Associated Press

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Wisconsin Republicans are reviving efforts to pass a resolution to call a convention of the states to consider making changes to the U.S. Constitution.

A Wisconsin Assembly committee held a public hearing Wednesday on the proposal, which is identical to one that passed the Assembly last session. It died in the Senate.

The full Legislature in 2017 passed a resolution that allowed for calling a convention to consider a balanced budget amendment. The latest proposal is more expansive.

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In Wisconsin, transgender athletes would be banned from participating in girls’ and women’s sports, under a bill introduced by Republican lawmakers. The ban would apply to public and private schools from kindergarten through college.

The Wisconsin proposal faces an almost certain veto from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers should it pass the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Rep. Barb Dittrich, a Republican from Oconomowoc who introduced the Wisconsin measures, said Evers would be a “sexist” if he doesn't support them.

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Wisconsin election officials cleared the way Tuesday for special voting deputies to return to nursing homes ahead of the April 6 elections.

Wisconsin law allows municipal clerks to send deputies into nursing homes to help residents complete absentee ballots. The state Elections Commission directed clerks not to send deputies to homes in March 2020 to protect residents from COVID-19 as the pandemic was taking hold. The directive remained in place for the November election and last month's spring primary.

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Wisconsin will receive 47,000 doses next week of the newly approved coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, an amount Gov. Tony Evers on Monday called a “game changer” in the state's fight against COVID-19.

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Assembly Republicans urged Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on Monday to divert more federal COVID-19 relief dollars to schools offering in-person instruction.

Wisconsin DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

The order to close Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake was prompted by Act 185, which also mandated that the youth prisons be replaced with state-run facilities for serious offenders and regional county-run centers for youth with less serious offenses.

Milwaukee County had plans to build a new secure youth correctional facility with 80 beds, but that plan fell apart when the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee cut funds for the proposed facility.

MICHELE WOODFORD

Updated 10:38 a.m. CST

Wisconsin hunters and trappers killed nearly double the number of wolves as the state allotted for a weeklong season, and they did it so quickly that officials had to end the hunt after less than three days, according to figures released Thursday.

Nontribal hunters and trappers had registered 215 wolves as of midday, blowing past the state's kill target of 119. The state Department of Natural Resources estimated before the hunt that there were about 1,000 wolves in the state, and its population goal for the animal is 350.

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Updated 3:09 p.m. CST

The national anthem would have to be played before all sporting events held at Wisconsin venues that received any public funding, from Green Bay Packers games at Lambeau Field to beer league softball games at local parks, under a bill that a Republican lawmaker introduced Thursday.

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The push for ranked-choice voting in Wisconsin gained steam on Wednesday with the introduction of a bipartisan bill in the state Legislature, a move backed by a Republican congressman and a recently formed coalition of civic and business leaders.

It’s the first time Republicans have got behind the idea in Wisconsin’s GOP-controlled Legislature. A measure introduced by Democrats last session didn’t even get a hearing.

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The Wisconsin Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill designed to jump-start updates to the state's antiquated unemployment claims processing system that led to many people waiting weeks or months to get paid during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Tony Evers has promised to sign the bill which the Senate passed last week on a 27-3 vote. The Assembly passed it 89-0.

Lauren Sigfusson

Updated 2:14 p.m. CST

Gov. Tony Evers on Monday proposed spending $2.4 billion on Wisconsin building projects over the next two years, with nearly a half of that going toward projects across the University of Wisconsin System.

Projects include $163 million for a new state office building in Milwaukee, relocation of the state historical society museum to a new location near the Capitol and a new juvenile prison in Milwaukee County.

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Updated 2:16 p.m. CST

Wisconsin wildlife officials opened a wolf season Monday after hunting advocates sued to move the start date up from November amid fears that the Biden administration might restore protections for the animals.

The hunt will run through Sunday across six management zones. The DNR set the kill limit at 200 animals, with 119 allocated to the state and the other 81 allocated to Wisconsin's Chippewa tribes as per treaty agreements. However, the Chippewa regard the wolf as sacred and will not hunt it, leaving the working kill limit at 119.

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Gov. Tony Evers signed a bipartisan tax cut bill into law Thursday and signaled support for another bipartisan measure to help update the state's unemployment insurance system, rare compromises that come as Republicans have roundly denounced much of his state budget proposal as a liberal wish list.

But both Evers and Republican leaders have also detailed areas of agreement in the $91 billion spending plan, offering a road forward as the Legislature begins the process of debating the proposal.

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Millions of people have lost their jobs in Wisconsin during the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in a massive influx of 9.2 million unemployment insurance claims since last March.

For perspective, Wisconsin handled just more than 7 million claims in the previous four years combined.

The increase in claims has exposed the cracks in an aging system and has sometimes resulted in people waiting months to get their unemployment checks.

