North Central Wisconsin lawmakers respond after controversial special legislative sessionSubmitted: 12/06/2018
Rose McBride
Rose McBride

North Central Wisconsin lawmakers respond after controversial special legislative session
WISCONSIN - People protested in Madison outside the Capitol, in the hallways, and in the chambers of the Senate this week.

They were hoping to convince the legislature to vote against bills that would limit the power of the incoming Democratic administration.

"I don't believe for one second Republicans would have voted to take away power from themselves," said Rep. Katrina Shankland, (D) Stevens Point.

Republicans claimed these bills have actually been on the table for a while, but Rep. Shankland says that isn't the case.

"I asked the Legislative Reference Bureau when these bills were drafted, and they were drafted two weeks after the election when Republicans lost every single statewide office," said Rep. Shankland. 

Rep. Shankland said the bills increase GOP power and go against what the people of Wisconsin want because they elected Democrats to state offices.

"It is clear to me that they are being sore losers. If they really cared about limiting the executive branch and limiting the Attorney General then they would have done it within the eight years of total power that they had in state government," said Rep. Shankland. 

Republicans don't disagree they wanted to put restrictions on the governor's office, but say the negative attention surrounding the session wasn't warranted.

"I think once you get under the headlines you see some really god stuff in this bill," said Sen. Tom Tiffany, (R) Minocqua. 

Sen. Tiffany says one of those good things is giving the legislature power to pick the head of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which Gov.-Elect Tony Evers has made clear he doesn't like.

"I think about right here in Rhinelander, Print Pack would probably be in Georgia if it wasn't for WEDC," said Sen. Tiffany.

Rhinelander Republican Representative Rob Swearingen says by limiting the power of the governor, the playing field is more even between both branches of government.

"If one branch has power over the other with a stroke of the pen, that doesn't say very much about co-equals so what we did was level the playing field back out," said Rep. Swearingen. 

Both Sen. Tiffany and Rep. Swearingen say despite voting to take away some power, they are looking forward to working with Governor-Elect Evers in his coming term.

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RHINELANDER - Around 9:30 Wednesday morning police and fire crews responded to a semi versus car accident.

The crash happened on Highway 47 near Birch Lane in Rhinelander, just across the street from the Shell gas station.

The driver of the car was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries after pulling out in-front of the semi.

The truck driver was unharmed.
Oneida County Sheriff's Department says a citation is possible.

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RHINELANDER - He runs a warehouse instead of a "workshop", drives a truck instead of a sleigh, but the jolly and bearded Jeff Dillenberg still felt a little bit like Santa Claus on Wednesday afternoon, helping deliver some early holiday gifts to well-deserving girls and boys.

"This week was a busy one," Dillenberg said.

The Rhinelander Slumberland warehouse manager got ready to ship out dozens of twin and full-size beds. They're destined for families whose children sleep on the floor or a couch.

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RHINELANDER - The sounds of Christmas echoed through the halls of the Oneida County Courthouse Wednesday.

"It was a bit nerve racking," said seventh grader Kyleah Hartman.

Hartman is part of the James Williams Middle School audition group called Show Stars.

She says they've been preparing for this gig since the beginning of October.

"We've been practicing every Monday after school," said Hartman.

County Clerk Tracy Hartman invited the group to the courthouse for the first time.

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WOODRUFF - We know how to handle the ice and snow here in the Northwoods, but it doesn't hurt to get a reminder on ice safety as that ice starts to firm up.

DNR Warden Supervisor David Walz says no one should go onto the ice with the assumption the ice is one hundred percent safe.

There are different types of ice and it can change day to day. Sometimes it changes hour to hour.

"We do encourage people to check with some different places like bait shops," said Walz. "Do some precautions like carrying a spud bar or obviously drill some holes on your way out."

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EAGLE RIVER - Newswatch 12 spoke with a man who got two scam calls from someone pretending to be an Eagle River police officer and another pretending to be a firefighter.

Both scam calls asked for donations.

Eagle River Fire Chief Michael Anderson says he thinks the caller is a local because the department is taking donations for a second station, but not over the phone.

"I believe they probably read [that we need donations] in the paper and thought that they would just take advantage of the current situation. Though, we will always take donations, we will never call and solicit donations from you. And we will never ask you for your credit card information," said Anderson.

If you do receive one of these calls you are asked to report it to your local police department.

Law enforcement reminds everyone to never wire money to someone over the phone who you don't know.

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TOMAHAWK - Some police officers deal with drugs on a daily basis.

A new report shows that the drug Fentanyl is on the rise now, and it's the number one cause of drug overdoses.

This drug not only puts the abuser's life on the line but the officers' lives too.

Tomahawk police officer Matt Gorell said the drug is extremely dangerous.

If officers come into contact with it by breathing it in or even touching it, they could die in a short period of time.

Gorell said when they respond to overdosing calls or drug stops they carry Naloxone, a drug used to counter opiate drugs and heroin overdoses.

"We have to take [fentanyl] very seriously. Fentanyl is so potent an amount the size a pinhead is enough to kill [an average person]," said Gorell.

He said fentanyl can often times be found mixed with heroin and the survival rate of the user is very low without a counter drug like Naloxone.

Overdose drug deaths hit a record high last year killing more than 70,000 people.

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WAUSAU - Gov.-elect Tony Evers feels lawmakers could have passed the lame duck session bills with more transparency. He's upset they were passed without much discussion and late at night.

Evers said his interactive session in Wausau on Wednesday was the opposite.

More than 125 people shared their ideas during his "Building the People's Budget" tour.

"The contrast between what's going to happen today and what happened a week or so ago in the State Capitol is going to be striking for you," Evers said.

Evers expects to propose more spending on schools when his budget comes out next year.

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