RHINELANDER - The contraceptive rule in President Barack Obama's health care reform law has sparked an on-going debate between politicians, religious leaders, and women's rights groups.
When President Obama announced contraceptives would be included in required preventative healthcare coverage by all employers, Cardinal Timothy Dolan lead Catholic Bishops in protest.
"Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience," says Cardinal Dolan.
After weeks of pressure the President revised the rule.
"Religious organizations won't have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly," says President Obama.
But the rule does still require the institution's insurance to offer contraceptives.
"All it's doing is saying, 'Well the insurance company has to now provide it'. Well in essence the Catholic Church is still paying for the insurance," says Representative Sean Duffy.
"Although it looked like a compromise to some extent, it does not really respect fully religious liberty. Because indirectly employers will have to pay eventually," says Father Tom Thakadipuram, the Priest at Nativity of Our Lord Parish.
The rule does exempt churches, but almost nothing else including religiously affiliated hospitals or charities. Father Tom says the revision is a good start, but he agrees with Cardinal Dolan that the rule as it stands is unacceptable.
"I would like to see a broader exemption because of the principals of religious liberty at stake," says Father Tom.
But supporters of the contraception rule aren't happy about how GOP leaders are going about opposing it.
"It seems that women are always fair game when there are hot-button issues," says Nancy Meier, from Merrill.
Last week the GOP held a hearing regarding contraceptives. Supporters of the rule pointed out the panel included religious leaders, but left someone else out.
"Imagine having a panel on women's health, and not having any women on the panel," says Representative Nancy Pelosi.
As this issue is likely to continue to be hotly debated, Father Tom hopes both sides can find common ground.
"As religious leaders and as political leaders we need to embrace the virtue of the middle. I think that is the way for the country to go forward," says Father Tom.
Congress is expected to vote soon on legislation to block the President's policy.
MERRILL - When you think of movies you probably think of Hollywood, but one man from Northcentral Wisconsin is bringing his feature film to the local screen.
Wausau’s Jarrod Crooks not only makes movies, but he also stars in them.
His latest film, "Dispatched" is based off the Elvis Presley movie, “Girl Happy,” says filmmaker Jarrod Crooks. “My character Jake is sent to go watch my bosses daughter while she’s on vacation with a friend. Then an old enemy is kind of after him while he’s on vacation, so some things happen.”
Crooks made, "Dispatched" on a $5,000 budget and it’s full of romance, action, and comedy.
“My buddy would joke with me, ‘why don’t you just pick one genre man and then just go with it'," says Crooks. "I’m like because I want to make this movie how I want to make It'." "I actually like romantic comedies, I think they’re kind of fun, and I think they’re cute. I like action films because I’m a guy, and I like comedy because Jim Carey is great.”
Crooks is only 28 and has already made 4 feature films. His passion started when he was 12 years old.
“I went over to my friend’s house and he had a video camera. I was like oh we should make a movie, and at that time I was really into, “Wishbone,” says Crooks.
“We’d always remake our own literature pieces. Then I saw my first Jackie Chan movie and I’m like, alright it’s settled we’re doing action films from now on," says Crooks. “From then on it was just a love affair with the filmmaking.”
His latest film will be shown at the Cosmo Theatre in Merrill on Saturday at 5pm.
“The fact that I’m bringing it to central Wisconsin is great because this is where I grew up," says Crooks. "All my family and friends get to see it, so I’m very excited about that and you get to see yourself on the big screen what’s better than that.”
Wisconsin court to decide on testing drunk drivers
MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to decide whether police can legally draw suspected drunken drivers' blood without a warrant or driver consent.
The court said it would hear three drunken driving cases, two of which involved a homicide. That announcement came nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a Missouri case that could call into question Wisconsin's law.
Wisconsin since 1993 has granted police authority to draw drunken driving suspects' blood without a warrant or consent.
About 5,000 people refused to comply with police tests in 2011 and 2012.
The eventual rulings in the three cases are expected to clarify how law enforcement can gather evidence in some Wisconsin drunken driving cases.
MADISON - A federal appeals court has upheld Republican Gov. Scott Walker's public union restrictions.
The restrictions stripped most public workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights. Two unions representing city of Madison and Dane County public workers filed a lawsuit in 2011 alleging the law violated their right to freely assembly and equal protection.
U.S. District Judge William Conley found the restrictions constitutional in September. A three-judge appeals panel affirmed Conley's ruling Friday, saying the U.S. Constitution doesn't require the state to maintain policies that allow certain associations to thrive.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen calls the ruling ``a victory for the law and for Wisconsin taxpayers.''
An attorney for the unions tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he needs to talk to his clients before deciding whether to appeal.
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