WAUSAU - Local gun vendors say the President's proposed gun control plans are having the opposite effect he's probably hoping for.
The Bob and Rocco gun show was in Wausau this weekend. This show comes to town every year, but this weekend brought in twice as many people.
Nearly 5,000 people filed into the Patriot Center this weekend- that's twice the number they usually see. Organizer Bob Pucci says he knows exactly why that is.
"We've seen an increase of about 60 percent of people who've never been to gun shows before. And they're looking to buy those things which are going to be banned. They would never have bought any of those things, except now they're trying to ban them," says Pucci.
Attendance at shows isn't the only thing skyrocketing. Supply and demand is becoming an issue for some vendors.
"Prices have gone through the roof. I had the largest ammo dealer in the Midwest, he was at my Waukesha show three weeks ago, we had 9,000 people through. He brought in about 100,000 rounds of ammo and sold out in an hour and 45 minutes and he can't get any more ammo," says Pucci.
The Wausau gun show had hundreds of vendors, representing a hundred gun shops from around the state. But Pucci says even the smallest gun shows are getting thousands of visitors.
RHINELANDER - Many veterans are not eligible for full dental coverage.
But a new VA healthcare program is changing that.
Veterans who don’t have dental insurance can now join a new program that will give them coverage.
The VA partnered with insurance companies MetLife and Delta Dental.
Brad Nelson is the public information officer for the VA in Iron Mountain.
"About 90 percent of our veterans who are enrolled in VA healthcare, are not eligible for VA dental care directly, like we mentioned," said Nelson. "So that's why this insurance program would be a very good option for them if they don't already have dental insurance."
The new program allow veterans can work directly with the two insurance companies for the best coverage plans.
The closest full-care VA hospital is in Iron Mountain.
The program will cut down on travel time for veterans by helping them find a dentist who will accept their new insurance plan closer to home.
"Taking control of your healthcare is actually one of the messages that the VA wants to come across to our veterans, including dental care," said Nelson. "Again, we want recognize at the VA that oral health can impact a person's overall health."
The program will get vets a reduced monthly cost for the insurance.
Coverage goes into effect January 1st.
For additional information, visit the VA Healthcare website.
RHINELANDER - When you’re celebrating the holidays that often means drinking.
Because of that, there are more alcohol-related accidents and deaths this time of year.
But the Oneida County Sheriff’s office wants to prevent as many as accidents as it can.
The Booze and Belts campaign runs through December 21. The campaign is part of the OWI enforcement grant the sheriff's office received in October.
Throughout the campaign, you’ll see three extra squads on patrol looking out for drunk drivers and people who are not wearing their seat belts.
Lloyd Gauthier, Oneida County Patrol lieutenant, says it's all about making the right choices after you've been drinking.
"We really want people to come and enjoy the holiday season, it's Christmas time here in the Northwoods. Whether it's a family coming to one of the resorts that we have here in the area, or just enjoying the different things that we offer," said Gauthier." "We just want people to make good decisions. And you realize that if you don't make good decision, that can affect other people."
Booze and Belts is a statewide program.
It puts more officers on the streets before the holidays.
The Department of Transportation reports that's when the most accidents happen. Lieutenant Gauthier says your choices can have a range of impact.
Gauthier thinks that's because of early celebrations like office Christmas parties and private gatherings.
"Whether it's a traffic crash where you end up killing someone because you're intoxicated, or you seriously injure somebody else, a family member, or yourself," said Gauthier. "Also driving too fast, with the winter conditions roads can change rapidly."
The Sheriff's department says more officers patrolling for OWI's will keep everyone safe.
The Department of Transportation reports most accidents happen between 7pm and 3am.
Vilas county is also participating in the Booze and Belts campaign.
MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker's administration plans to schedule round table discussions around Wisconsin for people to discuss the state's tax code and propose changes.
Walker says he wants to lower the overall tax burden every year he is in office. The round tables are to discuss the state's tax structure, not any specific proposal.
Walker and the Republican Legislature this year passed a $650 million income tax cut and a $100 million property tax reduction.
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Revenue Department Secretary Rick Chandler hosted the first tax reform round table discussion on Monday at Beloit College. Walker says more will be announced in coming weeks.
ACROSS WISCONSIN - Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that would increase requirements for high school math and science classes students would have to take for graduation.
The bill raises the math and science requirement for graduation from two to three credits each. A computer science class could count as a math credit and an agricultural sciences course could count as a science credit.
The measure also gives schools flexibility to award math and science credits to students in career and technical education programs.
The proposal comes as the state's school districts are implementing more rigorous academic requirements. It would also bring Wisconsin more in line with neighboring states.
RHINELANDER - Most people can now successfully get through the online healthcare website. The Obama administration announced today about 365,000 people have successfully signed up.
That's well behind what the administration had hoped for at this point. Some people are still having trouble because the website isn't completely fixed. But the federal marketplace is paying some people to help.
Aylee Herr is a certified application counselor. He helps people navigate the healthcare.gov website. Today he was helping people sign up in Rhinelander.
In two months three workers in his office have only signed up 30 people in Northcentral Wisconsin.
"The number is actually going up and we are enrolling more people not just them but through our educational processes people are able to do this on their own, that's actually helping these numbers go up and the website is actually working a lot better now," says Aylee Herr, a Certified Application Counselor.
The website was designed to be at a sixth grade level. Before logging onto the site, it’s important to understand your family arrangement and household income.
“Once you get that number worked out the second step we want you to do is figure out what hospitals and doctors you prefer," says Herr. "Once you have those two in a way figured out its very easy for you to navigate the website."
The Obama administration and counselors like Herr will continue their enrollment push through the New Year. People enrolling by December 23rd can get coverage by the first of the year.
GREEN BAY - Gov. Scott Walker says a historic tax credit bill he has signed into law will help revitalize downtowns across Wisconsin.
Walker signed the measure Wednesday at the Hotel Northland in Green Bay. Redevelopment of that 1920s-era hotel is among the projects expected to benefit from the bill that doubles a tax credit available for such expenses.
The new law extends a 20 percent tax credit to all qualified rehabilitation expenses done to buildings built before 1936.
Walker says the tax credit will help lessen renovation and rehabilitation costs that have hampered rebuilding projects in the past.
The city of Green Bay plans to use the tax credit as part of its $35 million renovation of the Hotel Northland, which has been vacant for many years.
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