October 5, 2015

Republicans plan to introduce GAB overhaul next week

(File photo: WRN)

(File photo: WRN)

Legislative leaders say they have finalized the details of a bill that will overhaul the agency in charge of Wisconsin’s elections and ethics laws. The proposal, sparked by claims of partisanship at the current Government Accountability Board, will not be introduced until next week though.

Spokeswomen for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) both said Wednesday that leadership met this morning to “iron out” the final details of the proposal. They currently plan to introduce the measure sometime next week.

Details of the plan have not been made available, although Vos has previously said he wants major changes in the way the agency operates. The Rochester Republican and others have also indicated they want to get rid of current GAB executive director Kevin Kennedy.

Kennedy has continued to defend the agency, noting after an audit was released in August that the GAB should be left intact. “When you’re talking about dealing with highly charged and politically sensitive, you want someone who’s removed from politics and the influence. Someone who’s not looking over their shoulder wondering who’s going be second guessing your decisions,” Kennedy said at the time.

Kenosha man charged with killing estranged wife

PHOTO: Gurnee PD

PHOTO: Gurnee PD

Bond has been set at $3 million for a Kenosha man accused of the murder of his estranged wife in Gurnee, Illinois over the weekend. Forty-three-year-old David Brocksom appeared in Lake County Court Tuesday morning to face a charge of first degree murder. Beata Brocksom, 48, was found dead outside her home early Sunday.

According to the Lake County News-Sun, investigators allege David Brocksom drove to Gurnee from Wisconsin Dells, where he had left his two children in a hotel. When he arrived at his wife’s home, they argued. Brocksom claimed his wife knocked him out, was standing over him with a gun when he came to, and was shot during a struggle over the weapon. He then texted his girlfriend, asking her to get his children, then went to his mother’s home in Kenosha to clean up.

Brocksom was arrested Sunday evening as he drove into the Gurnee Police Department parking lot. His next scheduled court appearance is Friday.


Egg shortage leads to higher grocery prices

File photo: DACTP

File photo: DACTP

Months after the last case was reported, the effects of avian influenza continue to be felt in Wisconsin.

Grocery prices in the state are up 2.7 percent from a year ago, according to a report from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. The organization said a main reason for that is a shortage of eggs, which is the result of numerous farms having to destroy their chickens after the flu virus was detected in the spring.

The prices of a dozen eggs jumped 72 percent, climbing to almost $3. Overall, the Federation’s Market Basket survey of 16 common food items in 26 cities was up $1.41, to $53.37. The total cost in Wisconsin is about 1.4 percent below the Farm Bureau’s national survey.


House approves Duffy bill blocking Planned Parenthood funding (VIDEO)

Wisconsin and other states could block Medicaid funds to abortion providers, under a bill from U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) that won approval in the House of Representative on Tuesday. The bill, which passed on a nearly party-line 236-193 vote, would grant states the authority to prevent Medicaid funding from going to providers such as Planned Parenthood.

The legislation comes in response to controversial videos from an anti-abortion group, which claim to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvest and sale of tissue from aborted fetuses. The provider argues the videos were heavily edited to distort the fact, and has denied that it sells any tissue collected from abortions. Still, the videos have prompted a wave of efforts nationwide by Republicans to removed any federal funding it receives.

Duffy called it “asinine” that federal tax dollars would go to any insitution that “harvests baby body parts for sale.” He argued that “Some states want to refuse this tainted money being used by an awful organization that profits from selling aborted children’s organs, but the Medicaid law and CMS is forcing them to fund abortion providers against the state legislature’s wishes.”

Current Medicaid law doesn’t allow the states to block the funding in most cases. Duffy said the bill makes abortion providers not fall under the “free choice of qualified provider” provision, so excluding abortion providers from Medicaid funding would not count as “limiting healthcare options”, which is not allowed under Medicaid.

Critics contend defunding the organization could prevent millions of women from being able to access basic reproductive health care services. Speaking on the House floor Tuesday, Duffy argued that “Health care doesn’t mean Planned Parenthood, and Planned Parenthood doesn’t mean women’s health care. You talk about defunding women’s health care?  There is no less money. There is the same amount of money that goes to women’s health care. That’s a false argument.”

In Wisconsin, the state Assembly has voted to stop giving federal Title X funds to Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers are also considering a ban on using any tissue from fetuses aborted after January first for medical research.

WSAU contributed to this report.

DOT: motorists moving warning signs on St. Croix Crossing project



Impatient drivers appear to be causing problems where a new four-lane bridge is being built over the Saint Croix River between Wisconsin and Minnesota. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, warning signs and barricades have been moved, where workers are preparing for two roads that align to the bridge crossing.

DOT spokeswoman Chris Ouellette said moving and driving around barricades not only creates danger for motorists and workers – it’s also delaying next year’s completion of the project. “The sooner we can complete this work the better, but if we have to stop to talk to motorists to get them out of our project site, or if we have to get law enforement involved, it just delays the work that much more,” Ouellette said.

Last month, a Minnesota man died when he drove a motorcycle through barricades at the bridge site, and slammed into a piece of equipment. The website for the Saint Croix project warns sight-seers to stay away from construction zones – especially this fall, when hundreds of crew members and vehicles navigate smaller building sites.