January 30, 2015

Wisconsin pediatric flu deaths climb to five

The state Department of Health Services says five children have died this flu season.

According to a weekly report released by the agency, three more children have died as a result of complications due to the illness. That brings the total for the state this flu season to five pediatric deaths, the second highest in the nation. Only Texas has had more, with seven.
Nationwide, there have been 56 pediatric deaths tied to the flu this season.

Since October 4, there have been 3,437 hospitalizations in the state from the flu. Of those, 387 people were admitted to intensive care. Officials say this year’s flu vaccine has not been a good match for the predominant flu strain, although they are still urging people to get vaccinated because some protection is better than none.

Senators Baldwin, Johnson split votes on Keystone XL oil pipeline

U.S. Capitol building (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

U.S. Capitol building (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

Wisconsin’s two US Senators remain divided on whether to allow the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline to move forward. The two lawmakers were on opposite sides of Thursday 62-36 vote in the Senate.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), who voted with the majority, said “the pipeline is part of ensuring that the private sector’s success in finding new sources of energy in North America will continue.”

He also noted that President Obama’s own State Department found the Keystone to be the most environmentally-friendly method of moving Canadian oil, so there’s no good reason for to keep blocking the project.

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) was among Democrats who pushed for several amendments to the bill, which were ultimately rejected. In a statement, she said “Republicans rejected efforts I supported to ease this burden and ensure the American economy and consumers would benefit from the pipeline if it were built, while protecting our communities from dirty tar sands oil.”

Baldwin also argued that a decision on the pipeline should come from the Obama administration, and she urged the president to act “without further delay.”

Menominee Tribe ‘exploring options’ on Kenosha casino

Members of the Menominee Tribe are joined by other Kenosha casino supporters (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

Members of the Menominee Tribe are joined by other Kenosha casino supporters (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

An official with the Menominee Indian Tribe says they are still considering their next move, following Governor Walker’s decision to reject their Kenosha casino proposal.

The tribe is joining with southeastern Wisconsin lawmakers in calling on the governor to reconsider the decision, which they argue there’s still time to do before a February 19th Bureau of Indian Affairs deadline. If he does not, Menominee Tribe Vice Chair Crystal Chapman-Chevalier says they are continuing to “look at any legal options we have available to us.”

Following a press conference at the Capitol Thursday, Chapman-Chevalier would not say if that could include a lawsuit or even submitting a new casino proposal. She said the tribe continues to work with their partners at Hard Rock International to evaluate the future of the over $800 million development and are “hoping that this will come to a positive resolution.”

The governor has insisted that his decision became final when he notified the Bureau of Indian Affairs last week that he was rejecting the proposal. Chapman-Chevalier argued that the federal government has the final word though, and they want Walker to take some extra time to reconsider.

Governor Walker to attend Southern Republican Leadership Conference


Gov. Scott Walker

As he continues to explore a potential White House bid in 2016, Governor Scott Walker is adding another visit to a Republican state to his calendar this spring.

Officials with the Oklahoma Republican Party announced Wednesday that Walker will attend the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this coming May. The group says Walker is the fifth national Republican leader and potential presidential candidate to confirm they will attend the conference. He will join a list that includes Sen. Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.
The event takes place May 21-23 in Oklahoma City.

The stop is one of several visits Walker has scheduled this spring, as he tries to gauge how his message is resonating across the country. The governor spoke at a conservative rally in Iowa this past weekend, and plans to attend an event in New Hampshire this March.

Lawmakers ask Walker to reconsider Kenosha casino decision

Artist's rendering of the Kenosha casino project.

Artist’s rendering of the Kenosha casino project.

A bipartisan group of southeastern Wisconsin lawmakers is asking Governor Scott Walker to take another look at his decision to reject a proposed Kenosha casino.

Walker rejected the Menominee Tribe’s project last Friday, citing concerns about potential litigation and back-payments the state may owe the Forest County Potawatomi. However, State Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) believes the Menominee did all they could to protect the state from those issues, and argues that was not taken into account in the report the governor based his decision on. “It would seem to me that they’ve addressed that with their willingness to indemnify the state against that through bonding and whatever means are necessary,” Wanggaard argues.

The Racine Republican and nine other southeastern Wisconsin lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) sent a letter to Governor Walker this week, asking him to take another look at the proposal. Wanggaard says “we’re just asking him to take one more look at it…if his decision is no, then it’s no. We have to live with that and people will just have to get past that.”

Wanggaard says his office has been inundated with calls and emails since the decision came down, almost a month before the February 19th deadline set by federal officials. He says his constituents are upset about the loss of jobs and revenue the casino could have brought to the region.