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Posted inEconomy, Health & Welfare

Bowing to pressure, fireplace makers step up safety measures

To stave off regulation and lawsuits over severe burns to toddlers, manufacturers will provide protective screens as standard equipment with new gas fireplaces. The industry has revised its voluntary guidelines to call for the addition of mesh screens to be permanently attached to new fireplaces to prevent contact with the scorching glass fronts, which get hot enough to melt skin.

Posted inEconomy, Health & Welfare, Money & Politics

Bills would let health providers say, ‘I’m sorry’

A couple of years ago, Dr. Erik Severson transferred a heart patient to a different hospital. When the man died under Severson’s care, the physician took a risk as he broke the news to the man’s son. He apologized — although he knew his words could be used against him in court. Now a Republican lawmaker, Severson has introduced a bill to let doctors do just that without fearing malpractice.

Posted inEconomy, Money & Politics

Auto insurance bill was clash of titans

On April 6, lawmakers repealed every aspect of 2009’s so-called “Truth in Auto” law except mandatory auto insurance. Insurance companies argued that the 2009 changes would lead to higher premiums and more people going without insurance. Trial lawyers invoked catastrophic situations in which the disputed auto policy provisions could make the difference in whether accident victims can pay their bills or go bankrupt. Both sides spent heavily to influence the Legislature. But the general public was largely silent.

Posted inEconomy, Government

Should raw milk sales be legalized?

For farmer Brian Wickert, the raw milk bill is about having the freedom to live without interference from the government. But for health officials in America’s Dairyland, it’s about potentially exposing unsuspecting citizens to disease-causing bacteria. At the crux of this debate is the age-old question: How much should government protect its citizens from possible hazards?

Posted inEconomy, Health & Welfare

Burn cases turn up the heat on fireplace makers

In September, a family’s vacation in Wisconsin Dells turned tragic when an infant touched the glass front of a fireplace and suffered third-degree burns at a resort hotel. Manufacturers of gas fireplaces are being buffeted by lawsuits and the threat of federal regulation amid heightened concerns about the risk of burns from the appliances, which can get hot enough to melt skin.