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Wisconsin roundup: Medical marijuana getting cold reception in Madison; Former U.S. solicitor general will try to help GOP keep district lines; 7 more state news stories

MADISON -- The state Legislature's GOP leaders are giving a cold reception to a pair of Democratic bills to legalize medical marijuana.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he remains against the concept, but he has not talked with his GOP caucus about it. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who recently said he would be open to the concept, did not commit to a public hearing on the bills.

Senate Democrat Jon Erpenbach of Middleton and Assembly Democrat Chris Taylor of Madison introduced a bill Monday that would make Wisconsin the 29th state to legalize medicinal pot -- and in case that doesn't pass, they also proposed a backup measure for a statewide advisory referendum to gauge public support. Taylor says other Republican states have medicinal marijuana, and she hoped Vos would keep his word about being open to Wisconsin following suit.


Former U.S. solicitor general will try to help GOP keep district lines

MADISON -- Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement will try to help state legislative Republicans keep the state Assembly and Senate districts that a court said were highly gerrymandered in the GOP's favor.

Clement's law firm charges $1,300 per hour, but state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he's not sure how much the fees will be. A three judge panel has ordered that the Legislature redraw its 2011 district lines so they can be used in the 2018 elections.

But Fitzgerald says it would create "havoc," and he's trying to get at least 30 other states to support the Wisconsin GOP in a friend of the court brief. Clement, who grew up at Germantown, has argued numerous cases to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government -- and he'll appear before the justices again as he helps with the state's appeal of the judicial panel's orders.


Senate leader withholds support for UW tuition cut, school aid hike

MADISON – Gov. Scott Walker is expected to announce Tuesday the size of his proposed tuition cut for Wisconsin residents who attend campuses in the UW System.

But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he does not hear "a lot of excitement" from his fellow Republicans on the tuition cut. And Fitzgerald is not committing to Walker's proposed $649 increase in state aid for public schools the Republican governor plans to put in his next two year state budget which he'll give to lawmakers Wednesday.

Fitzgerald says it's a big number, and he'll need to run it by his Senate GOP caucus before making any commitments. Most of Walker's proposed school aid increase would go into a new category of aid the GOP created in 2011, which gives flat amounts per student without giving higher amounts to poorer districts.


Wisconsin immigration lawyers swamped with calls

MADISON -- While the Trump White House seeks to restore its travel ban on visitors from Muslim countries, Wisconsin immigration lawyers are getting swamped with calls.

Madison attorneys Sarah Schmeiser and Glorily Lopez tell WKOW-TV lots of clients are not sure what's happening -- or what President Donald Trump's travel and immigration policies mean. Schmeiser says her immigration related calls have jumped from one or two per week to as many as four calls each day -- and if the spike continues, she may have to refer questions to law groups in other cities.

About 140 international students at UW-Milwaukee attended a recent forum to find out if they could return to the United States if they leave to see their families, or perform research. A federal appeals court in San Francisco is reviewing a federal appeal of the travel ban, after Minnesota and Washington state convinced a judge to issue a temporary restraining order against the ban late last week.


Mobile home fire kills 1, injures another

OAK CREEK -- Officials say a mobile home fire that killed one person and injured another in Oak Creek did not appear suspicious.

The fire chief says both people were inside the mobile home when units were called about 11 p.m. Monday. One escaped, and crews tried rescuing the other. Both were taken to a hospital, where the 54-year-old woman who were rescued did not survive.

There was no word on the second person's condition. The Red Cross is helping out, and investigators are trying to figure out what started the fire. The name of the woman killed was not immediately released.


Missing man's body found in La Crosse

LA CROSSE -- The body of a 22-year-old man missing since last Wednesday has been found in Swift Creek in La Crosse.

Rescuers found Justin McElwain's body late Monday morning, about 200 yards from a bridge where his car was found and recovered last Wednesday. Investigators say the car apparently drove into an embankment and then into the creek.


Wood County woman pleads not guilty to mistreating horse

WISCONSIN RAPIDS -- A central Wisconsin woman has pleaded not guilty to mistreating a horse that eventually died.

An attorney for 57-year-old Belva Bowden of Babcock entered the plea to misdemeanor animal mistreatment. Bowden still owns one other horse, and she's free on a signature bond. She's due back in Wood County Circuit Court March 10, when a trial date could be set.

Prosecutors say the horse that died was found wandering along Highway 80 last September, and Bowden later gave the animal to the Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation in Pittsville -- but a decision was made to euthanize the horse because of its poor health.


State lawmaker: FBI probe delays Lincoln Hills reforms

MADISON -- The head of the Wisconsin Senate's public safety committee wants to know when the FBI will finish its two year investigation into alleged juvenile inmate abuses at Lincoln Hills.

Racine Republican Van Wanggaard says he won't know what reforms to propose, until the FBI tells him "what to fix." But U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil of Madison says they'll keep working until they reach a conclusion -- and he cannot say how long that might take.

Wanggaard says he wrote the FBI last week, asking how much longer its probe at the state's Lincoln Hills boys' school and Copper Lake girls' school will go -- and he accuses the FBI of "stonewalling," saying the agency's credibility is "diminished" in the process. Vaudreuil tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the FBI will send Wanggaard a response, but he won't tell him how long the probe might continue.


UW colleges chief is finalist for Minnesota state chancellor

ST. PAUL -- The head of the UW Colleges and Extension service is one of three finalists for the new chancellor of the Minnesota State College and University system.

Cathy Sandeen was named Monday, along with Colorado State Chancellor Emeritus Michael Martin and Virginia State past President Keith Miller. The new chancellor will replace Steven Rosenstone, who retires this summer after leading a network of 30 state colleges and seven universities which enroll almost 400,000 total students.

The 61-year-old Sandeen has headed the UW's 13 two year colleges and extension programs for a little more than two years -- and Miller's resume includes a vice chancellor's post at UW-Oshkosh. A public session to meet the finalists is set for Tuesday at the Minnesota State headquarters in St. Paul, and the system's board is expected to pick the new chancellor later this week.