Sunday, January 21st

State

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WEBPHOTO WEB PHOTO - Sirens on a Milwaukee fire truck. Monday October 24, 2016 Mike De Sisti / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.(Photo: Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo

A 29-year-old Port Washington man was killed in a late-night snowmobile accident on the Milwaukee River in the Town of Fredonia, according to the Ozaukee County Sheriff's department.

The sheriff's department was called to the scene just before midnight Wednesday. The name of the victim has not yet been released. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is assisting in the investigation.

 

Brian Bell is the administrator of the state Ethics Commission.(Photo: Brian Bell)

MADISON - Hoping to save his job, Wisconsin's ethics director on Wednesday said he left a post in 2015 with an agency maligned by Republicans in part because he thought it was poorly run and infected with partisan bias. 

Brian Bell, the director of the state Ethics Commission, described his concerns about previously working for the now-disbanded Government Accountability Board in material he delivered Wednesday to state senators. 

Republicans in charge of the Senate have said they plan to vote Tuesday to oust Bell and Michael Haas, the head of the Elections Commission. They want to remove them in part because they both previously worked for the accountability board, which conducted investigations of Republicans that they believe show that agency was biased against them. 

In his letter, Bell disparaged Shane Falk, who served as counsel to the accountability board and has been a focus of the ire of Republicans.

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A DNR wildlife technician removes lymph nodes from a white-tailed deer for CWD testing in 2013. The disease has been found in a Milwaukee County deer, the DNR reported Tuesday.(Photo: Paul A. Smith / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo

The first case of chronic wasting disease has been reported in Milwaukee County after an adult deer in West Allis showed signs of the disease and was killed by a conservation warden for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 

The 4-year-old deer was found on private property in the general vicinity of Highway 100 between W. Oklahoma and W. National aves. on Dec. 10, according to wildlife biologist Dianne Robinson. 

The finding now brings the fatal wildlife disease to Wisconsin's most urban county, and comes 16 years after the first report in the state of a disease that previously had been confined to the western United States.

Robinson said that the deer exhibited clinical signs of chronic wasting disease: It was slightly emaciated, had a "slack-jawed expression" and seemed unaware of its surroundings.

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Wisconsin's Senate chambers.(Photo: Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo

MADISON - Giving a much-needed shot of good news for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a new report projected the state budget will come in $138 million better than previous predictions.

The Legislature's nonpartisan budget office estimated that Wisconsin would reach June 2019 with $385 million in its main account, better than the $248 million that had been previously expected. 

The improvement amounts to just under 1% of the state's annual spending, or about enough money to run the state's operations for three days. 

"Our economy is strong, consumers are confident and revenues are up $137.5 million," said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chairwoman of the Legislature's budget committee. "It's clear that our reforms and careful budgeting are working."

The money hasn't come in yet, so the budget balance could still change over the next year and a half. But the improved projection provides a positive talking point for Walker and GOP lawmakers as they grapple with their party's stunning defeat in a special election Tuesday in northwestern Wisconsin.

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Phil Drewiske, a recovering heroin addict from Hudson, started using prescription drugs in middle school. At age16, he was injecting heroin. His father was a key to his recovery. Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.(Photo: Tiffany Stoiber/Now News Group)Buy Photo

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Wednesday that the Medicaid program may have been a "contributing factor" that led to an increase in the nation's opioid crisis.

"This is a government program wide phenomenon where American taxpayers are providing well-intentioned funds into some of theses programs and those funds are being utilized to divert drugs, sell them on the open market," Johnson said during a hearing in Washington, D.C.

Johnson chairs the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee. He opposed the Affordable Care Act, which included an expansion of Medicaid.

"I'm not making the claim that this is just because of Medicaid expansion," Johnson said at the outset of the hearing.