New year will bring fingerprint law for child-care providers; Monroe Co. prosecutor found dead; more state news
Starting in January, Wisconsin will join three dozen other states in requiring F-B-I fingerprint and background checks for child care providers.
Employees and household members in home-based facilities will also come under additional scrutiny. Wisconsin requires the state Justice Department to conduct background reviews of child care workers -- but until now, the state has not required FBI fingerprint checks.
A provision in the new state budget calls for the increased security steps. Child care advocacy groups say that's important, because criminals could use fake names as long as their fingerprints are not checked.
The group Child Care Aware of America suggests state background checks for everyone connected with care centers -- along with FBI finger-print checks, and reviews of state registries for sex offenders and child abusers.
Senate vote expected on Gogebic rules, tougher mascot-change standard
MADISON -- Wisconsin senators were expected to vote Tuesday on a compromise bill to protect workers at the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties.
Originally, all 3,200 acres of the mining site would have been closed to public hunting and other recreation that's allowed because the site gets state tax breaks under the managed forest law.
Senate Republican Rob Cowles of Green Bay has proposed a compromise which closes areas around mining equipment and roads at the site. The DNR could close other land if need be.
Senate Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst first proposed the more extensive ban after a theft and vandalism incident at a Gogebic exploration site in June.
A number of people said the original measure was too restrictive, saying it might have cut off lands where people had hunted for years.
Also Tuesday, senators will consider a bill which makes it harder to force public schools to stop using Indian team names and mascots.
The Assembly passed the measure last month 52 to 41. It requires Indians to prove they've been hurt by school mascots, instead of school boards having to prove that the monikers don't discriminate. Complaints would only be considered if petitions are filed with signatures equal to 10 percent of a school's enrollment.
Also, the Administration Department would hear the complaints instead of the state Department of Public Instruction. The bill would nullify much of the 2009 law passed by Democrats, which created a system in which Indian logos that discriminate have to be dropped -- or else schools could face daily fines.
The GOP bill would nullify the orders made to schools under the '09 law. Supporters say the previous law does not give schools much of a chance to defend themselves.
The bill's opponents say it would take Wisconsin a step backward in race relations.
Both sides making final case for proposed 'Hard Rock' casino
MADISON -- Supporters and opponents of the proposed Kenosha casino will make their final arguments Tuesday, with competing rallies at the State Capitol.
An event is planned by Tea Party groups and other conservatives, urging Republican Gov. Scott Walker to reject the Menominee tribe's Hard Rock resort. Organizers say the $800 million project would cost the state jobs, while creating new money for union members who build the casino and work in it.
The Menominee tribe will hold a gathering to encourage Walker to approve the Kenosha project. They say it would create 3,500 jobs and be good for the Wisconsin economy.
Walker has the final say on the new casino.
He told reporters in Milwaukee Monday that he plans to announce his decision in a couple days. The governor said he's still looking over the project's details, and balance concerns about jobs at the new casino, and possible job losses at other Wisconsin tribal facilities.
Seniors, minorities testify in trial to kill voter photo ID rule
MILWAUKEE -- Senior citizens and minorities testified Monday in a federal court trial that seeks to kill Wisconsin's photo ID requirement for voting.
The plaintiffs are presenting the first witnesses in a trial before Milwaukee federal judge Lynn Adelman that's expected to last two weeks.
Alice Weddle of Milwaukee testified that she never got a driver's license or other form of ID. A birth certificate is required, but Weddle said she has no such document because she was born at home in Mississippi.
Eddie Holloway Jr. said he couldn't get an ID when he moved to Wisconsin from Illinois, because the name on his birth certificate did not match the one on his driver's license.
Assistant state attorney general Clayton Kawski said in the state's opening argument that it has helped people in unique circumstances get the ID's they need to exercise their right to vote. He said the law is needed to fight voter fraud, and the state has a "legitimate interest" in ensuring fair elections.
Plaintiffs said a photo ID requirement would only prevent impersonations by voters -- and they say there's been no evidence of that. Wisconsin's voter ID law has only been used once -- in February of 2012 -- before two state judges in Madison threw out the ID requirement in a pair of other lawsuits.
The state is appealing those, while defending the federal suit from the American Civil Liberties Union and an Hispanic group.
Committee considers limits on employer-worker snooping
MADISON -- It would be illegal for Wisconsin employers to ask workers for their social media passwords, under a bill that's up for a committee vote Tuesday.
The state Senate's Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider endorsing the measure late in the morning. It prohibits companies from having their workers and job applicants hand over their passwords to their personal Facebook and other accounts.
Lawmakers from both parties support the measure, which they say is needed because more companies are demanding such personal gateways from their workers.
Some firms say they need the access to protect proprietary information or trade secrets, all in the name of complying with federal financial rules. Others call that an invasion of personal privacy.
Monroe County prosecutor found dead
SPARTA -- Monroe County's chief prosecutor has died. Dan Cary passed away Monday at his home in Sparta.
The death was discovered after Cary had not showed up for a court appearance. Authorities are investigating, but foul play is not suspected.
