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Wisconsin takes wait-and-see stance on Obamacare court decisions; Governor candidate suggests park rather than Gogebic mine; More state news

Gov. Scott Walker's office says it will not rush to create Wisconsin's own health care marketplace to preserve tax subsidies that were placed in doubt yesterday.

A federal appeals court in Washington said the federal subsidies in the Affordable Care Act apply only to 14 states which run their own exchanges and not Wisconsin and 35 other states that use the standard federal exchange.

However, another appeals in court in Virginia upheld an IRS rule that grants subsidized care for people in all 50 states.

Walker spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster would not say if Wisconsin would create its own exchange if it meant preserving subsidies for users. She said the 130,000 Wisconsinites under Obamacare are not affected at this point and the governor won't deal in "hypotheticals."

The White House said consumers would keep getting the subsidies until the legal implications are sorted out.

Media reports said about 90% of Wisconsinites who bought care in the federal exchange qualified for subsidies when they signed up.

Walker's office put the blame on what Webster called the government's "inept interpretation of their own flawed law."

Walker's main election opponent, Democrat Mary Burke, said the governor's health care decisions "defy common sense" and are "politically driven." Most others were confused by the dueling court decisions.


Governor candidate suggests park rather than Gogebic mine

Brett Hulsey says he wants a state park instead of an iron ore mine at the proposed Gogebic Taconite project in far northern Wisconsin.

Hulsey is a state Assembly Democrat from Madison who's running a long-shot campaign for governor against Mary Burke.

In a campaign stop in Wausau yesterday, Hulsey, a former Sierra Club leader, said the market for iron ore is not good right now and a state park is the only thing that makes sense. He said a Penokee Hills State Park would help create jobs in the far north while the proposed mine would only create jobs for lawyers.

"I don't want any more fighting," said Hulsey. Also, he's said he's staying above the fray as Burke and Gov. Scott Walker debate their job records, namely the out-sourcing of Wisconsin jobs to foreign countries.

Hulsey agreed that job creation is the big issue. He also said he wants to restore state aid to schools and local governments to at least what they were before Walker took office in 2011.

--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau


From high to low, state temps take a dip

It's either too hot or too cold -- rarely “just right.” That's been the story of Wisconsin's weather this week.

Temperatures plunged into the 40's in parts of the north overnight after Lone Rock in Sauk County had a heat index of 106 yesterday. Much of central and eastern Wisconsin had its first 90-degree days of 2014 as it got up to 91 in Oshkosh, Appleton and Green Bay.

That was before a cold front moved through. The northwest was the first to get relief from the heat early yesterday morning. Afternoon readings were in the 70's after storms moved through.

Trees fell in parts of Douglas, Ashland and Bayfield counties. High winds pulled soffit and shingles from several roofs near Poplar in Douglas County. No other storm damage was reported throughout Wisconsin.

By 6 a.m. today, it got down to 48 in Rhinelander and Tomahawk. It will be “just right” for lots of folks today as highs are predicted in the 70's statewide under clear to partly cloudy skies. But it will get cold tonight as some areas could get down to the 30's -- just a few degrees above freezing. A chance of rain returns tomorrow.


Police release audio tapes of former cop accused of killing two women

Newly released recordings raise questions about a prior case involving Steven Zelich, the former West Allis police officer suspected of killing two women and hiding their bodies in suitcases.

Yesterday West Allis police released audio from an internal investigation in 2001 when a woman ran from an apartment wearing just her underwear. The two told conflicting stories of what happened. Officers found a condom in Zelich's kitchen garbage can, but he claimed it wasn't his, and he was not sure how it got there. No criminal charges were ever filed in the incident.

Zelich, 52, later agreed to resign from the West Allis police force after evidence showed that he stalked and harassed at least a half dozen other women.

Zelich recently pleaded innocent to Walworth County charges of hiding a corpse. He allegedly killed Laura Simonson in Rochester, Minn., and Jenny Gamez in Kenosha County before dumping their bodies in suitcases. They were found June 5th along a rural road near Lake Geneva. Homicide charges are still pending in the places where the women were found dead.


Street named to honor Packer coach McCarthy

It's Mike McCarthy's turn to be immortalized in the Green Bay area with a street named in his honor.

Last night, the Ashwaubenon Village Board voted to change a stretch of Potts Avenue to Mike McCarthy Way. Businesses are located on the street, which is south of Lambeau Field and the Packers' practice facilities.

