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Friday morning state news roundup

Failed Minnesota bill keeps Wisconsin Sunday booze destination

Wisconsin liquor stores near the Minnesota border will not have to worry about losing customers on Sundays. 

The Minnesota state House on Thursday rejected a proposal to allow liquor stores to be open seven days a week. The proposal failed 70-57 as an amendment to a small bill with other liquor-related provisions that unanimously passed.

The major argument against Sunday sales was that it would hurt small liquor stores. Opponents say it would force them to remain open seven days if they are to remain competitive.

Owners of those small stores have told legislators over the years that the bill would mean that six days of profit would be spread over seven days.

The bill sponsor, Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, said Sunday sales is a time that has come. Her plan called for allowing local governments to decide whether Sunday sales would be permitted. Local officials also could set Sunday hours, as long as it fit within 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

She said states that have dropped Sunday sales bans report 4 percent to 7 percent increases on liquor-related sales tax revenues. Much of the increase, she said, would come from Minnesotans who longer would drive to other states like Wisconsin to buy booze.

Minnesota is one of a dozen states banning bans Sunday sales.

(Forum News Service)


DNR: Bat disease still spreading across Wisconsin

MADISON -- A fatal bat disease continues to spread across Wisconsin. 

The state Department of Natural Resources says over-winter surveillance shows white-nose syndrome or the fungus that causes it is now present in 14 counties, up from eight after over-winter surveillance that ended in 2015.

Surveys showed a 94 percent drop in bat populations at the Grant County mine where the disease was first found in Wisconsin in 2014. One site where the disease was discovered in 2015 had no bats left. 

The DNR has imposed decontamination procedures for cave-goers to prevent white-nose syndrome from spreading and added four bat species to the state's threatened species list. More than 6 million bats across 28 states have died since white-nose syndrome was discovered in New York in 2006.


No charges in police shooting at Lake Hallie

CHIPPEWA FALLS -- No criminal charges will be filed against an Eau Claire area police officer who killed a woman at a Walmart in Lake Hallie. 

Chippewa County District Attorney Steve Gibbs ruled Thursday that Lake Hallie officer Adam Meyers acted in self defense when he shot 25-year-old Melissa Abbott of Black River Falls on April 8. 

Officers responded to a report of an unruly and possibly violent customer at the Walmart. According to the DA's report, witnesses saw Abbott go after two people with a hatchet -- she ignored officer Meyers' orders to drop the weapon -- and she made a "chopping or throwing motion" toward the officer which made him believe that his life was in danger.


Trump, Ryan seek 'common ground' to unify GOP

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville concluded their highly anticipated meeting Thursday, signaling that the Republican Party will work to piece itself together after a highly contentious primary. 

After the 45-minute meeting, Trump and Ryan said in a joint statement, "While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground. 

"We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there's a great opportunity to unify our party and win this fall, and we are totally committed to working together to achieve that goal." 

Ryan called Trump's achievement of earning more votes than any Republican candidate in history "really kind of unparalleled," and clearly hopes to channel the support for the presumptive nominee into support for a conservative policy agenda.


Nine sought in 3 related Madison-area killings

MADISON -- Madison area police want to speak with nine persons of interest in three killings that officials believe were spurred by retaliation among rival groups. 

At a news conference Thursday, the town of Madison police chief said the suspect in a gas station murder on Wednesday night is a brother of 30-year-old Martez Moore who was killed outside a Madison bar and grill early on April 19. 

The Wednesday victim was identified as 28-year-old Elijah Washington the Third. Also, officials say 38-year-old Darius Haynes -- who was killed Tuesday night outside a Madison gas station -- is a friend of the restaurant victim, and his brother Kortney is among those police are looking for. Madison Police Chief Mike Koval says the city has had unprecedented gun violence this year, citing three dozen incidents in which shots were fired.


Sheriff, police officer among IRS scam targets

GREEN BAY -- The Dodge County sheriff and a police officer from De Pere are among those targeted by scammers trying to steal people's identities while posing as IRS agents. 

