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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Assembly approves amended version of chemo bill

MADISON - The state Assembly has also approved an amended chemo bill that requires health insurance companies cover expensive chemo pills for cancer patients, just as they do for traditional chemotherapy treatments.

This version of the bill, which caps co-payments at 100 dollars per month, was passed by a vote of 75-18. The bill needs concurrence in the Senate before Governor Walker can sign it into law. The Senate will meet on April 1st for its last day of session.


It will now be easier for lobbyists to make political contributions to candidates.  The state Assembly quickly approved a bill relaxing the rules for such contributions.  The measure would allow lobbyists to funnel campaign donations to political candidates starting April 15, rather than June 1. Those in favor of the bill say it's needed because partisan primaries come earlier in the year.  Opponents insist there is already too much outside money in elections. 


United Wisconsin is calling for Governor Walker to veto a bill that would restrict in-person absentee voting hours at local clerk’s offices and prevent clerks from staying open on weekends in the two weeks before an election.  Executive Director Lisa Subeck says anything less than a veto would be a "betrayal of trust" to people who regularly exercise their right to vote via early absentee ballot.  Republicans argue the change is needed to restore fairness to the system, since rural areas do not have the ability to extend their hours and stay open on weekends in the same way that clerks in urban areas have been able to in recent years.


State Representative Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay) announced he is launching a campaign for Wisconsin Secretary of State.  Bies says he wants to bring a “fresh and pragmatic perspective” to the office.  Democrat Douglas La Follette, who has held the office on and off since 1975, will seek reelection and has argued he wants to see many of the duties restored to the office, after they were gradually taken away in recent years.  A proposed constitutional amendment that would have done away with the office entirely was dropped this session...however, lawmakers have indicated they will continue to pursue the issue in the future. 


It looks like the air show will go on.  A long fight over the cost to staff air traffic controllers at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh appears to be over.  EAA and the Federal Aviation Administration have agreed to a deal to keep the control towers manned until 2022.  In 2013, because of federal budget cuts, EAA received a first ever half million dollar invoice from the FAA for the services of air traffic controllers.  EAA was facing a similar situation for this year’s fly-in but this new deal will have the FAA provide air traffic control and other services, while EAA will pay for travel, lodging, and overtime costs.


A Wausau woman is facing new charges, after she showed up to a court appearance this week while intoxicated. 25-year-old Storie Kunz appeared Tuesday to enter into a plea deal on drug, battery, and prostitution charges. She told the judge that she was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, when she checked in with a probation officer after the hearing, she blew a point-11 on a Breathalyzer test. Kunz was then marched back to the judge for a special hearing, where Falstad ordered her held on a $1,000 bond and her plea deal was dropped. Kunz admitted to having two beers and two shots, starting the night before the hearing.


A 15-year-old freshman at St. Lawrence Seminary in Mt. Calvary has been arrested for theft, although it remains unclear if he will face any charges in connection with a fire in a building at the seminary earlier this month. Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Captain Rick Olig would not say if the boy, who is from Milwaukee, is a suspect in a fire that badly damaged the oldest building on the campus on March 8. However, Olig says the money the student is accused of taking came from the same area of St. Joseph's Hall where the fire started. The theft charges have been filed in a juvenile court.


Minnesota State Patrol officials recently arrested a man who was driving an excavator down a sidewalk in Duluth.  Troopers says the 27 year old's blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when he stole the construction equipment and took it on a sidewalk joyride.  He is charged with theft of a motor vehicle, possession of stolen property and DWI.


After 23 weeks of intense training, 30 cadets were sworn in and received their badges as Wisconsin State Patrol officers during a graduation ceremony in Tomah today.  Cadets in the 59th Recruit Class began their training at the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy at Fort McCoy in October of 2013. They will now begin careers as either State Patrol troopers or inspectors in one of five regions in the state.  Troopers generally patrol highways to enforce traffic safety and criminal laws while inspectors focus primarily on enforcement of motor carrier (large trucks and buses) safety laws and regulations.