‘I’m sorry’ bill, drone restrictions among 62 new laws enacted; WWII crew reunites to fly again; Fleeing suspect caught when car gets stuck in snow; More state news
MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker signed 62 bills into law Tuesday, including some of the most notable measures that just recently passed the Legislature.
One new law ends the longtime practice of letting families harbor relatives who commit major felony crimes and throw off police investigators.
Walker also approved a limited plan to make schools more accountable. Private schools that get tax money to teach low-income kids will provide performance data and be graded by the state just like public schools. However, new penalties for failing schools did not get enough votes to pass.
The governor also gave schools more flexibility by ending the 180-day class time requirement, while keeping minimum hours for instruction. Schools can have fewer but longer days, saving money on things like busing.
Also, drunk drivers who cause injuries will have to spend at least 30 days in jail under a bill signed by Walker Tuesday.
He also approved the so-called "I'm sorry" bill in which medical professionals can apologize to patients' families for mistakes without having it used against doctors in malpractice suits.
Other new laws prohibit employers from asking workers and job candidates for the passwords to their social media accounts. Unmanned drones cannot record people where they expect privacy and police cannot use drones to obtain evidence without a warrant. Another law reduces the numbers of suspects having to give their DNA to police when they're arrested, but before they're convicted.
Another law will end Wisconsin's popular do-not-call list for telemarketers and merge with the federal no-call list. Supporters said the Federal Trade Commission's no-call list still lets people keep their relative peace and quiet at home by keeping unwanted sales pitches away. The FTC does not require people to re-register every two years like the state did.
The change saves $190,000 a year. State consumer protection officials said it would give them more time to investigate those who violate the no-call law.
Walker also signed a bill to let residents hit by skyrocketing propane bills get emergency loans. The law reduces interest rates for qualified borrowers to address future emergencies like the one in January when fuel shortages caused suppliers to jack up their prices. Another bill will let Wisconsinites buy long shotguns and rifles in other states.
Tax-deductible college savings can be made for longer periods in the EdVest program, and contributions are allowed to any students instead of just family members.
Also, small egg producers with 150 birds or less can sell their products at farmers markets without having to get state food licenses.
Veteran flight crew reunited for B-17 'mission'
OSHKOSH -- Here's something that may never happen again. A complete aircraft crew from World War II will make a flight Monday in Oshkosh.
The Experimental Aircraft Association has brought together veterans from Wisconsin to represent each of the ten bomber-crew positions in a B-17.
That in itself is a real accomplishment since most 1940's war veterans have died and the remaining ones are getting into their 90s.
The EAA crew includes the pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, bombardier, radio operator and gunners -- all from World War II. They'll fly an aircraft that the EAA will take on a national tour of over 40 cities starting April 18.
The plane is the Aluminum Overcast. It was built as the war was ending so it never made a combat mission.
The EAA has owned the plane since 1981. It's among the last remaining B-17's that are air-worthy.
Fleeing suspect caught when car gets stuck in snow
Authorities in the Northwoods avoided a potential shooting incident yesterday when they took a Rhinelander man into custody.
Oneida County sheriff's deputies said they approached a 51-year-old man in a motel parking lot for questioning about some recent burglaries. But the man drove away and led the officers on a chase through Rhinelander which ended when his car got stuck in the snow in the nearby town of Pelican.
Officials said the man then held a weapon to his head, but police negotiators were able to take him into custody without incident.
Sheriff Grady Hartman said a potentially dangerous situation was prevented with the help of Oneida County emergency personnel, the State Patrol and police officers from Rhinelander and Three Lakes.
--Mike Michalak, WHDG, Rhinelander
Contingent will support Bradley Center replacement if parks are funded too MILWAUKEE -- Almost 600 people gathered in Milwaukee Tuesday evening to insist that the government treat kids the same as professional and college athletes.
Members of the group Common Ground overwhelmingly agreed to support public funding for a proposed new arena for the Bucks and Marquette, but only if up to $250 million is budgeted for improved parks and play facilities in Milwaukee County. If the park money is not set aside, the group says it will oppose the new arena to replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
A task force is looking at funding options. Bucks owner Herb Kohl says he'll give a substantial but undetermined amount toward the new arena.
Jennifer O'Hear of Common Ground's Fair Play campaign says kids also deserve better and they should have more of a say in how tax money is spent.
Common Ground is a coalition of churches, charities, and small businesses. It was formed a year ago after a survey showed that two-thirds of Milwaukee's athletic and recreation facilities were in fair to poor condition.
Dairy Council backs milk for needy families
Wisconsin milk is in short supply at food banks for the hungry, and there's a new effort to change that.
The Midwest Dairy Council is working with farmers, milk companies and the Feeding America food program on what they call "The Great American Milk Drive."
Council dietitian Stephanie Cundith said milk is one of the least-donated food items, and it's the most requested by food banks and their users. Brownfield Ag News Service said Feeding America gets less than a gallon of milk donations each year for each needy person who is served.
