Wisconsin roundup: Lawmakers poised to act on high-profile bills; Eau Claire suspect accused of injuring child, cop; 7 more state news stories
MADISON — Both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature will be in session Tuesday with some major items up for approval.
The Senate will consider its first action that directly involves alleged inmate abuse at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile institutions near Irma. It's a bill to require guards at those facilities to report child abuse to the state — just like those in 30 other professions have to do.
The Senate is also scheduled to make its second approval to eliminate the State Treasurer's office, and to extend renewals for concealed weapons' holders so they take effect when the original permits expire — and not when the extensions are approved, which is often earlier. Also, the Assembly is scheduled to take final legislative action on a bill making it easier for parents to treat children's seizures with cannabidiol, an oil extract from marijuana.
Suspect accused of injuring child, officer, wrecking squad car
EAU CLAIRE — Police in Eau Claire say a man has been taken into custody after injuring a child, fighting with an officer and then stealing and crashing his squad car.
Police were called to a residence around midnight Sunday on a report of a domestic disturbance. Officers say a 20-year-old man had injured a child, then went down the block to start a fight at another home. Police say when the suspect came outside, he started fighting with an officer.
The injured officer attempted to use a stun gun on the man. Television station WQOW reports that the suspect then stole the officer's squad car and crashed it into four parked cars and a fence. Officers used an opening in a broken squad window to pepper spray the man who then got out of the vehicle and was hit with bean bag rounds.
High winds cause damage, 21,000 power outages
Almost 21,000 Wisconsin electric customers had no power Tuesday morning after a windstorm rolled in during the night.
The Public Service utility says about two-thirds of the state's outages are in central and northeast areas. The Stevens Point area had Wisconsin's strongest wind gusts at 74 mph, and Wes Slater of Janesville tells WKOW-TV he thought a "bomb went off" when lightning struck his home. Trees and power lines fell in scattered areas in the southern half of Wisconsin as a traffic light was blown down in Edgerton and a light post toppled in downtown La Crosse.
The storms followed a day of record warmth in Milwaukee, where the high of 65 broke old mark for the date of 64 in 1983 — and more strong winds are due in as National Weather Service has wind advisories out until 6 p.m. for virtually all of the state.
State: Ho Chunk does nothing wrong by expanding Wittenberg casino
MADISON — Wisconsin's Gaming Division says the Ho Chunk Indian tribe is doing nothing improper by expanding its small casino near Wittenberg with a hotel and more games.
The nearby Stockbridge Munsee tribe accused the Ho Chunk of violating its state compact — and because the state doesn't agree, the Stockbridge tribe says it has no choice but to withhold $923,000 in casino revenues it's supposed to pay the state by the end of June. The Stockbridge Munsee says the Wittenberg expansion would "devastate" its tribe and the North Star Casino that it has modernized and expanded near Bowler in recent years.
Steven Michels of the state gaming agency tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel it has reviewed the situation a number of times — and it found that both tribes are acting within the gaming compacts they signed in 2003. A Ho Chunk spokesman says it won't apologize for building what it calls a "top notch" facility.
More problems exposed at state's embattled King veterans' home
WASHINGTON — More problems are uncovered at the state veterans' nursing home at King in Waupaca County.
A Veterans Affairs inspection in January, requested by U.S. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin, found that the home did not meet three of 158 federal standards — including the failure to protect residents from abuses, after one resident fell from a bed and fractured a skull. According to the Madison Capital Times, the VA also found that the home did not update the residents' plan for care after the fall — and it did not reveal safety inspections for elevators.
Baldwin got involved after King was given federal citations last December. A former secretary and deputy secretary of the state Veterans' Affairs agency left after numerous problems at King were made public in 2016 — and new secretary Daniel Zimmerman reassigned King's top official Jim Knight late last week.
State elections commission member leaves
MADISON — The Wisconsin Elections Commission is getting a new member, after Republican appointee Don Millis resigned.
He tells WisPolitics.com he'll go back to lobbying the state Legislature — and both Millis and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald thought that would be a possibility when he took the initial appointment last year. Millis said the Senate leader wanted his expertise as the new commission was getting started.
Fitzgerald has appointed Madison lawyer Jodi Jensen to replace Millis. She has also been a former legal counsel for the governor's office, and a chief of staff for former GOP Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch.
Oshkosh business owner charged in $14M scrap auto scheme
FOND DU LAC COUNTY — An Oshkosh business owner has been charged in connection to a scheme to steal millions from Sadoff Iron and Metal in Fond du Lac.
Television station WBAY reports that Sterling Kienbaum, owner of Fox Valley Iron, Metal and Auto Salvage, appeared in court Monday. A judge ordered Kienbaum be held on a $1 million cash bond for charges of racketeering and theft.
Kienbaum is accused of paying off Donald Krueger, a crane operator at Sadoff, to accept overloaded scrap vehicles. Kienbaum would have his semi driver Daniel Christianson deliver the payments to Krueger. The complaint alleges that Fox Valley employees filled scrap automobiles with dirt, and Krueger would overlook the excess weight. Sadoff would end up overpaying Fox Valley for the weight of the scrap automobile and the weight of the dirt. Investigators say the scheme occurred between 2009 and May of 2015. The company said it suffered losses totaling $14.3 million.
Insanity plea rejected in infant starvation death
MILWAUKEE — A judge in Milwaukee refused to let a woman plead insanity in the starvation and torturing death of a 7-year-old boy.
Forty-four-year-old Etter Hughes is charged with two counts of failing to prevent child abuse, and two counts of child neglect causing death and injury. Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Joe Donald says there's no evidence that Hughes suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as she claimed.
A trial date of June 5 has been set in Hughes' case. Forty-seven-year-old Mary Martinez of Milwaukee faces similar child neglect charges, plus two counts of repeated physical abuse for the alleged torturing of Trevion Winningham last November. Martinez is due back in court April 28 for final pretrial requests, and her jury trial is also set for June 5.
Down to the final 2 for Wisconsin 'Bachelor' Viall
LOS ANGELES — It's down to two women who are competing for Waukesha native Nick Viall's heart on ABC's "The Bachelor."
The former UW-Milwaukee track star sent Marquette Law School graduate Rachel Lindsay home on Monday night's show — a move that was totally expected, since Lindsay was recently named the next "Bachelorette" who will choose another man among a field of suitors. That leaves Raven and Vanessa as Nick's finalists.
In addition to Monday night's previously taped show, Viall took verbal shots from other candidates on a two hour "The Women Tell All" special. Most of the women on that show attacked Corrine for her dispute with Taylor — but Corrine said anxiety had a lot to do with her behavior, and Taylor never took the chance to get to know her.