Ninmann Urges Attendance At Heroin Forum
3/13/14 - Dodge County Sheriff Pat Ninmann is the latest to urge the community to attend a Town Hall Meeting Thursday night in Juneau that will address the issue of prescription drug and heroin abuse. Ninmann says she frequently fields questions from the community about opiate addiction and what is being done to correct the behavior. She says the answer is to come together as a community and work to implement the additional treatment options that Dodge County is currently lacking. Tonight’s panel includes physicians, pharmacists, law enforcement, prosecutors, the judiciary and a recovering addict. The forum will be held at the Dodgeland School in Juneau beginning at 7pm and is intended for adults only. Additional Town Hall meetings are planned at all school districts in the county. Dates and times will soon be announced for the upcoming meetings.
Fitzgerald Says Heroin Bills Address Growing Scourge
3/13/14 - State Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald cites as a major accomplishment in the current legislative session the four bills that address heroin abuse in the Wisconsin. Assembly Republican John Nygren of Marinette proposed the measures. His daughter has been struggling with heroin and nearly died from an overdose. Fitzgerald discussed the measures when he was our guest Monday on WBEV’s Community Comment. The Juneau Republican heard a presentation from Nygren earlier in the session. Fitzgerald says he is happy to report that the bills will give law enforcement more tools to deal with this scourge. The bills would allow trained responders to administer Narcan, which counteracts heroin overdoses; create more drug collection drives; require I-D's for those buying prescription narcotics; and grant limited immunity to those who report overdoses to law enforcement. Fitzgerald says the problem is that law enforcement would get an anonymous tip and find the overdose subject dead because fellow users did not want to get arrested. He says this bill would be a big assistance in saving the lives of those who have overdosed on heroin. Fitzgerald says in addition to addressing the issue in statute, there will likely be more funding in the next budget cycle for local communities to address the growing problem. The Senate last month gave final legislative approval to the four bills aimed at fighting the state's growing heroin problem. The measures await the governor’s signature and Fitzgerald is confident of its passage.
John Doe Investigators Ask Judge To Throw Out Lawsuit
3/13/14 - John Doe investigators have asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit which seeks to halt a secret Doe probe into Wisconsin's recall elections -- and to punish those who filed the suit. The probe is secretly gathering evidence on alleged illegal campaign coordination between conservative groups and Republican candidates in the 2011-and-'12 recall elections. That includes the failed recall attempt against Governor Scott Walker and Senator Scott Fitzgerald. Prosecutors and investigator Dean Nickel were sued last month by the Wisconsin Club for Growth. The group said the probe violates its constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection. The defendants in that suit have asked Milwaukee Federal Judge Rudolph Randa to throw it out. As prosecutors, Francis Schmitz and Milwaukee D-A John Chisholm said they're immune from such lawsuits. Also, Nickel's lawyer said the plaintiffs should be sanctioned -- because they should know that federal judges are generally barred from stopping state attempts at criminal prosecution. Also, the Journal Sentinel says State Farm Insurance has gotten involved. It wants the judge to decide whether it should have to pay some of prosecutor Bruce Landgraf's legal bills under his personal homeowner's and liability policies. The state normally picks up prosecutors' legal bills, and it's not clear why Landgraf wants his personal insurance to cover some of it. Landgraf would not elaborate.
Early Voting Restrictions Future Uncertain
3/13/14 - A bill to put more limits on early voting in Wisconsin appears to have an uncertain future, after the Senate passed it Wednesday. The Assembly has not said whether it would take up the measure, and Senate G-O-P Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is not sure, either. Also, Governor Scott Walker is not saying whether he'd sign the bill. It would prohibit early absentee voting on weekends and after seven-at-night in the two weeks before election days. That's after Republicans reduced the early voting period in 2011 from three weeks to two. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called it a "mean-spirited" attempt by Republicans to suppress the vote in heavily-Democratic Milwaukee and Madison. Senate Democrat Lena Taylor of Milwaukee called it "backward-thinking mentality" and said quote, "I feel like I'm in 1906, fighting the fights that people who came long before me had to fight." Fitzgerald repeated G-O-P concerns that voters in rural areas don't have as many early voting hours as the bigger cities due to a lack of resources. In speaking with us this week on WBEV’s Community Comment he noted the resources of clerks in the Village of Clyman are vastly different than the resources available in Milwaukee County. The Senate approved an amendment yesterday that would give about 200-thousand dollars in state funds to rural communities to help cover the costs of their early voting.
