U.S. Senate Urged To Pass CHIP Funding

6 hours ago

Advocates are calling on the federal government to continue funding the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. The program is funded through Medicaid or, in Wisconsin Badgercare Plus. Money comes from both the federal and state coffers to fund the low-income health insurance program.

Funding for the program has passed the U.S. House, but has stalled in the U.S. Senate.

State Medicaid Director Kevin  Moore describes how the program works...

State Representative Mary Czaja of Irma thinks a model developed by Three Lakes could help northern school districts facing critical budget problems.

Three Lakes schools have opened a Fab Lab which is a public-private partnership as Czaja explains. It's a type of 3-D computer-based manufacturing. Czaja says the goal is to have a Fab Lab in every K-12 school in the 12th Senate District....


The next move will be up to legislators as Rhinelander residents Tuesday passed an advisory referendum concerning the Premier Resort Area Tax. The vote was about 2-1 in favor.

The tax would place a half-cent charge on a sale with all the proceeds designated for infrastructure repairs, mainly street repair. Eagle River has had a similar tax since 2006.

Because Rhinelander doesn't meet all the requirements up front, legislative approval is necessary.

Mayor Dick Johns says the city is prepared to move forward...

Scammers are working the phones in the  Northwoods claiming to be from the IRS and wanting you to pay up or else. The Vilas County Sheriff's Department says do not give out personal information and simply hang up.

Callers claim to be from the IRS. Victims are told they owe money and it must be paid through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. The caller ID is made to look like it is the IRS.

IRS officials say they will never make contact with citizens this way.

Voters in the Phelps, White Lake and Laona school districts all approved referendums to exceed spending limits. In the city of Rhinelander, an advisory question whether to adopt a half-of-one cent sales tax called a Premier Resort Area Tax passed by a 2-1 margin. In Tomahawk voters said no to a question about utility costs. In the town of Cassian a question about allowing ATV's on town roads passed, but in the Vilas county town of Cloverland, a similar question was rejected. A referendum question in Conover adding two supervisors passed.

Wisconsin has a law that doesn't allow utilities to end electricity and fuel service during the winter. But the law allows utilities to end service after April 15.

Wisconsin Public Service reports nearly 28,000 customers are behind at least four months or more, an increase of 2000 from last year. The average amount owed is also five percent higher.

Leah Van Zile from WPS says it's time to contact WPS to make payment arrangements...

Today is the spring election in Wisconsin.

Statewide  incumbent  Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh-Bradley is challenged by Rock County Judge James Daley for a spot on the top court. Voters will see a question whether to change the state constitution to enable the Justices to elect the Chief Justice or whether it should remain going to the Justice with the most seniority. There is also a race for the state appeals court. Langlade county is also electing a circuit court judge.

Wildfire danger is increasing as the snow leaves the Northwoods and warmer, dryer air comes in.
Conditions have changed so fast that burning permits are not allowed in most places.

DNR Wildfire Prevention Specialist  Catherine Koele in Woodruff says the fire danger is very high in most places, with extreme fire danger the northwest corner of the state. She says conditions are prime for fire...

The Oneida County Board has asked for an extension until August to consider a complex proposal whether to accept an offer from Kwik-Trip of LaCrosse.

Kwik-Trip has offered to buy the county shops on Rhinelander's west side for a large  facility and try to develop out lots. If that were approved, the county likely would build a new county shops about a mile away on county owned land off the Highway 8 bypass. Two other options are to reject the Kwik-Trip offer and fix up the current facility with two renovation options.


An effort to eliminate Rhinelander's downtown Business Improvement District has been successful.

A group of business owners petitioned the city to eliminate the BID district. The BID is authorized by city government to allow property owners to assess themselves more to make necessary improvements.

Those opposing the removal of the district had until the close of business Wednesday to get enough signers to change their mind. As City Administrator Blaine Oborn notes, a last second effort came up short...