- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Doctors oppose e-cigarette bill; smokers in favor

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Even as the nation’s second-largest city is moving to ban electronic cigarettes where tobacco smoking is prohibited, Wisconsin lawmakers are considering doing just the opposite.

A Republican-sponsored bill to clarify that using e-cigarettes indoors is legal, despite a statewide ban on indoor smoking, drew opposition Wednesday from doctors, scientists and others who cited concerns over the product’s safety.

“If this bill passes, Wisconsin’s children with their young brains so sensitive to nicotine may be put at risk. Why would we do that?” said Dr. Michael Fiore, a University of Wisconsin professor who also founded the UW Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention.

The science behind whether the vapors from the devices are toxic to bystanders hasn’t caught up with the widespread use, and five states and dozens of cities - including the nation’s three largest - have moved to treat the newly popular e-cigarettes nearly the same as conventional cigarettes. The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in workplaces and public areas.

Sen. Glenn Grothman’s bill would do the opposite, explicitly allowing e-cigarette users to inhale the nicotine-laced vapors indoors despite the state’s 2009 law that prohibits indoor smoking.

“It’s sad that we have to introduce legislation to clarify that the smoking ban was not supposed to (affect) e-cigarettes,” said Grothman, a Republican from West Bend.

Advocates point to studies that show e-cigarette vapors may be many times less harmful than conventional cigarette smoke as a reason to prevent additional regulations.


Search on for pink gun in woman’s shooting death

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Authorities are searching for a pink revolver owned by a Wisconsin woman who was shot to death last month.

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said Wednesday that detectives are searching for a Charter Arms Pink Lady Undercover Lite .38 caliber revolver taken from Cheryl Gilberg’s home in Mazomanie (may-zoh-MAY’-nee).

The 43-year-old Gilberg was shot to death on Feb. 23. Mahoney says a 39-year-old Janesville man being held on unrelated charges in Rock County is the suspect. The man was called a person of interest last week.

Detectives want to talk to anyone who saw a black SUV parked along Highway 14 between Mazomanie and Middleton on Feb. 23.

The Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/1q84UIjhttps://bit.ly/1q84UIj ) reports snowmobilers have been asked to be on the lookout for any potential evidence as trails reopen.


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, https://www.madison.com/wsjhttps://www.madison.com/wsj


Walker: Campaign donation bills not on his radar

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday that he’s not pushing for Republican-sponsored bills loosening campaign donation and spending regulations that are opposed by a variety of government watchdog groups and a major private-sector union.

Walker’s comments cast doubt on whether the bills, which have been progressing quickly in the Senate, have enough support to pass and be signed into law before the legislative session ends later this month. It’s also unclear how Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos feels about the measures, which must pass his chamber. His spokeswoman said Vos was reviewing the proposals.

One bill would allow lobbyists to deliver checks from political donors directly to lawmakers and other elected officials throughout the year, including when the Legislature is in session.

Current law doesn’t allow lobbyists to make campaign contributions, either from themselves or on behalf of other donors, until after June 1 of an election year in which a candidate is running. The bill also would allow lobbyists to personally give campaign contributions starting on April 15 in election years. That is the day candidates can begin circulating petitions to get on the ballot.

“I have not gotten engaged in that,” Walker said when asked about the lobbying bill following a speech. “It’s not something I’m pushing.”

Attorney Mike Wittenwyler, who works extensively on campaign finance law with a variety of independent groups and candidates, supports the change. He said it would help small operations that have one person doing multiple jobs, including lobbying. They can’t discuss political donations until after June 1, while larger operations, with separate people who lobby and coordinate contributions, can, he said.

A variety of groups, including the Wisconsin state AFL-CIO, Common Cause of Wisconsin and the League of Women Voters, opposed both the lobbying bill and one affecting disclosure of campaign spending.


Business groups slam $10.10 minimum wage proposal

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Some of Wisconsin’s largest business associations say a nearly $3 increase in the state’s minimum wage would cost the economy 27,000 jobs, citing recent polls and a study by a conservative Washington think tank.

Leaders from the groups said proposals by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 aren’t popular with voters when they hear about the potential job loss.

Bill Smith, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, says minimum wage increase proposals are “harmful to the very people they are trying to help.”

Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, questioned the studies the groups cited. He says if people have more money to spend money it helps create jobs.

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