April 24, 2014

Update for ag tourism

Farmers who want to become involved with agricultural tourism will have some liability protections under a bill signed by Governor Walker. According to Steve Peterson, President of the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association, those visiting a farm will accept the risk of injury.

“The risk is all on the people that come on the property,” he said. “There’s going to be compliance signs will be put at every entrance.”

While visitors will be assuming the risk of injury, Peterson says farmers that intentionally or neglect their operations could still be held liable if a visitor is injured. “This is bill is not a blaket where nobody is going to sue you. You still have to have a safe farm for people to come on.”

Peterson is encouraging all farmers to purchase compliance signs from the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association.



Walker signs bill on police custody deaths

Governor Scott Walker has signed into law a bill requiring outside investigators to take the lead on deaths involving law enforcement officers. The new law requires a team of at least two investigators from an outside agency to lead reviews of such deaths. It also requires reports of custody death investigations throughout the state to be publicly released if criminal charges are not filed against the officers involved. The law makes Wisconsin the first in the nation to require an independent investigation of officer-involved deaths.

The bill’s authors, state Representative Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay) and Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) were joined at the Milwaukee signing ceremony by family members of the deceased, law enforcement, and community advocates who worked together on language for the bill.

“There has always been agreement that if the initial investigation isn’t handled correctly everything spirals downhill from there,” said Bies. “The public begins to lose trust in police-officers and that leaves our officers in harm’s way. An independent investigation process allows all parties involved to move forward with some peace of mind.”

The bill was prompted by the deaths of Paul Heenan, fatally shot by a Madison police officer outside his home last year, Derek Williams, who died after begging for help and gasping for breath in the back of a Milwaukee police squad car in 2011, and Michael Bell, shot in the head at close range by Kenosha police in his family’s driveway in 2004. All three men were unarmed.

Leibham and Harris enter race for 6th CD

There are two more candidates in the race to succeed retiring 6th District congressman Tom Petri. State Senator Joe Leibham, a Sheboygan Republican, made his official announcement Tuesday. And Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris is the first Democrat to enter the race, telling the Oshkosh Northwestern that he’ll run.

Leibham, 43, was first elected to the state Senate in 2002 following a term in the Assembly. He is the third Republican in the race. He’ll face a primary against fellow state Senator Glenn Grothman of West Bend and state Representative Duey Stroebel of Saukville. He made his announcement at his home in Sheboygan.

“The future of the nation we know and love is at risk and our federal government needs to be reformed. Just in the area of taxation alone, our national policies need to be reformed. Today, April 22, is Tax Freedom Day here in Wisconsin. What that means is that the average Wisconsin taxpayer has worked every day from Jan. 1 through today to pay off their tax burden. Tomorrow you finally get to keep the money you have worked hard to earn instead of sending it to the government.”

Harris, 58, would become the first Democrat to represent the district since Fond du Lac Democrat John Race defeated incumbent William Van Pelt in 1964. The district currently leans heavily Republican, but in an interview with Oshkosh Northwestern Media Harris said he’s a “fiscally conservative progressive,” who can bring together Democrats, moderate Republicans and centrists.



Roth will seek state Senate seat

A former Wisconsin lawmaker has officially announced he will seek the state Senate seat being vacated by Mike Ellis. Roger Roth issued this statement Monday:

“I am encouraged by the tremendous outpouring of support from my friends, family and neighbors across the Fox Valley and I know that I can once again be a strong voice in Madison. I have always believed that it is an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Wisconsin and I greatly look forward to doing my part as a citizen legislator to continue moving our great state forward.” 

Roth, who lost in a 2010 primary for the 8th Congressional District to eventual winner Reid Ribble (R-Shorewood), gave up his Appleton-area seat in the Wisconsin Assembly. The military veteran is the lone Republican to enter the 19th state Senate district race. Appleton’s Penny Bernard Schaber is the only Democrat that has announced a bid for that seat. Ellis chose not to seek re-election in the wake of an undercover video showed him making some controversial comments.


Walker announces Family Care expansion

A program that helps seniors and people with disabilities, stay in their homes is expanding. Governor Walker was in Green Bay Monday, to announce that Family Care will soon be offered in Brown, Shawano, Oconto, and four other northeast Wisconsin counties. He says the program not only helps people stay where they are most comfortable, but it also saves money, by keeping them out of nursing homes.

Walker says expanding the program to the remaining counties could save $34 million over the next decade. Family Care is already available in all but 15 counties. Governor Walker included funding in the current budget, to add them all to the program.