Cary was first elected the Monroe County district attorney in 2003, after serving five years as an assistant DA. He was honored as the state's District Attorney of the Year in 2012.
Cary specialized in prosecuting some of the county's most severe criminal cases -- including homicide, sexual assault, drug, and child abuse matters.
He became a lawyer after a 20-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring as a captain in 1992. He was a graduate of the UW-Madison law school.
Northwestern Wisconsinites may be shoveling Wednesday
Winter weather advisories are in effect in 17 Wisconsin counties from Tuesday evening through midday Wednesday.
The National Weather Service says most of northwest Wisconsin will get rain at first, and then snow during the evening. All snow is predicted for Vilas and Oneida counties in north central Wisconsin.
Two- to six inches are in the forecast for the northwest, and 2- to 5 inches in north central areas.
Weather Service forecasters in Minneapolis say most of the snow will fall within four to six hours. It's expected to be a heavy, wet snow which may cause broken tree limbs and power outages. Places outside the watch areas could get a rain- and snow mix, or all rain Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, much of western and central Wisconsin was reporting dense fog Tuesday morning, with advisories continuing until 10 a.m. Dry weather is expected after the precipitation moves east. Highs are projected to be in the 50's Wednesday and the 40's on Thursday.
Allen-Edmonds sold to LA equity firm
PORT WASHINGTON -- The Wisconsin company that has made shoes for every president since Ronald Reagan, has a new owner.
Allen-Edmonds said Monday it's been sold to a private equity firm in Los Angeles that's affiliated with Brentwood Associates. Allen-Edmonds will keep its headquarters in Port Washington.
It had been owned since 2006 by the Minneapolis firm of Goldner, Hawn, Johnson, and Morrison. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Former Goldner executive Paul Grangaard will stay on as Allen-Edmonds' chief executive officer. He took over the firm in 2008, and helped it regain its financial footings.
Grangaard said Brentwood is committed to the shoemaker's growth strategy, and it has a similar corporate culture.
There had been speculation that Men's Warehouse would buy Allen-Edmonds. Grangaard would not confirm companies that submitted losing bids.
Allen-Edmonds was founded in 1922, and is one of just a few remaining high-quality shoemakers in America. It employs about 1,000 workers of which about 450 work in Port Washington.
Corn harvest about half done
About half of Wisconsin's corn-for-grain has been harvested. New federal numbers show that 95 percent of that corn is mature. With moisture levels still relatively good, farmers appear to be in no hurry to haul the product away.
Ninety-seven percent of the corn for feed has been harvested while 82 percent of the Wisconsin soybeans have been harvested. A number of reports show there are below-average yields, low pods, and short plants.
Ninety-two percent of the fourth-crop alfalfa is made and hay and roughage supplies are said to be 70-percent adequate.
Growing degree days from March through October are above normal throughout Wisconsin.
Another wolf-hunting zone closing Tuesday
MADISON -- Wisconsin's wolf hunt is another step closer to being finished. The DNR says Zone 4 will close at 6 p.m., Tuesday That's mostly in Lincoln, Langlade, and Oconto counties in northeast Wisconsin.
Only two zones remain open -- Zone 3 in the northwest, and Zone 6, mostly in the lower two-thirds of Wisconsin where fewer wolves are found.
Zone 4 has a quota of 12 wolves, and the DNR said 11 of those animals were taken as of Monday -- thus prompting its closure. Officials said 197 wolves have been taken, and only 54 are still available under the expanded quota for this second-annual wolf season.
The hunt is scheduled to run through the end of February -- but once the quota's hit, the zones close. Last year, it took hunters just 10 weeks to shoot or trap a quota of 117 -- less than half the size of this year's available take.
Prognosis on Aaron Rogers expected late Tuesday
GREEN BAY -- Packer fans can expect to find out later Tuesday how Aaron Rodgers is doing, after he hurt a shoulder in Monday night's Packer loss to Chicago.
The Green Bay Packers' franchise quarterback injured his non-throwing left-shoulder during the Pack's first series in a 27-20 home loss.
Packers' coach Mike McCarthy said he knew nothing definite after the game. Media reports mentioned a possible separated shoulder or a broken collarbone -- the latter of which could keep him out for 4- to 6 weeks at a minimum if that's the diagnosis.
Rodgers had his left shoulder thrown to the ground on a sack by Chicago's Shea McClellin. After that, the Packers seemed listless on both sides of the ball.
Eleven-year NFL veteran Seneca Wallace replaced Rodgers, and he threw for only 114 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception in his first game since New Year's Day of 2012. Rodgers and Wallace played catch for a couple minutes -- but it was determined that Rodgers needed tests and treatment. He returned to the field in street clothes to a rousing reception by the crowd in the second half.
It's been an injury-riddled season for the Packers, as 17 players have missed a total of 61 games.
Rodgers' injury hurts the team the most. The 2011 league Most Valuable Player has been a rock of consistency, having not missed a game since December of 2010 when he suffered a concussion.
Rodgers and Brett Favre have been the league's ironman quarterbacks for the last 21 years. Favre started a league-record 321 consecutive games.