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Wisconsin roundup: State panel schedules hearing on ‘sanctuary cities’ ban; more state news stories

MADISON — A day long public hearing is scheduled Thursday at the State Capitol on a Republican bill to ban sanctuary cities in Wisconsin.

Whitewater Sen. Steve Nass is the bill's main sponsor, and he chairs the Senate's Labor and Regulatory Reform panel which will hold the hearing. It's the second straight session that GOP are considering a ban on sanctuary cities, where policies prevent federal immigration laws from being enforced.

Communities that violate the measure would lose state aid, and they could be legally liable for damage caused by illegal immigrants. The Milwaukee immigrant rights' group Voces de la Frontera says it will have hundreds of people at the Capitol for Thursday's hearing, which is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.


NRA to Ryan, Congress: Don’t ban bump stocks

WASHINGTON — The NRA says it's against any bill to ban "bump stocks."

The Las Vegas shooter used the devices to augment guns he used to kill 59 people and wound more than 500 from hundreds of yards away. NRA officials say the Trump administration should regulate the devices instead of Congress.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville has said Congress should look into the matter, but some of the conservatives in his party oppose legislation. NRA vice president Wayne LaPierre says congressional action would allow other types of gun control to be added, something his group calls "fuzzing the line." LaPierre says he agrees it's illegal to convert a semi-automatic gun to an automatic one, and that's what bump stocks do.


Madison judge again rejects tax-free ministers’ housing

MADISON — For the second time in four years, a federal judge in Madison has ruled that it's unconstitutional to give tax-free housing allowances to clergy members.

Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in favor of Madison's Freedom from Religion Foundation, which said the federal tax break discriminates against secular persons. Crabb issued the same ruling in 2013 but the federal appeals court in Chicago later threw it out, saying the foundation was not directly affected and had no legal standing to file suit — so in 2015, the foundation asked the IRS for the tax benefit and was turned down, thus claiming the right to sue.

Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor expects her group to prevail on appeal. GuideStone Financial Resources calls the tax break "the most important tax benefit available to ministers" — and federal officials say American clergy get a combined $800 million a year from it.


Survey: Women slowly make gains on Wis. corporate boards

MILWAUKEE — A new survey shows the percentage of women on Wisconsin corporate boards is slowly rising.

Milwaukee Women Inc. says 17.6 percent of the directors on the state's 50 largest publicly owned companies are female — and that's up from 16.19 percent one year ago. The report says 79 women are on now on those boards out of 449 total directors.

The group's chair, Sandy Wysocki, says the increase is slower than what they prefer — "but it continues an upward trend." Almost 15 years ago, about  9 percent of board seats at the state's largest public firms were held by women — almost half of what it is now.


State lawmaker proposes bill to dump Columbus Day name

MILWAUKEE — If a state lawmaker has his way, Monday will have been the final Columbus Day in Wisconsin.

Assembly Democrat David Bowen spent part of his holiday at the Indian Community School in suburban Milwaukee, where students have been pushing to rename Columbus Day as "Indigenous Peoples' Day." Bowen said he would introduce a state bill to dump Christopher Columbus' name from a federal holiday that's been in place since 1937 — joining a number of other states and cities that have made the change.

Critics say Columbus opened America to European domination when he discovered a place that Native Americans already called home. Bowen says Indigenous Peoples' Day would recognize Native Americans that Bowen says have given Wisconsin "such a rich history."


Grothman ‘apprehensive’ about re-election prospects

MILWAUKEE — U.S. House Republican Glenn Grothman says he's "apprehensive" about his re-election chances in 2018.

The Glenbeulah lawmaker told WISN Radio in Milwaukee on Monday that his campaign is not raising as much money as it should — and Grothman later told the Journal Sentinel his Democratic opponent Dan Kohl has access to "rich guys from New York or Miami or Los Angeles" that he doesn't know. Dan Kohl is a nephew of former U.S. Senate Democrat Herb Kohl — and his campaign says he had $390,000 on hand last month while Grothman's camp reported $325,000.

Grothman is in his second two year term in Congress, and he says his seat will be one of those "in play" as Democrats try to win back the House majority next year. The last Wisconsin House incumbent to lose reelection was Appleton Democrat Steve Kagen in 2010.


Dane County jail inmate revived with Narcan

MADISON — A Dane County Jail inmate had to be revived with Narcan early Monday morning when she lost consciousness during a medical check.

Television station WKOW reports the Dane County Sheriff's Office says the incident occurred about 1:50 a.m. when the 26-year-old inmate was given Narcan, used to treat opiate overdoses, after she lost consciousness. The woman had been booked into the jail on Friday. She is facing charges of possession of methamphetamines, possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia and bail jumping.

Investigators are trying to determine how the inmate obtained the drug, and if that’s really what caused her medical episode. After the inmate was revived, she was sent to a hospital for a medical clearance. The inmate arrived back at the jail after being treated at the hospital.


Johnson: Restoring power generation is key to Puerto Rico

MILWAUKEE — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says it’s vital for Puerto Rico to step up its electrical production, as it recovers from Hurricane Maria.

The Wisconsin Republican was part of a 10-member congressional delegation that toured Puerto Rico during the weekend. They spoke with local leaders and saw about one-third of the island while in the air. About 90 percent of the country is still in the dark, even though many are using generators and three-fourths of Puerto Rico's gas and grocery stores are open. Even so, Johnson tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Puerto Rico needs its total power to maintain a strong economy — and without it, a recovery won't happen.


Gas prices drop after hurricane

Wisconsinites are seeing lower gasoline prices in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

The state's AAA automotive group reports an average statewide price of $2.41 a gallon Monday for regular unleaded. That's $0.03 less than last Monday, and 13- and- a-half cents cheaper than one month ago at this time. Hurricane Harvey drove up gas prices throughout the country, after the storm knocked out oil refineries along the Gulf Coast.