McCarthy has been the Packers' head coach since 2006, and his team won the Super Bowl four seasons ago.

Former coach Mike Holmgren has a major street named in his honor east and southeast of the stadium. Brett Favre and Donald Driver are among the famous Packer players who also have streets named for them in Titletown.

The McCarthy name change could take a year to complete, giving businesses time to get rid of items with their old street addresses.

Also, officials insisted that the street have McCarthy's first name so there's no confusion with the late controversial Senator Joseph McCarthy from nearby Appleton.


Wausau man sentenced for distributing child porn

A Wausau man will spend four years in prison for sharing child pornography with others.

Tyler Vogel, 26, had pleaded no contest to three felony counts of possessing child porn. Seven similar charges were dropped in a plea deal.

Marathon County Circuit Judge Greg Grau said Vogel was part of a network that exploited children, and he called it unacceptable.

State and local officers raided Vogel's home last December after learning that he traded explicit photos of underage girls.

Vogel apologized and said he realized the seriousness of his actions. He must spend four years under extended supervision once his prison term ends.

Vogel was previously convicted of sexual assault for incidents at a job in which he inappropriately touched teenage female co-workers.

--Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau


Walker joins other GOP governors for panel discussion

Gov. Scott Walker will take time out from his state campaigning tomorrow, to be in a panel discussion with other GOP governors in Aspen, Colo.

Walker will attend events put on by the Republican Governors Association.

He'll discuss issues in a group that also includes GOP governors Rick Scott of Florida, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Sam Brownback of Kansas.


Street workers charged with giving away road salt, pocketing city funds

Two former street officials in Lake Geneva are free on signature bonds after appearing in court yesterday on embezzlement and misconduct charges.

Ex-street superintendent Ronald Carstensen is accused of giving away $25,000 in city-owned road salt and sand to private companies. He also allegedly pocketed a sales tax refund that was supposed to go to the city.

Ex-street foreman Donald Hoeft Jr. allegedly failed to give the city revenues from oil and scrap metal recycling and sending employees on personal scrap metal trips on taxpayers' time.

Carstensen, 55, is charged with eight counts that include embezzlement and misconduct in public office. Hoeft, 54, faces six charges. Both are due back in Walworth County Circuit Court on Sept. 5 when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order trials on their felony charges.


AG candidates agree on issues, stress experience

The three Democratic candidates for Wisconsin attorney general agree on issues of crime fighting and protecting the environment.

So they used a forum in Madison last night to tout their experience and their ability to win the office in November.

State Assembly Democrat Jon Richards of Milwaukee cited his years as a lawmaker, attorney and small-business owner.

Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ said she would work to protect women from domestic violence and preserve their access to reproductive health care.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said he proved he could stand up to the state's power brokers by filing an unsuccessful lawsuit against the Republican Act 10 collective bargaining limits.

All three candidates said they would not have appealed the federal court ruling that struck down Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage. They also agreed on expanding treatment for drug users, more aggressively enforcing open government laws and expanding diversion programs for first-time offenders.

Richards has the most in his pre-primary campaign war chest with $170,000 as of July 1. Happ had $121,000 and Ozanne $3,500.

The primary winner on Aug. 12 will face Republican DA Brad Schimel of Waukesha County, who has over $400,000 in his campaign fund.


Meat plant closes after tiff with village board

A meat processing plant west of Madison is shutting down after a dispute with local officials.

Twenty-two people will lose their jobs when Black Earth Meats closes at the end of July.

Last month, the Black Earth Village Board voted to seek legal action to stop the facility from expanding at its present location. Village President Patrick Trope said the company got too big for its location, caused problems for neighbors and disrupted village services.

Plant owner Bartlett Durand told the Wisconsin State Journal that Black Earth Meats had outlined four options to move the facility out of the village. After the board decided to pursue legal action, Durand said the firm lost a bank loan.


4th suspect sought in Milwaukee freeway gun battle

Milwaukee County authorities continue to look for a fourth suspect this morning after a freeway gun battle in which three others were arrested.

Sheriff David Clarke said people in a minivan and a car shot at each other yesterday before the minivan spun into a ditch near Fox Point.

The incident backed up traffic for miles on a busy northbound Interstate-43. It took five hours to clear it all. Nobody was hurt. No other vehicles were struck by the gunfire.

Clarke said no nearby homes were hit along the freeway although residents said they could easily hear the gunfire.