Perishable milk itself is not donated. Instead, money donations are turned into vouchers that recipients can redeem at stores. Officials say the donations stay in the areas where they're given.
For more information, visit www.milklife.com/give
Four judges seek GAB seat
MADISON -- Four retired circuit judges are still in the running for a seat on the state Government Accountability Board.
A selection panel has given Gov. Scott Walker a list of finalists for him to choose from.
Incumbent Michael Brennan is seeking a second six-year term on the board. The other finalists are retired Milwaukee judges Victor Manian and John Franke, and former Dane County judge Michael Nowakowski.
State law requires Walker to choose one of those finalists.
The Accountability Board is made of up of six retired judges who run Wisconsin's elections and investigate political corruption and ethics violations.
Legal challenge to John Doe probe can continue
A federal judge has refused to drop a legal challenge to the John Doe probe into alleged illegal campaign activities from Wisconsin's recall elections.
Yesterday Judge Rudolph Randa said he would not approve a request by state prosecutors to throw out a lawsuit from the Wisconsin Club for Growth which seeks to halt the secret John Doe probe.
The Milwaukee County DA's office is looking into alleged illegal campaign coordination between conservative outfits and Gov. Scott Walker and other recall candidates from 2011 and 2012.
The Club for Growth said the probe violates its rights to free speech, free assembly and equal protections granted under the U.S. Constitution. Prosecutors said federal courts are generally barred from being involved in state cases.
Randa said the ban applies when states make prosecutions, and the case is not at that stage yet. State courts are considering several other challenges to the current John Doe. Most seek to drop the probe in which the state secretly gathers testimony and evidence to help decide whether charges should be filed.
New law bans online ‘revenge porn’
Wisconsin has become the third state to ban "revenge porn" -- the posting of sexually explicit photos online without the subject’s prior knowledge.
Gov. Scott Walker signed the ban into law yesterday. Freshman Assembly Republican John Spiros of Marshfield said it will prevent vengeance on the part of those jilted by ex-spouses and lovers.
Spiros authored the bill after discovering that 90% of revenge porn victims are women. He said a number of victims came to the surface as the bill was going through the legislative process. He said those victims discovered that law enforcement's hands were tied because there was no law against the explicit postings by exes.
Spiros said the new law provides teeth to perpetrators with misdemeanor penalties of up to nine months in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
Some water pipes still at risk of freezing
With highs approaching 70 today, it seems impossible to believe that Wisconsinites still face the risk of having their water pipes freeze, but there's a lot of frost underground that's putting pressure on those pipes.
Because of that, dozens of communities continue to order residents to keep a tiny stream of water going 24-7 from one of their faucets.
Those orders have ended in some places like Mosinee and Thorp. But the Website for WLUK TV in Green Bay still lists 20 communities that have orders to run water -- including Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac.
Most communities have said they'll pick up the tab for the extra water that's used, and in some places, those who don't follow the orders will get billed if their pipes freeze.
Folks in Clintonville have let an extra 1.4 million gallons a week drip from their faucets.
The water-running orders were first imposed in January after the wind-chills got down to 55 below in the far north. Now the temperatures are more spring-like -- at least above the surface. Highs today are expected in the mid-50's in the north to the upper 60's in west central and southern areas under sunny to partly cloudy skies.
Walker signs bill giving wrongly convicted man $115,000
Gov. Scott Walker has agreed to have state taxpayers give more compensation to a wrongly convicted murder suspect from Milwaukee.
The governor signed a bill yesterday that increases Robert Stinson's total compensation to $115,000. Stinson spent 23 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit.
The State Claims Board approved its maximum of $25,000, and it urged the Legislature to grant more. Lawmakers approved an extra $90,000 for Stinson, whose murder conviction for killing a Milwaukee woman in 1984 was overturned 25 later.
Also yesterday, the Claims Board awarded $25,000 to Joseph Frey. He spent eight years behind bars after being wrongfully convicted for a 1991 sexual assault in Oshkosh. The panel also granted $7,600 to Robin Gavinski of Lake Mills after state officials miscalculated a pair of sentences which caused him to spend an extra 417 days in prison.
Milwaukee cops called to five shootings in two hours
Milwaukee police were called to five shooting incidents in a two-hour period last night.
One victim was killed, and five others were wounded. Police said a 48-year-old man died at the scene after he was shot about 11:10 p.m. in a north side Milwaukee neighborhood. Police have not disclosed a motive.
Milwaukee officials also said that two men, ages 51 and 55, were shot while sitting in their homes. A 19-year-old man drove himself to a hospital after he was shot while getting into his vehicle. And two teens, 17 and 18, were wounded in an apparent drug-related dispute.
As of early today, no one was in custody for any of the shootings. They occurred between 9:15 and 11:10 p.m.