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Wisconsin Legislature to consider tax cuts, water in 2020

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — It was a tough year in the Wisconsin Legislature. And 2020 doesn’t promise to be much rosier. Faced with a new Democratic governor, Republicans in control passed few bills of consequence in 2019 outside of the state budget. They so angered one another that Gov. Tony Evers spewed four-letter words in the halls of the Capitol minutes after the Senate fired one of his Cabinet secretaries. To end the year, Evers ticked off Republicans by trying to force a meeting of the Legislature’s budget committee to approve money to combat homelessness. So maybe it’s no surprise that the Legislature will be in session only a handful of days in 2020. 


GOP votes to hire attorney in voter purge lawsuit

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican legislators have voted to hire their own attorneys in a federal lawsuit seeking to keep more than 200,000 voter registrations in place. The decision Monday underscores the rift between the GOP and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. Republicans don’t trust him to defend their position in the lawsuit. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has filed a state lawsuit demanding election officials deactivate the registrations because the voters may have moved. A judge this month ruled in WILL’s favor. The state Department of Justice appealed and the League of Women Voters filed a federal lawsuit to stop the purge. 


Prosecutor clears Madison police officers in fatal shooting

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Three Madison police officers who fatally shot a drunken man after he fired at them have been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that a prosecutor on Monday cleared Sgt. Ryan Gibson and officers Sonny Martinez and Justin Nelson of any criminal wrongdoing in the killing of 63-year-old Dean Thomas in October. Thomas was shot after police responded to a 911 call about a man firing a gun. Thomas opened fire on the officers, who returned fire and killed him. Ozanne said Thomas’ blood alcohol concentration was 0.22%, which is nearly three times the legal limit to drive.


Catch me if you can: Wisconsin fraudster back in business

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A former Wisconsin inmate who was convicted of fraud for persuading a family to pay for non-existent college courses has set himself up in the education business again, but under a new name. The Journal Sentinel reports that Kenneth Shong, as he’s known to the Department of Corrections, is promoting himself as a global educational consultant. Shong was released from prison this year and is subject to three years of supervision. A Corrections spokeswoman says Shong is under investigation for potentially violating the rules of his supervision. Shong changed his name to Kenneth Onapolis and goes by “Prof. Onapolis.”


Competency exam ordered for man accused of killing mother

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) — A judge says an Appleton man accused of killing his mother must undergo a competency exam. Thirty-six-year-old Bradley Boettcher is charged with murder. His mother’s body was found at her apartment on the city’s south side in February. WHBY radio reports that Boettcher appeared through a video feed for Monday’s hearing in Winnebego County Court. Since he was charged, he has refused to leave jail for court hearings on two occasions. Prosecutors say Boettcher fatally beat Lee Ann Dorn at her apartment last February and then took her car. 


Wisconsin justice drops out of voter purge case

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly won’t play a role in deciding a lawsuit calling for state election officials to purge more than 200,000 voter registrations. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday that Kelly decided to recuse himself from the case. He didn’t say why. Kelly’s decision to step away narrows the court’s conservative majority from 5-2 to 4-2 in the case. Conservatives who filed the lawsuit argue the voters should be removed from the rolls immediately because they may have moved. The lawsuit could have huge implications in Wisconsin, considered a battleground state in the November presidential election.


Wisconsin city mulls dumping old ban on throwing snowballs

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) — For decades, those who have participated in snowball fights in one Wisconsin city have risked getting in trouble with the law. But that may be about to change. A 1962 ban on throwing projectiles in Wausau lumps snowballs into the same category as rocks and other items that can cause serious harm. The City Council president says that after recent negative national attention over the rarely used ordinance, maybe it’s time to take snowballs off the list of banned projectiles. Wausau police and the mayor even made a video showing officers having a snowball fight. The City Council will consider decriminalizing snowball fights next month. 


Minnesota court rules against planned power plant Wisconsin

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ordered state regulators to reconsider whether an environmental review is necessary for a proposed natural gas-fired power plant that would be built by Minnesota and Wisconsin utilities. Minnesota Power and Dairyland Power Cooperative are seeking approval in both states for the proposed $700 million Nemadji Trail Energy Center in Superior, Wisconsin. The two utilities would share the power from the 525 megawatt plant. The Minnesota court says state regulators erred by approving the project without adequately determining the need for the review. The proposal is also making its way through the regulatory process in Wisconsin.

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