Wisconsin roundup: Anti-crime package of bills approved by Assembly, heads to Walker; more state news stories
MADISON — The Wisconsin Assembly approved a package of anti-crime bills Wednesday — after the Senate had passed the legislation in November.
The new laws contain stiffer penalties for repeat offenders and illegal firearm possession. They would also make carjacking a felony and change a sentencing requirement. The package is on its way to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature. It includes the addition of 54 prosecutors in the 40 Wisconsin counties where the need is the greatest, with hiring to start in July 2019.
Bill to fund armed guards at schools on to state Senate
MADISON — Members of the Wisconsin Assembly have given approval to a bill that would help local schools pay for armed guards.
The legislation approved Tuesday would create a statewide grant program. The Wisconsin Senate will consider the bill next. The grants from the Wisconsin Justice Department would cover three-fourths of the cost of armed security guards in the first year of the program. It hasn't been specified where the funding would come from or how big the grants would be. Tuesday's vote came less than a week after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Turnout for Wis. spring primary larger than normal
MADISON — The weather was bad, but the state reports turnout for Tuesday's spring primary election was actually larger than normal.
Nearly 12 percent of registered voters went to the polls in conditions ranging from snowy to regional flooding. The average turnout for spring primaries over the last 20 years, when a state Supreme Court contest is the only one on the ballot, has been 7.3 percent. Tuesday's results set up an April 3 general election race between Sauk County Circuit Judge Michael Screnock and Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet. Screnock unofficially got 46 percent of the vote, while Dallet got 36 percent.
Wis. student charged with Snapchat threat
WATERLOO — A student in the Waterloo School District is accused of sending a Snapchat to other students that read: "wonder if I could score more than 17?"
Classes in the district were canceled Wednesday due to the threat. Police say the suspect has been arrested and charges have been filed. School district officials say police recommended they cancel, so classes, after-school conferences and other activities were called off. The regular schedules resume Thursday.
False report of school gunman aimed at diverting police attention
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Wisconsin Rapids Police say the false report of a gunman at Lincoln High School Tuesday was intended to divert the attention of authorities.
Lincoln was put on lockdown after police were told a gunman was walking around, inside the building. The 21-year-old woman who made the call was shoplifting at a nearby store and she wanted police attention to be elsewhere. School had been canceled due to the weather, so only a skeleton staff was in the building. The woman is charged with obstruction and disorderly conduct. Her name has not been released.
Walker promises to sign Lincoln Hills bill
MADISON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he will sign a bill that would close the state's juvenile prison by 2021.
He may or may not get that chance. The Assembly passed it unanimously Wednesday, but Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has been noncommittal about its prospects in the Wisconsin Senate. The governor says he has urged Republican senators to support the measure which would shut down the Lincoln Hills facility. The legislation authorizes $80 million in state borrowing to build or renovate new state and county juvenile locations.
Correctional services company faces criminal charges in inmate death
MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office has charged a Florida-based correctional services company with seven misdemeanor counts of falsifying health records.
Armor Correctional Health Services cares for inmates at the Milwaukee County Jail. The charges are connected to the dehydration death of an inmate. Thirty-eight-year-old Terrill Thomas went seven days without water as punishment in 2016. Prosecutors accuse Armor staff members of reporting they had checked on Thomas, when video surveillance shows they didn't. The company says it will "vigorously defend all claims."
Milwaukee to make bid for 2020 Democratic National Convention
MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee officials say hosting the 2020 Democratic National Convention would be an opportunity for the city to show off its world-class facilities and business climate.
The Democratic National Committee will normally issue a formal request for proposals in the spring and visit cities emerging as finalists in late summer. Milwaukee plans to make a bid to get on the short list. The DNC will formally announce its selection no later than spring 2019. Two years ago, the convention brought 54,000 people and more than $230 million in economic activity to the Philadelphia area.
Path of high-powered transmission line would follow highways
MADISON — Three utility companies are proposing an alternate route for a high-powered electric transmission line from south-central Wisconsin to Iowa.
The preferred route now runs 120 miles along Highway 18-151 from the Cardinal electric substation in Middleton to the Hickory Creek station near Dubuque. Avoiding a path through farms and fields adds 20 miles to the route of the 345-kilovolt transmission line. Opponents say the line and its tall towers would damage important Wisconsin conservation areas. American Transmission Company, Dairyland Power Cooperative and ITC Midwest are working jointly on the half-billion dollar project.