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February 12, 2016

Wisconsin joins other states in asking Supreme Court to block carbon rules

Oak Creek Power Plant (Photo: We Energies)Wisconsin has joined other coal-producing and consuming states in asking the US Supreme Court to block President Obama’s new rules to fight climate change.

The 29 states included in the filing are asking the high court for an emergency stay to block the EPA’s new policies. The move follows a federal appeals court refusing to issue such an order.

In a petition to Chief Justice John Roberts, the states argue the EPA would exceed its authority by enforcing the new mandate, which calls for power plants to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030 based on 2005 levels. The Wisconsin Department of Justice has argued the rule would force the state to slash emissions by nearly 41 percent, since it relies heavily on coal-fired power plants for electricity.

Supports of the emissions standards argue there would irreparable harm to the environment if carbon emissions are not slashed.

Shooter found in death of deer hunter

A person involved in the fatal shooting of a hunter near Redgranite has been found. Gregory Welk of Mount Morris was shot just before sunset Monday while he hunted on his land. The 56-year-old was able to call 911 and gave investigators some information before he died at the hospital.

Sheriff Jeff Nett said Department of Natural Resources wardens have located an individual involved in the shooting, and investigators are not looking for anyone else.  No additional information will be released until the sheriff’s department and DNR finish their investigations. The shooting has been considered an accident.

WTAQ

Wisconsin lawmakers honor Mike Leckrone (VIDEO)

The state Assembly took some time on Tuesday to honor the man who’s directed the Badger Band since 1969.

“I can’t really express in words how thrilled I am, and how honored I am to be here today,” Mike Leckrone said.

And a tip of his band cap to lawmakers who managed to come together on something.

“Perhaps my greatest achievement today is the fact that I was able to get Democrats and Republicans voting on the same proposal,” Leckrone said.

He credited his wife, and “band members past and present” for his success. Band members performed “On Wisconsin” and “Varsity.”

Assembly set to take up campaign finance overhaul

Republican-authored legislation to overhaul state campaign finance laws could potentially usher in an era of corruption in Wisconsin, according to Democrats who held a press conference at the Capitol to highlight their concerns. As the Republican-controlled state Assembly takes up three contentious bills this week, Jay Heck of Common Cause said it will benefit GOP leadership.

The bills dismantle the Government Accountability Board, restrict John Doe probes into misconduct by elected officials, and rewrite Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws. That measure would, among other things, lift restrictions on candidates coordinating with outside issue advocacy groups. Heck maintains that will give leadership even more leverage over rank-and-file lawmakers.

“With unlimited money now at their disposal, their power will be absolute and dictatorial,” Heck said on Monday. “The real concern here is the legalization of coordination, which had been prohibited up until the Supreme Court decision in July.”

The campaign finance bill would also double contribution limits to candidates, require more frequent filing of finance reports, and make clarifications on corporate contributions to political parties and committees. It’s moved quickly through the legislative process, having been introduced just two weeks ago.

In introducing the measure, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said that it includes several rewrites that the courts have called for. Vos noted that the U.S. Court of Appeals found “Wisconsin’s foundational campaign finance law is in serious need of legislative attention” and that the specific provisions have not had a major revision since the law was created in 1973.

Representative Chris Taylor (D-Madison) warned about the lifting of restrictions on candidates coordinating with outside issue advocacy groups. “It’s a free for all of secret campaign cash in our elections,” she said.

All three bills are also expected to pass through the Republican-controlled state Senate and head to Governor Scott Walker for his signature.

City moves to fire top Beloit police officials

Jacobs, Dunkin

Jacobs, Dunkin

Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther has formally announced that she’s seeking the termination of the City’s top two cops. Curtis Luther announced at a news conference on Tuesday that she is filing 14 charges against Police Chief Norm Jacobs and 10 charges against Deputy Chief Tom Dunkin, with the Police and Fire Commission.

Charges against the two men stem from two independent investigations, and are being filed with the city’s Police and Fire Commission.

The charges listed against Jacobs include:
— Failure to perform job duties in a competent manner.
— Attempting to hire an unqualified candidate with a felony record.
— Violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
— Lack of responsiveness to a citizen complaint.
— Mismanagement of evidence and the property room.
— Failure to ensure department compliance with strip-search statute and to update and ensure compliance with strip-search policy.
— Failure to qualify with a firearm.
— Release of gambling funds in violation of policy.
— Failure to have a criminal intelligence-sharing policy or practice, as required by federal regulations
— Failure to document an internal affairs complaint

Charges against Dunkin include:
— Failure to perform job duties in a competent manner.
— Attempting to hire an unqualified candidate with a felony record.
— Lack of responsiveness to a citizen complaint.
— Mismanagement of evidence and the property room.
— Failure to qualify with a firearm.
— Failure to have a criminal intelligence-sharing policy or practice, as required by federal regulations
— Failure to properly maintain internal affairs files.

The attorneys for the two long time police professionals say both men plan to fight the politically motivated charges. The city posted documents related to its investigations on its website Tuesday. Jacobs and Dunkin have been on paid administrative leave since June, when City officials received an independent firm’s assessment of the department.

WCLO