Senate Tactic Tanks Cancer Treatment Bill
3/13/14 - The Wisconsin Senate's majority leader pulled a rarely-used tactic Wednesday to delay a full Senate vote on a bill to help cancer patients buy chemotherapy medicine. Republican Scott Fitzgerald said most senators support the measure, but most in own party do not. It would require insurance companies to cover expensive drugs taken as pills rather than injections. Fitzgerald blocked the measure by scheduling a second public hearing in the afternoon, and then canceling it. Senate rules state that the full house cannot vote on a bill in which a scheduled hearing had not taken place yet. The Juneau Republican has not said if he supports or opposes the requirement -- which is favored by major health providers but opposed by insurers due to the expense of covering the chemo pills. Senate Republican Alberta Darling of River Hills said it's a quote, "wonderful bill" -- and she'd love to see a vote on it, but it's not up to her.
Senate Approves Bill That Delays Asbestos Lawsuits
3/13/14 - The Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday in favor of a bill that Democrats say would slow down asbestos exposure lawsuits. The measure would force plaintiffs to disclose the businesses they plan to go after -- and trials could not start until six months after those disclosures. G-O-P supporters said the bill is designed to keep lawyers from hiding multiple claims in the hopes of winning larger damage awards. Veterans groups' are among those opposing the measure. They say it's intended to slow down the court process so much, that plaintiffs will die before companies have to pay settlements to them. All Democrats opposed the bill, as did moderate Republican Dale Schultz.
eCigarette Bill Up For Vote In Senate Today
3/13/14 - A Wisconsin Senate committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill to let people smoke electronic cigarettes in buildings that are open to the public. The judiciary panel is scheduled to vote on exempting e-cigarettes from the state's three-and-a-half year old public indoor ban on tobacco smoking. West Bend Republican Glenn Grothman introduced the bill late last year, but it did not get a public hearing until last week. The bill's prospects appear to be dim as the current session is about to end in the next couple weeks. Supporters say e-cigarettes -- and the vapors inhaled -- are an effective way to help tobacco smokers kick the habit. Doctors have opposed the bill. They say the jury's still out on the potential environmental hazards of the products' vapors.
Ferriter Announces Candidacy For Assembly
3/13/14 - The Village President of Doylestown in Columbia County has announced his candidacy for Wisconsin State Assembly District 42. George Ferriter is running as a Democrat for the seat held by Keith Ripp of Lodi. Ferriter was born into a military family and is a Vietnam-era veteran of the Air Force. He spend the past 24 years as a mechanical engineer for Fairbanks Morse Engine in Beloit. Ferriter says he is a strong advocate of bargaining rights for all labor that decides to affiliate with unions. He also opposes restrictions on voting being advanced through the legislature by Republicans. The 42nd Assembly is centered in Columbia County and includes five townships in western Dodge County along with portions of Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette and Dane counties. Ferriter is serving his second term as village president in Doylestown.
Board Chairman, Challenger Split On Stipend
3/13/14 - There are five contested races on the Dodge County Board on the April ballot. Incumbent Russ Kottke was first elected to Supervisory District Two in 1998 and has been county board chairman for the past ten years. Challenger Vicky Bartoli is new to politics but is a lifelong Dodge County resident and says the time has come for some fresh ideas on the board. The two have differing viewpoints on compensation for county board supervisors. In October, on a split vote, the county board approved a ten dollar increase in the stipend for meeting attendance; the first since 1998. Beginning next month, supervisors will receive $50 per meeting while the committee chairs will receive $55, capped at two meetings per day. Kottke says he voted for it because there are a lot of meetings that run two hours or more and it is only fair to get paid for your time. Bartoli says the stipend increase sends the wrong message and she would have voted against it to be respectful to those people in the county still suffering the effects of the recession. Supervisory District Two includes the towns of Trenton, Chester, Burnett and Fox Lake.
National Guard Cuts Planned in Wisconsin
3/13/14 - Wisconsin's Air National Guard would lose 39 positions under the proposed federal budget for the next fiscal year. State military officials said the Air Force plans to drop 23 jobs at the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Juneau County. Another 16 jobs would be eliminated from Milwaukee's 128th Air Refueling Wing. Congress still needs to approve the new budget, which is due to take effect in October. If the cuts survive, Major General Don Dunbar says he hopes they would come through attrition. About 23-hundred people serve in the Wisconsin Air Guard.
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