Sunday, January 21st

State

Gov. Scott Walker spoke with reporters Wednesday morning following a job training announcement at the MATC downtown campus. The governor said the victory of Democrat Patty Schachtner was a "wake up call" for him and other Republicans on the ballot this fall.(Photo: James B. Nelson / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

MADISON - With unemployment low and a tough election looming, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called for a special legislative session to overhaul the state's welfare programs. 

The GOP governor is pushing for a series of welfare bills, including requiring able-bodied parents of children on food stamps to work or get training to receive benefits starting in October 2019 and increasing the existing work requirement for all able-bodied adults from 20 hours a week to 30.

This existing requirement — offered by Walker in 2013 — has led so far to about 3.5 recipients losing benefits for every one that secured a job. Over the past 12 months, just under nine recipients have lost benefits for every one that got a job.

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Shaun Hardtke inspects and evaluates the milking operation at a large rotating automated milking parlor that collects milk at the Kinnard dairy farm, which milks more than 6,000 cows.(Photo: Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel’s appointment of a lawyer and former dairy industry lobbyist to lead the environmental protection unit of the Justice Department has drawn objections from the leader of a public interest law firm, and concerns from a former secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.

Kimberlee Wright, executive director of Madison-based Midwest Environmental Advocates, said she is worried about potential bias by Assistant Attorney General Anna J. Wildeman in her new post because she previously represented the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association and large dairy farms.

But Justice Department spokesman Johnny Koremenos took issue with Wright’s contentions in an email.

He said the agency has taken steps to insulate Wildeman from potential conflicts, which include turning oversight of cases with legal conflicts to her deputy.

Gov. Scott Walker spoke with reporters Wednesday morning following a job training announcement at the MATC downtown campus. The governor said the victory of Democrat Patty Schachtner was a "wake up call" for him and other Republicans on the ballot this fall.(Photo: James B. Nelson / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

MADISON - With unemployment low and a tough election looming, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called for a special legislative session to overhaul the state's welfare programs. 

The GOP governor is pushing for a series of welfare bills, including requiring able-bodied parents of children on food stamps to work to receive benefits and increasing the work requirement from 20 hours a week to 30.

The push comes a week ahead of Walker's annual state of the state speech on Wednesday and just two days after his party was stunned by a special election loss in a northwestern Wisconsin Senate district.

“With more people working in Wisconsin than ever before, we can’t afford to have anyone on the sidelines: we need everyone in the game,” Walker said in a statement.

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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.