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Wisconsin roundup: Could hybrid vehicle fees boost DOT coffers?; 8 more state news stories

The state's Legislative Fiscal Bureau says a $100 fee for electric and hybrid vehicle owners would bring in $8 million a year for road work. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia

MADISON — The state's Legislative Fiscal Bureau says a $100 fee for electric and hybrid vehicle owners would bring in $8 million a year for road work.

Some majority Republicans have brought up the fee to help cover a shortfall in scheduled road projects. Supporters say it would make electric and hybrid owners pay their fair share for road work, since they pay little or nothing in gas taxes. But some hybrid owners say it's not fair to single them out, while the GOP rejects other tax and fee hikes — and critics in the past have said such a fee punishes electric and hybrid car owners for being environmentally conscious, which governments at all levels had encouraged for years.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have not commented on the hybrid fee, offered as a way to help end a standoff within the GOP on road funding that has held up approval of the new state budget for almost two months.


Teen arrested for allegedly sneaking into dorm, women’s restrooms

MADISON — An 18-year-old man faces criminal charges for allegedly sneaking into a dormitory at UW-Madison and going into several women's restrooms.

University Police say the man pointed a camera at a woman in a restroom — and when she screamed, he ran off. Police used security cameras to identify the man before arresting him, and he is not a UW student. Police say he entered the dorm by walking in with residents.


Industrial machinery leads Wis. exports

MADISON — Industrial machinery represents about one quarter of all exports from the Badger State.

Officials say Wisconsin businesses sent $2.6 billion worth of large manufacturing machines to foreign companies from January through June. That's 1.6 percent more than the same time last year, and it's part of an overall jump in exports of eight-point-two-percent.

The state's Economic Development Corporation says Wisconsin was 19th among the 50 states in the total value of its exports for the first half of 2017. Canada remains the state's No. 1 customer, with Mexico second and China third.


Lawmaker seeks traffic fine surcharges for I-94 work

MADISON — A Republican state lawmaker is proposing more surcharges on speeding tickets and drivers who seek to reinstate their revoked licenses.

New Berlin Rep. Joe Sanfelippo says it would generate $30 million to continue a rebuilding of Interstate 94 in Milwaukee, east and west of the Zoo Interchange at Highway 45. The added revenue would only be a fraction of the project's total cost, projected to be more than $1 billion by the time it's completed. Senate Democrat Jon Erpenbach of Middleton tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that a larger and more comprehensive package of fee hikes are needed to resolve the current budget shortfall for major road projects.


Gordy’s Market could lose 1,000 jobs if new buyer not found

MADISON — A western Wisconsin grocery chain says more than 1,000 jobs could be lost if a new buyer for the company is not found.

Gordy's Market has filed for receivership to try and improve its financial numbers, amid reports that it owed its main supplier almost $87 million. The layoff possibilities were filed with the state, as part of the plant closing law that requires 60 days' notice for mass layoffs unless there are emergencies. Gordy's Market is based in Chippewa Falls, and it closed three stores this month and three others last month, leaving 20 locations throughout the western half of Wisconsin. Festival Foods of the La Crosse area has said it would buy two Gordy's stores in Eau Claire and one in Tomah


School custodian finds lunch money lost in mid-1980s

ANTIGO — A school custodian in Antigo was working this week when the person found something surprising — an envelope with lunch money that was lost in the mid 1980s.

WSAW-TV says the unnamed custodian was getting West Elementary School ready for the start of fall classes, and had removed a bench where kids normally remove their shoes and boots. The hidden envelope was found behind the bench with $3.60 inside.

It was addressed to Ann Marie Steber, a sixth grader at the time — and she's now Ann Mroczenski of Wausau, and says she probably lost it during the 1985-'86 school year. The money was returned to the student's mother who still lives in Antigo.


State’s exports rose 8 percent in first half of 2017

MADISON — Wisconsin companies exported $11.2 billion in goods and services from January through June.

That's 8.2 percent more than in the same period the previous year. Gov. Scott Walker announced the numbers Wednesday, saying the total growth was largely due to more shipments to Mexico and China. Exports to Mexico jumped by 17 percent from last year, mainly due to more sales of soybeans and electrical machinery to foreign buyers. Total agricultural exports were up by eight-point-eight percent from the first half of 2016, as $1.8 billion of farm related products were sent to 134 countries.


Wis. National Guard readying for Harvey help

The Wisconsin National Guard is getting its troops ready to help hurricane victims in South Texas.

The guard's national bureau is telling Army and Air Guard units throughout the country to be ready to support other personnel if requested — and Gov. Scott Walker has offered Wisconsin's assistance. No guard forces from the Badger State are involved yet, although thousands of soldiers and airmen from other states are on duty.

Meanwhile, the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo is dealing with the loss of its Texas office, which occurred last Friday when Harvey first made landfall in the Corpus Christi area. The only employee of that office escaped unharmed.


Ticket dropped against trucker for carrying gun in rig

KENOSHA — A truck driver from Merrill has been cleared in a case that gun advocates say could bring clarity to whether it's legal to drive while carrying a firearm.

Fifty-two-year-old Guy Smith was scheduled to go on trial Monday on a citation for carrying an illegal concealed weapon. But on the day of the proceeding, a Kenosha County judge dropped the charge. The pro gun group Wisconsin Carry said the case might eliminate confusion by law enforcement on whether it's legal for a motorist to have a gun in open sight. Smith was cited last year after he pulled into a weigh station in Pleasant Prairie with his semitruck — and inspectors caught the handgun on the floor of his cab.