Wisconsin roundup: Panel votes for Supreme Court to hear all Foxconn appeals; 7 more state news stories
Posted on Sep 6, 2017 at 10:25 a.m.
MADISON — The State Supreme Court would hear all appeals of cases involving Foxconn, as part of a $3 billion state incentive package for the high tech firm.
The Joint Finance Committee added the legal shortcut Tuesday on a 12-4 vote with all Democrats voting no — and they sent the package to the Senate for a vote as early as next week. Environmental groups are considering possible lawsuits against the state incentives, which would let Foxconn bypass state rules to protect things like wetlands.
Assembly Republican Mark Born of Beaver Dam says it would let both sides save money by letting the state's highest court hear their cases if they don't like a lower court's ruling — and finance chair John Nygren says the GOP is doing all it can to attract the $10 billion Foxconn plant with up to 13,000 jobs. But Assembly Democrat Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point says the GOP is "rigging the game" when there should be more state accountability.
Suspects sought after trucker is robbed at rest area
LOMIRA — Dodge County sheriff's deputies are asking for people's help in finding two men suspected of robbing a trucker in a bathroom stall at a rural rest area.
It happened late Monday night near Lomira in a state owned building off southbound Interstate 41. Sheriff Dale Schmidt says two men jumped above the wall of the bathroom stall, beat a 55-year-old truck driver from Titusville, Pennsylvania, and took cash from his pockets. The trucker's name was not immediately released, and the sheriff says he's recovering at a Milwaukee hospital from serious head injuries. The driver worked for Smith Transport, which would only say it's following the sheriff's investigation.
Walker seeks SBA loans for western Wis. flood victims
MADISON — Governor Scott Walker has taken another step to help western Wisconsin homes and businesses clean up their flood damage from July.
The governor has asked the U.S. Small Business Administration to inspect damage in La Crosse County where 37 homes and businesses were destroyed or had major damage — and Trempealeau County where 19 houses and companies suffered the same fate. If approved, those owners could get low interest SBA loans.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says the region did not have enough uninsured flood losses to approve direct grants for home and business owners. But Walker has asked FEMA to help to fix public amenities like roads and bridges — and he's still waiting to hear an answer to that request.
Panel moves delayed state budget forward with GOP road package
MADISON — The new state budget that's two months late has taken a big step forward, after the Legislature's finance panel OK’d a GOP road funding package.
The panel voted 12-4 late Tuesday night, with all Democrats voting no, to borrow $402 million for two years of highway projects — less than what was borrowed in previous budgets. The package also includes a new $75 annual fee for hybrid and electric vehicles, $25 less than first proposed — and it would keep delaying major projects including the large expansions of Interstate 94 across Milwaukee and the north leg of the Zoo freeway interchange.
It also continues a study of possible tollways, a cut of 200 jobs in the state DOT, and ending local authority to regulate quarries. The package ends a long dispute on road funding among majority Republicans, and the finance panel expects to set the rest of the budget Wednesday before it goes to both houses.
USDA: Corn, soybeans still late but scattered harvests begin
MADISON — Wisconsin's corn and soybean crops are still behind schedule, but the USDA says scattered corn has reached maturity and is being harvested for animal feed.
The Wisconsin Ag Statistics Service says most of the corn crop is two to six days behind its maturity schedules and 72 percent of it is rated good to excellent — 3 percent more than the previous week. Ninety-five percent of the soybeans have set pods, three days behind the norm. Seventy-five percent of the beans are good to excellent, two points higher than the week before. Eighty-six percent of Wisconsin's oats for grain have been harvested, more than one week later than usual — and the potato harvest remains ahead of normal with 35 percent completed.
Clarke joins pro-Trump super PAC
Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says he'll use his new job to help candidates who support Donald Trump's agenda get elected.
Clarke was named Tuesday as a senior adviser and spokesman for the super PAC fundraising group America First Action. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski took a similar job with the same group in August.
The Washington news website Politico said last week that Clarke would take a job in the Trump administration, but that proved to be wrong after he was passed up earlier this year for a post in Trump's Homeland Security agency. Besides helping candidates get elected, Clarke says he'll make sure that in his words, "the will of the American people is not derailed by the left or the self serving Washington establishment."
Jackson County DA Fox dies
BLACK RIVER FALLS — The chief prosecutor in Black River Falls has died.
Jackson County District Attorney Gerald Fox collapsed on Labor Day at a sport shooting event in nearby Eau Claire County. The official cause of his death is not yet known.
The 56-year-old Fox was first elected in 2006 and was re-elected three times. He was recently nominated but not appointed to a vacant U.S. Attorney's post for the western half of Wisconsin. Jackson County Sheriff Duane Waldera says Fox took on major cases and did well for county residents. Assistant DA Melissa Inlow will be the acting DA until Gov. Scott Walker appoints a replacement.
Emerald ash borer found in 5 more counties
MADISON — State agriculture officials say the tree killing emerald ash borer has been found in five more counties, bringing the statewide total to 46.
A homeowner discovered the green beetle on private land where trees were dying. The insect was also found in traps set up by the state at three locations in Marinette County, two spots in Green Lake County, and one each in Waupaca and Waushara counties.
Brian Kuhn of the state Ag Department says the emerald ash borer now covers all counties in the southern two thirds of the state, with a "checkerboard" of quarantined counties in the state. The quarantine means that people cannot take firewood to counties without quarantines, and businesses in those area must certify that their wood products are EAB free before they can be shipped.