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Wisconsin roundup: Walker supports Constitutional Convention renewed proposal would reduce child support paid by the wealthy; and 11 state news stories

MADISON — There's more talk in Wisconsin about a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. Republican Gov. Scott Walker was asked about it during a recent telephone town hall meeting. Despite disagreements from some law professors, Walker says he's convinced a convention could limit itself to issues the states want to raise — namely, controls on federal power like term limits and requiring balanced federal budgets.

According to a USA Today story from 2011, the "Article Five Convention" that Walker endorses has never been used to propose constitutional amendments — and it would need two thirds of state legislatures to convene the session, with amendments to be ratified by three fourths of the 50 states.

A couple years ago, state Senate Republican Chris Kapenga of Delafield said he was looking into a constitutional convention with a limited agenda, but Democrats condemned the move, saying it could suggest other constitutional changes like limiting free speech and dissent.


Renewed proposal would reduce child support paid by the wealthy

MADISON — A state agency is renewing a plan to reduce child support paid by wealthy parents in Wisconsin.

The Department of Children and Families is pushing the new measure, which Assembly Republican Jessie Rodriguez of Oak Creek says would more closely reflect cultural changes on child placement variations.

Parents making $300- to $500,000 per year would pay as low as 5 percent of their incomes instead of 10 percent to support one child — and support for five or more kids could be reduced from 20 percent to as low as 10 percent.

The Wisconsin State Journal says a hearing on the plan is scheduled Tuesday. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says it would send the wrong message of giving less support to kids.

In 2013, Assembly Republican Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc proposed a reduction in child support for the rich -- and it went nowhere after critics said it was meant to help a businessman and G-O-P donor reduce his support payments.


Obama pardons 78, including northwest Wisconsin man

HONOLULU, Hawaii -- A northwest Wisconsin man has been pardoned for forging postal money orders almost 35 years ago.

Joseph Swies of Frederic was among 78 convicts President Barack Obama pardoned Monday while on a holiday family vacation in Hawaii. Swies spent three years on probation and was ordered to pay almost $1,300 in restitution upon his conviction in 1984 -- and his pardon means he can vote again, hold public office, and sit on a jury.

Obama also shortened the sentences of 153 more criminals Monday -- and the White House says it was the highest number of clemencies given on any single day by any president.

Obama has also commuted hundreds of drug sentences this year, and the White House says he has pardoned 148 people and shortened sentences for almost 1,200 others during his eight years as president.


Credit card skimmer found On ATM, suspect caught on video

MARSHFIELD -- Another credit card skimming device has turned up in Wisconsin, but this one was not on a gas pump.

Police in Marshfield say a woman found a device attached to an ATM at Simplicity Credit Union Saturday, Dec. 17. Officers have been looking for the suspect who was caught on a surveillance video.

Police say more than 20 people reported having money taken from their credit union accounts during the Thanksgiving weekend. Skimming devices are placed on larger machines where folks slide their credit cards to make transactions. They've been spotted on numerous gas pumps across Wisconsin in recent weeks.

Marshfield Police say users should tap or wiggle the credit card slots on ATMs before trying to use them and if they move, they should tell their banks right away.


Milwaukee Police Department investigates Monday, Dec. 19 murder

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee police are investigating the shooting death of a 37-year-old man.

It happened about 11:50 p.m. Dec. 19 on the city's north side. Police say the victim was found lying on a sidewalk with gunshot wounds and rescuers tried but failed to save him at the scene. Investigators were still trying to determine suspects and a motive at last word. The victim's name was not immediately released.


State may reopen its Lincoln Hills investigation

MADISON -- Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel now says he'll consider reopening the state's investigation into alleged youth inmate abuses at Lincoln Hills.

Schimel told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week he had no idea about the progress of two federal probes at the troubled facility near Irma in Lincoln County. He said he was surprised but not upset when he was told the FBI had not visited Lincoln Hills for almost all of 2016.

Schimel now says his agency had evidence from its former probe that could lead to "enforcement actions," but his spokesman Johnny Koremenos says the state is making "no commitments" for now.

State and federal investigators have spent the last two years looking into numerous allegations at Lincoln Hills, including: inmate abuse, sexual assault, strangulation, intimidation of witnesses and tampering with public records.

The state dropped its probe earlier this year after the federal government moved forward with investigations into both abusive activity and civil rights violations.


Autopsy to be performed on frozen Milwaukee woman

MILWAUKEE --  An autopsy is scheduled Tuesday, Dec. 20 for a 64-year-old Milwaukee woman found frozen to death on the back steps of her apartment building.

