Wisconsin roundup: UW 'disruption' bill poised for tweaks; capsized canoeist's body recovered; 11 more state news stories
MADISON — The state Assembly Colleges Committee is expected to vote Tuesday afternoon on a modified bill to punish UW-System students who disrupt speakers on campus.
One of the bill's GOP authors, Rep. Jesse Kramer of Kewaskum, has proposed an amendment that somewhat softens the measure. It now calls for students to face punishment if they commit what he calls "violent or disorderly conduct that materially and substantially disrupts a speaker" — after the bill's initial version demanded punishment for "boisterous or profane" activity.
GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos bills it as a "freedom of speech" measure — but he and other Republicans admit it's an effort to encourage more conservatives to speak on campus without fear of disruptions, thus balancing liberal speech. The UW Board of Regents would be required to adopt a policy, and suspend or expel those who break it twice.
Final body recovered in capsized canoe incident
LADYSMITH — Officials in northwest Wisconsin say they've found the body of a second and final person believed to be in a canoe that capsized 12 days ago.
Rusk County sheriff's deputies say 36-year-old Matthew Kenny of Ladysmith was found dead Monday, five days after the second reported canoeist — 35-year-old Jacob Fye of Ladysmith — was recovered. Searchers were looking for both men since the incident, which happened on the Flambeau River near the Clearwater Paper Co. dam in Ladysmith. The state DNR and Ladysmith have been investigating the incident.
Democratic delegates won't hear from possible Walker challengers
MADISON — The state Democratic convention is this weekend in Middleton, but the delegates will not hear from the party's potential candidates for governor.
WisPolitics.com says two of those possible candidates, former state party chairman Matt Flynn and Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik, agreed with the Democrats' offer of hosting hospitality suites on Friday — and both say they're OK with it. Only former California congressional hopeful Bob Harlow has announced a bid for a potential race against GOP Gov. Scott Walker in 2018.
Flynn says there could be more than one half dozen Democratic candidates — and while he considers running, he says he'll talk to delegates about issues. Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, an Alma Democrat, said earlier this month that she's actively exploring a 2018 gubernatorial run. The party plans to show a video on the importance of winning back the governor's office.
Cougar sighting reported
MEQUON — A suburban Milwaukee alderman has told about 6,500 residents to be careful when they're out walking.
That's after Dennis Bersch told police in Mequon that he saw a cougar Monday evening. Bersch says he was driving an electric golf cart to see a friend when the cart struck gravel — and it spooked a mountain lion about 30-40 feet away before running off the other way.
Mequon Alderman Mark Gierl says mountain lions have large territories of about 50 square miles, so people who see them once might not see them again. Wisconsin has had a growing number of cougar sightings in recent years, and most reports involve animals that leave a home base in western South Dakota.
Burlington High School grieves after 3 die in fiery crash
BURLINGTON — Counselors are at Burlington High School Tuesday, as students and staffers return from the holiday in grief following the deaths of two students and one graduate in a fiery car crash.
Juniors Hunter Morby and Jason Davis, both 17, and 2015 grad Landen Brown, who was 20, died in the Sunday night mishap on a rural road in the Walworth County town of Lyons. Officers say Davis drove at a high rate of speed when his car hit a tree and burned.
Burlington High School will hold a public gathering where an expert will show people how to help students and parents handle their grief. A makeshift memorial was set up where teens told WITI-TV that Brown was planning to become a minister — Morby was a singer and actor — and both Morby and Davis loved “Star Wars.”
Backed up on I-94? You weren't alone
PORTAGE — An estimated 700,000 Wisconsinites are home from their Memorial Day weekend travels, but it was a mess for drivers in the Portage area.
The state DOT reported backups of 10 miles on southbound Interstate 39/90/94, as motorists slowed down for a construction project that had all its lanes open. Officials said there were delays of 25 minutes on the freeway during a peak traffic time of around 3 p.m.
At least nine people died in Wisconsin highway crashes during the weekend. Four people from Eau Claire and Medford died Saturday in a crash near Cornell, three young people were killed in a crash near Burlington, a Hayward woman was killed in a two vehicle mishap in St. Croix County, and one man died near Sharon — and his name is the only one that has not been made public yet.
Senate panel expects earful on allowing hidden guns in schools
MADISON — The Wisconsin Senate's public safety panel expects an earful Wednesday, when a daylong hearing is set for a Republican bill to relax requirements for the concealed weapons law.
The most controversial provision would let certain people carry hidden guns and knives in schools — and it would also allow concealed carry without permits, and eliminate training and licensing requirements. The Mequon/Thiensville school district has passed a resolution against the measure, saying it would make school safety harder to carry out.
But New Berlin School Board President Tom David says schools that don't want guns can ban them by putting up signs. Nik Clark of the Wisconsin Carry gun rights' group says the bill would make sure parents are not punished when drop off and pick up kids with guns in their vehicles.
Freak incident strikes Milwaukee-area parade
ELM GROVE — For the second time in eight years, a freak incident strikes on Memorial Day in the Milwaukee suburb of Elm Grove.
Three people had minor injuries after ponies marching in a parade got spooked and ran into the crowd. Police say a 58-year-old Brookfield woman injured her head, shoulder, and ankle after the horses' wooden carriage knocked her out of her chair. A 77-year-old Milwaukee man fell from a chair and was stepped upon and a 9-year-old Racine boy had a cut ear and stomach pain when a carriage struck him.
All three were taken to hospitals, and Elm Grove Police say the ponies may have been spooked by tennis balls or small fireworks. It was not as bad as a 2009 incident, when the same community's Memorial Day parade was canceled because a minivan in heavy traffic got hit by a passing train — and police officer John Krahn was severely injured while a rescuing a woman in the van.
Assembly panel to consider controversial juvenile offender bills
MADISON — A state Assembly panel is scheduled to vote Tuesday on two controversial bills to make more juvenile offenders spend more time behind bars.
The measures drew heated debate earlier this month, because the offenders would have to stay in the embattled Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake boys' and girls' institutions where the federal government has spent almost two- and one-half years investigating inmate abuses that have been alleged in lawsuits.
GOP Rep. Joe Sanfelippo of New Berlin is the lead author of both detention bills. One would end a three year limit for detaining juvenile offenders — and the other would add to the list of offenses that could send youths to the juvenile facilities.
Three Wisconsinites will spell it out at national bee
WASHINGTON — Wisconsin has three youngsters in the 90th National Spelling Bee that begins Tuesday, including one making his third straight trip to Washington.
Thirteen-year-old Martius Bautista of Janesville is a seventh grader at the Edgewood Campus School in Madison — and he competed in the national bee in both 2015 and last year. Also, 13-year-old Hanna Ghouse of Kenosha and 12-year-old Kieran McKinney of West Salem are competing, after all three won the top honors at the Wisconsin spelling bee in Madison in March.
They'll take written tests Tuesday to try and accumulate extra points going into Wednesday's verbal preliminary rounds. The finals are set for Thursday.
State lawmakers propose crackdown on 'Johns'
MADISON — Wisconsin lawmakers propose two bills that crack down on those who seek out prostitutes.
Rep. Joel Kleefisch, a Republican from Oconomowoc, says the onslaught of human trafficking means that prostitution is "no longer a victimless crime." Kleefisch, Appleton Assembly Democrat Amanda Stuck, and Senate Republican Dan Feyen of Fond du Lac propose that three time usage of prostitutes be considered a felony.
Kleefisch says the measure was sought by Fox Valley law enforcement, and the state Justice Department supports it. Also, Rep. Andre Jacque of De Pere proposes a $5,000 penalty for both prostitutes and their customers who are convicted — and the money would be used to help victims of sex trafficking and help law enforcement track down pedophiles online.
Report: Another Wisconsinite gets Trump appointment
MILWAUKEE — It appears the Trump administration is about to get another Wisconsinite.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Janesville businessman Steve King is in line to be the new United States ambassador to the Czech Republic. The word leaked out to Czech media earlier this month, and it was assumed that Trump had chosen a hardline conservative House member from Iowa who's also named Steve King — but the Journal Sentinel said it was the wrong King.
The Wisconsin one is 75, and a longtime member of the Republican National Committee who's close to former RNC director and current White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who's also from Janesville. King has not commented — but if it pans out, he joins former Congressman Mark Green and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's wife Callista from Whitehall in Trump posts, and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says he's also joining Trump but that has not been confirmed yet.
After brawls, Madison fights to brat fest family friendly
MADISON — It's called the "World's Largest Brat Fest," and organizers in Madison say they'll try to keep it family friendly in the wake of a brawl in an adjacent carnival area.
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney says up to 200 young people gathered at the carnival grounds Saturday night, and five fights broke out. Three people were arrested, and officials say there were no significant injuries and no sign that gangs or alcohol were involved.
The carnival closed closed two hours early on Sunday night as a precaution, and Brat Fest organizer Tim Metcalfe is assuring people that Brat Fest remains a good place families with great entertainment. It's an annual fundraiser for more than 100 Madison area charities — and it wrapped Monday.