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Wisconsin roundup: Senator tries again for long revocations for repeat OWIs; 9 more state news stories

MADISON — A public hearing will be held Tuesday on a Wisconsin bill to make repeat drunk drivers lose their licenses for at least 10 years.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on a bill from its chairman, Racine Republican Van Wanggaard. The bill is about the same as the one in the last session that he tried but failed to pass.

It would revoke licenses for at least a decade for those convicted at least four times of OWI, or twice for drunk driving and twice serious vehicular crimes. Those people could not receive occupational licenses while their full licenses are revoked.


Survey: Construction workers needed in Wisconsin

Construction workers are in short supply in Wisconsin.

Three fourths of state firms surveyed by the Associated General Contractors say they have trouble filling hourly openings for craft work. About 112,000 Wisconsinites worked in construction in July — 22,000 more than in 2010 — and a state spokesman says 12-percent more workers will be needed for the decade ending in 2024, not including the proposed Foxconn high tech plant.

The Journal Sentinel says much of the state's construction growth is in downtown Milwaukee where 2,600 people built the newly opened Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance tower. Almost half of those were in a city program that helps unemployed and underemployed Milwaukeeans learn building trades.


Foxconn, electric vehicle fee on finance panel’s plate

MADISON — The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee begins what could be its final work on the next state budget Tuesday afternoon.

The panel will consider separate bills for the $3 billion incentive package to have Foxconn put its first American smartphone and TV screen plant in either Racine or Kenosha counties.

It will then act on a number of budget measures — including a proposed $100 fee for owners of electric and hybrid vehicles to help cover a large road funding shortfall.

The budget was supposed to take effect July 1, but majority GOP lawmakers have disagreed on how to pay for road work — and various borrowing levels remain on the table. It also remains to be seen whether the finance panel would create a package of last second surprises. Some lawmakers raised doubts about that, after a late Republican plan to close certain public records was quickly shot down two years ago amid heavy criticism.


Great Lakes cooldown begins earlier than normal

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Temperatures in the Great Lakes normally drop this time of year, but experts say this year's cooldown may be starting earlier than usual.

The Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, says Lake Michigan was at 71 degrees in late August, one degree cooler than the normal for that time of year. Lake Superior was at 63, three degrees cooler than late August 2016.

Portions of northern Wisconsin have had temperatures in the 30s on and off during the past week, and Great Lakes researcher George Leshkevich tells the Traverse City Record Eagle in Michigan that the cooler air temps have affected the water. Last year at this time, many areas in the Upper Midwest were still in the 80s on a daily basis.


Wis. man sentenced for teen sex offense, OWI

SUPERIOR — A northwest Wisconsin man has been sentenced to five years in prison after he got caught in an underage sex sting operation and driving drunk for the seventh time.

A Douglas County jury convicted 54-year-old Ronald Provost of Foxboro in June of causing a teen to view sexual activity, and he pleaded guilty in January to his seventh OWI. Other charges were dropped in both cases.

Prosecutors say Provost answered an ad on Craigslist in 2014 seeking a casual encounter — and he sent a sexually explicit photo to a girl he thought was 15 but actually was a Superior police officer.


Relatives: Man shot by Milwaukee police was legally blind

MILWAUKEE — Relatives of a 37-year-old man shot by Milwaukee police say he was legally blind from diabetes, and the shots he fired before being killed went up in the air to break up a large fight.

His godmother, Darrion Clayton, identified the victim as Antwon Springer — and she told reporters he did not mean any harm. Milwaukee police were sent to the large fight near a north side intersection late Sunday night. They said a man was outside a house shooting a gun as a confrontation ensued before two officers shot the man — and police in neighboring Wauwatosa are investigating.

Police did not release Springer's name but they said he was a felon — but his godmother said Clayton had not been in trouble for many years, and he lived with his grandfather across the street from her.


Fond du Lac firefighters to receive concussion tests

FOND DU LAC — Firefighters in Fond du Lac will get concussion tests as part of their physical exams.

Fire Cpt. Jim Wamser tells WLUK-TV that head injuries make up 13 percent of all injuries to fire personnel — and by having a test result on file, officials can compare a firefighter's brain health both before and after an injury. Wamser says most head injuries to firefighters are the result of falling plaster, plumbing pipes, or anything in an attic.

The concussion tests are computerized, and they last about 25 minutes. Agnesian Health Care administers the firefighter tests, the same ones given to high school athletes in the Fond du Lac area.


UW study shows why smokers light up when they wake up

MADISON — New research from UW-Madison shows why some smokers cannot wait to light up when they wake up.

It's because they have genetic links in an enzyme called FMO-3  that's been found to metabolize nicotine in the brain. Scientists at the UW and Washington University in St. Louis say it's the first time the genetic variation has been found in the brain — after previous studies focused on enzymes in the liver which metabolize the addictive chemical in cigarettes.

The UW says the new discovery could someday let doctors create new medicines to neutralize the enzyme — or tailor smoking cessation treatments to individuals depending on the levels of their addictions.


Democrat fears end to rent-to-own consumer protection

MADISON — The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee is expected to take final action on the delayed state budget as early as Tuesday night and one minority Democrat is worried that the final "catch all" provision may include the end of consumer protections for rent to own stores.

No one has publicly proposed it, but Assembly Democrat Gordon Hintz of Oshkosh says majority Republicans could have it up their sleeve for the panel's final motion. Hintz says the industry is lobbying for the change, which would no longer make rent-to-own stores disclose the interest rates they charge. Hintz says it would lead to an explosion of such stores in Wisconsin, where they could charge a number of times what they do now. GOP Gov. Scott Walker put the provision in his 2013 budget but the finance panel took it out.


Car-train crash kills Somali woman in Barron

BARRON — Police in northwest Wisconsin continue to investigate a car-train crash in which the car driver was killed and her passenger was injured.

Barron police have identified the fatal victim as Asli Abdi Hayir, a woman from Somalia. Her male passenger, also from Somalia, was first taken to a Barron hospital before being flown to a facility in Eau Claire — and there was no word on the man's extent of injuries. No one else was hurt, including anyone on the Canadian National freight train that was involved in Saturday morning's crash.