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Wisconsin roundup: Hunters register fewer opening-day deer; transportation problem looms for state; 9 more state news stories

Wisconsin deer hunters shot almost 10 percent fewer animals than last year on the first day of the nine day gun season.

According to preliminary DNR totals, 68,756 deer were taken on Saturday -- down from 76,223 on the opening day of 2015. WBAY-TV in Green Bay says hunting conditions and local harvest totals improved Sunday because strong winds from Saturday died down.

Still, there appeared to be fewer hunters in the woods, as the DNR sold almost 551,000 gun licenses by late Friday – 17,000 fewer than at the same time one year ago. The opening day buck harvest was down by about 2,200 from 2015, and the antlerless harvest fell by 5,300 -- even though more areas of northern Wisconsin were open to doe hunting this year with only 10 counties closed instead of 19 from last year.


Transportation funding called looming problem for Wisconsin

MADISON -- Assembly Republicans worked on it over the summer, then gave their report on transportation funding a symbolic name -- "No Easy Answers."

The lawmakers say they have failed to come up with a solution to an approaching hole in funding for Wisconsin transportation. Figures supplied by a commission on highway funding and the Legislature Fiscal Bureau suggest the state will need at least $387 billion a year to pay for major projects and maintenance. Lawmakers were told that need could jump to $1.3 billion a year, with no obvious sources for that money.


Farm bureau: Thanksgiving dinner cheapest in 15 years

MADISON -- Wisconsin food shoppers are paying their lowest Thanksgiving dinner prices in six years.

The state's Farm Bureau Federation says it costs $47.91 to serve a traditional holiday turkey dinner for 10 people. That's almost $2 cheaper than the national average, and $2.17 cents lower than last year in the Badger State. Turkey accounts for three-fourths of the price drop -- but everything else also went down a little except for pie shells and cube stuffing.

The Farm Bureau says a 16 pound bird is almost $1.50 cheaper than in 2015, because turkey supplies grew by around 8 percent as the industry recovered from last year's avian flu outbreak in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest.


GOP governors want more flexibility on Medicaid, other federal funds

MADISON -- Republican governors plan to ask Washington to give block grants to states for things like Medicaid and highway projects with fewer strings attached.

Wisconsin health care advocates warn that block grants would bring less money to the states, but GOP Gov. Scott Walker says he would not use the grants to reduce coverage for health programs like Badger Care. Instead, the Republican Walker says he would seek Medicaid savings that result from more people working, as block grants could also be adopted for federal worker training programs.

Walker -- the new head of the GOP Governors Association -- says he also wants to end Medicaid's ban on making applicants pass drug tests to get benefits. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville has long been an advocate of giving states fixed amounts of funding and give them more leeway in deciding how to spend it -- but Jon Peacock of Wisconsin Council on Children and Families says block grants would remove the federal commitment to "vulnerable families, seniors, and people with disabilities."


Most Wisconsin hunters don't get deer tested for CWD

MADISON -- The spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) among Wisconsin's deer herd has long been a concern, but apparently hunters are not all that uneasy about eating tainted venison.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the disease is related to incurable illnesses that cause dementia and death in humans. Most hunters don't take advantage of free testing offered by the state because chronic wasting disease itself hasn't crossed the species line.

Only a few thousand of the 300,000 or more deer harvested each year are tested. In the months leading up to deer hunting season, which started Saturday, more hunters have expressed concerns about how the disease will affect the herd.


La Crosse company wins 4 federal contracts worth $3B

LA CROSSE -- Officials at a La Crosse company that has won four federal contracts say they plan to hire more than 1,200 new employees.

The contracts awarded Logistics Health are said to be worth about $3 billion. The company will provide medical disability examinations to 600,000 veterans. Negotiations with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had gone on for two years. By this time next year, LHI says it will have 2,500 employees, including registered nurses, clinicians, data processors, IT workers and customer service employees.


Pedestrian killed on Madison's Beltline expressway

MADISON -- Madison police say a pedestrian died early Monday morning in a crash on the city's Beltline expressway.

The victim was a 27-year-old man from Middleton, but his name and other details of the incident were not immediately available. It happened around 2:15 a.m. in the eastbound lanes of Highway 12/14 at Gammon Road on Madison's far west side.


Priebus: Trump plans to bar immigrants from terror-prone countries

WASHINGTON -- Kenosha native Reince Priebus says Donald Trump wants to suspend immigration from more parts of the world, but he would not force Muslim residents to register with the government.

Priebus, the former state and national GOP leader who's now the president-elect's chief of staff, was asked about Trump's plans on NBC's "Meet the Press." The Republican Trump said during his campaign that he would consider forcing Muslims to register.

Now, Priebus says there will not be a registry "based on religion" -- but those from places that harbor and train terrorists would be temporarily suspended "until a better vetting system is put in place." Priebus says Trump's stand is similar to bills pending in Congress that would temporarily halt resettlements of refugees from Syria and other countries.


Burlington leader loses law license for 18 months

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended a law license for a city and business leader in Burlington.

The justices say John Hotvedt took $173,000 in fees that were owed to his former law firm -- and some of it went into his personal bank account while others were devoted to a consulting company he started. The state's Office of Lawyer Regulation accused Hotvedt of five counts of professional misconduct -- one of which said he failed to cooperate with the state's investigation of the matter.

Hotvedt told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he has paid back his former law parnters, and he does not expect to face criminal action. Hotvedt, a board member of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce and a former Zoning Board of Appeals' president, was told to pay $6,300 to cover the state's cost of investigating the case.


Stalking suspect rams victim's car

MADISON -- A stalking suspect rammed his alleged victim's car several times in front of a Madison police squad car before he was arrested last week.

The 35-year-old woman had called 911 saying Jose Guzman was following her Friday night at about 8:15 p.m. When officers pulled in behind Guzman's vehicle, they say he accelerated and rammed the woman's vehicle several times before they could stop him. The 31-year-old Guzman was taken into custody and charged with several crimes, including recklessly endangering safety and stalking. The woman's name won't be released.


Sixth-annual 'Big Bundle Up' begins

MADISON -- For the sixth year in a row, the Wisconsin government and tourist industry are working together to help those in need stay warm this winter.

The annual "Big Bundle Up" is underway. Residents are asked to drop off gently used coats, gloves, hats, scarves, and other winter items at Travel Wisconsin welcome centers, tourist information sites, and private businesses and offices around the state through Jan. 2.

Gov. Scott Walker says folks can also drop off winter gear at the governor's Executive Residence in Maple Bluff, which will be open for holiday tours. The campaign started in 2012 when Wisconsin and Michigan tourist officials got into a friendly argument when they posted the same image of mittens to promote their efforts -- and since then, state residents have donated almost 72,000 winter items, a record 22,500 last winter alone.