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STATE GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Walker administration will not appeal judge's ruling

The Walker administration will not appeal a federal judge’s order to change some of the policy that requires permits for groups who gather at the State Capitol. On Monday, Judge William Conley of Madison said the state cannot distinguish the types of gatherings for the purposes of issuing permits. Also, permits cannot be required for groups with fewer than 20 people. Conley said it’s unconstitutional to require permits for groups of four-or-less – which the Walker administration ordered in 2011 in response to the massive Capitol protests over the near-elimination of most public union bargaining. Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch says the judge’s order did not invalidate the basic permit process, and it stays in full effect for the Capitol building and grounds.


More of Milwaukee County’s government services are being restored in the wake of a major fire at the courthouse last weekend. The adjacent Safety Building re-opened yesterday. Numerous court hearings took place, although jury trials are still being delayed. Marriage licenses are being issued again, and the child support agency is up-and-running. The county clerk’s office re-opens today. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said at least part of the courthouse will re-open on Monday. He said two large back-up generators would keep the power on, until new electrical systems can be installed. The generators are expected to keep the Safety Building’s elevators from losing power, which happened twice yesterday. The new electrical system will replace units from 1947 which burned in the courthouse basement last Saturday.


The chairman of Xcel Energy testified in Washington yesterday about ways that companies can hire more veterans. Among other things, Benjamin Fowke suggested that veterans be pre-certified for jobs before they leave the military, to reduce the time they’re unemployed once they get home. Veterans make up around 12-percent of Xcel Energy’s 11-thousand employees, and the company says many of them have management posts. Xcel is based in Minneapolis, and it provides electric service to about the northwest quarter of Wisconsin.


Gogebic Taconite has temporarily pulled its military-style security guards from its mining site in northern Wisconsin. The firm admitted yesterday that Bullet-proof Securities of Arizona worked for six days without having a state license. Private security firms are required to be licensed – and if they’re not, the penalties can run up to 500-dollars and six months in jail, plus a one-year operating ban in Wisconsin. State safety officials did not say if they’ll seek penalties. Iron County District Attorney Marty Lipske said he’d look into it, and would take the firm’s voluntary suspension of the guards into account. Gogebic Taconite hired Bullet-proof Securities after a female protestor was charged in a vandalism incident last month at the company’s exploratory drilling site for a new iron ore mine. Tom Parrella, who heads the security firm, said it’s in the process of getting a Wisconsin license. He tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel his guards were hired with little notice, and did not expect all the public attention. Gogebic Taconite spokesman Bob Seitz said the firm was unaware it needed the license and quote, “This isn’t a normal thing for any of us.” The state lawmakers who represent the mining site area asked that the guards armed with assault rifles be withdrawn permanently. Senate Democrat Bob Jauch of Poplar said he’s appalled that the guards were unlicensed. He said it showed that the mining firm has quote, “no respect for the public, and no regard for the law.”


The person who defeated Scott Walker in his first run for public office does not see him moving into the White House in 2017. Milwaukee Democrat Gwen Moore beat out the Republican governor for a state Assembly seat 23 years ago. She’s now in her ninth year in the U-S House, and she tells the Journal Sentinel that Walker probably wouldn’t make it through the various primaries and caucuses if he runs for president in 2016. In Moore’s words, “I think he has a lot of self-confidence, with the emphasis on self.” Walker’s campaign is not responding. Moore and Walker are political opposites. The governor opposes the Obama health care reform law, while Moore is a staunch supporter. It’s had some major bugs recently, but Moore believes the program will eventually be successful. She also told the Journal Sentinel she might be interested in a leadership post in the House – something she has never sought. Moore said she’d like to help Democrats try to regain the majority in the House in next year’s elections.