Wisconsin roundup: State Capitol security beefed up, but no procedural changes planned; tornadoes reported in state; 8 more state news stories
MADISON — More police were on hand for Wednesday's state legislative meetings, but GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says there's no reason for the State Capitol to have more restrictive security measures.
That's after the shootings Wednesday that wounded U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and three others at a baseball practice near Washington where Republicans practiced for their annual charity game Thursday against the Democrats. Janesville House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered a passionate, nonpartisan speech in which he said an attack on one House member was an attack on all, as Ryan gave high praise to the Capitol officers who were wounded.
State Assembly Republican Jesse Kremer of Kewaskum wrote on Facebook that people like Kathy Griffin, who posted a photo with a beheaded Donald Trump, emboldens crazy people to commit heinous acts — but Kremer later told WisPolitics.com he blames nobody but the shooter for Wednesday's attack.
Four tornadoes reported in east-central Wis.
The National Weather Service will send out survey teams Thursday to try and confirm reports of up to four tornadoes in east central Wisconsin.
The first twister went down at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday near Markesan in Green Lake County, with tree damage reported. The other tornadoes were reported during the 3 p.m. hour at Shiocton in Outagamie County, and at Navarino and Frazer Corners in Shawano County — and a funnel cloud was also reported earlier in the afternoon near Keshena.
It was the fourth straight day of heavy storms in parts of Wisconsin, with Wednesday's damage in eastern and southern areas that included fallen trees and power lines, roof damage at Appleton, 2.6 inches of rain in Waupaca County, 75 mph winds at Reedsburg, and one inch hail at Edgerton. About 14,000 electric customers were without power Thursday morning in the places where Wednesday's storms hit.
Lawmakers vote to rein in expensive business mandates
MADISON — A bill that seeks to limit expensive mandates for Wisconsin businesses is on its way to Gov. Scott Walker.
The Assembly voted 62-34 Wednesday to give final legislative approval to a GOP measure that gives lawmakers the final say on agency rules that cost businesses at least $10 million in a two year period — and if lawmakers don't approve a rule within 70 days, it automatically gets thrown out. The state's largest business group hailed what it calls the nation's first such reform of regulations, saying it would give the public more input and provide more oversight. Opponents say it will be harder to take new steps to protect the environment, while giving more authority to politicians who are not technical experts.
State conducts internal probe of 3 corrections officials
MADISON — The state Corrections Department has started an internal investigation of three agency officials convicted of fishing violations in Ohio.
Portage prison warden Michael Dittman, deputy Green Bay warden Steve Schueler, and adult prison official Paul Neevel, Junior were all fined $150 this month for criminal misdemeanors. Officials said they each caught a limit of six walleye, dropped them off at a shoreline, and went out and caught two to six more fish at a site in Ottawa County, Ohio.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says three former Wisconsin corrections officials also went on the trip and got fines ranging up to $300. Wisconsin corrections employees must tell their supervisors if they have police encounters outside of work, and two officials reported it — thus triggering the internal investigation to determine if they broke any work rules.
Assembly votes to call U.S. constitutional convention
MADISON — Wisconsin is one step closer to being the 28th state to call a U.S. constitutional convention.
With seven Republicans and all Democrats voting no, the state Assembly voted 54-41 Wednesday to call the convention with the sole purpose a demanding a balanced federal budget — and they sent the resolution to the Senate. GOP Speaker Robin Vos says Congress has "failed in any meaningful way" to curb the national debt. Only six more states would be needed to call the convention, and opponents feared it would propose amendments to curb free speech and gun ownership — but Lake Hallie Republican Kathy Bernier said the odds were "slim to none" that those amendments could be ratified by the required 38 states, and the Assembly passed safeguards to keep Wisconsin delegates from straying. Dodgeville Republican Todd Novak says people in his district "don't want to mess with the Constitution" — and he voted no to the convention along with fellow Republicans Nancy VanderMeer, Treig Pronschinske, Lee Nerison, David Murphy, Joel Kitchens, and Rob Brooks.
State Senate OKs higher carjacking penalties, more opioid bills
MADISON — The Wisconsin Senate has voted to jack up penalties for carjackings after a Milwaukee home inspector was killed in a recent car theft attempt.
Six Democrats joined all Republicans in supporting the higher penalties, but other Democrats said it would add prison costs with no guarantees that the crackdown would work. Also Wednesday, senators sent two more bills to Gov. Scott Walker to crack down on opioid and heroin abuse — measures that would allow involuntary treatment commitments for habitual drug abusers, and preventing revocations of probation and parole for abusers who seek help.
The Senate also voted 28-5 in favor of dropping some accountability requirements for voucher schools, as most say the new state school report cards provide the same transparency. And the Senate voted to close state offices on Veterans Day, making Wisconsin the last state to do so.
AARP: Wis. has nation's sixth-best long term care
MADISON — A new survey by the AARP Foundation shows that Wisconsin ranks sixth among the 50 states in the long term care provided to the elderly and disabled.
That's two places higher than the last survey in 2014, but one spot lower than in 2011 when the state was ranked fifth. The report also says Wisconsin has the seventh best quality of life and quality of care for those who need it.
The state ranks seventh for provider and setting choices, 10th for effective transitions to and from nursing homes, 13th in support for caregivers, and 14th for access and affordability. AARP's Wisconsin chapter says more state support is needed for caregiving families. It says about 578,000 seniors and disabled Wisconsinites get unpaid care from relatives that's worth an estimated seven billion dollars.
West Nile season begins
MADISON — The West Nile virus is starting to make its annual presence in Wisconsin.
A dead crow in Chippewa County is the latest to test positive for the mosquito-borne illness, State officials say at least three other birds had tested positive for West Nile this spring in Sauk and Washington counties. Horses and humans also get sick from the virus, but people don't normally get infected until August and September.
The season stretched into October last year when it was warmer and rainier than normal. There were 13 confirmed human cases of West Nile last year. Health experts urge people to take precautions to avoid mosquitoes — like staying inside at dusk and dawn, and getting rid of areas of standing water in yards where mosquitoes may breed.
New Office of African American Affairs leader named
MILWAUKEE — A longtime Milwaukee resident is the leader of Milwaukee County's new Office on African American Affairs.
County Executive Chris Abele announced Tuesday that Nicole Brookshire has been appointed following a nationwide search. In her role, she will try to reduce racial inequalities in areas like workforce development and criminal justice.