TODAY’S NEWS BRIEFS – Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F. Because I’m based in SE WI there will be references to WI stories.

The coming days will bring multiple rounds of light snow before the bitter cold arrives at the beginning of next week.

After a historically warm start to the year, more typical Milwaukee winter weather will visit for the end of January and the beginning of February.

According to National Weather Service meteorologist JJ Wood, snow is likely to start Wednesday morning and continue into the afternoon in southern Wisconsin. Wood said Milwaukee may get 2-3 inches during the week’s first round of snow Wednesday.

“Milwaukee is closer to two to three inches but it will likely be a wet snow and should affect the morning and possibly the evening commute so plan around the weather if you can,” said Wood.

Late Tuesday, the weather service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Milwaukee, Racine, Walworth, Rock and Kenosha Counties from 6 a.m. Wednesday to 9 p.m.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Gov. Tony Evers announced Tuesday in his annual State of the State address that he will seek hundreds of millions of dollars for mental health services for Wisconsinites, particularly for children who have spent the last three years navigating the coronavirus pandemic — declaring 2023 “the year of mental health.”

In a primetime televised speech, Evers pledged to work with Republican lawmakers to provide more tax relief and increased funding for local government services, and called for billions in new funding for classrooms and programs aimed at recruiting more teachers.

“We also know that if we want to get our kids caught up and achieving at their highest potential, then we need to reduce and keep class sizes small. Schools need resources to retain experienced educators and recruit new, talented folks to join our classrooms,” Evers said Tuesday in a speech delivered inside the Assembly chamber of the Wisconsin State Capitol. “We also have work to do to get our kids caught up from the past few years. We all want to improve outcomes and ensure our kids are prepared for success. And I believe that together we will.”

Republican legislative leaders said the proposals unveiled Tuesday by the Democratic governor — totaling more than $1 billion in new spending — were all but certain to be too expensive to support and pledged to throw out his upcoming two-year state budget proposal and start from scratch as they have done in the past.

“Boy, he sure is trying to spend a lot of money,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said after Evers’ speech. “We’ll see in a month what his budget all entails, but I was trying to add up the numbers going along, and he’s trying to spend a lot of the hard-earned taxpayer money of Wisconsin.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in the upcoming state budget-writing process, Republicans won’t “grow the size of government beyond where we already are.”

“Pretty much everything he proposed today was a government expansion. So I would assume that most of those are DOA,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told reporters.

“We already have a government that’s too big and too expensive. In Wisconsin, I want to reduce the size of that so people can help deal with the inflationary costs brought on by the pandemic and the response to it. But if he has good ideas, I’m happy to listen.”

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A former University of Wisconsin football wide receiver was convicted of two counts of first degree homicide and other charges Tuesday in the February 2020 shooting deaths of two women.

Jurors deliberated about two hours before finding Marcus Randle El guilty in the slayings of 27-year-old Brittany McAdory and 30-year-old Seairaha Winchester.

Randle El, who was a wide receiver for the Wisconsin Badgers from 2004 to 2007, also was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of operating a vehicle without consent while possessing a weapon.

Prosecutors argued Randle El suspected Winchester was informing police of his drug dealing and that he killed McAdory to eliminate her as a witness.

Investigators said that while they did not have a murder weapon directly linking Randle El to the slayings, surveillance footage and text messages tied him to the crimes.

—Wisconsin AP

On Tuesday, CNN broke the news that former Vice President Mike Pence also had some classified documents, a fact he informed Congress of on Tuesday, found at his home in Indiana on January 16. Pence had “about a dozen” classified documents from his time as VP, and subsequently turned them over to the FBI.

As Pence’s representative to the Archives Greg Jacob explained to CNN, “Vice President Pence was unaware of the existence of sensitive or classified documents at his personal residence. Vice President Pence understands the high importance of protecting sensitive and classified information and stands ready and willing to cooperate fully with the National Archives and any appropriate inquiry,” Jacob added.

It’s worth noting that Pence, unlike Biden, made the discovery public almost immediately, whereas Biden withheld the information from the American people from early November before the 2022 midterms until the story finally broke via a leak to mainstream outlets.

In a post on Truth Social Tuesday afternoon, President Trump defended his VP. “Mike Pence is an innocent man,” Trump said. “He never did anything knowingly dishonest in his life. Leave him alone!!!”

—Spencer Brown, Townhall

A fourth batch of classified documents was found during an FBI search of President Biden’s residence in Wilmington, Del., on Friday, a search that the White House said was planned in advance.

The discovery yielded another round of questioning from reporters at the White House on Monday with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre referring them to the White House counsel’s office, but at least one exchange prompted laughter.

“When you found out that the FBI located even more classified materials in Wilmington, which four-letter word did you use?” White House Correspondent Peter Doocy asked.

“Oh my goodness, Peter,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded, laughing.

DOOCY: President Biden is still running for re-election in 2024, right?

JEAN-PIERRE: I’ll just repeat what the president said after the midterm election, which is he intends to run. I’m going to be very careful from here as you know, because we are covered by the Hatch Act, and I’m not going to speak further to his process.