Numerous people have been calling police when callers threaten punishments for not paying up -- and new scammers have offered to help fix bad information on tax returns in exchange for the personal data that lets thieves steal credit, bank balances, and more. De Pere officer Jedd Bradley tells WBAY-TV he was called on his police cellphone -- and when he called back, he played along until the scammer hung up. 

Authorities again remind folks that the IRS will never ask for information over the phone.


Man sentenced to 33 years for carjacking, police shootout

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man will spend 33 years in prison for carjacking a Porsche from a dealer, crashing it in a chase with police, and getting into a shootout with an officer. 

Twenty-nine-year-old Deandre Wise must also spend 13 years under extended supervision when he's no longer behind bars. Glendale police officer Eric Guse was injured by debris during the incident last August, and Wise was shot in an upper leg. 

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Frederick Rosa watched a police video of the incident at Thursday's sentencing -- and he noticed that a bullet that just missed Guse almost hit a young girl who was running toward a playground. Wise struck a plea deal in February that convicted him of two felonies, vehicle theft and attempted homicide.


Koss reports large profit jump after legal settlement

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee firm that makes Koss headphones reports a large quarterly profit, due mainly to a legal settlement involving a Koss executive's multi-million dollar embezzlement. 

Koss reports a net income of $870,000 from January through March, even though its sales held steady while expenses rose by $108,000. Koss says it received $1.4 million from the settlement of a lawsuit it filed against American Express, saying the credit card issuer should have told Koss earlier about large purchases by its former executive Sue Sachdeva. 

She was convicted of embezzling $34 million from Koss, and used much of it to by lavish clothes. Her 11 year prison sentence has been reduced due to good behavior and cooperating with authorities -- and Sachdeva is now due to be released next April.


Ryan: Judge's ruling against Obamacare 'historic win'

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville calls a federal judge's ruling against Obamacare "an historic win for the constitution and the American people." 

Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer of Washington sided Thursday with House Republicans, who alleged that the White House violated congressional spending authority. The Obama administration allocated $175 billion for 10 years to reduce deductibles and copayments for low income clients in the Affordable Care Act. 

The White House says it will prevail upon appeals, and Judge Collyer put her ruling on hold for now. Ryan says it's clear the president overreached by spending tax money without the people's approval through their representatives -- but White House spokesman Josh Earnest says it's the first time Congress could sue the executive branch over a what a law says.


Fired State Fair CEO gave himself raise; HR chief quits

WEST ALLIS -- Officials now say that State Fair Park CEO Rick Frenette was fired after he gave pay raises to himself and 31 others while ignoring the state's procedures for getting approvals. 

Frenette's lawyer says he was told by Human Resources Director Ryan Burns that the Walker administration approved the merit pay hikes -- and Burns resigned Thursday, one day after Frenette was let go. State Senate Democrat Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee is on the board that voted unanimously to terminate Frenette. 

Carpenter said it was wrong for Frenette to give himself a raise, and the State Fair is such a "beloved institution" that the board had to act to protect its image. Long time fair official Kathleen O'Leary will oversee this year's fair, planned for Aug. 4-14 -- and she vows that it will be "as good if not better" than the previous ones.


Senate panel to hold hearing on U.S. Appeals Court nominee

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After months of delays, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will finally hold a confirmation hearing for a federal appeals court post that's been vacant for six years. 

Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin announced a hearing for next Wednesday for Madison lawyer Donald Schott, whom the president appointed in January to replace Milwaukee's Terence Evans on the Seventh Circuit Court in Chicago. 

Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson says he signed off on the hearing, but has not said if he would vote to confirm Schott. A selection panel was supposed to come up with four names to give President Barack Obama, but it only agreed on Schott and one other. 

Baldwin tried to avoid a delay by submitting all eight candidates who applied, but Johnson balked, saying it's not the process to which both senators had agreed.