Wisconsin roundup: Green Bay clerk refuses to put early voting site at UW campus; gas now $1.99 in parts of state; 9 more state news stories
GREEN BAY -- A newly released email shows that the Green Bay city clerk rejected a state lawmaker's request to put an early voting site at the city's UW campus because the clerk thought it would help the lawmaker's Democratic party.
The Nation first reported on the email from Green Bay City Clerk Kris Teske to the state Ethics Commission, sent in late August. Assembly Democrat Eric Genrich said a campus location for absentee voting would alleviate the large crowds of students and campus staff members who voted at the campus polling place on Election Day in April. Genrich on Tuesday called the email "disappointing." But the state elections agency says Teske was just doing her job, and the state did not tell her what she should do.
Gas prices drop below $2 per gallon in Milwaukee area
Gas prices are back below two dollars per gallon in the Milwaukee area. GasBuddy.com listed 15 stations where regular unleaded is $1.99 Wednesday morning on the city's northwest side and in Wauwatosa.
Gas prices in the west metro of the Twin Cities also saw sub-$2 prices Wednesday morning and hovered around $2.02 in the east metro. That's according to TwinCitiesGasPrices.com, which showed Hudson pumping for about $2.14 on Wednesday and slightly higher pump prices in River Falls.
The Wisconsin automotive group AAA reports a statewide average of $2.14 overnight -- four cents cheaper than one week ago, and 24 cents cheaper than last year at this time. Oil industry analyst Jim Ritterbusch expects pump prices in southeast Wisconsin to be stable at least through next winter -- and if $3 gas returns, it probably won't be until at least 2018.
Ritterbusch, who runs a Chicago oil trading firm, says people in general are saving more these days. He believes consumers need to drive up the gross domestic product higher than currently exist.
Ryan, Johnson want recovery of vets' bonuses stopped
WASHINGTON -- Two Wisconsin congressional leaders have asked the Pentagon to stop collecting old enlistment bonuses that were mistakenly given to veterans.
GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville says he wants the collections suspended until Congress can protect service members from what he calls "lifelong liability" for the Defense Department's "mistakes." Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson said officials should stop what he called "harassment of the finest among us."
The Pentagon made waves when it told 10,000 California National Guard members to give back re-enlistment bonuses granted 10 years ago, after a federal investment found that bonus and student loan payments were improperly awarded. The Wisconsin National Guard says there are no major issues with bonuses wrongly paid in the Badger State -- but Johnson says veterans in every state could eventually be affected, including 42,000 Wisconsinites who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
More federal aid approved for flood damaged Wisconsin
WASHINGTON -- Western and central Wisconsin are getting more federal aid to repair damage from recent floods.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Transportation Department approved $1.6 million to make emergency repairs to roads and bridges washed out by torrential rains in August and September. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin sought the aid, and she announced DOT "quick release" funds to stabilize and rebuild highways, bridges, and embankments.
The agency said the most severe road washouts were in Buffalo and Trempealeau counties during the past two months -- and more than 15 other counties had damage from what it called "extreme runoff" and flash floods. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has also approved disaster funds to the region, and the U.S. Small Business Administration has granted low interest loans in many areas.
Two dead, two injured in central Wisconsin crash
DEXTERVILLE -- Two people have died and two others are injured in a head on traffic crash in central Wisconsin.
It happened about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday on Highway 80 in the town of Dexter, west of Wisconsin Rapids. Wood County sheriff's deputies say a vehicle driven by a 30-year-old Rapids man collided with an oncoming unit with three people -- two women from New Lisbon and another female from Fallon, Missouri.
Two of those three died at the scene, and the third was flown to a Marshfield hospital along with the other driver. Deputies have not said which vehicle caused the mishap, and the victims' names were not immediately released.
Deadline nearing for 2017 sturgeon spear licenses
MADISON -- If you're interested in spearing for giant sturgeon, you don't have much time to apply.
The state DNR says the deadline is Monday to buy licenses for next February's spearing season on Lake Winnebago and its connected lakes up the Fox River. Almost 14,000 people received licenses to spear last year -- and 703 fish were taken, including 19 that were 100 pounds or larger. DNR sturgeon biologist Ryan Koenigs says spawning assessments turned up two fish longer than 80 inches, and many others at least 75 inches -- and for the spearers, he calls those fish "the opportunity of a lifetime." Next year also marks a change in the way harvest tags are handled, as spearers need to write the dates and times of the harvests on their tags -- and tags must be attached if they leave the fish.
Baldwin: Fix Obamacare, don't scrap it
MILWAUKEE – U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin says Obamacare needs to be fixed, but it shouldn't be scrapped as Republicans vow to do if voters give them control of the White House and Congress.
Wisconsin's Democratic senator said it would help if large price hikes for prescription drugs could be put under control. Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton calls for more adjustments -- like creating government insurers to compete with those in the private sector, and giving up to $5,000 in refundable tax credits for families with large costs from their own pockets.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville has said a Republican Congress would scrap the Affordable Care Act on Day One if they could. Among other things, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has proposed letting people buy insurance on their own and deduct the expense from their income taxes.
DNR to close fish hatchery near Crivitz
CRIVITZ -- A hatchery that has produced Lake Michigan game fish for 76 years will close in about one month.
The DNR says it will shut down the Thunder River Rearing Station near Crivitz in Marinette County, once all of its fish are stocked into Lake Michigan by Nov. 26. Todd Kalish of the DNR's Fisheries' Bureau tells WLUK-TV in Green Bay the agency is changing its strategy to reduce predator fish and promote what he calls a "strong, healthy, diverse fishery in Lake Michigan."
He says the species of brown trout that's raised at Thunder River will be reduced as part of the new strategy, and that's why the facility will close. It has two employees who will be transferred elsewhere in the DNR.
Train derailment causes chemical spill near Superior
SUPERIOR -- No one was hurt after a train derailment caused a combustible chemical to spill south of Superior.
Crews continued to clean up the site Tuesday, after four cars of a Union Pacific train jumped the tracks at a railroad substation near the corner of Highway 35 and Douglas County Road C.
The Superior town fire department was called about 11:45 p.m. Monday. Fire Chief Darryl Fiegle says a coupler on one of the cars punched a tanker that derailed, causing octene to spill. An investigation continues into what caused the derailment itself. Fiegle says two nearby homes were not in any danger.
New numbers show 65 domestic violence deaths in Wisconsin
MADISON -- Prosecutors and advocates are worried about an uptick in the number of people killed in domestic violence cases across Wisconsin this year.
The Lethality Assessment Program says 65 people have died or been killed in domestic incidents. That number includes victims and suspects who later killed themselves. Last year, Wisconsin saw 49 domestic violence related deaths.
Milwaukee has state's fastest growing market for new houses
OSHKOSH -- Metro Milwaukee is the state's fastest growing market for new homes.
MTD Marketing Services of Oshkosh says building permits for new houses jumped by 16 percent in the first nine months of this year, compared to the same time in 2015. More than 1,000 permits were issued from January through September in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington counties. That's up from 901 last year.
The Fox Valley had a 7 percent increase in new home construction during the same period, Racine-Kenosha had a 2.5 percent jump, and the Madison/Dane County area saw a slight increase in new homes of 0.5 percent. The Green Bay/Door County region was the only one listed by MTD with a decrease, with 477 building permits issued this year compared to 502 the previous year.