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Wisconsin roundup: Speaker Ryan denies retirement report; more state news briefs

House Speaker Paul Ryan, shown here in a 2012 photo, is vigorously denying reports he will leave Congress at the end of the current term next year. Forum News Service file photo

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan is vigorously denying reports he will leave Congress at the end of the current term next year. reported Thursday that the Wisconsin Republican has made it clear he will retire ahead of the next Congress. Some friends have told reporters the veteran politician from Janesville dislikes the toll the high-pressure job takes on his family. CNN is reporting it’s possible he could leave after the 2018 midterm elections. Ryan's Washington office calls the reports "pure speculation." He has served as Speaker of the House since 2015.


Mother leaves car running with baby inside, thief takes it

FITCHBURG — She was only going to be inside for a moment, but that was long enough.

While a mother went in Reach Dane Child Care Center to pick up her child Wednesday afternoon, a thief took off with her car. She had left it running with an infant in the back. The baby was found safe, still in the car seat, on the other side of the building. Fitchburg police say there have been more than 400 car thefts in the city. The juveniles who took the woman's car have been arrested.


Lawmakers consider bill requiring referendum for new local taxes

MADISON — County governments say the state has tied their hands so firmly when it comes to raising revenue, they need to implement ideas like a wheel tax.

Dane County officials say they need that revenue to provide services. State lawmakers have another take. They want local governments to put revenue-raising items like a wheel tax before the voters. The Senate bill would require those governments to ask permission in the form of a referendum first. A public hearing on the legislation was held Thursday at the Capitol. More than two dozen state municipalities use a wheel tax to raise revenue currently.


Two arrested in fatal heroin overdose case

FRIENDSHIP — The Adams County Sheriff's Office has arrested two people in the heroin overdose death of a 46-year-old woman last week.

The body of Kathleen Simms was found in a motel in Adams Dec. 6. When a search warrant was executed at a home in Adams, deputies say they found evidence related to the use, packaging and sale of drugs. Forty-nine-year-old Luis Cruz and 46-year-old Krystyne Miller were arrested.

Police say those two were involved in getting the heroin to Simms which caused her death. Miller has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide. The same felony charges are expected to be filed against Cruz.


Kind calls for ACA deadline to be extended

EAU CLAIRE — Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind is calling for the deadline to enroll through the Affordable Care Act to be extended. Friday is the last official day. WQOW-TV in Eau Claire is reporting Kind wants the Trump administration to extend that deadline until the end of the year. As of last week, more than 117,000 Wisconsin residents had enrolled in coverage through the website


La Crosse jury finds man guilty of killing wife

LA CROSSE — After nine hours of deliberation, a La Crosse County jury returned a verdict of guilty of first-degree intentional homicide Thursday night.

Forty-seven-year-old Todd Kendhammer now faces a life sentence for killing his wife. The judge revoked Kendhammer's bond and scheduled his sentencing for March 9. The jury decided the West Salem man beat his wife to death last September, then tried to stage an accident to make it look like a pipe had crashed through their car's windshield and caused Barbara Kendhammer's death. Autopsy results contradicted his version of events.


Travelers face busy holiday period once again

MADISON — The automotive group AAA predicts 2.2 million Wisconsin residents will travel at least 50 miles from home over the Christmas and New Year's holiday period.

The nationwide project tops 107-million and both estimates represent a new record for the ninth straight year. Most will drive and the roads will be the busiest on Dec. 20-21. Those will be the days commuters will be heading home from work and when holiday travelers are leaving for their destinations. The official holiday travel period starts Dec. 23 and ends Jan. 1.


Kimberly man garnering attention for ‘neighborly’ act

KIMBERLY — A posting on the Fox Valley Metro Police Department's Facebook page is making a Kimberly man an internet sensation.

Butch Hinkens says he was just being neighborly. Police officers and paramedics were called to a neighbor's home during Wednesday's snow storm. Hinkens saw the flashing lights and the activity and grabbed his snow-blower, went out into the cold weather and cleared the sidewalk and driveway to make it easier on the paramedics. Hinkens simplifies his act, saying he went down one side of the sidewalk, then back the other — "and it's all done." You just do things like that for your neighbors, he says.