Saturday Morning Wisconsin News Headlines

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013

WISCONSIN BUDGET-RENT-TO-OWN

Opponents to Walker: Back off new rent-to-own rule

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Religious leaders, a Republican state senator and others are asking Gov. Scott Walker to back off his plan to free rent-to-own businesses from Wisconsin's consumer protection act.

The provision in the budget proposal ensures the businesses wouldn't have to disclose what industry opponents say are exorbitant interest rates.

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki, Republican Sen. Glenn Grothman and others held a news conference Friday.

Grothman described chains like Rent-A-Center as predatory. Listecki says rent-to-own businesses keep people in economic servitude that shouldn't exist in society.

Rent-A-Center spokesman Xavier Dominicis (ex-ZAY'-vee-er dom-ih-NEE'-ceez) says their contracts aren't credit transactions and Wisconsin's consumer act shouldn't apply to them. He says the costs are clear in their contracts.

A Walker spokesman says members of the Joint Finance Committee can remove the proposal if they choose.

WISCONSIN BUDGET-TRANSPORTATION

Wisconsin transportation fund headed for deficit

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- New estimates show Wisconsin's transportation fund is headed for a $63.5 million deficit by mid-2015.

The transportation fund covers highway projects, provides road aids for local government and funds the Division of Motor Vehicles and the State Patrol. It consists largely of gas taxes and vehicle registration fees.

Gov. Scott Walker's two-year budget proposal estimated the fund would end mid-2015 $12.6 million in the black. But new data from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows gas taxes are expected to drop sharply over the biennium.

The Legislature's finance committee is set to take up the transportation portion of Walker's budget on Tuesday. The new estimates mean the panel may have to decide between delaying road work, increasing borrowing, shifting more tax dollars to the fund or increasing gas taxes to fill the hole.

HOMEBUILDING-WISCONSIN

Wisconsin homebuilding on the rise

(Information in the following story is from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org)

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's new home market is expected to start picking up across the state after years after slow business for homebuilders.

The National Association of Home Builders predicts housing starts will be up 21 percent this year and 29 percent next year in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Builders Association Executive Vice President Jerry Deschane says consumer confidence is returning and people who want to build new homes are going for it.

Deschane tells Wisconsin Public Radio that Wisconsin is doing well compared to the rest of the country.

Deschane says although home building is on the rise, numbers aren't close to what they were before the housing bust. He says there is still a significant number of people who are not entering the housing market that normally would.

FATAL FIRE-HOLCOMBE

2 dead, 1 missing in Wis. mobile home fire

HOLCOMBE, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state fire marshal's office is helping investigate a mobile home fire that killed two people, left a third missing and injured five others in Chippewa County.

Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk (kuh-WAHL'-chehk) said Friday the two known dead are an 82-year-old man who owned the home and a 22-year-old Sheldon man. A 5-year-old boy is missing, but authorities have not been able to enter the home north of Holcombe to search for his body.

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram says the five survivors include four adults and a 2-year-old child. They were taken by helicopter to various hospitals.

Undersheriff Eugene Gutsch (gooch) says the fire appears to have started in a wood frame addition to the trailer home.

Sheriff's deputies have reopened a portion of Highway M that was closed.

WISCONSIN GOVERNOR-INVESTIGATION

Convicted Walker aide to pay $23K in restitution

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A former top associate to Gov. Scott Walker has been ordered to pay nearly $24,000 in restitution after he was convicted of stealing from a nonprofit group Walker appointed him to lead.

A judge on Friday ordered Timothy D. Russell to pay a total of about $26,600. But defense attorney Parker Mathers pointed out that Russell already paid $3,000 during a January hearing at which he was sentenced to two years in prison.

The 49-year-old Russell was Walker's deputy chief of staff when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive.

The criminal complaint alleges that Russell used his position and influence to gain financial control of the Heritage Guard Preservation Society. That's a nonprofit group that organizes outings for veterans to the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Walker was not accused of wrongdoing.

EX-GIRLFRIEND KILLING-WAUSAUKEE

Ex-boyfriend pleads no contest in fatal shooting

(Information in the following story is from: WLUK-TV, http://www.fox11online.com)

WAUSAUKEE, Wis. (AP) -- A man has pleaded no contest to a charge that he fatally shot his ex-girlfriend at the Wausaukee convenience store where she worked.

Richard Heyer pleaded no contest Friday to the count of first-degree intentional homicide in Marinette County. WLUK-TV reports he will be sentenced July 2.

Heyer was accused of killing 51-year-old Ann Schueller as she worked at a Citgo station last August. Heyer also shot himself, but survived.

Court records show the pair lived together outside of Crivitz until the end of 2011. Schueller had requested a restraining order against Heyer in June, claiming he was abusive and that she feared for her safety. But a judge denied the request because there wasn't enough evidence of a threat.

PROPOSED PARK EXPANSION

Wis. DNR plan would expand High Cliff State Park

(Information in the following story is from: The Post-Crescent, http://www.postcrescent.com)

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) -- A state agency is proposing to add more than 1,800 acres to High Cliff State Park, a plan that would more than double the size of the Calumet County recreational area.

A Post-Crescent Media report says the Department of Natural Resources has drafted a plan to expand and upgrade the park. But the state would have to buy the parcels of land from more than 100 landowners, at an estimated cost of about $9 million.

The public is invited to hear about the plan and comment on the park's future at a May 7 meeting at the Sherwood Community Center.

The park expansion could take years, but upgrading the infrastructure and facilities could begin as early as this year.

High Cliff attracts more than 400,000 visitors each year.

APARTMENTS EVACUATED-LA CROSSE

Small blast evacuates apartments in La Crosse

(Information in the following story is from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com)

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- A small explosion has damaged a La Crosse apartment building and caused an evacuation.

Firefighters say the blast damaged a water heater and the building's ventilation system. The La Crosse Tribune says firefighters were investigating a popping sound in the boiler room at Wedgewood Common Apartments when the explosion occurred about 2 a.m. Friday.

Apartment residents were temporarily evacuated to a city bus. No one was hurt.

Copyright Associated Press 2013


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