Wisconsin Roundup: Survey: Wisconsin Drivers Fifth Likeliest To Hit Deer; and more state news
BLOOMINGTON, IL — Wisconsin drivers are the fifth likeliest in the nation to hit a deer. The state moved up from the sixth highest last year in an annual review of claims that drivers file with State Farm Insurance. It says Wisconsin motorists have a one in 72 chance of hitting a deer, elk, or moose. West Virginia drivers have the greatest risk at one in 43. The State Farm survey came out Thursday, less than one week after three women from Germany were killed when their car hit a deer before being rear-ended near Sparta — and a motorcyclist in Dodge County died after being hit by a deer and two other vehicles.
UW To Make Major Hiring Changes
MENOMONIE, WI — The University of Wisconsin is about to make some big changes in the ways it hires top leaders. At a meeting in Menomonie Thursday, the Board of Regents ratified a Republican state budget requirement to consider non academic personnel for the system's president and campus chancellors and vice chancellors when those posts open up. State public school Superintendent Tony Evers was the only Regent to vote against the change, calling it a "solution in search of a problem." The hiring changes will also recruit more candidates from the private sector, reduce the numbers of search committee members from 17 to 10, and release the names only two to three finalists for top UW positions instead of the current five. Regent Drew Petersen says those candidates might put their current jobs in jeopardy if their names were publicized — and there's no sense releasing five names since they only have a 20 percent chance of being hired.
State Dems Join Congressional Dems In Banning "Bump Stocks"
MADISON — Three state Assembly Democrats have proposed a ban on "bump stocks," which the Las Vegas shooter used to turn semi automatic rifles into fully automatic ones. Madison Representatives Lisa Subeck, Chris Taylor, and Terese Berceau introduced a bill to ban the sale, possession, and use of bump stocks in Wisconsin — similar to a ban congressional Democrats have proposed at the national level. Semi-automatic weapons are legal but fully automatic ones are not. Subeck says it makes no sense to ban automatic guns if the bump stocks remain legal. U-S House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville says Congress needs to look into it, and U.S. Senate Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says he has no problem banning bump stocks.
Sea Lamprey Numbers Up In Lake Superior, Down In Lake Michigan
The numbers of fish-killing sea lamprey are going up in Lake Superior and down in Lake Michigan. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission says about 100,000 adult sea lamprey are now in Lake Superior — more than twice the targeted numbers, although the agency is not sure why. Commission spokesman Mark Gaden tells the Duluth News Tribune the new totals are still a fraction of Superior's all time high of 800,000 lamprey in the 1950s, when treatments began to reduce the numbers. The lamprey arrived in the Great Lakes about a century ago after swimming in from the Atlantic Ocean. Their latest populations are down in Lakes Huron and Ontario as well as Lake Michigan, but they're up in Lake Erie.
Slender Man Stabbing Victim's Family Gets Closure
WAUKESHA, WI — The family of the stabbing victim in Waukesha's Slender Man case says they've received the closure they were looking for. But in a statement Thursday, Payton Leutner's family does not believe a mental hospital is where teen attackers Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier belong. The 15-year-old Geyser pleaded guilty Thursday to attempted homicide — and the judge accepted a plea deal that found her innocent by insanity with an immediate mental commitment which could run as high as 40 years if prosecutors get their way. Geyser and the 15-year-old Weier both could have gone to prison for stabbing classmate Leutner 19 times in 2014 to please the horror character Slender Man — but Geyser did not mention him Thursday when she explained her actions in court and admitted taking medication for depression and schizophrenia. Weier was earlier found innocent by insanity, as a case that attracted international headlines nears its completion.
Police Support Bill To Keep Most Body Camera Video Secret
MADISON — Most video from police body cameras would be kept secret in a Wisconsin bill that drew widespread support from law enforcement at an Assembly hearing Thursday. Kewaskum Republican Jesse Kremer says his bill would protect the privacy of innocent people captured on police video — and it would give law enforcement statewide guidelines for releasing video to the public. Jim Palmer of the state's largest police union says the rules would encourage more departments to use body cameras — but Bill Lueders of the state's Freedom of Information Council says it would prevent the public release of important evidence in cases of interest. The bill would exempt all body camera video from the state Open Records Law except when it involves deaths, injuries, arrests, and searches. And police would still have to seek permission for public release from those with reasonable expectations of privacy, like homeowners and witnesses.
Ryan: Congress Must Act On Automatic Weapons Booster Used In Vegas
WASHINGTON, DC — House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville now says Congress must consider whether a booster used in the Las Vegas shootings should be legal. Ryan tells MSNBC he had no idea what a "bump stock" was until this week. It's a small, legal device that basically converts legal semi-automatic weapons into automatic guns which are banned by federal law. Officials say the bump stocks allowed Stephen Paddock to spray gunfire from hundreds of yards away into the crowd at the Route 91 country music festival, killing 59 and injuring 530. U.S. Senate Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California has introduced a bill to ban the device, and Wisconsin Senate Republican Ron Johnson says he would have no qualms about voting to ban them.
Lead Dust From Painting Projects Raises Concerns At UW-Madison
MADISON — UW Madison says students and staffers might have been exposed to excessive lead dust as the result of painting projects in two buildings since the summer. Officials say a contractor removed paint at a stairwell in the Agricultural Hall, and lead dust escaped the building and went into Bascom Hall. In a campus wide email, the university encouraged anyone with health concerns, or who are pregnant or nursing, to contact University Health Services or their own doctors. For now, the campus health agency is not proposed lead testing for those without health issues who went to classes in the two buildings this fall.