Conservative Janesville area group alleges undue IRS scrutiny; Dalai Lama speaking to lawmakers, more state briefs
MADISON -- A Wisconsin conservative group believes it was among those targeted by the Internal Revenue Service.
The Rock River Patriots say they've applied twice in the last three years to get a tax-exempt designation and they've never gotten a reply.
The group's secretary-treasurer, Marv Munyon of Fort Atkinson, tells WISC TV in Madison that he's spent hours on the phone and online looking for answers. His only reply came in January when the IRS said the request needed to be assigned to a specialist for "further development."
President Obama and the nation's tax agency are under fire after an admission that IRS employees gave extra scrutiny to tax-exempt status requests from politically-conservative groups.
Obama said Monday it would be "outrageous" if the IRS was operating in anything less than a neutral and non-partisan way. But Munyon said groups were singled out if they had the words "Patriots" and "Tea Party" in their names so he believes his group was politically-targeted.
They could find out for sure later in the week, when the IRS Inspector General is due to release a full report on the agency's actions.
Dalai Lama, drunk-driving discussion on lawmakers' plate Tuesday
MADISON -- The Dalai Lama plans to speak to Wisconsin legislators Tuesday. A 45-minute address is scheduled in the Assembly chamber around 3 p.m.
Wisconsin residents can view the speech via the Wisconsin Eye channel on cable or online at the Wisconsin Eye Web site (see attached link).
The speech is part of a four-day visit to the Madison area for the spiritual leader of Tibet. He's also scheduled to meet privately with Gov. Scott Walker.
The Dalai Lama is to speak at a series of public programs in Madison Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, he'll meet with Tibetan college students from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois. The 77-year-old Dalai Lama had a routine checkup on Sunday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on Monday
Meanwhile, the Assembly was scheduled to vote Tuesday on restoring mandatory prison time for the biggest drunk driving offenders.
Judges would have to impose sentences of at least three years for seventh, eighth, and ninth-time OWI offenders.
A minimum four-year sentence would be required those convicted 10 times or more. Also, 30-day jail terms would be imposed for drivers causing injuries with blood alcohol levels from .04 to .08.
Mequon Republican Jim Ott authored the bill, after an appeals court gave judges the option of sending repeat drunk drivers to prison.
Also Tuesday, the Assembly planned to vote on a bill to let bars and liquor stores sue those under 21 who try to buy beer and hard liquor using fake identification.
Underage drinkers, or the parents or guardians of minors, would face penalties of up to $1,000 in small claims court. De Pere Republican Andre Jacque said he patterned the bill after a similar law in Alaska.
Unemployed would need to redouble job-hunt efforts under new provision
MADISON -- Wisconsin would be one of the toughest states in the nation to keep unemployment benefits, under a budget measure endorsed Monday.
Majority Republicans on the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted 12 to 4 to make those who receive state benefits look for new jobs four times a week instead of the current two. Only Florida and the Carolinas require that many searches.
Gov. Scott Walker's proposal would also require more than four weekly searches in certain cases.
Senate Republican Luther Olsen of Ripon calls it an "honest attempt to motivate people, if they're not motivated enough to look for a job." He denied that the goal is cut off benefits to those without work, as Democrats claimed.
The measure would reduce some of the $856 million the state planned to spend on unemployment benefits this year. It would also cut into the $1 billion the state must repay the federal government, after Washington helped keep the benefits going during the Great Recession.
All four Democrats on the finance panel voted against the job search requirement. Assembly Democrat Cory Mason of Racine said it would be foolish to assume that people are on unemployment because they're not looking for jobs.
Assembly voting on bill to keep state laws in place while on appeal
MADISON -- The Wisconsin Assembly was scheduled to vote Tuesday on a bill that would keep state laws in place while they're being appealed in the courts.
Last year, three Dane County circuit judges struck down the photo identification law for voting and parts of the 2011 union bargaining limits.
They remained struck down while the state appealed the judge's rulings and that angered Republicans who saw their voter ID law in place for only one election in the past two years.
They proposed a bill which allows attorneys to hold up the temporary blocking of state laws by filing appeals within 10 days.
If the Assembly passes the measure, it would go to the Senate. Also, the Assembly was set to vote Tuesday on a bill that bars employees of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation from negotiating contracts they have a financial stake in.
Greenfield Republican Jeff Stone proposed the ban, after a critical audit turned up a number of procedural problems in the state's job creation agency.
The Assembly also plans a vote to a bill to let landlords dispose of property that evicted tenants leave behind - and tenants would no longer have to be notified first.
Big rally planned to support farmer allegedly selling unpasteurized milk
BARABOO -- Hundreds of raw milk supporters from throughout the country are expected to converge on Baraboo next week for the trial of a dairy farmer charged with illegally selling unpasteurized milk.
Barring a last-minute plea deal, Vernon Hershberger of Loganville will face a week-long trial on four misdemeanor charges filed in late 2011.
They're for not having licenses for milk production, dairy plants, and a retail eatery - plus violating an order to hold food after a raid on his farm.
The state says raw milk is banned by law and that's why Hershberger is charged.
The defendant says there's no licensing requirement in existence for raw milk, and therefore it should be okay for him to sell it.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says national raw milk supporters have rented Baraboo's Al Ringling Theater. They plan to monitor the court case, and hold a rally that features 2004 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik.
