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home : news : state news May 24, 2016

Walker signs bill reforming MFL program into law
Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill into law Thursday that one of its authors says will make the Managed Forest Law (MFL) program more user friendly and easier to administer. (subscriber access)
Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Overtime rule sparks intense political fight
The Obama administration's fast-tracking of a new overtime rule has set off a raging political fight both in Washington and in the states, with a group of U.S. senators introducing a bill to nullify it and business and liberal groups in Wisconsin staking out fierce positions.

The proposed rule was thrust into the political fray as well. Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson joined the nullification effort on the federal level, while his November challenger, former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, called the rule "overdue." (subscriber access)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

DPI: '50 Shades' incident did not meet state's definition of immoral behavior
According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Mercer teacher and volleyball coach Robyn Schoeneman did not cross the state's threshold for immoral conduct when she rented the R-rated film "50 Shades of Grey" for a group of underage students on a road trip to an Oconto Falls tournament in August 2015. (subscriber access)
Friday, May 20, 2016

Lee Lech accused of violent sexual assault
In records released by the Oneida County Sheriff's Office, former deputy Lee Lech was accused by a co-worker in 2014 of violent sexual assault, an allegation leading to his ban from the department and ultimate resignation.

Lech is now a deputy in Clark County. (subscriber access)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Area providers discuss statewide broadband expansion
National and local broadband providers met May 13 in Antigo to discuss efforts to increase Internet connectivity in the Northwoods. In particular, the providers discussed the impact of the Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF2), as well as the state-provided Broadband Initiative Grants recently expanded by Gov. Scott Walker. (subscriber access)
Friday, May 20, 2016

Eliason attorneys move to dismiss criminal charges
Attorneys for two St. Germain businessmen charged with 10 counts of securities fraud filed a joint motion in Vilas County Circuit Court Monday asking the court to dismiss all charges against their clients.

In their motion, defense attorneys Stephen Kravit and Dean Strang argue the criminal securities fraud statute is void because it is unconstitutionally vague. (subscriber access)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Judge: Eliason legal advisor appears to be target of DFI probe
A hearing scheduled for May 13 on a motion to quash a subpoena issued to the lawyer who provided legal advice to two St. Germain businessmen accused of securities fraud was canceled when Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese recused herself from the case, according to court records. (subscriber access)
Friday, May 20, 2016

Federal regulations impact Wisconsin less
The impact of federal regulations on the Badger state is less than on most other states, a new analysis shows, but the burden of federal rules has nonetheless been growing over the years.

The study, from Patrick A. McLaughlin and Oliver Sherouse at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, ranks each of the states and the District of Columbia according to how federal regulations affect each state's economy. (subscriber access)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Feingold visits Rhinelander as part of 72 county campaign tour
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson's opponent in the 2016 election, former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, was in Rhinelander Saturday.

He served in the senate from 1993 to 2011, when he was defeated by Johnson in a re-election bid.

In early 2015, Feingold announced he was running again for the Senate seat and will face off against Johnson this November.

While in Rhinelander, Feingold toured the downtown area, which is undergoing a massive street reconstruction project. (subscriber access)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Michalsen announces candidacy
Matt Michalsen, a teacher and coach at Lakeland Union High School as well as a Lake Tomahawk town supervisor, is the most recent Democrat to announce his candidacy to oppose incumbent Republican Rob Swearingen in this November's election for state assembly. Michalsen was given the floor briefly at the start of Tuesday's Minocqua Town Board meeting. Earlier this week, Eagle River Democrat Lawrence Dale also announced his candidacy for the 34th District seat.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Attorney General Schimel's opinion slams door on agencies' implied authority
In a move that will likely have major consequences for Wisconsin's administrative state, attorney general Brad Schimel said this week DNR officials have no 'implied' authority to regulate high-capacity wells in the state. (subscriber access)
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Justices open door to fresh assault on CCAP
The Wisconsin Supreme Court voted 5-2 last week to dismiss a rules petition filed by the State Bar of Wisconsin in 2009, paving the way for a new attempt to cull and expunge records from the state's online circuit court public database.

