WISCONSIN - Deer hunters care a lot about late fall weather, but there's also reason to care about spring weather. It's harder for deer to find food with snow on the ground. That puts deer under added stress. The DNR wants to know just how stressed they are. That's why they measure the severity of the winter with an index. Temperatures and snow cover add points to the total.
"When you get to the end of the winter, if you have a score of less than 50, it's considered mild. If it's more than 80 it's considered severe or 100 is very severe. At the present time in Rhinelander, it's only 44 which would say it's a mild winter," says Keith McCaffery, DNR Retired Deer Biologist.
But this spring is one for the record books. The DNR has been keeping records since 1960. Only one other year has had this much snow cover this late. In the southern part of the state, that's led to deer deaths.
"That high density of deer is likely to cause some stress. There is that indication that we have very severe browsing going on in some of the wood lots, in the area where these moralities are taking place. Aspen branches are chewed off to the diameter of a person's thumb," says Keith McCaffery.
Here in the Northwoods, the deer are still doing well despite the snow cover. This means there are not concerns for the upcoming hunting season yet. Still the DNR reminds people not to feed or bait deer.
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.
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.
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 - More people enrolled into Obamacare during the month of November compared to October, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Statewide, 4,426 people enrolled into the federal health program in November.
Glitches and technical issues on healthcare.gov made coverage signup difficult in its early weeks.
Fewer than 900 people in Wisconsin signed up for insurance on the federal exchange in October.
The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance says the November numbers are an improvement. But J.P. Wieske, Office of the Commissioner of Insurance public information officer, says they're still shy of expectations.
"The numbers aren't nearly enough from our standpoint, and hopefully that will improve," Wieske said.
But Wieske believes that not completely because people aren’t buying insurance.
"A lot of people took advantage of the early renewal process, either small businesses or individuals." Wieske said. "So in a lot of cases while they have the ability to certainly shop on the exchange, they've already locked in a plan for next year."
Estimates say more than 550,000 Wisconsinites were uninsured before the federal law took effect. The state hopes about half of them will get insurance through the federal exchange.
Wieske says they’ll use regional enrollment networks instead of general advertising to get the word out.
"And have people available to staff those, talk to people and to get them where they need to go." Wieske said. "This stuff, while we have simplified it as best we can, it's certainly complicated."
Website improvements have helped more people access information on rates and access to purchase coverage. Even though more people are getting through the site Wieske encourages buyers to double check their coverage.
"I can't emphasize enough that you think you have coverage, you've signed up through the exchange and you haven't received any confirmation, it's worth your time just to call the insurer that you signed up with to make sure they have your information correct," Wieske said.
According to Department of Health and Human Services statistics, 47,173 applications have been submitted. Those applications cover 85,863 Wisconsinites.
Between October and November, 5,303 Wisconsinites have successfully selected and enrolled into a marketplace plan.
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