'No Hungry Kids' bill would loosen belt on school lunch calorie counts; Obama leads in Wisconsin, new poll says; more state briefsWisconsin News
In response to a hot lunch boycott like that staged recently by Mukwonago High School students, an Iowa lawmaker has introduced legislation to relax the 850-calorie limit on school lunches imposed by new USDA guidelines. Also, more Wisconsin offenders would be forced to give DNA samples and help pay for an expanded database of what some are calling the "modern-day fingerprint". Plus more state news.
A bill has been introduced in Congress to lift the lid on school lunch calories that triggered a boycott this week of the food served to students in Mukwonago.
Iowa House Republican Steve King said Michelle Obama’s campaign to reduce childhood obesity has become a directive from the USDA.
King said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wants to put every child on a diet, just because some kids are overweight. Kansas House Republican Tim Huelskamp is co-sponsoring what King calls the “No Hungry Kids Act.”
Earlier this week, Mukwonago students objected to what they call a one-size-fits-all standard. Kids staged a brown-bag protest by opting out of hot lunch and instead, brought food from home.
The senior class president who plays football says the new calorie limit doesn’t even cover a-third of the calories he works off at school and football practice. But the USDA defends the new standards, which also include healthier foods. Under-secretary
Kevin Concannon tells the Brownfield Ag News Service it’s a more focused set of meal standards, with different minimum and maximum calorie limits based on the students’ ages. He also said it’s important to remember that lunch is just one meal and the school lunches should only cover a third of the calories that children consume each day.
Still, Mukwonago youngsters complained about being under-fed, and paying a dime more for it.
Concannon says some schools take part in a national snack program which makes snacks available to students.
Proposal would expand DNA-gathering from convicts, suspects
MADISON -- Convicted felons would not be the only ones to give their DNA to law enforcement, under a new proposal from the state Justice Department that could be tucked into next year’s budget.
In April, Gov. Scott Walker asked the department for a plan to make those arrested for serious felonies and sex offenses provide their DNA to a national police database which helps solve crimes. But the budget proposal is much more expansive. It would take DNA samples from those arrested for any felonies and certain misdemeanors plus all adults convicted of misdemeanors.
Brian O’Keefe, the Justice Department’s law enforcement administrator, says DNA is the modern-day fingerprint, but Chris Ahmuty of the American Civil Liberties Union says it contains genetic information that could be dangerous for government to have if it’s not used as intended.
Ahmuty also told the Wisconsin State Journal the plan “turns the presumption of innocence on its head.”
Currently, about 12,000 convicted felons a year give their DNA to the national investigative data-base. The budget plan would increase that total to 68,000 the first year, starting in October of 2014. It would initially cost around $7 million a year and the Justice Department wants convicts to foot the bill with a $250 surcharge for all felony convictions and a $150 surcharge for misdemeanor convictions.
The proposal would also upgrade the State Crime Lab in Madison. Justice officials say 27 states and the federal government take DNA samples on arrest, but Ahmuty says the ACLU recently won a new court hearing on a challenge to California’s law.
Obama leading Romney in Wisconsin, poll indicates
President Obama has pulled ahead of Republican Mitt Romney in Wisconsin.
A new poll from Quinnipiac University, CBS News, and the New York Times gives Obama a 51- to 45 percent edge in a survey of almost 1,500 Wisconsin voters between Tuesday of last week and Monday of this week. The president’s six-point lead is more than twice the poll’s margin-of-error. Obama’s lead is also four percent bigger than it was in late August, soon after Romney named Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan as his running mate.
The Quinnipiac poll examines voter trends in three swing states – Virginia and Colorado being the others.
Polling director Peter Brown says all the races are close, but Romney is losing ground in Wisconsin and Colorado. Voters in all three states rate the candidates about even in handling the economy but they give Obama the edge in handling Medicare, health care, and an international crisis.
Voters in each state also said Obama cares about their needs and problems, while Romney does not. In Wisconsin, 60 percent of those polled agreed that Obama cares about their needs – and in a separate question, 51 percent said Romney doesn’t care.