DOOCY: Is there a precedent for people running for president after FBI agents search their sock drawer?

JEAN-PIERRE: Say that one more time.

DOOCY: Is there a precedent for people running for president after FBI agents–

JEAN-PIERRE: It sounds like you already know the answer to that question.

DOOCY: I don’t know the answer to that question. The FBI search of a president’s residence is a big, big deal.

—CNS News

California has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, with rules on everything from the types of weapons and ammunition that can be legally owned, to who can and can’t own any weapon, to broad funding for community programs aimed at curbing gun violence.

And researchers believe those tight rules do help reduce the odds of dying from a gunshot in California. Tthe state has experienced two mass shootings in the last few days.

“I don’t know if there is a law that can be enacted related to mass shootings that would prevent them. Though I’d also say that doesn’t mean such laws aren’t useful, or that having scientific evidence that a law would work should be why it should or shouldn’t be (enacted),” said Andrew Morral, a behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation and co-author of The Science of Gun Policy project, an ongoing study launched in 2018 that issued its third update earlier this month.

The research has found some patterns.

For example, studies show that gun-related violent crime is more common in communities with “stand your ground” laws and in communities that make it easy to carry concealed weapons. Also, stricter rules about storing and locking up guns, known as “child access prevention laws,” may reduce violent crime, suicide and accidents – but possibly at the cost of making it harder to use guns for self-defense.

But RAND didn’t find a lot of strong research into how laws prevent mass shootings. Though Morral said there is “limited” evidence that banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines curtails mass shootings, he was quick to point out that “limited” is “our weakest evidence rating short of ‘inconclusive.’”

—The website Governing

Roughly a fifth of American companies are looking to scale down their workforce in the coming months as businesses come under pressure of low margins, with many foreseeing an economic recession, according a January survey by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE).

According to the survey, almost 20 percent of respondents expect employment at their firms to fall in the coming months. “For the first time since 2020, more respondents expect falling rather than increased employment at their firms in the next three months. Fewer respondents than in recent years expect their firms’ capital spending to increase in the same period, said NABE president Julia Coronado, founder and president of MacroPolicy Perspectives LLC, according to a post by the NABE.

—The Epoch Times

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said on Tuesday he will introduce legislation to ban TikTok nationwide, charging that it violates the privacy of Americans.

“.@tiktok_us is China’s backdoor into Americans’ lives. It threatens our children’s privacy as well as their mental health. Last month Congress banned it on all government devices. Now I will introduce legislation to ban it nationwide,” the Missouri populist wrote.

—Breitbart News

No issue better demonstrates the need for school choice than gender ideology, which has swept the public education system over the past few years, roping in thousands of vulnerable and impressionable children and stripping their parents of their rights.

Gender ideology is not only taught as fact in public school classrooms. It is also enforced administratively. Teachers and peers alike are required to accept a gender-confused student’s new identity by referring to them by their preferred name and pronouns and even allowing them into the restroom of their choice. Refusing to abide by this new identity could get you fired or subjected to a Title IX investigation.

There are several ways we can start fighting back against egregious behavior such as this in the public education system. Laws requiring schools to keep parents updated about their students’ mental health and obtain permission before using a student’s new identity are a great place to start. Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act should be the model for legislation of this kind.

But there is also another solution: school choice. This week is National School Choice Week. Families should not be stuck in an education system that actively undermines parental rights and ideologically grooms children. They deserve the freedom to yank their students out of a school that disrespects their values and send them to one that better fits their needs.

School choice gives families the power to hold the public education system accountable — especially if it tries to force its ideology onto their children. Schools that disregard parental rights will soon find that they’re hemorrhaging funding as families take their taxpayer dollars elsewhere, and they will have no choice but to embrace reform.

Education freedom is a guaranteed way to break gender ideology’s chokehold on the public education system. And if conservatives are serious about weeding out this noxious belief system, then school choice needs to be a legislative priority.

—Kaylee McGhee White is the deputy editor of Restoring America for the Washington Examiner and a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum

It’s hoped that the lights at a Massachusetts high school will be able to be turned off by the end of next month, about a year-and-a-half after a computer glitch kept the lights on night and day, officials say.

The unusual challenge faced by Minnechaug Regional High School, located in the western Massachusetts town of Wilbraham, means there has been no way to turn the lights off short of unscrewing bulbs or flipping circuit breakers that leave entire sections of the building in the dark.

“We are very much aware this is costing taxpayers a significant amount of money,” Aaron Osborne, an assistant superintendent of finance at Hampden-Wilbraham Regional Schools, told NBC News. “And we have been doing everything we can to get this problem solved.”

Osborne estimated the extra cost to the district for the nearly 7,000 lights in the 248,000-square-foot building is in the thousands of dollars a month, but “not in the tens of thousands.”

The school serves about 1,200 students from the towns of Wilbraham and Hampden.

The situation has drawn the attention of Saturday Night Live, which mentioned the lights-on challenge during the Weekend Update segment of its Jan. 21 broadcast.

—Associated Press

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1974 American criminal and cult leader Charles Manson and three of his followers were convicted of a series of notorious murders; their crimes inspired the best-selling book Helter Skelter (1974).

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