borne deaths, and 16-percent of hospitalizations. Marianne Smukowski of the U-W Madison Center for Dairy Research said there’s no pattern of any problems at Wisconsin’s dairy processing plants. She says there are not many product recalls, and the industry continues to have a good reputation. Steve Ingham of the state Ag Department says pasteurization problems are rare at Wisconsin dairy plants. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the biggest concern appears to be with unpasteurized raw milk. Wisconsin considered legalizing farm sales of raw milk in 2010. The Legislature approved it, but former Governor Jim Doyle vetoed it, out of fears that illnesses from raw milk would hurt the dairy industry world-famous reputation. Raw milk supporters continue to push for a new bill – but it has not gone anywhere in Madison over the past couple years.