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Wisconsin roundup: Primary day arrives; western Wis. could see fallout from Minn. liquor bill; 8 more state news stories

It's primary election day in Wisconsin, but not even one of every 10 voters are expected to cast ballots.

The only statewide race for is for public school superintendent, in which eight year incumbent Tony Evers faces challengers John Humphries and Lowell Holtz plus write in Rick Melcher with the top two vote getters advancing to April. Humphries and Holtz made the race interesting last week when they announced differing plans to join forces, saying each offered the other a job with at least some authority in the state Department of Public Instruction.

Also on the ballots are various local offices — including primaries for circuit judges in Trempealeau, Polk, and Manitowoc counties. There are also five school referendums, and the largest would borrow $12 million for a new field house and fitness center at Waterford High School in Racine County.

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Western Wisconsin could see fallout from proposed Sunday sales in Minn.

ST. PAUL — In a move that would cut into Wisconsin's liquor business, the Minnesota House voted Monday to end a ban on Sunday alcohol sales in the Gopher State.

The vote was 85-45 to end a ban that's been a part of Minnesota since it became a state in 1858. House Speaker Kurt Daudt says lawmakers have heard "clearly and very loudly" that they want the law changed. It reportedly faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, which will hold a public hearing on the measure Wednesday — and if it passes, Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign it.

A map from the Saint Paul Pioneer Press shows that ending the liquor sales ban received strong House support close to Hudson in western Wisconsin — which has catered to Minnesota customers on Sundays for decades — and it received lots of Democratic no votes near Superior, with mixed support close to La Crosse.

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Former legislator Tom Larson dies after cancer bout

BLOOMER — Former state Rep. Tom Larson of Colfax has died, a year after he announced he would not seek re-election as he battled cancer.

Larson died Saturday at the age of 69 at Dove Healthcare-Bloomer. The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reports he had dealt with lung, prostate and kidney cancer since 2013. The three-term Republican lawmaker was a licensed electrician.

He was first elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 2010 and re-elected in 2012 and 2014. Last year he announced he would not seek a fourth term in 2016.

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'Palcohol' control supporters reject ban

MADISON — Two Democratic state lawmakers have proposed new regulations on powdered alcohol.

But unlike two years ago, they're not proposing an outright ban on what's known as "Palcohol." Milwaukee Sen. Tim Carpenter and Janesville Rep. Deb Kloste introduced bills Monday to regulate powdered alcohol the same way the state controls liquid alcohol.

At least 25 states have banned "Palcohol," which the federal government approved in 2015 as a freeze dried product designed to mixed with liquids. Product spokeswoman Lynne Barbour tells the Wisconsin State Journal her company can go along with regulating it like booze or beer — but she rejects the notion that powdered alcohol is more dangerous.

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Second Slender Man suspect to have confession used against her

WAUKESHA — Both Waukesha girls charged in the Slender Man stabbing case will have their confessions used against them if their cases go to trials.

Circuit Judge Michael Bohren ruled Monday that Anissa Weier, who's now 15, will let a jury hear how she blamed the 2014 wounding of fellow classmate Payton Leutner on a desire to please the horror character Slender Man. A similar ruling was made last week against the other defendant, Morgan Geyser — and the judge rejected defense requests to have both trials either moved out of Waukesha County or have outside juries hear their cases.

Barring last minute plea deals, a two week trial is scheduled to start Sept. 11 for Weier, and a two week trial for the 14-year-old Geyser is due to begin Oct. 2.

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Hundreds demonstrate in Milwaukee on Presidents' Day

MILWAUKEE — Hundreds of Milwaukee demonstrators joined others from around the country in another protest of President Donald Trump's policies — this one called "Not My Presidents' Day."

Anna Dvorak of the Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative told the crowd that Republicans are "playing" with people's lives. A number of speakers addressed the crowd at Zeidler Union Square in downtown Milwaukee, and they then marched to the federal building. The Milwaukee Coalition Against Trump put on the event.

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Milwaukee-area Jewish Center gets second threat

WHITEFISH BAY — For the second time in the last month, the Jewish Community Center in suburban Milwaukee received a bomb threat.

It was among at least 10 Jewish centers targeted throughout the country on Monday — and the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department said it would look for civil rights violations, while local police investigate the individual incidents. Officials at the Whitefish Bay center say the building was safely evacuated, and there was only a limited number of students on hand due to the Presidents' Day holiday.

The center was closed for almost two and one half hours, with no bomb found and nobody hurt. Among the Jewish centers also targeted Monday was one in St. Paul.

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Green Bay mayor survives removal attempt

GREEN BAY —Mayor Jim Schmitt has survived an attempt to remove him from office.

Green Bay City Council voted 8-4 Monday night in favor of terminating the fourth term incumbent — but that fell one vote short of the three-fourths' majority required by state law. Resident Scott Vanidestine filed a petition to remove Schmitt after the mayor was fined $4,000 for violating three state campaign finance reporting laws — and the Council heard from all affected parties for about one hour Monday night, then went into a closed session for two hours before coming out and explaining their positions.

Alderman Guy Zima says city employees have been fired for "much, much less" than what the mayor did — but Alderman Bill Galvin says Schmitt did not meet the level of offenses outlined in state laws for the removal of a mayor.

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Four-week retrial set in Beck murder case

FOND DU LAC — The family of Berit Beck, who died in 1990, may have to wait 13 more months to see what happens to her alleged killer.

A four week retrial is set to begin next Feb.12 in Fond du Lac County for 63-year-old Dennis Brantner, the Kenosha man tried last summer for first degree murder when his jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. Prosecutors say Beck, of Racine County, was on her way to a computer seminar in Appleton when she stopped in Fond du Lac and her van was found abandoned in a parking lot and her body was found six weeks later in a ditch near Waupun.

Judge Robert Wirtz granted a 12-month delay Monday, because new defense lawyer Jeffrey Haase wanted time to review the prosecution's extensive evidence. District Attorney Eric Toney says Beck's family has shown "incredible strength" in waiting to get justice.

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Waukesha police hope DNA cracks 1975 baby death cold case

WAUKESHA — Police in suburban Milwaukee hope DNA evidence might help crack the cold-case death of an infant from more than 40 years ago.

The body of a baby girl was found in a storm drain in the Milwaukee suburb on Jan. 6, 1975. The baby's parents - and whoever placed her there - have never been identified. The community held a burial service for the girl, named "Baby Sarah," and the investigation eventually was suspended. The case was reopened last year. The baby's body was exhumed and a DNA sample was taken. The sample is being analyzed for a DNA profile.

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