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Wisconsin roundup: Walker to sign $3B incentive package for Foxconn; 9 more state news stories

Gov. Scott Walker, shown here earlier this year signing initial documents with the Taiwanese business Foxconn, will lay ink on Monday to legislation granting the business up to $3 billion in tax incentive. File photo

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker will sign the $3 billion Foxconn incentive package into law Monday afternoon.

He'll hold a ceremony at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant, close to where the nation's first factory for smartphone and TV flat screens is expected to be built. The Taiwanese Foxconn is reportedly in the final stages of negotiating with Racine County in a region the Republican Walker has dubbed as "Wisconn Valley" — which he views as an eventual comparison to Silicon Valley in California.

The plant could create up to 13,000 jobs, and some reports call the taxpayers' investment in Foxconn the largest of its kind for a foreign company in United States history. Foxconn will get tax breaks and exemptions from environmental laws — and the package includes borrowing for a stalled expansion of Interstate 94 near the plant, plus special legal considerations in which circuit court rulings involving Foxconn can bypass mid level appellate courts and go directly to the State Supreme Court.


Evers to submit school plan without Walker support

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker takes issue with the state's plan to comply with the national "Every Student Succeeds Act."

The Republican Walker has told state Superintendent Tony Evers he won't endorse the plan — and he told Evers to submit another one that does more to improve poor performing schools. But Evers — a Democratic candidate for Walker's job — says he stands by the current plan, which he expects to unveil Monday before it goes to the U.S. Education Department. Evers says a bipartisan equity council gave input to the plan, and he heard no objection from Walker's member on that panel — but the governor says it would create "layers of bureaucratic paperwork" for low performing schools by having them submit improvement plans to the state education agency.

The plan is designed to comply with the former Obama White House changes to the No Child Left Behind Act, giving states a bigger say in their test requirements and dealing with low performing schools.


Fatal crashes probed in Dodge, Kenosha counties

Sheriff's deputies are investigating a pair of Sunday crashes in Dodge and Kenosha counties in southeast Wisconsin.

Dodge County officials say an SUV was driving in the wrong lane on Highway 60 near Rubicon late Sunday morning, when it slammed into an oncoming SUV. Deputies say the driver who caused the crash was taken to a Hartford hospital with non life threatening injuries, while the driver in the other unit died and a passenger was critically injured.

In Kenosha County, WISN-TV says a bicyclist was involved in a fatal crash in Trevor late Sunday night — and nearby residents were quoted as saying the offending vehicle sped away. Victims' names and other details of the crashes were not immediately released.


DeVos not in Milwaukee — but her giant yacht is

MILWAUKEE — Eyebrows were raised after a giant $40 million yacht belonging to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos showed up in Milwaukee.

The Journal Sentinel says the 163-foot SeaQuest showed up Saturday at a Milwaukee dock on Lake Michigan. It sleeps 12 guests plus a crew of up to 12 others, and it's registered in the Cayman Islands. Betsy and Dick DeVos are the registered owners, and a spokesperson for the Education Department says somebody else must be using the yacht because the secretary has no plans to visit Milwaukee.

Yacht tracking websites indicate that the DeVos SeaQuest spent last week at Harbor Springs in the area of Traverse City, Michigan while DeVos was in Nebraska, among other places, on a Midwest tour called "Rethink School."


Police: Husband used house explosion to cover up wife’s death

MADISON — Madison Police now say a 59-year-old man shot and killed his wife, and used last week's house explosion to try and cover up the killing.

Steven Pirus is in the Dane County Jail, and Police Chief Mike Koval says he expects prosecutors to file charges of first degree intentional homicide, arson, and reckless endangerment. Koval told reporters Sunday that 50-year-old Lee Anne Pirus appears to have been dead for "weeks, if not months" before last Wednesday's explosion — and the Dane County medical examiner said she died from "homicidal firearm trauma."

Fire Chief Steven Davis say Pirus tampered with the natural gas line into the home, and the gas triggered the explosion. Koval says it's too early to speculate on a motive — and federal, state, and local investigators continue to look into the case.


Ryan to visit Harley plant to discuss trade, tax manufacturing

MENOMONEE FALLS — U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville plans to talk about manufacturing, trade, and tax issues Monday in suburban Milwaukee.

The Republican Ryan will tour the Harley Davidson motorcycle engine and transmission plant in suburban Milwaukee, and he'll lead a roundtable discussion with company leaders.


Jury: Slender Man defendant was mentally ill

WAUKESHA — One of the two Wisconsin girls who tried to kill a classmate to please a fictional character has dodged prison time.

A Waukesha County jury determined Anissa Weier was mentally ill when she participated in the attack three years ago. The verdict came after 11 hours of deliberations and about an hour after the judge rejected the first outcome. A plea agreement with the now 15-year-old Weier called for her to spend at least three years in a mental hospital if the jury decided she was mentally ill — 10 years in prison, if the decision went against her. The judge has the discretion to keep her in the mental institution as long as 25 years when he rules. Trial for Morgan Geyser starts Oct. 9.


Vandals damage Wis. law enforcement memorial

MADISON — Crews removed a spray-painted protest message from the Wisconsin law enforcement memorial at the Capitol Saturday.

Vandals defaced the memorial with a reference to protests in St. Louis over a not-guilty verdict for a former St. Louis police officer who killed a black man. The words "#justice 4 anthony smith" were painted on the side.

Capitol police are investigating the vandalism case. Several people were arrested in St. Louis protests after a peaceful event turned violent with a window broken at the mayor's home. Officers in riot gear then used a chemical irritant to disperse the crowd.


Potato crop the same, but a lot more money

MADISON — Wisconsin's potato crop was about the same last year as in 2015, but it made a lot more money for growers.

The USDA says almost 28 billion pounds of spuds were produced in the Badger State in each of the last two years. The 2016 crop was grown on 64,000, 1,500 more than the previous year with a farmer's selling price of $11.60 for every 100 pounds — which is up from the 2015 price of $9.70.

The total value of the Wisconsin potato crop was $322 million, up from $270 million in 2015. The world's best known potato grower, Idaho, had a net producer value about three times as much as Wisconsin.


Kangaroo escapes Kenosha County farm

KENOSHA — No one is hurt after a kangaroo escaped from a Kenosha County farm.

The marsupial named Joey broke free from his pen yesterday morning at Jerry Smith's Farm in Kenosha. The kangaroo wandered west into Somers before it was safely returned to the farm.