Wisconsin roundup: Legislator backs off mandatory high school drug testing; snow advisories for travelers; 7 more state news stories
MADISON — A Republican state lawmaker is backing off plans for a bill that would require high school students who participate in extracurricular activities or park a vehicle on school property to undergo random drug tests.
Rep. Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc had planned to introduce the idea, which came out of an anti-heroin task force he convened. Several Wisconsin school districts already have implemented similar policies. But Kleefisch's call for mandatory statewide testing has gotten little support from Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Kleefisch said Thursday he now wants to write a bill that would allow parents to request schools drug test their children.
Snow advisories face Christmas travelers
Winter weather advisories will start going into effect late Friday morning in virtually all of Wisconsin -- the last thing Christmas travelers need.
The National Weather Service predicts 2 to 4 inches of snow in almost all of the Badger State, mostly from midday until around the middle of the evening. Central and southern areas could also get freezing drizzle either during or after the snowstorm, as warmer and moist air pushes northward into the state with highs in the 30s the next two days.
A dry day is forecast for Saturday before a mix of snow and rain, and perhaps thunderstorms, roll into Wisconsin on Christmas Day as some places could go above 40 degrees. It's then supposed to get colder on Monday with more light snow in the northwest half of the state.
Globe University to close Wisconsin campuses by year's end
Globe University plans to shut down all seven of its Wisconsin locations by the end of December.
That's after a judge in Minnesota ruled in favor of that state's attorney general, who alleged the profit making Globe schools used deception to enroll students in criminal justice programs -- and federal officials revoked access to student aid programs, which Globe is appealing while saying there are no issues with the education it provides.
The school first said it would close its Minnesota campuses and those of its sister college, the Minnesota School of Business. Thursday, Globe announced closings of campuses in South Dakota and Wisconsin -- which are at Eau Claire, La Crosse, Wausau, Appleton, and Madison. Globe said its students could arrange to complete their classes with Broadview University of Utah.
Four-day weekend begins; more taking to roads
A four day weekend begins Friday for people whose employers normally close on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The automotive group AAA estimates that more than 2.1 million Wisconsin residents will travel at least 50 miles or more to a holiday destination between now and Jan. 2. That's up from 1.7 million during last year's Christmas and New Year's period -- and AAA says it's due to lower gas prices, an improved economy, and more consumer optimism.
About 113,000 Wisconsin residents plan to fly someplace for the holidays, while almost 2 million hit the road -- and that won't be easy this weekend with a mix of snow, freezing drizzle, rain, and thunderstorms in the forecast through Sunday. Up to 4 inches of snow are possible in most of the state Friday.
Ex-Iowa security official charged in Wisconsin lotto-rigging case
MADISON —A former security official in Iowa is charged with helping rig a Wisconsin Megabucks lotto drawing that netted $783,000 for him and a friend. Fifty-three-year-old Eddie Tipton is due in Dane County Circuit Court Feb. 13 on felony counts of racketeering, theft by fraud, and four counts of fraudulent computer crimes.
The state Justice Department filed charges Thursday, after it was reported last year that Tipton and Robert Rhodes rigged a Megabucks drawing in 2007 and did the same in several other states. Tipton was convicted in Iowa last year of tampering with random number generators to win a $14 million Hot Lotto jackpot, but one of his two convictions was later thrown out because the charge was filed too late. Defense lawyer Dean Stowers said Tipton shared information about the way computer programs are tested -- and he says that's not a crime.
Walker now doubts state funds for Milwaukee juvenile lockup
MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker now says he doubts that the state will help pay for a new juvenile prison in Milwaukee County.
The Republican Walker recently said he was open to helping the county pay for a 36-bed facility to house offenders who would normally go to the state's Lincoln Hills site being investigated by the federal government for alleged prisoner abuses and civil rights violations. But in his annual year end interviews with Capitol reporters, Walker questioned whether it's feasible to make piecemeal changes to the state's juvenile justice system.
Reports say a Racine County judge tried telling Walker in 2012 about a youth offender who was sexually assaulted at Lincoln Hills -- but the governor said he was never alerted to that, and he insists not knowing about the problems at Lincoln Hills until the state's criminal probe began there almost two years ago.
U.S. Justice Department considers probe of Milwaukee jail deaths
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department says it's considering a congressional request to investigate the deaths of four people at the Milwaukee County Jail.
With only four weeks left in office, Milwaukee House Democrat Gwen Moore wants federal agents to investigate three inmate deaths in a recent six month period, and the stillborn death of a baby. Sheriff David Clarke says a federal investigation of the facility he operates would only be a political witch hunt and he does not believe President Barack Obama's people would rush through the probe before they walk out the door Jan. 20. Clarke says the incoming Trump administration would not likely conduct the jail investigation.
Madison group home shooting suspect worked for same firm as victims
MADISON — A man arrested for shooting two female employees of a Madison group home worked for the same company himself, but police are not sure if he worked at the same facility.
Twenty-five-year-old Ali Hassan faces possible charges of homicide and attempted homicide for allegedly killing a 23-year-old Madison woman, and wounding a 31-year-old Madison woman. Police say it happened around 7 p.m. Wednesday at the REM Wisconsin group home on Madison's east side.
Officials say when Hassan tried driving away after the shootings, he got into a crash. Police arrested him at the scene. An autopsy was being performed Thursday on the murder victim, whose name was not immediately released.
Second slender man defendant seeks to have confession suppressed
WAUKESHA — Both Waukesha girls charged in the Slender Man stabbing case have now made their arguments as to why their juries should not hear their confessions.
Anissa Weier had her court hearing on the matter Thursday, after Morgan Geyser had a similar hearing earlier. Both are charged with adult counts of attempted homicide for allegedly stabbing a classmate 19 times in 2014 when they were 12 -- and they told police they did it in allegiance to the fictional horror character Slender Man.
Weier's lawyer questioned whether she knew her legal rights throughout her interview with police soon after she was arrested. A police detective testified that Weier agreed to waive her right to remain silent, and did not hesitate to tell what happened. Circuit Judge Michael Bohren will decide in February whether the jury should hear the confessions.