Wisconsin roundup: State Assembly has full plate; more state news stories

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MADISON — The Wisconsin Assembly plans to vote Thursday afternoon on a constitutional amendment to give crime victims more rights.

Among other things, they could have a say in more court and parole proceedings — and they could say no to making depositions and being interviewed by defense lawyers. The Senate passed the amendment Tuesday, and it would have to be approved again in the next session before going to the voters for a final endorsement. Also Thursday, the Assembly will consider dumping continuing education requirements for barbers and cosmetologists and making it easier to get licenses.

Other bills up in the lower house would let farmers grow industrial hemp, let communities give grants and loans to homeowners to replace water pipes with lead and renew penalties for parents who host drinking parties for their children's' underage friends. Two other bills would allow more students to opt out of state achievement tests and end the six month waiting period to remarry after a divorce.

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GOP lawmakers propose lowering drinking age to 19

MADISON — Wisconsin's drinking age would be lowered from 21 to 19 if three Republican representatives have their way.

Rob Swearingen of Rhinelander, a former president of the state's Tavern League, has joined Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake and Cindi Duchow of Delafield in asking colleagues to cosponsor their bill. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos opposes a lower drinking age and can prevent a vote on it — and a 1984 law reduces federal highway funds by 8 percent for states where the drinking age is not at least 21.

Jarchow says his bill would not take effect if road funds are cut — and he hopes the Trump administration could work with the Badger State on that. Jarchow says 19-year-olds can go to war but not drink — and law enforcement could do more to fight drug and sex abuse instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to enforce the drinking age, especially at colleges.

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Snowy day in store for far northern Wis.

Lake effect snows are just getting started close to Lake Superior in far northern Wisconsin.

Rhinelander had 1.4 inches as of early Thursday morning — and places north of that city are bracing for as much as 10 inches by evening. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Iron County where 6-10 inches are in the forecast. Winter weather advisories are in place for Ashland and Bayfield counties, where two to six inches of snow are predicted.

An arctic cold front will then bring in the coldest temperatures of the fall, with lows getting down to three above by tomorrow Friday morning in Superior — and places as far south as Wausau will drop into the single digits before a warm-up begins in time for the weekend.

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Vigil calls attention to veterans’ suicides

GREEN BAY — A vigil in Green Bay calls attention to military veterans who take their own lives.

About 50 people took part in a walk and candlelight vigil Wednesday night at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. The school is holding numerous events this week to celebrate veterans. Vigil organizer Kayley French told WLUK-TV that about 20 veterans commit suicide each day across the country — and she says vets and their families need to know that they're "not alone."

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Final Foxconn contract to be signed after WEDC OKs it

MADISON — Wisconsin's $3 billion investment in Foxconn will be finalized Friday after the state's Economic Development Corporation gave its final approval to the deal.

It calls for new and larger commitments by Foxconn for creating jobs at its LCD screen plant in Racine County — and if they fall short, chairman Terry Gou promised to pay at least $500 million to the state. The WEDC Board voted 8-2 Wednesday in favor of the subsidy package, with no votes from Senate Democrat Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee and Assembly Democrat and gubernatorial candidate Dana Wachs of Eau Claire who said the taxpayer commitments should have gone to a variety of small startups. Protesters shouted as the panel was going into a closed session. Walker, Foxconn founder Terry Gou, and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville will be at a ceremony in Racine Friday where the state's final contract will be signed.

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Lawmaker’s daughter waives preliminary hearing in fatal drug case

GREEN BAY — The daughter of state Assembly finance chairman John Nygren is scheduled to enter pleas Feb. 5 in the drug death of a pregnant woman.

Twenty-eight-year-old Cassie Nygren of Green Bay waived her preliminary hearing Wednesday and was ordered to stand trial in Brown County Circuit Court. She's charged with 10 counts and her fiance Shawn Gray faces 14 charges that include reckless homicide and delivering illegal drugs. Both are accused of providing heroin laced with fentanyl that killed 31-year-old Jennifer Skeen and her unborn baby in June. The 33-year-old Gray returns to court Friday.

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Ryan: Election losses could make tax cuts more urgent

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville says the Republican election losses from Tuesday might put more pressure on Congress to cut taxes.

At a breakfast program in Washington, D.C., Ryan said his party promised tax relief in 2016 and the elections served as a reminder for his fellow Republicans to make sure they "follow through." Democrats won the governor's, lieutenant governor's, and attorney general's offices in Virginia, and the governorship in New Jersey. Ryan said tax reform would "bear fruit politically" in the 2018 congressional contests. But he said it was more important to help people and make sure that especially middle-class families "see their paychecks going up, faster economic growth and better jobs being created.

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Special election set for Racine Assembly seat

MADISON — Racine residents who want to replace Democrat Cory Mason in the state Assembly will have a special election Jan. 16.

Gov. Scott Walker called the election at the same time Mason was sworn in as Racine's new mayor replacing John Dickert, who quit in July to join the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities' Initiative. Candidates for Mason's Assembly post are now circulating nomination papers which must be filed Nov. 21. If there are more than two candidates in either party, a primary would be held Dec. 19. The timeline is the same as the election process for another state Assembly seat that opened up after West Bend Republican Bob Gannon died in October.

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Measure would require security cameras at Madison convenience stores

MADISON — Wisconsin’s capital city is considering a measure that would require all convenience stores in the city to have security cameras.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin proposed the ordinance in response to a number of armed robberies. Madison's Public Safety Review Committee is scheduled to discuss the proposal Wednesday. The ordinance calls for the cameras to be focused on the front counter and cash register area of the store, and would need to show a high-quality image and a time stamp that the police could use. Stores would also be required to post a sign saying that customers are being recorded.