The vote took place in an open rules conference, according to an alert from the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. (subscriber access)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Court hands down mixed verdict on open records
Some police agencies have been using a federal law to justify the redaction of identifying driver information from accident reports, but a state court of appeals struck down that reasoning this week.

The Driver's Privacy Protection Act does not mandate redaction of drivers' information, the court stated in a long-litigated decision. However, in a mixed verdict, the court said police might have to redact such information in other reports, such as incident reports, if the information source is the Department of Motor Vehicles. (subscriber access)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Group sues Obama over transparency
A national nonprofit organization focused on transparency and accountability in federal agencies has sued the Obama administration to end what it calls the Obama administration's practice of delaying government responses to Freedom of Information Act requests that the administration considers politically sensitive or embarrassing.

The Cause of Action Institute filed the lawsuit against 11 federal agencies, plus the Office of the White House Counsel and White House counsel Neil Eggleston. (subscriber access)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Enough is enough: Legislators to hold Great Lakes Wolf Summit in September
State Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) and Representative Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) announce plans to host Great Lakes Wolf Summit:

"Last week's wolf depredation in Shawano County showcases the unfortunate results of the wolf population being allowed to run rampant in Wisconsin. When combined with 14 previous confirmed wolf depredation events this year, it clearly demonstrates the need for state-led management practices to be implemented in our state.

Friday, May 13, 2016

USGS survey equipment leaves some residents puzzled
Lakeland Area residents have in recent weeks reported strange sightings of helicopters flying overhead outfitted with large nets.

One man, who owns a cabin on Brandy Lake, saw what he called a "150- to 200-foot tall fish basket" being pulled by a helicopter around 4 p.m. on Friday, April 22 - which isn't too outlandish of a claim considering the Northwoods' affinity for larger-than-life mascots such as Mercer's loon, Woodruff's penny, etc. (subscriber access)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Professor sues Marquette over suspension
In what could be a landmark free speech case in Wisconsin, Marquette University professor John McAdams has filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County against the university, accusing officials of illegally suspending him in 2014 and subsequently moving to terminate his tenure and fire him.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed the suit on McAdams's behalf. (subscriber access)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Michael Mann: Energy markets moving toward renewables
note: The other side of the climate change debate, an interview with Sterling Burnett of Heartland Institute, will be published in Friday's edition of the Lakeland Times.

The United States is well on its way to an energy economy based on renewables rather than fossil fuels, but it's not quite fast enough to avoid significant climate-change consequences, and so a price or tax on the burning of carbon is justified, and also doable in a market framework, according to climate scientist Michael Mann. (subscriber access)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Questions remain in fatal Iron County fire
No developments have been reported in the investigation of a Kimball woman's death, related to a suspicious fire on March 12 that destroyed the Bear Trap Inn in Saxon.

The Iron County Sheriff's Department confirmed the body of Lisa Waldros, 52, was found in the rubble of the building.

Waldros was a bartender at the business, and questions have arisen as to why she was unable to escape the fire in the one-story building. (subscriber access)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Johnson kicks off re-election campaign with Rhinelander roundtable
Increasing broadband coverage in the Northwoods was one of several topics discussed Monday when U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) stopped at the Quality Inn in Rhinelander for a rural business roundtable.

The roundtable kicked off with State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst), who was accompanying Johnson, providing an explanation as to why the event was starting a few minutes late. He said the two were delayed south of Laona where they were examining forestry operations. He characterized the Laona operation as a success story related to the Good Neighbor Authority and Stewardship program at the Nicolet National Forest. (subscriber access)

Friday, May 6, 2016

New overtime rule is on the D.C. fast track
Last summer the federal Department of Labor proposed significant changes to the Fair Labor Standard Act's overtime pay requirements, and now the Obama administration is putting the new regulation on a fast track to be finalized, possibly within the next 10 days.

The regulations set out criteria that determine whether a white-collar employee will be classified as exempt from being paid overtime. The rule change would increase the salary threshold by 113 percent to $970 per week, or $50,440 a year, from the current $23,660 a year. (subscriber access)

Friday, May 6, 2016

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