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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Menominee Tribe makes last pitch for casino

The Menominee tribe has made a final appeal to Governor Scott Walker, saying approval of a proposed Kenosha casino would pull the tribe out of poverty.

Tribal Chair Craig Corn says he is hopeful a creative solution can be found to produce a win-win. While he adds there has been no recent conversation with Governor Walker or his staff, Corn says he hopes to talk with him on a solution. Governor Walker is expected to announce his decision this week… the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs have already approved the casino plans.


The state Assembly has passed three bills, aimed at strengthening drunk driving laws. The measures would make second offenses a misdemeanor, a fourth offense an automatic felony and ensures proper installation of ignition interlock devices per a court order. Another bill will also punish first-time offenders.  Wisconsin was the only state where a first-time offense wasn’t a crime. All three bills passed by a majority vote.


A Wisconsin State Senate committee heard this morning from two new nominees to the state Government Accountability Board.  Former GOP Congressman Harold Froehlich and ex-Milwaukee Judge Elsa Lamelas testified before the Senate's Elections-and-Urban Affairs panel.  Current members Tim Vocke and Gerald Nichol also had hearings on their re-nominations to the panel.  The hearing came a day after Governor Scott Walker said he pulled former board chairman David Deininger's  appointment, because the Senate would not confirm it.  Froehlich, a former long-time judge in Appleton, was nominated to replace Deininger.  Senate Democrat Mark Miller of Monona said it was crucial that the Accountability Board not be subject to political influences as it handles elections-and-ethics issues.  Froehlich joined the other nominees in promising to be fair.  Deininger chaired the board last year during recall elections against the governor and several lawmakers.  Nichol said the board worked closely with staff members to handle various issues involving the recall votes -- and he said he had confidence in his board's fairness.


Wisconsin state senators were scheduled to vote today on granting higher compensation to a man who spent 23 years in prison on a wrongful murder conviction.  Robert Stinson of Milwaukee received the maximum legal compensation from the State Claims Board, which is $25,000.  The law allows him to see higher compensation from the Legislature, and the board recommended that lawmakers approve it.  He's asking an additional 90-thousand dollars for a total of $115,000  That's five-thousand for each year he spent behind bars -- plus another $14,000 in legal fees.  Stinson was convicted of killing a Milwaukee woman in 1984.  His conviction was overturned almost a quarter century later, in part because bite marks on the victim did not match Stinson's mouth.  


Wisconsin U.S. Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner announced he will seek re-election next year. The 70-year-old Republican from Menominee Falls says he remains committed to the principals of lower taxes, limited government and self-reliance. Sensenbrenner was first elected to represent the state’s fifth district in 1978 and is the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. 


Medium-to-large businesses in southeast Wisconsin paid an average of seven-percent more this year to provide healthcare to their workers.  That's according to an annual survey by H-C Trends.  About a third of the larger companies, with more than 100 employees, had cost increases of less than five-percent.  H-C Trends says that over half of those with 20 workers-or-less had double-digit jumps in their health costs.  A third-of companies with 20-to-99 employees had premium hikes above 10-percent.  The survey indicated that smaller firms can pay widely different amounts for the same coverage, based on their previous claims.  Over 200 Milwaukee area companies took part in the survey, which was taken online in August.


Wisconsin will get almost $14-million to settle a lawsuit that accused a big drug company of inflating prices, so the firm could get more reimbursements from Medicaid.  State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced the settlement today against the McKesson Corporation and First Data-Bank.  He sued the firms almost 13 months ago.  First Data-Bank, owned by the Hearst Corporation, agreed to pay $276,000 in credits for its services.  McKesson said it would pay just over $11.5 million to Wisconsin's part of Medicaid -- plus just over two-and-a-half million in legal fees.  The state's lawsuit accused McKesson of reporting false wholesale average prices to increase what Medicaid would pay for the medicines. First Data-Bank published the data.


The boyfriend of a missing Milwaukee woman has been ordered to stand trial on 17 charges of possessing child pornography.  38-year-old Kris Zocco waived his right to a preliminary hearing today.  He was due back in court this afternoon for a plea-and-bond hearing in front of a new judge, David Borowski.  Zocco is also charged with maintaining a drug house and four other drug violations.  Witnesses said Zocco was the last person to 27-year-old Kelly Dwyer earlier this month.  Prosecutors say she's a person-of-interest in her disappearance.  A search continues for Dwyer.


Breakwaters are tearing themselves apart along Lake Michigan at Port Washington.  That's causing a risk to a number of businesses, plus a power plant run by We Energies.  Port Mayor Tom Mlada tells WISN-TV in Milwaukee that businesses and others could be in trouble if a major winter storm tears out large chunks of the breakwalls.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has placed signs on the break-waters, urging folks to stay off them.  Mlada said the structures were built in the 1930's, and now is a good time to seek federal funds for repairs.  The mayor said his community needs to be a quote, "squeaky wheel."