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Wisconsin roundup: St. Croix third-healthiest Wis. county, Pierce in Top 10; more state news stories

The annual health rankings for Wisconsin's 72 counties are out, with three western counties listed in the Top 10.

St. Croix County is No. 3, Pepin County is No. 7 and Pierce County is No. 8, according to the 2019 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.

The report looks at more than 30 factors that influence health outcomes including poverty, education, transportation and jobs. This year there was an emphasis on affordable housing - with researchers finding 13 percent of Wisconsin residents have what's termed a severe housing cost burden. That means people are paying more than half their income on rent or their home mortgage. Menominee County continues to be at the bottom of the county health rankings and Ozaukee County at the top.

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GOP-led Building Commission dumps Evers’ bonding package

Gov. Tony Evers' $2.5 billion list of building projects won't make it to the Wisconsin Legislature.

The state's Building Commission refused to endorse it Wednesday in what is being called an unprecedented move. Normally, the commission would make a bipartisan recommendation even if it didn't accept the whole proposal. Republican legislative leaders have called the governor's wish list, which is based on borrowing, "unrealistic and unsustainable." They wrote a letter to Evers asking him to work with them on a more modest plan.

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Speaker Vos refuses to testify at gerrymandering trial

Attorneys for Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos argue their client is immune from civil legal action.

The powerful Republican politician is refusing to testify in the federal lawsuit over the drawing of political boundary maps. Democrats asked the federal panel of judges to force Vos to sit for a deposition and turn over documents related to the case. They say the boundaries he helped draw were illegally gerrymandered. The trial in Wisconsin is scheduled to be held in July.

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La Crosse fire department official charged with child pornography

A high-ranking official with the La Crosse Fire Department is currently on administrative leave as he is investigated for child pornography possession.

Frank Devine made an appearance in La Crosse County Circuit Court Wednesday. A state investigator says information from an anonymous tip was traced back to Devine's home. A search warrant was served Tuesday and the investigator says Devine admitted looking at a picture of child porn. He denied trading any images or communicating with anyone online about the topic.

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Gas station owner going to prison after ignoring police warnings

Madison police say the owner of a gas station was told several times to stop selling synthetic cannabinoids and untaxed smokeless tobacco — but he didn't.

Fifty-year-old Farooq Shahzad was handed a 2 ½ year sentence in federal court Wednesday. He was also fined $1 million and must forfeit the proceeds from the sale of the gas station on Madison's east side where the illicit sales were conducted.

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Woman, 57, accused of handing out pot cookies on St. Patrick’s Day

A witness tells Portage County deputies a woman in a green St. Patrick's Day hat gave her a cookie with pot in it.

When deputies tracked down 57-year-old Cathleen K. Krause they say she looked intoxicated and had the odor of "alcohol and marijuana on her breath." Krause was taken into custody and currently faces five drug charges in connection with the Saturday incident. She is free on bond but has to maintain absolute sobriety to stay out of jail.

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UW-Madison ranked No. 1 for producing Peace Corps volunteers

For the third straight year, the University of Wisconsin is ranked No. 1 among large schools on the Peace Corps' list of top volunteer-producing colleges and universities.

There are 75 Badgers currently volunteering in countries around the world. UW-Madison has consistently ranked in the top five since 2012. The university is number two for total volunteers since 1961, with nearly 3,300 alumni having served. More than 6,400 Wisconsinites have served as Peace Corps volunteers since the agency's founding 58 years ago.

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Wis. attorney general pulls state out of 2 cases

Wisconsin's Democratic attorney general says he is withdrawing the state from two cases because they seek to restrict reproductive rights.

The cases were filed by former Attorney General Brad Schimel, a Republican. Kaul says similar laws have been struck down as unconstitutional by courts in the past. He says he agrees with those decisions.

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