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Walker's Badger Care continuance would save taxpayers $23 million; lawmaker wants to ban high-proof alcohol; more state news

MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to delay the restructuring of Badger-Care by three months would save taxpayers $23 million. 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 Tuesday. It allows 72,000 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. The bill also delays the addition of 83,000 adults in Badger-Care who are below the poverty line -- and fiscal experts say that would save $40 million, 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.

Wisconsin fliers should arrive, depart fine

If family or friends are flying home for Thanksgiving, they shouldn't have too much trouble with bad weather at Wisconsin destinations -- but officials suggest they check with airlines just in case.

Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport reports only one delayed incoming flight from Atlanta Wednesday morning, and virtually all departures were being listed as "on time."

The Wisconsin AAA says about 63,000 Wisconsinites will fly home for Thanksgiving.

It's considered one of the busiest travel days of the year, but the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison expects business to be similar to a Monday -- which normally has a lot of business travelers. Officials expect the Madison airport to handle around 2,500 passengers on Thanksgiving Eve.

Pat Hogan says the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport will be busy. He recommends getting to the airport at least two hours before your flight takes off.

-- Minnesota News Network

State wins small energy grant for public buildings

Wisconsin was among 13 states to win competitive federal energy grants. The Badger State will receive $475,000.

Most of the money will be used to improve heating and cooling systems for public housing, plus local- and state government buildings.

About $75,000 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.

Lawmaker wants to ban high-proof alcohol

MADISON -- 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 "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 "no matter how much it costs."

School district trying video approach to curb bomb threats

MIDDLETON -- School bomb threats have been a problem in Wisconsin ever since the 1999 Columbine school shootings in Colorado.

The Middleton-Cross Plains District hopes to do something about it, by hammering home the costs of such an action.

On Monday, officials showed students and parents a video of two high school staff members talking to each other about the costs of a bomb threat to a school system. It's meant to remind people that such threats are no joke.

Middleton High School had a bomb threat just last Friday, and students were sent home.

Superintendent Don Johnson tells WKOW TV the district spent $10,000 for lunches the youngsters never ate. Bus drivers were paid overtime to get the students home early.

The local Crime-Stoppers program is offering a reward for helping find those responsible.

Johnson said the day would not be made up, but the district would have to use one of its allotted closing days due to heavy snow.

The video also reminds students that a bomb threat could lead to an expulsion plus adult felony charges.

WPIRG names season's 'troublesome toys'

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.

On Tuesday, 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 3. Also, the group says toy cell phones and other objects held to the ears should not exceed 65 decibals.

Newest DNR site maps CWD to town levels

MADISON -- 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 DNR 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 CWD.

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 view the new map, visit

Injured bridge worker healing well

A construction worker is said to be progressing "extraordinarily well" after he fell 45 feet from a bridge project Nov. 6th near La Crosse.

His employer said 19-year-old Logan Goodell of Wheeler is getting stronger every day as he continues his hospitalization.

Roger McBride of Ames Construction said Goodell is working to rebuild his energy and strength, and he's determined to make a full recovery.

Goodell was hurt while working on bridge improvements along I-90 over the Mississippi River at the Wisconsin-Minnesota border.

He was installing concrete forms when he fell into a temporary enclosure that keeps a section of the river-bottom pumped dry, so support piers can be installed. Goodell was wearing a harness when he was rescued.

Minnesota's OSHA office continues to investigate the accident.

Tavern owner wills $50,000 to MPD

MILWAUKEE -- A tavern owner who died in June left $50,000 in her will for the city's police department.

Paula Gorde, 92, said the donation should be used for a new squad car or some other police vehicle.

Milwaukee Police said the gift was in honor of Gorde's late husband, who was a prisoner-of-war during WW II. For many years, Gorde owned Paula's Tap -- and she often provided shelter above the bar for abused women and children in her neighborhood.

Milwaukee Police Lt. Mark Stanmeyer says it's not uncommon for people to leave money for the department in their wills. He says the gifts are always appreciated.

Middleton woman gets prison for embezzlement

MADISON -- A Middleton woman has been sentenced to two years in a federal prison, for stealing more than $1.5 million from a medical group in Janesville.

Prosecutors said 55-year-old Brenda Werfal took the money while working as the office manager for Specialty Billing Services. Officials did not say how the thefts were discovered.

Werfal handled insurance payments to the Southern Wisconsin Emergency Associates, a group of doctors and physician assistants.

Records showed that she took almost $14,000 to cover her own medical and tax bills. There was no indication of where the rest of the stolen money went.

Werfal was ordered to re-pay $1.1 million in restitution. It's not known whether she has already repaid the other $400,000 that was taken.