Thunderstorms predicted for today; 700 state Guard members will lose 11 days of pay; Proposed budget goes to full Legislature; More state news
More showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast for Wisconsin today as another cold front pushes through.
Much of the state was dry for Father's Day, but parts of far northern Wisconsin have been hit with storms for two days in a row. Small hail was reported early last evening at Cornucopia in Bayfield County and McNaughton in Oneida County.
Minnesota Power had 7,000 customers without power in Duluth last evening. This morning, the number was reduced to less than 200, and the utility reported no outages on the Wisconsin side near Superior.
A good share of Wisconsin was hit with heavy rains on Saturday. Almost two inches fell in just 75minutes near Phillips.
Also, it was warmer yesterday than what many of us have been accustomed to. It was 87 at Randall in Burnett County. Parts of southern Wisconsin were also in the upper 80's.
It will be cooler today with highs in the low to mid-70's expected. Forecasters say it will warm up again on Thursday when more thunderstorms are due in.
Sequester will cost 700 Guard members 11 days of pay
About 700 Wisconsin National Guard members will lose 11 days of work and pay due to the federal budget sequester.
The furloughs affect Defense Department technicians, ranging from mechanics and pilots to human resource and finance specialists.
Major Paul Rickert said the automatic spending cuts have caused the Guard to make "significant adjustments" to training and operations. Most of the Wisconsin Guard's 10,000 members are not affected by the furloughs. That's because they're either active duty personnel who are exempt from the sequester or they're state employees.
Officials say the work reductions will not affect the annual training for Wisconsin guard units or weekend duty for part-time Guard members.
Those affected must take their 11 furlough days by the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the furloughs were first rumored to be as long as 20 days.
The paper said Guard members assigned to the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee can go on active military status for their furlough days so they won't lose any pay. The unit has had to cut outreach programs. It is not providing support for major air shows since pilots from the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds have been grounded by the sequester.
Proposed budget goes to full Legislature
The full Wisconsin Legislature will start acting on the new state budget Tuesday.
In a different tactic from recent years, the GOP majority wants to make as few changes as possible. Republicans did most of their negotiating with the Joint Finance Committee over the past month.
Minority Democrats hope to hook up with moderate Republicans to get at least a few of their wishes granted. Senate Republican Dale Schultz of Richland Center said he'd like to see the $648 million income tax cut reduced, the statewide expansion of private school vouchers scaled back, and cuts restored for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
Both Schultz and Green Bay Republican Rob Cowles say the budget leaves too much of a deficit -- $505 million, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau -- for the following budget in 2015.
Cowles said he wants to remove non-fiscal policy items, but he's not saying which ones.
Senate GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald could cut off Schultz's and Cowles' efforts if he wanted to by calling for a conference committee when the Assembly passes the budget. Republican leaders of both houses would presumably craft a budget to their liking, and the Senate could not amend it later, thus preventing more moderate ideas from being included.
However, Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the Associated Press they won't seek a conference committee. Both still expect only minor technical changes to the budget in their houses.
Gov. Scott Walker has not said what he might veto, but he has expressed support for virtually all the major budget items. His biggest public objection is to a proposed reduction in property tax breaks for veterans.
Minneapolis VA to offer mental health services in western Wisconsin
At least some mental health services will be improved at Veterans Administration clinics in western Wisconsin.
President Obama recently ordered the VA in Minneapolis to hire 24 new mental health professionals. Now, we're learning that they'll work at rural clinics which are overseen by the Minneapolis VA in rural Minnesota and the western part of Wisconsin.
The VA's Ralph Heussner said those seeking services range from World War II veterans to those who recently came home from Iraq and Afghanistan. He said that in addition to combat issues, the vets may need help with financial hardships and relationship problems.
Plane crash claims two lives
Federal officials are investigating a weekend plane crash that killed two men on Madeline Island in far northern Wisconsin.
A witness told Ashland County authorities that a plane was trying to land Saturday evening, but the pilot aborted the effort and tried a second approach.
Officials said the single-engine craft burst into flames in a wooded area up to 200 yards south of the airport runway at La Pointe on Madeline Island, which is between Ashland and the Apostle Islands' chain. Sheriff Mick Brennan said a loud crash and explosion preceded the fire.
The two men's bodies were removed from the crash scene Sunday and were scheduled to have autopsies. Authorities did not identify the victims. Brennan said they were not from the Apostle Islands region.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was a Piper PA24 Comanche registered to a company in La Crosse.
Officials said the weather was good at the time of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is joining the FAA in investigating.
Diocese clears priest of abuse allegations
The Green Bay Catholic Diocese has cleared a retired Fox Valley priest of suspected sexual abuse.
The Rev. Justin Werner denied allegations that he abused a minor at St. Edward Parish in Mackville, near Appleton, in the 1970's.
The diocese said it hired an investigator to look into the matter and found that the claims were unsubstantiated. The church notified law enforcement about the allegations, but no charges were ever filed.
Bishop David Ricken said all restrictions have been lifted on Werner's public ministry activities.
Werner is in his 80's. He's been a priest for over a half century. In recent years, he's been an assistant at St. Bernard Parish in Appleton.
Wisconsin man's gadget helps anglers find fish
A Wisconsin native is finding success with a mobile app, leading the fisherman to where the fish are biting.
The app is called Fishidy. It uses success charts to track the hot spots and has its own social networking.
The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the app's creator and Sun Prairie native, Brian Jensen, got the idea after coming back empty handed from a fishing trip in Northern Minnesota.
The app is found in Walmarts across the state.
Two Wisconsinites compete in Miss USA Pageant
Neither of Wisconsin's two candidates made the Top 15 at the Miss USA Pageant in Las Vegas.
Christine Zamora of Greenfield represented Wisconsin Sunday night.
UW-Stout student Danielle Hooper of suburban St. Paul was Miss Minnesota USA. Hooper will be a senior this fall in Menomonie, majoring in management and retail merchandising. She has received the Chancellor's Award for maintaining a high grade-point average and works part-time in the Financial Aid office.
Zamora is now a client specialist at Milwaukee's OC Tanner Company.
Erin Brady, an accountant from Connecticut, won the crown and will be the nation's representative in the Miss Universe pageant.
Mary Margaret McCord, Miss Alabama USA, was named the first runner-up.
Brady replaces Nana Meriwether, who became the Miss USA after Olivia Culpo won last year's Miss Universe title.
Woman shot in casino incident
Milwaukee Police continue to investigate a shooting incident on the main gambling floor of the Potawatomi Bingo Casino early Sunday.
Police said a 27-year-old Wauwatosa man is being referred to prosecutors for charges after he allegedly fired a handgun and wounded a 23-year-old Milwaukee woman around 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
Media reports said there were two waves of frightened players who scrambled to the exits while other gamblers found cover under blackjack tables and near slot machines. Police said the shooter and the victim fought with each other before the shootings. Witnesses said two to three shots were fired. There was a report that players helped wrestle the gun away from the man.
Police said the woman suffered a non-life-threatening leg wound.
Casino spokesman Ryan Amundson said it was the first shooting he could remember inside the building. An armed robbery occurred there in 2011, and sometime after that, shots had been fired outside the casino, which is located between Milwaukee's downtown and Miller Park baseball stadium.