The poll also said Wisconsin voters believe that the nation is worse off than four years ago and by a 33-23 margin, they said they’re personally worse off as well.
Meanwhile, the Marquette Law School will soon release its second poll since last month’s primary, in which Republican Tommy Thompson won the right to face Democrat Tammy Baldwin. The last poll on Aug. 22nd gave Thompson a nine-point edge over the congresswoman from Madison. But Democrats trotted out a pair of their own polls this week showing that Baldwin has a slight lead.
Health Secretary wants $650 million more for Medicaid
MADISON -- Wisconsin’s health secretary says he needs an extra $650 million in the next two-year state budget, to cover rising costs in the state’s health programs for the poor and the elderly.
Gov. Scott Walker told state agencies to submit spending requests with no increase from the previous two years, but Dennis Smith says the extra money is needed because more people are using Medicaid programs – those who had been in the programs are using them more – and the federal government has reduced its share of the tab.
Smith’s proposals do not include any changes in benefits. He called his spending package a “starting point.” The Republican governor and the Legislature can modify it when they get their turns at setting the new budget during the first half of next year.
Smith’s budget does not include any changes that might be needed under President Obama’s national health care reform law. The Supreme Court upheld the law this summer, but the Republican Walker is holding out hope that it can be repealed if Mitt Romney is elected president in November.
Dairyland relocating casks containing spent nuclear material
GENOA -- An electric cooperative in western Wisconsin is wrapping up a five-year project to remove nuclear waste from its old reactor building to a storage pad with stronger cask holders.
The Dairyland Power Cooperative had planned to close Hwy. 35 at Genoa for about 45 minutes Wednesday morning, to move the last of five casks that were re-located this summer. All told, about 120-thousand pounds of waste from the cooperative’s former nuclear plant was moved from a storage pool in the reactor facility, where it’s been held for 25 years. The spent fuel is now in a steel-and-concrete casks at their own storage pad, where the waste can be held indefinitely at a much lower cost.
Dairyland said the project cost over $40 million. Officials say the storage costs will be cut in half, and it will speed up the plant’s decommissioning process.
The facility has been closed since 1987.
More wells now tainted by July pipeline spill
The number of residential wells contaminated by a mid-July fuel spill near Jackson continues to grow.
It was two months ago on Monday when a gasoline pipeline burst near Jackson in Washington County and the number of residential wells contaminated by the spill continues to grow. The total is now 26, after tests from a new well confirmed the presence of benzene for the first time.
Nearly 55,000 gallons of gas spilled during the pipeline incident. The West Shore Pipeline Company has installed filtering systems to remove gas contaminants from the affected wells.
The firm said on Monday that its most recent tests still turned up benzene in 13 of the wells, or half of the total affected.
Dozens of residents are still under a DNR advisory not to drink the water – even after the filters were installed. The status of the clean-up will be discussed Thursday evening at a public information meeting at Kettle Moraine High School.
Bond set at $1 million for woman who claims God ordered her daughter's death
OCONOMOWOC -- A $1 million bond was set Tuesday for an Oconomowoc woman who reportedly claimed that God and other voices told her to kill her 10-week-old daughter.
Dana Hooper, 32, made her first appearance in Waukesha County Circuit Court on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide. Her 33-year-old husband, Kevin Hooper, was charged with a felony count of not reporting the child’s death to law enforcement. He’s being held under a $100,000 bond and is due back in court Oct.18th for a preliminary hearing. The same proceeding has not been ordered yet for Dana Hooper, but she’s due back in court October third.
She was arrested Sunday, the day her daughter was pronounced dead. Prosecutors said she stabbed her baby last Saturday at their Oconomowoc home – and hospital personnel discovered the injuries and called police.
Authorities said Kevin Hooper took his wife to a mental facility, saying she was suicidal and she reportedly had post-partum depression in the past.
Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel said more investigation is needed into what led to the baby girl’s murder. Two other children in the family – ages 2 and 3 – are now being cared for by other relatives.