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Wisconsin roundup: Don't blame voter ID law for lower turnout, Walker says; thousands march against Trump in Wisconsin; 9 more state news stories

Gov. Scott Walker's office insists that Wisconsin's voter ID law was not why Tuesday's voter numbers were three percent lower than expected.

Milwaukee Election Commission director Neil Albrecht says 41,000 fewer city residents voted than in the last White House contest in 2012 -- and while some of the dropoff was due to less enthusiasm for the candidates, Albrecht says four voting districts in high poverty areas had people struggling to meet the photo ID mandate and could no longer have witnesses vouch for them.

The League of Women Voters said they saw people turned away at the polls without being given provisional ballots like they should have been. Walker's office said the ID law worked fine in the April primary, and this week should not have been any different. As of Thursday, officials said almost 700 provisional ballots were given out statewide to those without proper proof of residency -- and they have until 4 p.m. Friday to show the proof to clerks and turn in their ballots.


Thousands protest Trump election in Wisconsin cities

Thousands of young people in Wisconsin's two largest cities have joined others around the nation in protesting the voters' choice of Donald Trump for president.

The Journal Sentinel says about 2,000 mostly young and diverse people beat drums, yelled obscenities, and carried signs reading "Dump Trump," "Not My President," and "Daughters Against Trump's America" -- and one told a reporter that America elected a "sexual predator," based on reports during the campaign of Trump's past behavior.

There was no word of arrests, and police said they shut down several downtown Milwaukee intersections Thursday night as fans leaving a Bucks game had no trouble getting around a small group near the arena. In Madison, crowd estimates of 1,000 to 2,500 gathered on Bascom Hill at the UW campus and later marched to the Capitol, chanting "Say it loud, say it clear, Muslims are welcome here." Others slammed Trump's anti abortion stance with signs reading, "My body, my choice."


Psychological reports to be reviewed in Slender Man case

WAUKESHA -- Two Waukesha girls are due back in court Friday afternoon, and they might find out if there's enough evidence to support their insanity pleas in the Slender Man stabbing case.

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren will consider psychological reports from three of four experts he appointed on Morgan Geyser's and Anissa Weier's mental states. Defense lawyers issued the insanity pleas after they failed to get their clients moved to juvenile court.

Geyser and Weier both face adult charges of attempted homicide, for allegedly beating classmate Payton Leutner 19 times in May of 2014. Investigators were told the girls were acting in allegiance to the fictional horror character Slender Man -- and before a trial can take place, the defense wants Judge Bohren not to let a jury hear statements both girls made to officers the day they were arrested.


State requires doctor training for prescribing painkillers

MADISON -- Wisconsin doctors will have to get training every two years on the way they prescribe opioids.

The state Department of Safety and Professional Services approved new rules Thursday, to try and prevent those who use painkillers to eventually get hooked on heroin. The new rules require painkiller guidelines cover two of the 30 hours of continuing education that doctors receive. Current guidelines seek to have physicians prescribe the opioids sparingly, and not make them a first option for relieving pain.


Second teen gets jail, probation for spiking teacher's drink

OCONTO -- A northeast Wisconsin teenager who helped spike a teacher's soda with whiteboard cleaner has been sentenced to two weeks in jail and two years of probation.

Gavin Gilbertson of Cecil, who turned 18 last week, was given the same sentence as his co-defendant Hailey Brock received in July. Both can have the convictions taken off their records if they stay clean during their probations.

Oconto County prosecutors say Brock, of Gillett, spiked staff member Ray Johnson's soda last October at Gillett High School as a prank -- and Johnson had to be treated at a hospital, though he was not seriously hurt. Both defendants struck plea deals, and Gilbertson was convicted of placing foreign objects in edibles while his other two charges were dropped -- reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.


Majority of Wisconsin school referendums pass

The final numbers are in from this week's public school referendums in Wisconsin, as voters approved 55 of 67 proposals to borrow for new buildings, and raise taxes beyond state limits to keep programs going.

All told, voters approved $980 million in bonding and local tax hikes. The state's largest building plan, a $159 million package in Chippewa Falls, went down to defeat -- but many other large proposals were approved, along with a 15 year, $88 million local tax increase in Eau Claire.

A leader of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says the referendum approvals show that public has a better knowledge of the financial restraints put on by state lawmakers of both parties in recent years. State officials say more than half of the 424 Wisconsin public school districts have had local referendums approved since the start of 2012.


Roth becomes new state Senate president

MADISON -- Wisconsin Senate Republicans have elected Roger Roth of Appleton as the chamber's new president.

He replaces Mary Lazich of New Berlin, who's leaving the Senate after she decided not to run for re-election. Roth, a home builder, will start his third year in the Senate after being in the Assembly from 2006 to 2008. As expected, Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau was re-elected as majority leader -- and River Hills Republican Alberta Darling will remain a co-chair of the Legislature's most powerful committee, Joint Finance. Voters increased the Senate's Republican majority from 19 members to at least 20, and maybe 21 depending on the final result of a close contest involving Democratic Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling.


Boat maker to close Minn. plant, consolidate near Green Bay

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. -- A Minnesota boat maker is about to consolidate in northeast Wisconsin.

The Larson Boat Group said Thursday it would close its plant in Little Falls, Minnesota, where it's been making boats for 103 years -- and it will move the production early next year to its larger facility in Pulaski, near Green Bay. The firm also said it would phase out one of its five basic lines, the Triumph, and make the other four at Pulaski where it's been operating since 1991.

CEO Rob Parmentier says the consolidation is necessary to remain competitive -- and officials say the 141 people who work at Little Falls will be offered jobs at Pulaski, which now has almost 325 employees. Larson Boats builds and sells 59 types of runabouts, pontoons, freshwater and saltwater boats, and express cruisers.


Algoma Hardwood closure to slash 180 jobs

ALGOMA -- Masonite International Corporation has notified the Kewaunee County city of Algoma that it will close its architectural door and mineral core manufacturing plant next year.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports about 180 employees will lose their jobs beginning in mid-January. The Algoma Hardwoods plant will shut down at the end of August 2017. Masonite officials say it's closing the plant because the work can be done at other locations.


USDA predicts larger state corn, soybean harvests

MADISON -- Wisconsin's record corn and soybean crops could be even larger than projected.

The USDA has revised its estimates upward. Wisconsin's corn production for 2016 is now predicted to be 558 million bushels, two-percent higher than the October forecast and 13 percent more than last year's output.

Officials expect farmers to shatter the state's current corn record of 515 million bushels from 2011. The USDA predicts that the Wisconsin soybean crop will be 107 million bushels, busting the old mark of 93 million from last year. The potato harvest is expected be down about one-percent.


Politico: Sheriff Clarke possibility for Trump cabinet

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke could wind up in Washington, D.C. soon.

Politico is reporting he is a possible candidate to become Homeland Security secretary under President-elect Donald Trump. Another possibility for the post is reported to be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Clarke is in his fourth term as Milwaukee County sheriff and is a registered Democrat, though he campaigned for Trump and spoke at the Republican National Convention this year.