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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: President Obama in Milwaukee on Labor Day

MILWAUKEE - President Obama brings his worst approval ratings to Wisconsin in more than two years during today’s visit. 

His appearance at Laborfest in Milwaukee is an official visit and not a campaign trip.  He won’t be joined by Democratic candidate for Wisconsin governor Mary Burke.  The president’s Wisconsin approval ratings are still better than the marks he is given nationwide.  And, they are exactly the same at Republican incumbent Governor Scott Walker.  The figures show how polarized Wisconsin voters are.  Democrats give Obama an 89-percent approval rating, while a poll taken a week-and-a-half ago shows Republicans giving him a four-percent approval rating.


Western Wisconsin authorities say a pedestrian was hit and killed by an eastbound train in Tomah Saturday night just before midnight.  The unidentified person was on the tracks when they were hit and was dead at the scene when responding police officers arrived.  The incident involved a train from the Canadian Pacific Railroad is still being investigated by Tomah police. 


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says a pipeline construction project could kill several species on the threatened or endangered species list.  Among those are the prairie leafhopper, the phlox moth, the frosted elfin and the wood turtle.  The frosted elfin is a type of butterfly.  Wisconsin Gas LLC is planning to build a 74-mile natural gas pipeline which would extend from an existing pipeline in Eau Claire to Tomah.  The DNR says the project likely wouldn’t threaten those species with extinction and it plans to issue an incidental take authorization.  Public comment on the project will be accepted through September 9th.


SSM Health Care reports an estimated $6.5 million has been loaned to about four-thousand patients since it signed a deal with Commerce Bank five months ago.  The agreement offers interest-free loans to patients with unpaid medical bills.  They get the loans without undergoing credit checks and Commerce Bank gets a service fee for administering them.  SSM operates hospitals in four states, including facilities in Madison and Baraboo.  It expects the agreement to ultimately help drive down its bad debt which now approaches $205-million.  Anyone whose hospital bill tops $300 is eligible.


Normally, interest is high in liquor licenses in Oshkosh.  That’s why city officials are surprised that no one is applying for three licenses which are available right now.  It’s possible the city will just keep the licenses.  An official with the Oshkosh Tavern League says it may be that potential owners just recognize that running a tavern profitably isn’t an easy task.  The head of the Tavern League of Wisconsin says today’s changing culture means people are more likely to do their drinking at home than they are to go to a bar.