Wisconsin roundup: US Rep. Gallagher wants Congress to get Trump meeting transcripts; 10 more state news stories
Republican House freshman Mike Gallagher of Green Bay says that as an “intelligence officer by training,” he knows the “life and death implications of safeguarding classified information.” Gallagher, a former Marine, tweeted concerns about President Donald Trump’s reported disclosures of classified data to Russia and said it was a “fantasy” to consider Russia a reliable partner for countering terrorism. Gallagher says allies and partners need the “utmost confidence” that classified data won’t be disclosed. Trump tweeted that he wanted Russia to “greatly step up their fight against ISIS,” and National Security Officer H.R. McMaster did not deny Tuesday that Trump named a city where an ISIS threat might originate.
Boy, 3, dies in Clark County farming accident
LOYAL A three-year-old boy has died in a farming accident in Clark County. Clark County sheriff’s officials say the toddler was run over by a skid steer loader operated by his 5-year-old brother at a farm near Loyal Monday. Investigators say the boys and their mother were picking up rocks in a field when the 3-year-old was accidentally run over. The boy was pronounced dead at the farm in the Town of Beaver. The sheriff’s office and medical examiner continue to investigate.
Students banned from commencement after prank
(Wrightstown, WI) Some high school students in the village of Wrightstown have been banned from their graduation ceremony over a senior prank.
Television station WLUK reports that Wrightstown School District officials say a group of 20 students toilet-papered the trees and wrote graffiti on bricks outside its high school May 7. Wrightstown police say five of the students also broke into the gym. Five seniors aren’t allowed to walk in their May 26 graduation ceremony because of the prank. One of the seniors banned from commencement Haakon Wagner says the group was just trying to have fun before graduation.
Finance panel to consider elections commission cuts
MADISON A rewriting of the proposed state budget continues Tuesday by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. The panel will decide whether six positions should be cut from the state Elections Commission. They were among 22 funded by the federal government in “Help America Vote Act” that Congress passed to help states in the wake of Florida’s problems in the 2000 presidential contest. Now, the federal money is running dry, and Gov. Scott Walker has proposed that 16 of the 22 posts be kept with state funds but the commission says it needs all 22, or the maintenance of the state’s voter registration system could suffer. Also, Walker’s budget package would cut the pay of the elections and ethics commissioners from $454 per meeting to $50 that Walker says is what other state panels get.
Big surge in crop planting
MADISON Before the rains came this week, Wisconsin had plenty of good weather and drier soils that provided a big boost for farmers. The Wisconsin Ag Statistics Service says the weather had farmers working through the night to get their fields ready and plant crops. Forty-eight percent of the state’s corn crop has been planted eight days behind last year, but three days ahead of the average for the past five years. The state’s No. 2 field crop, soybeans, are still behind schedule with 15 percent planted. But 89 percent of Wisconsin potatoes are in the ground, along with 81-percent of the oat crop and almost 70 percent of the hay is in good shape, with the first cutting of alfalfa just getting started.
State’s first cranberry research facility unveiled
BLACK RIVER FALLS Wisconsin surpassed Massachusetts two decades ago as the nation’s top cranberry producer. Now, the state is about to get its first major research facility aimed at improving cranberry growing practices and yields. The Wisconsin Cranberry Research and Education Foundation says it will buy 155 acres in Jackson County, about 10 miles south of Black River Falls, for a research station. It’s due to open late next year at a cost of $1.5 million half with private money and the rest mainly from USDA funding. Tom Lochner, who heads the Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association, says the new research site will offer more studies on things like root growth and water quality and in greater depth than similar research sites at the University of Massachusetts and Rutgers in New Jersey.
Lawmakers propose expiration dates for administrative rules
MADISON All of the state government’s administrative rules would have expiration dates if two Republican leaders have their way. Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke and Senate finance Chairwoman Alberta Darling are proposing a bill to make all agency rules expire after seven years, unless the agencies renew them. Steineke says he wants a “more structured process” to make sure the rules that carry out state laws do what legislators expect.
Republicans have put a tighter leash on administrative rules in recent years, after complaining that agencies have required things that lawmakers never intended. Conservative and business groups support the GOP measure. But Senate Democratic Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling calls it a way to weaken rules that protect the public and the environment in favor of what she calls “another special interest giveaway.”
Ryan to push for full explanation of Trump disclosure
WASHINGTON House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville hopes the Trump administration will explain itself, after reports that the president revealed classified information to the Russians. The Washington Post says Donald Trump gave “highly classified information” to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador at a White House meeting last week and the intelligence was so sensitive, it was withheld from allies. Trump’s national security adviser calls the report false. Lawmakers from both parties called the report disturbing. Ryan spokesman Doug Andres says there’s no way of knowing what was said, but “protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount.”
Lawmakers propose change in clearing youth criminal records
MADISON Young adults in Wisconsin might find it easier to get jobs in a new bill to change the way their criminal records are handled. State Reps. Evan Goyke and David Steffen propose a bipartisan bill to let young offenders ask that their criminal records be expunged after they complete their sentences. Right now, convicts ages 17-25 can ask a judge to wipe their youthful indiscretions clean but the request must come when they’re sentenced.
Goyke, a Milwaukee Democrat, says Wisconsin is the only state in which expungements must be requested at sentencing and it discourages employers from hiring young people when their sentences are done because their convictions are more likely to stay around. The bill would remove expunged records from not only the state’s publicly available online court records they’d also be deleted from the Crime Information Bureau data that employers use to check out job candidates.
Study: East Wisconsin doctors paid well above average
MILWAUKEE A new study shows doctors in much of eastern Wisconsin get paid about 40 to 60 percent more than the national average for what they provide.
The Health Care Cost Institute says employer insurance plans in the Sheboygan area pay 63 percent more than the national norm for fees paid to doctors the highest among 61 areas in the study. Fees are 51 percent higher in the Green Bay area, and 41-percent higher in Metro Milwaukee, as doctors nationally account for about 30-percent of the total cost of medical services. The study didn’t say why, but the Journal Sentinel says many doctors in the region work for larger health systems that have more leverage in negotiating fees with insurance companies.
New prison not yet approved, but group eyeing possible sites
GREEN BAY State lawmakers have not done anything yet with a proposed new prison, but a business development group is already looking at possible new sites.
That’s what Republican Rep. David Steffen says about his proposal to tear down the nearly 120-year-old Green Bay Correctional Institution, and have a private firm build and own a new maximum security lockup at another location. On Tuesday morning, the state Assembly Corrections Committee will hold a public hearing on Steffen’s bill, which he first proposed in April. Officials in neighboring Kewaunee County have started talking with community leaders to see if there would be interested in hosting a 1,300 bed prison, and they’ll also survey residents. Kewaunee County Board Chairman Robert Weidner tells the Green Bay Press Gazette there’s not much negativity so far but in his words, “We haven’t found too many who are anxious to have this facility in their backyard, either.”