Wisconsin roundup: Walker proposes tuition cuts; Baldwin takes aim at Trump cabinet picks; 8 more state news stories
MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker has been known to drop surprises in his annual State of the State addresses to the Legislature.
On Tuesday, the Republican Walker said for the first time he would include a tuition cut for University of Wisconsin System students as part of the state budget he'll submit to lawmakers next month. Walker spokesman Tom Evenson says the tuition cut would be "paid for," but did not say how -- and the governor gave no details on how large the drop would be.
It would come after four years of tuition freezes for instate undergrads -- and surprised UW-System officials reacted cautiously, while GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he's not convinced it's a top priority for lawmakers. Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca is skeptical that the UW would get extra funds to absorb the lost revenue, saying it never happened when the GOP froze tuition.
Baldwin seeks more Trump cabinet disclosures
WASHINGTON — Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin has joined six other U.S. Senate Democrats in pushing for more financial disclosures from Donald Trump's cabinet nominees.
In a letter to the president elect, Baldwin and the other Democrats say they want to know what compensation and preferential treatment they'll get from outside groups for taking the cabinet posts. They also want to ensure the officials withdraw from cases tied to their former employers.
The request comes as Senate panels hold confirmation hearings on Trump's nominees -- including one Wednesday for Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Trump has said that Tillerson's worldwide business experience as the former head of Exxon Mobil makes him uniquely qualified -- but Baldwin says the nominees' international experiences will make it hard to root out potential conflicts of interest.
Roads, jobs, tax cuts touted in State of State
MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker vowed to grow Wisconsin's workforce in his annual State of the State address.
The Republican addressed both houses of the Legislature for the seventh time Tuesday afternoon. He put a positive spin on some of the state's hottest issues, and he borrowed a line from Ronald Reagan by insisting that Wisconsinites are better off now than six years ago when he took office. On transportation -- in which majority Republicans disagree on how to pay for new roads -- Walker said his administration invested t$2 billion more than former Gov. Jim Doyle in the same time period.
The governor also touted the state's lowest unemployment rate in 15 years and a $4.7 billion cut in state and local property taxes, saying a typical family has had an income tax cut of almost $1,200. Walker also promised more state school funding in the next budget he'll propose in February.
Big lottery winner gets jail, probation for endangering girl
MARINETTE — Wisconsin's last Powerball jackpot winner has avoided prison time for stalking and endangering a teenage girl he hired as a house cleaner.
Fifty-year-old Douglas Miron of Marinette was sentenced Tuesday to one year in a county jail with work release, and he must pay $55,000 in fines and spend four years on probation. Miron struck a plea deal with prosecutors, and he pleaded no contest in November to stalking, reckless endangerment, pointing a firearm, and obstructing police.
He was originally charged with 10 counts, as prosecutors alleged that Miron stalked the girl, broke into her home, pointed at a gun at a couple, and committed perjury in a John Doe proceeding, all from 2011 through 2015. Miron won $31 million in a 2009 Powerball drawing, and he netted $11 million by taking the cash option.
Police video released in La Crosse officers shooting
LA CROSSE — La Crosse police and sheriff's deputies have released squad car video of a suspect being shot by two officers Dec. 30.
The video showed 37-year-old Daniel Lexvold getting out of his truck and swinging a logging chain that he refused to drop upon officers' orders -- and after the officers failed to subdue Lexvold, he ran to the rear of a squad car when La Crosse city officer Ryan Deflorian fell.
Officials say Lexvold ran toward Deflorian when that officer and deputy Brandon Stoughteneger shot and wounded the suspect, who was wanted for a domestic disturbance earlier in the day and several previous crimes. Lexvold is jailed with a $10,000 bond, and prosecutors expect to file charges Friday for both the Dec. 30 incident and bail jumping for previous incidents. The two officers who shot Lexvold are on paid administrative leave while the state Justice Department investigates their actions.
Woman hospitalized, man arrested in Lake Geneva meth fire
LAKE GENEVA — A 35-year-old woman was hospitalized in serious condition after a methamphetamine lab started on fire in a hotel room in Lake Geneva.
Police say the woman was in the room with a 50-year-old man who operated the meth lab at The Cove hotel. He escaped injury in the Monday morning fire and was arrested -- and police say they've asked Walworth County prosecutors to charge him with making meth, possessing a meth waste product, and having drug paraphernalia.
Four law enforcement officers were treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation and later released, along with one firefighter and a hotel security officer. Police say they're waiting to interview the hospitalized woman.
Milwaukee stripper pleads not guilty in murder case
MILWAUKEE — A stripper from Milwaukee has pleaded not guilty to felony murder in the death of a 56-year-old man from Minnesota last month.
Twenty-two-year-old Lyneeshia Battle waived her right to a preliminary hearing, and she's due back in Milwaukee County Circuit Court next Tuesday when a tentative trial date could be set. According to WISN-TV, Battle and her unidentified victim met at a strip club in Waupaca -- and he reportedly contacted her last month in Milwaukee for sex.
Prosecutors say Battle texted the man, and told him to meet her at a house where she and her boyfriend were planning to rob him -- and the boyfriend allegedly shot the man twice in his car, which he crashed a short time after driving off. The TV report did not say where the victim was from in Minnesota.
Election officials: presidential recount cost $2M
MADISON — Wisconsin election officials say last month's presidential recount cost a little more than $2 million, about $1.5 million less than originally projected.
The state Elections Commission estimated the effort would cost $3.5 million. Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who requested the recount, paid that amount upfront with money from donors. The Elections Commission said Tuesday that all 72 counties have submitted actual costs totaling $2,005,603. The commission will refund Stein the difference.
She has said she may use the money to fund Count My Vote, an organization she's launching to ensure every Wisconsin vote counts. Commission spokesman Reid Magney said counties overestimated costs because they had to put together projections quickly and didn't want to underestimate. The recount confirmed Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the state.
More teens buy tobacco illegally in central Wisconsin
WAUSAU — More teens in central Wisconsin appear to be buying tobacco illegally.
That's according to surveillance checks of retailers in the Wausau and Stevens Point areas, as part of the ongoing "Wisconsin Wins" program. Police enlist underage volunteers to try and buy tobacco, which is illegal for those younger than 18.
According to the Marathon County Health Department in Wausau, underage buyers obtained tobacco nine times during 80 checks last year, higher than the previous year's total of four purchases in 70 checks. In Portage County, five illegal buyers got tobacco from 46 sellers last year, more than the 2015 total of three buys in 47 inspections. Nearby Wood County, where Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids are located, had declines in illegal tobacco purchases last year.
Visitations resume at Oshkosh prison
OSHKOSH — The state's correctional institution in Oshkosh has resumed letting prisoners see their families and friends.
Those visits were interrupted late last month because a larger number of inmates became ill. But officials say the visitations resumed this past weekend.