Democrats temporarily delay abortion reforms; giant storm system will narrowly miss Wisconsin; more state news
Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate blocked approval yesterday of a Republican bill to require women to get ultrasounds before getting abortions. The hold-up won't be long, as G-O-P Senate leaders said the bill would come up again first thing Wednesday.
New Berlin Republican Mary Lazich proposed the bill, saying it would reduce the numbers of abortions by letting women see photos of the unborn children they want to abort. She also said there's a lot of trauma with abortions, and many women later regret having them.
Republicans stayed silent during Tuesday's debate while Democrats condemned the legislation. Middleton Democrat Jon Erpenbach said it's designed to "intimidate women, bully women, and tell women the Wisconsin Senate believes 'you're not able to make your own medical decisions.'"
If the Senate approves it Wednesday, the Assembly could act on the measure Thursday.
In Milwaukee Tuesday, Republican Gov. Scott Walker said he would sign the bill if it gets to his desk. "I don't have any problem with ultrasounds ... I think most people think ultrasounds are just fine."
The bill also requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their clinics. Planned Parenthood has said the measure would force its Appleton clinic to close, because it has no doctors with such privileges.
Senate stiffens WEDC negotiating rules
MADISON -- The state Senate has voted to prohibit employees of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation from negotiating contracts which could benefit them.
The upper house passed the measure on a voice vote Tuesday, after the Assembly approved it earlier.
It now goes to Gov. Scott Walker, who says he supports the change. It would prohibit WEDC employees and board members from negotiating or having discretion in any deal with a company or organization in which they have a monetary interest. The state's public-private job creation agency was created two years ago to replace the old Commerce Department. The WEDC has come under fire after a critical state audit which showed that it never approved required policies, gave job creation grants and loans to companies that did not quality, and did not keep adequate track of those funds.
Gigantic squall line expected to graze Wisconsin
SULLIVAN -- It appears that a massive line of powerful thunderstorms will miss Wisconsin for the most part.
The national Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma says a derecho will spread tornadoes and-or heavy straight-line winds across a wide swath of the eastern U.S. between Milwaukee and Baltimore.
The storm center says the Milwaukee region has a risk level for severe weather that's 15 times the normal for a June day.
In the Chicago area, the risk level increases 45 times the norm. Officials say one-in-five Americans could be affected.
National Weather Service forecasters in Wisconsin say there's a small chance for tornadoes in the Badger State this afternoon and evening - especially in the far southeast near the Illinois border. There's a slight risk of severe thunderstorms south of a line from Wisconsin Dells to Port Washington.
Southwest Wisconsin expects two bands of thunderstorms Wednesday morning and later on - but nothing severe is in the forecast for now.
Forecasters do not project severe weather in central and northern Wisconsin for either Wednesday or Thursday.
Wausau man gets 5 years for extortion involving exotic dancer
WAUSAU -- A Wausau area man has been sentenced to five years in prison, for extorting almost $100,000 from another man.
Dustin Congleton, 28, of Weston must also spend five years under extended supervision, after he pleaded no contest to felony extortion and illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.
A count of receiving stolen property was dropped in a plea deal. A second defendant, 29-year-old Alex Santiago of Ringle, has pleaded innocent to similar charges.
A 56-year-old Marathon County man was the apparent victim. Prosecutors said the victim met an exotic dancer at a Wausau strip club and paid her bills, rent, and legal expenses. Santiago was the woman's boyfriend at the time - and when he moved up from Kenosha, he allegedly threatened to tell the victim's wife how he helped the dancer, unless he started paying Santiago.
The victim reported paid cash, money orders, and prepaid credit cards since late 2009. In February, the victim reportedly asked for something in return for all he paid Santiago - and the defendant reportedly gave him seven guns that turned out to be stolen. Congleton reportedly told the victim he could get Santiago off his back - and the victim reported gave a few thousand to Congleton as well.
-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
Baldwin, Johnson both support continued immigration debate
WASHINGTON D.C. -- Both of Wisconsin's U-S senators voted twice Tuesday to proceed with a debate and amendments on the contentious immigration bill.
The package cleared some major procedural hurdles, when requests to place it on the Senate floor and open it for amendments each got more than 80 votes.
Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Ron Johnson were among those paving the way for Senate consideration.
In the end, Johnson said he would only support a package that includes stronger border security, and a plan to address the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants that has both "humanity" and "common sense."
The current version of the bill lays out a 13-year path to citizenship to those arriving illegally through 2011 or who over-stayed their visas.
Four senators from each party drafted the package - which also includes tighter border security, a new program for low-skilled workers to enter the U.S. and more visas for workers who are in-demand at high-tech industries.
Supporters are confident to get the required 60 votes for passage by July 4th.
GOP minority leader Mitch McConnell says the package has "serious flaws." He wants even tighter border security, as does Johnson - plus stronger terms on those seeking legal status.
Union workers OK 6-year contract with Cat
MILWAUKEE -- Union workers have approved a new six-year contract at the Caterpillar mining equipment plant in South Milwaukee.
It's the first contract since Caterpillar acquired the plant in 2010 from the former Bucyrus International. It freezes wages-and-pension payments - but it includes a $4,000 signing bonus, plus annual bonuses based on the company's performance.
The workers could get up to $18,000 during the life of the contract. The deal also includes shorter temporary layoffs.
Local 1343 of the United Steelworkers union had rejected a similar contract in April. Union officials said Tuesday's vote was very close, but they did not release the final results.
They said about 95 percent of the 800 eligible workers voted. Caterpillar calls it a "fair, reasonable, and comprehensive agreement."
Fondy police seek van thief who absconded with child
FOND DU LAC -- Police in Fond du Lac are looking for a man who stole a van with an eight-year-old boy in the backseat.
The child was dropped off unharmed about a mile south of where the vehicle was stolen. As of late Tuesday, police were still looking for both the thief and the vehicle.
Holly Jaschob told WTMJ TV in Milwaukee that she took her kids to the Fond du Lac ShopKo store on Monday night, but her son Eli had to stay in the van because he was not wearing shoes.
Jaschob said she left the air conditioning on, and Eli went in the back seat to play a video game on his mom's cell phone. Apparently, he did not see the man hop into the van and drive off.
Jaschob spent about 20 minutes in the store, before she noticed that her vehicle and her son were gone. She said she called her cell number - and the driver got spooked. Eli told the TV station that the driver ordered him to get out, so that's what he did.
Police said he called his father after he was dropped off.
School safety, bullying on agenda for today's AG conference
WISCONSIN DELLS -- Wisconsin law enforcement officers are gathering near Wisconsin Dells for the attorney general's annual summit on public safety.
School security expert Ken Trump will give his ideas for protecting schools, in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary shootings in Newtown Connecticut.
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards will share his experiences on handling last year's mass shootings at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
Smaller sessions will explore the effects of school bullies, how the texting of sexual displays by young people can lead to sexual assaults, and trends in child exploitation.
The safety summit begins Wednesday morning at the Chula Vista Conference Center at the Dells and runs through Thursday morning.