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Voters toss mayor who shunned Obama; retiring state senators urge compromise; more state briefs

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Voters toss mayor who shunned Obama; retiring state senators urge compromise; more state briefs
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

WAUKESHA -- A mayor who refused to greet President Obama when he came to town in January lost his re-election bid Tuesday.

First-term Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima was overwhelmingly defeated by challenger Shawn Reilly, 62- to 38 percent. The opponent criticized Scrima for management problems and not taking part in city budget decisions.

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The mayor accused Reilly of campaigning only on "negativity and sarcasm." On Jan. 30th, Scrima refused to attend an event at GE Medical Systems in Waukesha where Obama spoke and Gov. Scott Walker was in attendance.

The mayor called the two "political extremists" who were not willing to compromise on major issues.

The mayoral contest was among almost four-thousand municipal, county board, and school board elections throughout Wisconsin Tuesday.

Voters in the Kettle Moraine district approved the state's largest school referendum. A nearly $50 million package of technology, security, and maintenance items passed 53- to 47 percent out of almost 5,000 votes cast.

Senate adjourns after sending dozens of bills to Walker

MADISON -- Wisconsin senators did not reject any major bills on the final day of their regular two-year session.

They sent dozens of measures to Governor Scott Walker on votes that were unanimous or close to it. They included legalizing a marijuana oil extract to relieve repeated child seizure disorders, requiring police to use outside agencies to investigate deaths by the actions of officers, requiring insurance coverage or low co-payments for chemotherapy drugs, having police take DNA samples of arrested suspects only in cases of violent crimes, letting the U-W perform classified national security research, and granting immunity for farmers in deaths at agricultural tourism events.

The Senate also passed a couple of bills on close votes that mostly followed party lines. On a 19-14 vote, the Senate decided to let doctors apologize or give sympathy to patients and their relatives for medical mistakes, without having it used against them in malpractice suits. The Senate also voted 18-15 to pass a Republican measure allowing more jail inmates to be strip-searched by officers.

Senators also voted unanimously for two more bills aimed at fighting heroin abuse. One calls for more treatment centers for addicts, and the other would speed up sanctions against probation violators so they can get faster drug treatment.

Retiring Senators exit with plea for compromise

MADISON -- Four retiring Wisconsin senators with almost a century of combined experience pleaded for more compromise after making their final regular session votes Tuesday.

Democrats Tim Cullen of Janesville, Bob Jauch of Poplar, and John Lehman of Racine gave their goodbye speeches to their colleagues Tuesday. So did Richland Center Republican Dale Schultz.

Lehman is running for lieutenant governor. The other three are retiring. All four said they enjoyed their service.

Cullen joked that he would take fees from lawmakers not to be mentioned in the book he's writing. Jauch said his best moments were when lawmakers worked together, and he hopes the Senate will one day return to being "a place where moderation is the mainstream."

Jauch and Schultz leave after 32 years in the Legislature. Cullen has served 16 years, and Lehman 14.

Milwaukee voters cut pay, benefits for board members

MILWAUKEE -- Over seven of every 10 voters in Milwaukee County have given a dramatic pay and benefit cut to their County Board members.

Supporters said the idea was to make board part-time instead of full-time.

In a referendum Tuesday, 71 percent said yes to cutting supervisors' salaries in half, eliminating health insurance, and stopping credits toward their pensions.

It was a binding vote, and the changes will take effect after the 2016 Milwaukee County Board elections.

Two years ago, voters in a dozen Milwaukee suburbs strongly agreed that their County Board members should be part-time. County Executive Chris Abele said he was happy that voters made their voices heard, and he looks forward to continue working with the County Board.

Supervisor Willie Johnson said the vote was the climax of a decade of efforts to assure a conservative agenda. Members now make almost $51,000 a year. That'll get cut to $24,000. The board chair will get $36,000 a year, down from the current $71,000.

Group wants to boost child immunizations

A coalition hopes to increase the numbers of people getting immunized in northern Wisconsin.

The Northwoods Immunization Coalition was formed nine years ago, to get a handle on the numbers of people not getting protected from major preventable diseases.

Laurel Dreger of the Vilas County Health Department says the group focuses on two-year-olds, teens, pregnant women, and the general adults in several Northwoods counties.

She said immunization levels have dropped in some places -- and they've had small outbreaks of illnesses that were once considered eradicated in the U-S. Dreger says some people don't get their kids vaccinated these days -- and it creates pockets of measles, whopping cough, chicken pox, and the mumps.

Last December, the United Health Foundation said childhood immunizations did increase throughout Wisconsin over the past year.

Over 75 percent of 19 to 35-month olds received their shots -- about 4.5 percent more than the year before. However, teen immunizations fell statewide from 70 percent to 67.

-- Ken Krall, WXPR, Rhinelander

Appleton firm wins $6.6 million defense contract

An Appleton area company will keep building practice bombs for the Army.

According to a contract notice from the Pentagon, Tower Industries of Greenville has received a new order to build 500-pound practice bombs.

Tower has received similar contracts in the past. The new deal is worth $6.6 million dollars.

The contracting agency for the project is the Army's arsenal at Rock Island Illinois.

Higher weight limits for farmers passes

MADISON -- Wisconsin farmers could drive heavier equipment on the state's roadways, under a bill the Senate approved Tuesday.

The upper house endorsed changes made by the Assembly two weeks ago, and then sent the measure to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature. Among other things, the bill would increase the gross weight limit for farm equipment to 92,000 pounds, and no more than 23,000 pounds per axle.

The bill lets farmers seek permission to exceed the axle limits if necessary for tillage, planting, and harvesting equipment. Towns and counties could local measures to issue no-fee permits on approved routes for those three types of major field operating equipment.

A state task force studied the use of farmers' Instruments of Husbandry, after Marathon County officers gave tickets to manure handlers last year for having overweight equipment on town and county roads.

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