November 28, 2015

Feingold retains lead over Johnson in latest MU poll

russnrojo copyThe latest Marquette poll shows Democrat Russ Feingold continues to lead Senator Ron Johnson in their U.S. Senate election rematch. Marquette Law School Poll director Charles Franklin said the previous poll, released in September, found Feingold leading Johnson 50 percent to 36 percent.

“This time, it’s about the same, 49 to 38,” Franklin said Thursday. “Still an 11 point Feingold advantage right now.” The August Marquette poll had Feingold with a narrower 47 percent to 42 percent lead over Johnson. Franklin noted that just 55 percent of poll respondents were able to say if they have a favorable or unfavorable view of both Johnson and Feingold. “The Senate race is interesting because of the limitations,” Franklin said.

More than a third of poll respondents said they couldn’t say if they view Johnson, the Republican who defeated Feingold, favorably or not. “Senator Johnson has not become widely known in the state since we’ve been polling about him,” Franklin said. But he cautioned that the race is very far from decided.

“We are just under a year away from Election Day. This (poll) is the background, this is setting the stage for the race. Who knows what’s going to happen,” Franklin said. “I’m going to wait for the returns on election night.”

Kind joins Republicans on tighter checks for Syrian refugees

US Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)

US Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)

Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) was one of 47 Democrats who supported a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday, which would create new roadblocks to admitting Syrian refugees into the country.

Dubbed the “American SAFE Act of 2015,” the proposal would require more detailed background checks for refugees from nations where the Islamic extremist group ISIS is operating, including Syria and Iraq. That includes requiring federal intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies to work together to make sure those seeking entry into the U.S. do not pose a danger. If passed into law, it would effectively halt the admission of refugees while the new security policies are developed.

In a statement, Kind said “while the current process for Syrian refugees to enter the country is extensive, there are additional common sense actions we can take to make it more secure.”

Kind said “the legislation today strikes a good balance between protecting our national security while not implementing draconian policies that go against the values on which our country was founded. There are no provisions in the legislation that prohibit refugees from entering the US, it does not defund the refugee program or jeopardize our government funding, and it does not discriminate based on religious affiliation.”

Wisconsin’s two other Democratic members of Congress voted against the bill, while all Republicans voted for the measure. It now heads to the Senate, where its fate remains uncertain. The White House has already threatened a veto, although it did pass the House with a veto-proof 289-137 vote.

Zepnick pleads guilty to a 1st offense OWI

A State Representative has pleaded guilty to a 1st offense OWI. Milwaukee Democrat Josh Zepnick failed sobriety tests and refused to consent to a breath test after being pulled over on October 29th in suburban Greenfield. His guilty plea and sentence includes a fine, a license suspension, and after that he’ll have to breath into a sobriety tube to start his vehicle for the next year. The 47-year-old Zepnick says he’s now in treatment and attending Alcoholics anonymous.

Lawmakers take testimony on lifting nuclear moratorium

Lawmakers take testimony at the Capitol. (Photo: Andrew Becket)

Lawmakers take testimony at the Capitol. (Photo: Andrew Becket)

Advocates for nuclear energy called on lawmakers to lift a long-standing moratorium on building new power plants in the state, during a hearing held at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

The bill from state Representative Kevin Petersen (R-Waupaca) would remove a requirement that blocks the state from approving construction of new nuclear reactors unless a federal site exists to store the waste and it can be shown it would benefit ratepayers. The requirements were put in place in 1983, but Petersen told the committee that nuclear power has changed a great deal since then, with cleaner technology allowing spent fuel to often be reused in other facilities and reducing concerns about long-term storage. “Advanced nuclear energy is a clean, safe and affordable way to meet clean energy demands in Wisconsin, the United States, and around the world,” he said.

Lawmakers heard from a long line of industry experts, students, and construction companies during a nearly three-hour long hearing, with many arguing nuclear energy could help the state meet federal emissions standards and create new jobs. Public Service Commission member Mike Huebsch, who backed a similar bill when he was in the state Legislature, argued “the time has come for Wisconsin to enter the discussion of 21st nuclear power.”

While they did not testify during the hearing, Clean Wisconsin was among just a handful of those registering against the bill. The group’s Amber Meyer Smith said they feel the current nuclear moratorium is a common sense law that protects the environment and ratepayers, and argued the state should pursue cleaner and renewable technologies like wind and solar. She also countered claims that nuclear power is a zero emission and cheap technology, since uranium still has to be mined and the average cost per kilowatt hour is about 10 cents higher than wind or coal.

The state currently has two functioning nuclear reactors, located at the Point Beach facility in Two Rivers. Any proposed new power plant would still need state and federal approval.

Madison alders delay decision on MPD body cameras

The Madison city council has again delayed action on equipping police officers with body cameras. Alders heard a report Tuesday night from Jackie Bogess director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice, which conducted extensive interviews with the public. She said those yielded no consensus. “The most important thing to take from this, was there was no strong feeling or detailed argument in favor of police officers wearing body worn cameras,” Bogess said.

The study process began more than a year ago, and while body cameras may come into play down the road, the focus for now will be on building trust between the public and police. In Milwaukee, the Fire and Police Commission last month approved a plan for most police officers to wear body cameras at all times while on duty – though they will not be required to have the devices always activated.