Raw milk supporters insist that their product is safe, and it contains numerous health benefits.
State officials say raw milk contains bacteria that can cause food-borne diseases - and they say that even a small outbreak would threaten Wisconsin's world-famous dairy industry.
A final pre-trial hearing in the Hershberger case is set for Friday in Sauk County. Jury selection is set for next Monday. The trial is scheduled to run for a week.
Spring field work in high-gear this week
Warmer, drier weather for most of the week may help Wisconsin farmers hope they can make up for some of the time they lost with their spring planting.
Officials said only 14 percent of the state's corn crop was in the ground by Sunday night. That's 10 percent more than a week ago, but 32 percent less than the average for the past five years. Just one percent of the soybeans are planted, down from the normal 12 percent.
A little over one-third of the Wisconsin oat crop is in the ground while typically 75 percent of that crop has normally been planted by now.
Spring field work is 26 percent complete, up from 12 percent a week ago but still 37 percent below the norm.
Officials report a lot of alfalfa damage caused either by winter-kill or the drought. The winter wheat crop has also had considerable damage, especially in the central and southern parts of the state.
Soil moisture is 73- to 79 percent adequate, due to recent rains.
Scattered showers were forecast around the state Tuesday afternoon and evening. Highs in the 80's were expected Tuesday and in the 70's at least into Saturday.
Biden replies to Milwaukee youngster; we'd be 'safer if guns had chocolate bullets'
MILWAUKEE -- A seven-year-old Milwaukee boy says the nation would be safer if guns had chocolate bullets and Vice President Joe Biden agrees.
Biden sent a handwritten letter to Myles Nelson, after the second-grader at Milwaukee's Downtown Montessori Academy wrote to Biden, President Obama, and Congresswoman Gwen Moore last December.
It was right after the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. Myles told his school's reading specialist, Barbara Rankin, about his idea and she encouraged him to tell people who could do something about it. Moore sent him a form letter with a short personal note.
Biden personally handwrote his response on official vice presidential stationery and it arrived at the school Monday.
Biden said he was sorry it took so long for him to respond. He continued, quote, "I really like your idea. If we had guns that shot chocolate, not only would our country be safer, it would be happier. People love chocolate. You are a good boy."
Meanwhile, the FBI said Monday that Wade Michael Page -- the Milwaukee area man who killed six people at a Oak Creek Sikh temple last year -- was getting more radical with his white supremist views in the months before the shootings.
The information was contained in a search warrant recently unsealed. The affidavit was filed several days after the shooting massacre last August.
The Journal Sentinel said it was filed so the FBI could search Page's computers and social media contacts. The records did not say what was found. They did cite evidence that Page was connected to a number of white-power organizations.
However, the FBI later found no conspiracy behind the Sikh Temple shootings. Agents said Page acted alone when he killed the worshippers, wounded four other people, and then killed himself.
Merrill man facing charges in wife's death
MERRILL -- Authorities in north central Wisconsin plan to release more information Tuesday about the arrest of a Merrill area man in the death of his wife.
Lincoln County sheriff's deputies said they identified human remains found near Medford last Friday as those of 48-year-old Anita Bucki. Her husband, Mark Bucki, 49, of the town of Corning, was arrested Monday on possible charges of first-or-second degree intentional homicide.
He first reported Anita missing on April 26th. At the time, officers quoted him as saying that he and his wife stayed up late to talk and she was gone the next morning.
A long-time friend of Anita's told reporters last week that the couple was living separately for over a month, and they were going to get a divorce. Online court records did not show that a divorce case had been started.
Officers cleared in death of mentally-ill man following arrest
MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's Fire and Police Commission said officers did nothing wrong when they arrested a mentally ill man who died two days later.
Commission director Michael Tobin said there's no evidence that officers used excessive force, and no policies were violated in connection with the death of 30-year-old John Kriewaldt.
Staff members at Kriewaldt's group home called police last July, saying he was assaulting them.
When officers arrived, investigators said Kriewaldt slapped one of them in the forehead. The officers then placed Kriewaldt on the ground, handcuffed him, and put him into a squad car where he hurt his head on a metal divider.
Paramedics were treating the suspect's head cuts when he stopped breathing. He never regained consciousness and died two days after the arrest.
Two dead in separate house fires
Two people were killed in a pair of house fires in Wisconsin Monday.
In southwest Wisconsin, 76-year-old George Faber died in is burned-out mobile home in Coon Valley in Vernon County. Authorities are trying to figure out how-and-why it started.
In Milwaukee, one person was found dead after an apartment blaze on the city's north side. Officials said the fire was confined to a unit on the third floor.
The cause was not known. A smoke detector was sounding when firefighters arrived.
Racine area man charged with death of 3-year-old
Bond of $500,000 was set Monday for a Racine County man charged in the death of his girlfriend's three-year-old son.
Prosecutors said 26-year-old Marcus Johnson punched Hunter Wise in the mouth, whipped him, and burned him because the child defecated in his pants.
Johnson was caring for Hunter and two other children when the incident was reported last Friday. The victim's mother was working at the time.
Johnson is charged with first-degree intentional homicide. A preliminary hearing is set for May 22nd, when a judge is expected to decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial.