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Boy dumps bleach on puppy -- mom charged with felony; Lawmakers suggest Common Core alternative dead; More state news briefs

A Fond du Lac woman is due in court Tuesday on seven criminal charges connected with the poisonings of two of her family's puppies.

Prosecutors said Amanda Farr, 30, did not seek help after learning that her 10-year-old son spilled bleach on the dogs last month. The six-week-old puppies had chemical burns, and a veterinary exam showed that a male pup had permanent lung damage.

Prosecutors said the youngster admitted pouring bleach on one of the dogs because he was biting at his feet. Bleach was also splashed on the other dog's face. A third puppy was not hurt.

They're all at the Fond du Lac County Humane Society shelter where officials say the two injured ones are recovering. They've had many requests to adopt the pets.

Farr is charged with a felony count of fatal animal mistreatment, plus six misdemeanors that include poisoning and abandoning an animal.


Educators pack hearing room; Lawmakers suggest Common Core alternative dead

Dozens of Wisconsin school officials jammed a State Capitol hearing room yesterday to oppose a bill that could eventually eliminate the Common Core standards.

Meanwhile, lawmakers debated whether the bill is dead as Senate Education Committee chair Luther Olsen indicated when he said five majority Republican senators opposed it.

The bill would create a panel of politicians and educators to review public school academic standards. Its main sponsor, Senate Republican Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa, said it would make Wisconsin schools exceptional instead of being common with other places where test scores are dropping.

Vukmir also questioned whether five GOP senators opposed the measure, insisting she's never heard such a thing.

Superintendents argued that the three-year-old math and reading standards work. Pewaukee Superintendent JoAnn Sternke said her district’s ACT test scores have never risen faster -- up by almost a point and a half in three years to 24.5.

Other school leaders say they've spent too much on Common Core to scrap it. They asked where the money would come from to replace it.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the bill would most likely need changes in order for it to pass. There's not much time left with the current session in its final month.


Man injured in fall from Dells rollercoaster

A 64-year-old man was hurt after he fell 15 to 20 feet from an indoor rollercoaster at a Wisconsin Dells resort just after 5:30 p.m. yesterday at Mount Olympus.

Sauk County authorities said the man was riding with three others in a car on the OPA rollercoaster when he fell. The other three were not hurt.

The injured rider was first taken to a Baraboo hospital and was later flown to UW Hospital in Madison. His condition and the extent of his injuries were not immediately disclosed.

Officials said the man was visiting the resort with his family. Investigators from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration are due at the site today. Lake Delton Police said resort workers have been cooperative.


Bill would end Election Day voter registration

Another effort is reportedly underway to end the 30-year-old practice of letting Wisconsin voters register at the polls on Election Day. says Senate Republican Glenn Grothman is asking his colleagues to sponsor a bill that could speed through the Legislature in the final weeks of its two-year session.

In a memo, the West Bend lawmaker said his constituents raised concerns about long lines at the polls due to same-day registration as well as the integrity of the voting process itself.

Republicans have tried several times to end Election Day registration. They scrapped the idea in 2012 due to the costs of making such a change.


Committee supports limits on absentee voting times

It would be harder for Wisconsinites to vote early under a bill endorsed yesterday by the Senate Elections Committee.

On a 3-2 party line vote, majority Republicans recommended no absentee voting on nights and weekends. Hours would be restricted to between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the two weeks before an election.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called the bill an attempt by Republicans to limit voting in bigger cities with the most Democrats.

GOP committee chair Mary Lazich said the bill is meant to create uniform standards statewide. She noted that smaller places don't have the resources to hold night and weekend voting. Lazich said her party worked with Democrats on the latest proposals.

Also the committee modified a bill to let incumbent state officials receive campaign checks from lobbyists any time during election years. They endorsed a ban on those checks from January through April 15 -- earlier than the previous ban which extended to June 1.

The panel did not act on a bill in which special interests would not have to say where they get the money to run "issue ads." Lazich said the bill did not have enough votes to pass in the Senate.


Petryk aide gets deferred prosecution for alleged election fraud

A state Assembly aide is getting a chance to wipe out a conviction for felony election fraud.

Marcie Malszycki entered into a deferred prosecution agreement this week. She pleaded guilty to one election fraud charge in Dane County. A second charge was dropped in a plea deal, and the first one would also be dropped if she meets all the conditions of a program for first offenders. If she doesn't, she could go to prison.  Malszycki, 33, is an aide to Assembly Republican Warren Petryk of Eleva.

Prosecutors said she voted at her parents' home town of Onalaska in 2010 instead of at her home community in Madison.

An investigation began after Malszycki wrote on Facebook that she voted for a GOP slate of candidates and would soon travel home. Police quoted her as saying she was living with her parents in La Crosse County while doing campaign work, and she thought it was okay to vote there.


Despite piles of snow, drought conditions persist

With all the snow on the ground, you may find it hard to believe that just over a third of Wisconsin is still officially in a drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says 35% of the state's land area is abnormally dry or worse. That's only about 5% less than in early December.

Instead of seeping into the ground, mountains of snow are piling up next to roads, parking lots and driveways. Average snow depths range from four inches at Cedarburg to 34 inches at Phelps.

Most of the southwest quarter of Wisconsin is abnormally dry, along with a south central region as far east as Ripon. Sizable parts of nine counties are in a moderate drought west of Eau Claire and in the Adams-Friendship area.

It will be interesting to see how much snow seeps in when temperatures rise above freezing. Most of Wisconsin is expected to have highs at least in the upper-30s for four of the next five days. The coolest day should be tomorrow. By Monday, the forecast calls for highs in the mid to upper 40's statewide.


About 200 Anchor Bank customers get someone else’s mortgage bill

One of Wisconsin's largest banks offers an apology -- plus a year of fraud protection -- to almost 200 customers who got the wrong mortgage statements in the mail.

Anchor Bank of Madison blames a malfunction in its mailroom.

Joe Martin of Janesville told WISC TV that he received a Madison couple's mortgage bill for this month. He has no idea where his own statement was mailed, but he fears it's been given to somebody who might want to commit identity theft.

Jennifer Ranville of Anchor Bank said the statements included loan information but not checking, savings or Social Security numbers.



Temporary road weight-limit bill proposed

A last-minute effort is being made to address concerns over weight limits for farm equipment on Wisconsin roads.

With time running out in the legislative session, five Republicans have introduced a temporary measure to raise weight limits for so-called "Implements of Husbandry." A larger bill on the subject is stalled in both houses. Five rural lawmakers hope to pass something now and tackle the larger issues next session.

According to the Brownfield Ag News Service, the temporary measure would run for only 18 months. It raises gross weight limits to 92,000 pounds with no limits per axle. It also redefines the instruments to include self-propelled and towed vehicles that are made and designed exclusively for agricultural use.

Ag commercial motor vehicles would also be included. They would not have height, length or width limits, and they would not have to be registered with the Department of Transportation.

The issue arose after Marathon County officers ticketed manure haulers last year for being overweight on town and county roads. That prompted a government and industry task force which spurred the bills that later got stalled.

Republicans Joan Ballweg, Gary Tauchen, Howard Marklein, Lee Nerison and Travis Tranel submitted the new bill this week. It was referred to the Assembly's agriculture committee.


Walker again writes letter urging approval of Keystone pipeline

Gov. Scott Walker has again urged the White House to approve the long-proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The governor wrote Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday, saying the trans-continental pipeline would create up to 9,000 jobs in Wisconsin over a 20-year period.

The governor's letter is similar to one he wrote to Washington in April.  It comes after the State Department found that the XL line from Canada to the Gulf Coast would have very little impact on the environment.

The Obama administration has long delayed a decision on whether to approve the project. Environmentalists and a number of landowners oppose it. The Canadian government and U.S. oil companies favor it.


Cable company pays $130,000 to man who fell while checking for tap-ins

Time Warner Cable will pay $130,000 to settle a discrimination case involving a disabled employee who was fired in the Milwaukee area.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the settlement yesterday.

Patrick Pulliam injured his right leg, ankle and foot in 2009 while checking for illegal tap-ins to the Time Warner's cable TV system. After treatment, his doctor allowed him to return to work as long as he did not do any climbing right away.

The lawsuit accused the company of not offering a reasonable accommodation. Pulliam said Time Warner fired him in mid-2010 against the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Time Warner said it did nothing wrong because it offered Pulliam other jobs, but the firm decided to resolve the lawsuit anyway.


Woman gets probation after threatening federal judge

A Wisconsin Rapids woman will not be institutionalized for threatening to kill a federal administrative law judge.

Norma Prince was put on probation for three years yesterday. Federal Judge Lynn Adelman said Prince, 51, can control her mental health issues with medication and proper supervision.

The threat was made in January of last year during a hearing in Wausau on Prince's Social Security disability benefits. Authorities said Prince got upset and threatened to shoot Judge Thomas Sanzi, who presided over the hearing by telephone. She also threatened to cut off the judge's head before the hearing was abruptly adjourned.

Prince's husband told a federal agent that his wife bought a pair of 22-caliber rifles about a month before her hearing.


Propane shortage his focus, says Walker

Gov. Scott Walker said he'll focus on the propane fuel shortage in his new role as chairman of the Midwestern Governors Association.

Fuel prices shot up in January as cold weather increased the demand. Supplies were already smaller after farmers used more propane than usual to dry their crops last fall. The price hikes left a number of rural Wisconsin residents in the cold due to broken fuel contracts.

Walker said the situation exposed a number of problems throughout the Midwest that he wants to start addressing immediately. He responded to the Wisconsin shortage by making more fuel aid available to low-income residents and easing rules to make it easier for drivers to ship propane.

The Midwest governors' group had earlier asked President Obama for federal help.

Walker becomes the fourth Wisconsin governor to lead the Midwest association. Jim Doyle led the nine-member group seven years ago.