Wisconsin roundup: Trump subsidy cutoff spurs 36 percent Obamacare hike in Wis.; more state news stories
MADISON — Wisconsinites on Obamacare will pay an average of 36 percent more to stay on the Affordable Care Act next year.
The state Insurance Commissioner's office says the increase reflects President Donald Trump's executive order from Thursday that cuts off federal subsidies to reduce copays and deductibles for those with low to moderate incomes. Clients will have fewer choices when they start signing up in November, as three insurers will leave the federal purchasing exchange — Molina, Anthem, and Health Tradition.
That means at least 75,000 people will have to find new carriers, more than one third of the 215,000 people who bought coverage from the federal exchange this year. Democrats blame Trump for the premium hikes, while GOP Gov. Scott Walker blames Obamacare itself and the failure of the Republican Congress to replace it.
Home builders warn of rising prices due to disasters
MADISON — If moving into a new house is in your future, you might want to save a little more money now.
Builders in Wisconsin say the hurricanes in the South and the wildfires in northern California are creating a massive demand for new housing — and that's about to raise prices of building materials across the United States.
Eric Schmidt of CG Schmidt Construction tells WKOW-TV in Madison that the price of new homes has jumped 6-8 percent in the past couple years, and even bigger increases are coming soon. Schmidt says he's already been warned by some of his material suppliers to expect higher prices that builders will naturally pass on to home buyers — and he expects the impact to start within 12-18 months. For now, builders urge you to look at the fine print on your construction contract, and weigh your options from there.
Lawmaker: No sanctuary-ban lawsuit worries
MADISON — The author of a bill that penalizes sanctuary cities in Wisconsin says he's not worried that a lawsuit would crop up against it.
Senate Republican Steve Nass of Whitewater says laws that took away most union powers have survived numerous legal challenges — and the one on sanctuary cities does not "scare him" at all. The comments were made at a legislative hearing Thursday on a bill to keep criminal suspects in jail for an extra 48 hours if they're suspected of being in the country illegally — and cities that don't cooperate with federal immigration personnel would lose $5,000 a day in state aid.
A similar bill failed to pass last year due to protests that rekindled Thursday. Senate Democrat Bob Wirch of Kenosha County says the state has spent too much on lawyers, and it should see how a similar measure in Texas fares in a legal challenge.
Milwaukee man accused of selling drugs on Facebook Live
MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee man is accused of selling marijuana on Facebook Live.
Jeffery Kirk is facing multiple charges including manufacturing or delivering THC. Police say they received a Facebook Live video last Sunday that showed Kirk driving around Milwaukee selling drugs. They say he can be seen taking orders for marijuana.
Lincoln Hills teacher assaulted
IRMA — A teacher was still hospitalized at last word after being struck by a juvenile inmate at the Lincoln Hills boys' institution at Irma in Lincoln County.
Media reports say the female teacher was struck in the face, but state Corrections spokesman Tristan Cook would only say that the employee was injured and sent to a hospital. Lincoln County sheriff's deputies are investigating.
A friend and former coworker of the instructor told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the woman could have been killed, and she's "torn up" emotionally. And the state's largest news outlet said the inmate was involved in another attack recently in which a staffer had a tooth knocked out.
GOP U.S. Senate hopeful hints that primary opponent is unqualified
MANITOWOC — Do you think an experienced politician makes a better U.S. senator?
Republican candidate Leah Vukmir apparently wants you to think that, as she runs for the Senate seat held by Democrat Tammy Baldwin. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel picked up a tape of comments she made to Republicans Monday in Manitowoc where she said her 2018 primary opponent Kevin Nicholson should perhaps run for the state Assembly or Senate and develop a political track record before seeking a post in Washington.
Vukmir helped set the conservative agenda in the state Legislature for the last decade, while Nicholson's camp says he was busy "keeping America safe" in the war on terror while in the Marines. Last fall, Marine Mike Gallagher won his first political race when northeast Wisconsin voters sent him to the U.S. House, as he defeated former state Assembly Democratic Majority Leader Tom Nelson.
Charges expected next week against lawmaker’s daughter
GREEN BAY — Prosecutors expect to file criminal charges next week against the daughter of state Assembly finance chairman John Nygren and her fiance.
Twenty-eight-year-old Cassandra Nygren and 33-year-old Shawn Gray were returned to jail on $50,000 bonds after a Brown County court hearing Thursday. Sheriff's officials say the two provided prescription fentanyl that killed 31-year-old Jennifer Skeen in June near Green Bay while she was six months' pregnant — and her unborn baby also died.
Cassandra Nygren has long struggled with a drug problem, and her father made it the impetus for about 30 bills he introduced in the past four years to fight opioid and heroin addiction. All were signed into law, including eleven measures earlier this year.
Budget chief: Milwaukee needs $9M to keep 75 firefighters
MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's budget director says the city needs extra $9.2 million to keep 75 firefighter positions next year.
Dennis Yaccarino says five rigs of personnel would be decommissioned without the extra money, which Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett wants to get from an extra half-cent sales tax. The city needs approval from the state Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker to adopt the tax, but those approvals are not forthcoming. Without the extra revenue, Barrett says 33 police officer posts would also be cut. All the cuts would be through retirements and resignations, with no layoffs planned. Even so, police and fire unions have criticized the tax.
Wis. drug bust turns up 1 pound of meth, coke
BARABOO — Two suspects have been arrested following a drug bust Wednesday in the Sauk County city of Baraboo.
Television station WKOW reports that the Sauk County Drug Task Force arrested 24-year-old Froylan Castro and 23-year-old Kenia Martinez. Investigators say the two were in possession of more than a pound of methamphetamine and 84 grams of cocaine. Police say the drugs have a total street value of $29,000. Officers also seized eight-thousand dollars in cash and a handgun.