April 17, 2014

Walker stops short of committing to full second term

walkerreportersGovernor Scott Walker doesn’t appear to be committing to serve his full term if reelected. In Madison on Wednesday, the Republican governor was asked whether he’ll commit to serving his full four-year term if he’s reelected this November.

“I’m committed to run for governor again. I ran four years ago because ultimately I saw that this state wasn’t headed in the right direction,” Walker said following remarks to the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

AUDIO: Governor Scott Walker :45

Walker is mentioned as potential candidate for president in 2016. “Between now and November 4th I’m going to talk about what I plan on doing in the next term, and stay focused on that” said Walker, who formally launched his campaign for reelection this week. “I love being governor, and I’m committed to being a good governor going forward.”

Walker faces Democrat Mary Burke, a former Trek Bicycle executive and state commerce secretary, in November.


Winter storm will bring more snow to north

The official start of spring was nearly a month ago, but you’d never know it in northwestern Wisconsin, as another round of heavy snow descends on the region. The National Weather service forecasts that a system which moved in the region overnight will bring snow Wednesday, with areas of blowing snow after midmorning. The snow could be heavy at times, with  accumulation of up to 10 to 15 inches possible in some locations. Easterly winds will increase to 20 to 25 mph by afternoon, with gusts as high as 40 mph making for reduced visibility and hazardous travel conditions.

It’s a virtual replay of a storm that dump a foot or more in parts of far northern Wisconsin just a couple of weeks ago, on the heels of the coldest and snowiest winters on record. “Many areas were in the 50s and even 60s last week,” said Melody Lovin, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Duluth.  ”A lot of people don’t want to believe what’s in the forecast, and I can certainly understand that.”

A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect from 10:00 a.m. Wednesday until 10:00 a.m. Thursday for Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Washburn, Sawyer and Price Counties. Cities in the storm’s path include Superior, Ashland, Hayward and Phillips.


Burke responds to Walker campaign launch

Governor Scott Walker launched his reelection campaign on Tuesday, and his Democratic opponent says she can do better. With the Republican incumbent falling well short of his original pledge to create 250,000 new jobs, former commerce secretary and Trek bicycle executive Mary Burke said the state is falling behind.

“Wisconsin we know is 35th in job creation in the U.S., and out of 10 midwestern states we’re ninth,” Burke said. “Worse yet is we’re near the bottom in terms of new business startups.” Burke said Walker’s “game plan has failed,” and she’ll improve access to capital investment to help existing businesses grow, and provide support for small businesses.

She said she’ll also deliver a less partisan message than Walker. “It does not have to be the type of partisan, divisive environment that Governor Walker has created,” she said. “The people of Wisconsin believe that we do our best work when we come together, and that’s the type of governor I’m going to be.”

Burke said she’s the only one in the race with actual business experience – pointing out that Walker has been a career politician.


Many motorcyclists lack proper license

Hundreds of motorcyclists killed on Wisconsin roadways over the years have not had a valid license. A review by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finds over ten years, about a third motorcycle fatalities in the state involved operators who had not completed the safety training or skills test necessary to receive a valid motorcycle license.

“I’m not really surprised, but part of the reason is that every year I go to a meeting to see what the updates are and where the numbers crunch, so as a ten-year average it’s not a big surprise,” said Jason Herheim, who directs the motorcycle safety program at Madison College.

Herheim advises all riders to take a safety course. “Even if you’ve been a motorcyclist for 20 or 30 years, and you’re an active motorcyclist, it’s a wise idea to get your skills tuned up . . . just like you should with your equipment,” he said. “It could save your life.”

State Department of Transportation records show that two of the worst years were 2007 and 2012, when 47 and 43 percent of motorcyclist fatalities were riders who did not have a valid cycle license.


“Being a responsible road user, it seems to be to my benefit, to my family’s benefit, that the person who’s riding a motorcycle next to them has a clue, so that person is at least shown basic control skills,” Herheim said.


Baldwin seeks action on emergency unemployment insurance

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

A bill extending emergency unemployment compensation awaits consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate sent a five-month extension of unemployment insurance benefits to the House last week. It’s a worthwhile investment, in the view of Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat.

“These are not only investments for the families that are affected by long term unemployment, they’re investments in community,” Baldwin said. “If you think about it, nobody who’s getting unemployment benefits is putting that in their savings account. They have no other income.”

The bill appears to face an uncertain future at best in the Republican controlled House, where Speaker John Boehner has said it’s up to the White House to figure out how to pay for it. Baldwin said the bill is needed in part because of the feeble recovery. “There are people working really hard to find work, really hard, and no matter what they do they won’t be able to secure it, because we’re lagging behind in terms of jobs.”

It’s unlikely that the House will address the issue until Congress returns from its two-week Easter recess on April 28. If the House changed the Senate bill, the Senate would have to vote on it again.