GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Assembly Democrat wants to ban the sale of high-proof alcohol
A Wisconsin Assembly Democrat wants to ban the sale of high-proof alcohol. Madison Representative Terese Berceau is working on a bill to prohibit liquor stores from selling booze that's more than 160-proof. She tells WISC TV that the only purpose of such alcohol is to get people quote, "stupidly drunk." Berceau said she proposed the measure after learning that a person in Milwaukee drowned after drinking high-proof Ever-clear, along with the Red Bull energy drink and Gatorade. At first, Berceau wanted to make it a felony to sell the intense alcohol -- but she says she's working with another lawmaker to make it a less-severe misdemeanor with a fine instead of prison. For now, Berceau has pulled the measure from committee consideration until she can complete the changes. She says 15 other states ban high-proof alcohol -- but she adds that Wisconsin never wants to touch the issue of alcohol abuse quote, "no matter how much it costs."
Governor Scott Walker's proposal to delay the restructuring of Badger-Care by three months would save taxpayers 23-million dollars. That's according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which analyzed the changes Walker wants lawmakers to make in a special session next week. The official bill was released yesterday. It allows 72-thousand adults above the poverty line to stay on Badger-Care through the end of March instead of the end of December, so they can have a chance to sign up for Obama-care once that system's computer glitches get fixed. The Fiscal Bureau says the extra three months of Badger-Care for those people would cost 17-million dollars. The bill also delays the addition of 83-thousand adults in Badger-Care who are below the poverty line -- and fiscal experts say that would save 40-million dollars, for a net saving of 23-million. Senate Democrat Tim Cullen of Janesville said Walker should seek the extra federal Medicaid funds under Obama-care to pay for the delays. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said it doesn't make sense to have a separate program for only three months. The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to consider the Walker plan on Monday, with an Assembly vote next Wednesday. The Senate is expected to take up the measure later in December.
State officials have made it easier to keep track of chronic wasting disease, and the places where it's turning up in the deer population. The D-N-R has upgraded its online map which shows the harvest locations of all deer tested for the fatal brain disease, including those with positive results. Map-users can check sampling data by town, county, or deer management unit. The map also has drawing tools in which hunters can find out their nearest locations of wild deer that were found to have C-W-D. The disease remains most prevalent in its established zone in southern Wisconsin. Twenty-nine cases have been confirmed there in 2013, and just one outside the zone. To get to the new map, go to the D-N-R's Web site and write "CWD prevalence" in the search box.
State agriculture officials have started a default proceeding against a canning company that filed for Chapter-11 bankruptcy in late October. Allens Incorporated of Arkansas has a vegetable plant in Pulaski. A number of farmers have told the state they were never paid for crops they sold to the canners. Those farmers can file claims with the agency to partially cover their losses under the agricultural producer security program. Claims must be filed by December 20th with the ag department in Madison. Allens says its debts are almost 280-million dollars, with assets of between 100-million and 500-million. State producer security director Eric Hanson says the Allens case is similar to the default case the agency took against Ruby Grain of Wausau in October. Allens has asked a bankruptcy court to let it take bids for the 87-year-old company. It wants to appoint one of the potential buyers as a "stalking horse bidder" that would have the chance to match any other bids. The court is still considering the request.
Thanksgiving weekend shoppers are already mapping out their strategies -- and one group hopes they'll consider the safety of the toys they buy for their kids. Yesterday, the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group Foundation released its 28th annual "Trouble in Toyland" report. Group director Bruce Speight says his researchers continue to find toys with unsafe levels of lead and plastic-softening phthalates -- small parts that can fit into a young child's mouth -- and loud toys that can damage a youngster's hearing. Speight says the numbers of risky items have dropped since stronger safety rules were adopted in 2008, but they're still out there. The Public Interest Research group says toys that can fit through a toilet paper tube are not safe for kids under-three. Also, the group says toy cell phones and other objects held to the ears should not exceed 65-decibles.
Wisconsin was among 13 states to win competitive federal energy grants. The Badger State is receiving 475-thousand-dollars. Most of it will improve heating-and-cooling systems for public housing, plus local-and-state government buildings. About 75-thousand-dollars of the grant will seek to remove bureaucratic and other barriers to making industries more energy-efficient. One of those supporting the state's grant request was La Crosse House Democrat Ron Kind. He says it will provide a "forward-looking approach" to promote energy efficiency, and help communities cut down on wasted energy.