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March 3, 2015

Internet users unlikely to notice impact of FCC rules

File photo: WRN

File photo: WRN

One expert says new rules on net neutrality will make sure content providers have equal access to the Internet, although regular customers are not likely to notice much of a difference in how they access information and entertainment online.

The Federal Communications Commission this week adopted standards that will treat the Internet like a public utility. UW-Madison telecommunications expert Barry Orton says the move keeps service providers from discriminating against certain content by creating “fast lanes” for those who pay to have their content reach customers faster. The rules are intended to prevent a scenario where start-ups and smaller companies have a difficult time being able to compete against more established businesses that can afford to pay for faster speeds.

For the most part, Orton says the FCC protected the status quo for much of the Internet currently operates. He says customers should see the same service they have always been getting, whether it’s “bad or good.”

Opponents argue the new rules will limit investment and innovation in Internet technologies. Legal challenges of the FCC’s decision are expected.

WHBY

Senator Johnson threatens subpoena over Tomah VA investigation

Tomah VA

Tomah VA

Senator Ron Johnson is threatening to subpoena an investigation file into the issues at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center if the VA won’t turn the files over.

Johnson is giving Acting VA Inspector General Richard Griffin until 5pm this afternoon to turn over the document. In a letter obtained by Gannett, Johnson says that Griffin has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

A spokesperson for the VA says federal law prohibits them from turning over the file, because it contains personal medical records of veterans. She also says that talks with the Justice Department have confirmed their decision to hold the records.

Johnson launched a special investigation into the Tomah Center after a report that the facility was over-prescribing opiate painkillers for several years was released.

WSAU

Deer Trustee Report rules package sent to legislature for approval

Whitetail deer in central Wisconsin (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Whitetail deer in central Wisconsin (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

The Natural Resources Board has sent a number of administrative rules adjustments about the annual deer hunt on to the governor’s office and the legislature for approval.

The annual Deer Trustee Report was approved earlier this week, and along with new deer management goals, the package will be putting new and revised administrative rules in place. DNR regulations specialist Scott Loomans says the process is slightly different than introducing a bill. “First we’ll get the Governor’s signature, and then we can send it over to the Legislature, and they will refer it to standing natural resources committees in each house, in the Senate and the Assembly.”

Included in the package are permanent annual rules for how the deer hunt will work. “We’ll have a continuous archery season, a nine day firearms season, a ten day muzzleloader season after the firearms season. One new feature, or slightly different, is that the four-day December antlerless deer only firearms season would be held statewide.” Loomans says that will include formalizing the crossbow hunt, which was an emergency rule last year. “So now we’re wrapping this into the permanent rule package and, again, for for 2015 the crossbow season will be the same as 2014. And if everything goes smoothly, which is sounds like it has been, that will be the season framework going into the future as well.”

The package will also set the Deer Management Assistance Program into state code, and formalize the new County Deer Advisory Councils which are responsible for recommending population goals across the state.

WSAU

DNR board approves certain harvest goals

(PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

(PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

The Natural Resources Board has approved a county by county recommendation on deer population goals. Those goals were set and requested by the County Deer Advisory Councils, a product of the Deer Trustee Report.

DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang says each county was tasked to investigate and decide their goals for the deer harvest over the next several years. “They were going to produce a deer population objective for their county that would be used to help guide deer management decisions over the next few years. The Board looked at all of those and approved every single one of the recommendations by the individual counties.”

Wallenfang says the goals shouldn’t surprise most hunters. Counties to the north have been hurting for lack of deer and requested fewer tags. “The counties that fall within those forested regions have asked to increase their deer population. That is understandable, those are the areas that tend to have poorer deer habitat and they are hit hardest by winter.”

Counties in central and southern Wisconsin are asking for more tags. “In the rest of the state, in the farmland region, where we have a much more productive deer populations, they have asked to maintain their populations and even in some cases to decrease their numbers.”

The requests and goals will be reviewed each year over the next three years. The Councils will reconvene again in March to go over antlerless tags and send more recommendations to the Board for their May meeting.

WSAU, Raymond Neupert

Town hall meeting scheduled at Tomah VA

Tomah VA

Tomah VA

The Veterans Administration has scheduled a town hall style meeting in Tomah to discuss recent care and over-medication issues.

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs lead investigator and Tomah staff plan to hear what patients, their families, and the general public have to say about the treatment they’ve received. This meeting is through the VA. Another meeting will be scheduled soon by the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee. That Congressional committee has also agreed to come to Tomah for a rare field hearing, but the date has not been set yet.

The VA is planning similar town hall meetings at VA facilities around the country. This meeting is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. Thursday, March 12th in the Tomah VA Medical Center hospital chapel.

WSAU