Her body was discovered around 9:30 a.m. Dec. 19 by a neighbor on Milwaukee's south side. Police say a wind chill factor of 14 degrees below zero was a significant factor.

The neighbor, Joanne Bingenheime, tells WITI the victim had a jacket and boots on, but no pants. The victim apparently died in the early morning hours on Monday, Dec. 19 and her name was not immediately released.

Milwaukee Police also continue to investigate the death of an unidentified man in his 20s found buried in snow in an alley behind his house. Reports say the man had signs of a trauma, and the death did not appear to be related to the cold snap.


UW-Oshkosh reschedules commencement, apologizes for postponing

OSHKOSH -- After hundreds of complaints, UW-Oshkosh has decided to reschedule the winter commencement ceremony it postponed Saturday, Dec. 17 due to the heavy snow. It's now set for Saturday, Jan. 21.

Initially, the university said the 1,100 winter graduates could take part in the school's normal spring ceremony if they wanted, but graduate Taylor Moret said her class deserves its own commencement and she got 1,200 people to sign petitions for it while other students made their own complaints.

Chancellor Andrew Leavitt says he underestimated the students' reactions. After getting their message, he says the campus needs to pull together and give the winter grads "the experience they have earned."


Skeleton found in Kenosha was that of missing Chicago man

KENOSHA -- A skeleton found in Kenosha April 5 belonged to a Chicago man missing since since 2012.

A forensic anthropologist used DNA tests to determine that the skeletal remains were those of 51-year-old Hozia Jackson.

A surveyor found his skull in a ditch near a frontage road off Interstate 94, close to a wooded area. Relatives say they lost track of Jackson when a friend picked him up in Country Club Hills, Ill., to get him back home.

The family has no idea how he wound up in Kenosha. Police continue to investigate the death.


GOP electors cast votes for Trump despite pleas from protesters

MADISON -- All 10 Wisconsin Electoral College members cast their votes Monday, Dec. 19 for Republican Donald Trump.

Dozens of protesters stood outside the state capitol in the cold and told the GOP activists to "vote their conscience." Protesters yelled "You're selling us to Russia," "No Putin president."

State GOP chairman Brad Courtney ran the meeting, and announced their 10 votes for Trump as required by state law after Trump won the Wisconsin popular vote by almost 23,000 on Nov. 8.

The Electoral College vote is normally a non-event, but it became a big deal during the recent national attempt by Trump opponents to get 37 electors to change their votes.


Former Oshkosh soccer coach faces trial in sex assault case

OSHKOSH -- A former Oshkosh soccer coach charged with sexual assault has been bound over for trial.

Television station WBAY reports that 23-year-old  Fredrick Baier appeared in a Winnebago County Court room  Monday for a preliminary hearing. A judge ordered the case to move forward, and bond to continue at $15,000.

Baier is charged with second degree sexual assault, sexual assault by school staff and causing a child to view sexual activity. Oshkosh Police say Baier was a junior varsity boys soccer coach for Oshkosh West High School, but he didn’t teach at the school.

A 16-year-old girl told investigators that Baier had raped her at a party. One student stated she had been receiving “inappropriate content” from Baier over Snapchat.

Baier’s arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 23.


Realtors report record home sales for November

MADISON -- Wisconsin Realtors have sold a record number of existing houses during November. The Realtors Association said Monday its members sold almost 5,800 homes last month, a 19 percent increase from last year's total for the month of almost 4,900.

The group cites a reduction in available houses for a steady increase in median sales price, which rose 8.3 percent last month to $162,400.

For the year as a whole, sales and the average selling price both rose by almost 6 percent. The Realtors' Association says Wisconsin remains on pace for its strongest housing year since 2005, when the group recalibrated its system for recording home sales.


State troopers suggest changes in wake of pipeline protest

MADISON -- Seventeen Wisconsin state troopers suggest changes in the wake of their experiences at the Dakota Access pipeline protests in October.

The Wisconsin State Journal obtained the list, which includes wearing only badge numbers and not names on uniforms to protect their privacy. They also suggest either wearing body cameras or have a videographer available, new physical fitness requirements and improved protections for officers, like better helmets and vests.

A total of 43 Wisconsin law enforcement officers spent time at the pipeline protests. State emergency management officials say the state troopers are known to be the only ones who filed "after action reports."

State Patrol Colonel Charles Teasdale says the proposed changes are not necessarily things they're "going to do;” it's only an "objective look at results, positive and negative, and ways to improve."

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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