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Wisconsin roundup: Brewers wear purple in Minneapolis to salute Prince; 10 more state news stories

Members of the Milwaukee Brewers posed for a photo wearing the favorite color of Minneapolis' native son Prince in advance of a road series with the Twins. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Brewers

MINNEAPOLIS — The Milwaukee Brewers arrived in Minneapolis wearing an array of purple costumes that salute the late Twin Cities pop star Prince.

They posed for a photo late Sunday just before their plane ride from Tampa to Minneapolis, where they'll play the Twins Monday in their only visit to the Gopher State this season. Ryan Braun wore a long Prince type purple coat and sunglasses — pitcher Josh Hader wore a dinosaur costume — and infielder Jonathan Villar looked off the mark for Wisconsin sports fans as he wore a purple Minnesota Vikings shirt.

It's a diversion for a number of Major League Baseball teams as they grind through their 162 game season. The Brewers wore colorful 1980s outfits on a long flight in 2012, and they dressed like cowboys in 2011 — the last year Milwaukee made the playoffs.


Baldwin: Trump ignored state’s judicial nominating process

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin says the president ignored the state's bipartisan judicial nominating panel when he named Michael Brennan to the federal appeals court in Chicago.

Donald Trump announced the selection of the Milwaukee attorney and former circuit judge to a fill a Wisconsin seat on the Midwest appellate court that was left vacant for seven years. Two nominees from former Democratic President Barack Obama never got confirmation votes during that time.

Brennan also served on Gov. Scott Walker's nominating panel for state judges — and the Republican Walker on Friday praised his judicial credentials, as did U.S. Senate Republican Ron Johnson. But Brennan never got five of the six votes required to be passed onto the president as a possible judicial nominee. Baldwin said she's "troubled" that the Republican Trump took a "partisan approach."


Thirteen injured in chain-reaction crashes on I-94

LAKE MILLS — Thirteen people are recovering from injuries in a series of three crashes involving ten vehicles on Interstate 94 near Lake Mills in Jefferson County.

The State Patrol says it started around 8:30 a.m. Saturday when a westbound car hit a guard rail. That driver escaped injury, but troopers say four vehicles collided there and six people were hurt — causing traffic to back up as the westbound lanes got plugged up.

Five cars collided almost two miles back, and seven people were injured. None of the victims had life-threatening injuries — the backups were as long as eight and one half miles — and all the lanes were reopened almost 90 minutes after the crashes began.


Second competency hearing ordered for accused Eau Claire killer

EAU CLAIRE — After reviewing the doctor's report, a judge in Eau Claire has scheduled a second competency hearing for 45-year-old murder defendant Shane Helmbrecht.

It will be held Aug 21. Helmbrecht is accused of breaking into his neighbor's home last year and shooting Jen Ward to death. He has told investigators he was hearing voices in his head and he admitted smoking meth the day before.

Helmbrecht's family says he had symptoms of PTSD after serving in the Middle East. His trial is scheduled to be held in February.


Report: Schools raise millions for energy projects with no referendums

MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin public schools have raised local taxes by $217 million in the last eight years for energy projects that do not need voter approval.

Gov. Scott Walker and legislative Republicans want to eliminate the revenue limit exceptions in the next state budget, saying it violates fiscal restraints and schools should have to get referendums passed for energy improvements. In the meantime, schools are scrambling to approve energy projects before the new budget takes effect.

The Journal Sentinel says the Milwaukee Public Schools used the law for the first time to raise taxes by $83 million across 20 years for numerous building efficiencies — and those who've used the exception say it's needed to fix decaying buildings that otherwise could not be taken care of. But Charlie Schneider of the CESA 10 regional school service agency said the law passed by Democrats in 2009 was meant for $180,000 boilers, not multi-million dollar projects.


UW seeks more state funds to help Foxconn

MADISON — A freeway expansion might not be the only major state project to get more tax money to serve Foxconn's proposed new mega factory in Racine or Kenosha counties.

The UW System has asked more state dollars to train more engineers and other high tech workers needed for Foxconn's proposed $10 billion LCD screen plant — and perhaps a second medically related facility that's being talked about for the Madison area. At a recent legislative hearing, UW officials said they would need an undetermined amount of state dollars to open up engineering programs that now have limited student access. The university says it will seek more funding in the new state budget that's more than one month overdue and is still being negotiated by GOP legislative leaders and Gov. Scott Walker.


Former state Rep. Hulsey considering second gubernatorial bid

MADISON — Former state Rep. Brett Hulsey says he'll wait to see how the Democratic field emerges before deciding whether to make his second run for governor.

Hulsey is the latest of eight Democrats who have registered campaign committees with the state, at least considering challenges to Republican Gov. Scott Walker next year. Hulsey was in the Assembly from 2011 through '14, and he got 16 percent of the vote in a primary against Mary Burke in '14.

The 58-year-old Hulsey, a former Sierra Club leader who's now an environmental consultant, was among the loudest critics of Walker's Act 10 public union bargaining limits. He was also involved in several controversial incidents including one in which he brought a box cutter to his Capitol office in 2013 when a female staffer called police because she feared for her safety.


Power restored after Stevens Point truck-train crash

STEVENS POINT — The lights are back on in Stevens Point after about 3,000 electric customers lost power from a truck and train crash.

Police say a semi-trailer was driving north when it was hit by a westbound train that dragged the rig for about 30 feet — and the truck hit part of an auto body shop. WSAW-TV says traffic control gates at the crossing were working at the time — and the semi driver was taken to a hospital to be treated for minor injuries. The crash happened just after 11:10 p.m. Saturday, and the cause is still being investigated.


Feds change their minds, fund homeless veteran programs

MADISON — The federal government has changed its mind about cutting off funds to care for Wisconsin homeless veterans.

The VA has given the Badger State a one year reprieve from a federal order to restructure its programs or face the loss of $1 million dollars in funds each year. The money is used to care for 57 homeless veterans at the state's nursing homes for vets at Union Grove in Racine County and King in Waupaca County. After this year, Wisconsin will compete with others for the funds — and reports say the state's type of system will be among the least likeliest to get federal dollars.


Man saved from drowning

MOUNT PLEASANT — A good Samaritan has saved a 23-year-old man from drowning in a Racine County lake.

Sheriff's deputies say the man was screaming while trying to keep his head above the water, and the rescuer pulled him out and joined a Racine police officer in giving CPR. The incident happened late Saturday afternoon at Quarry Lake Park in Mount Pleasant.

The victim, whose name was not immediately released, was in critical condition at last word at a suburban Milwaukee hospital. Officials say a 4-inch fishing lure was removed from one of his arms, after he apparently got caught in a fish line in the lake — and deputies called it a "tragic swimming accident."


State’s potato industry faces new restrictions

MADISON — Wisconsin potato producers face new restrictions aimed at preventing crop disease.

Gov. Scott Walker signed two bills involving potato growers this past week. One requires farmers to use certified seeds if they're planting on five or more acres. The state's seed certification program through UW-Madison ensures that seeds are free of damaging levels of viruses or diseases.

The other law takes away most of the time potato growers have to treat or destroy plants with blight. They used to have 10 days to address it but now, but they'll have just 24 hours to treat plants with light blight — and 72 hours to destroy them after getting official state notices.