Courtesy of Deborah Kerr

Updated 2:04 p.m. CST

A white candidate to be Wisconsin's top education official deleted her Twitter account and apologized after posting a message that she had been called a racial slur for Black people when she was 16 because “my lips were bigger than most and that was the reference given to me.”

Deborah Kerr posted the message at 5:40 p.m. on Tuesday, the same day as Wisconsin's primary for state superintendent of schools. Kerr was the second-highest vote getter in the primary and advanced to the April general election.

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Democrat Alex Lasry, a 33-year-old Milwaukee Bucks executive and son of a billionaire, announced Wednesday that he's running for the U.S. Senate in 2022 for the seat held by Republican Ron Johnson.

The race is expected to be one of the most hotly contested in the country with control of the Senate hanging in the balance. Johnson, who rose out of the tea party movement, is one of former President Donald Trump's most ardent supporters representing a state that President Joe Biden won by fewer than 21,000 votes.

Courtesy Deborah Kerr and Jill Underly

 Updated Wednesday at 11:25 a.m. CT

The race for Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction is a little less crowded, after voters narrowed a field of seven candidates down to two in Tuesday’s primary election.

Unofficial results show Jill Underly with 27.31% of the vote and Deborah Kerr with 26.49%.

Emily Files

Updated Wednesday at 8:27 a.m. CST

Gov. Tony Evers called on the Republican-controlled Legislature Tuesday to bolster funding for K-12 and higher education and reform both the state’s criminal justice systems, while delivering a state budget with $1 billion in taxes increases and liberal policy priorities that GOP leaders promised to quickly kill.

Evers pitched his $91 billion two-year state budget to the Legislature as a “Badger Bounceback” agenda as the coronavirus pandemic enters its second year.

Biden Optimistic On Reopening Of Elementary Schools

Feb 16, 2021
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Updated Feb. 17 at 10:18 a.m. CST

President Joe Biden is promising a majority of elementary schools will be open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office, restating his original goal after his administration came under fire when aides said schools would be considered open if they held in-person learning just one day a week.

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The former chairman of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission has resigned amid an ethics investigation.

Steven DeVougas submitted his resignation letter Monday. He had been on the civilian oversight commission since 2013 and served four terms as chair between 2015 and 2020. He was replaced as chairman last year.

DeVougas, an attorney, was the center of multiple controversies. He came under scrutiny after the commission voted to demote former Police Chief Alfonso Morales last summer. A judge has ruled that the demotion was improper.

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Wisconsin's Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson downplayed the storming of the U.S. Capitol last month, saying on conservative talk radio Monday that it “didn't seem like an armed insurrection to me.”

Johnson's comments on WISN-AM in Milwaukee came after he voted Saturday to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. Johnson said in the interview that Trump's attorneys “eviscerated” legal arguments made by Democrats seeking to convict Trump for instigating the insurrection.

DR. MIHA KROFEL

Wisconsin's wolf hunt will begin next week with up to 200 animals to be harvested, the state Department of Natural Resources Board determined at a hastily called meeting Monday in reaction to a court order requiring a hunt this month.

The unanimous board vote came even as the state was asking an appeals court to stop the hunt by putting last week's court order on hold. The state Department of Natural Resources and the board, represented by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, filed the motion Friday in state appeals court.

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Updated Feb. 12 at 5:10 p.m. CST

A Wisconsin judge ordered the state Department of Natural Resources on Thursday to start a gray wolf hunt this month rather than waiting until November.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves in the Lower 48 states from the federal endangered species list in January, returning management to the states. The move was among Trump administration actions on the environment that President Joe Biden has ordered reviewed.

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Updated Feb. 12 at 1:54 p.m. CST

 A judge on Thursday refused prosecutors’ request to issue a new arrest warrant for an 18-year-old from Illinois accused of killing two people during a police brutality protest in Wisconsin last summer.

Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger alleged that Kyle Rittenhouse failed to update his address when he moved out of his Antioch apartment in November, amounting to a bail violation.

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A bipartisan task force that examined a looming retirement savings crisis in Wisconsin is recommending a series of steps to improve the outlook, including creation of first-of-its kind savings accounts for every child born in the state that could be tapped for major purchases and saved for retirement.

Bills to implement recommendations from the task force created by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and chaired by state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski could be introduced for the Legislature to consider in the coming months.

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A new legal challenge to Gov. Tony Evers' latest mask mandate is before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, filed less than a week after the Legislature struck down a previous order and the governor quickly issued a new one.

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Updated 4:16 p.m. CST

A second case of a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus has been detected in Wisconsin, less than a month after it was first seen, health officials said Tuesday.

The variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom in December was found in Wisconsin on Jan. 12 in Eau Claire and again on Sunday in Waukesha County by lab partners of the state Department of Health Services.

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Updated 1:20 p.m. CST

Gov. Tony Evers wants to create a new $500 tax credit to help cover family caregiver expenses, a $200 million proposal announced Tuesday that will be a part of the governor's state budget plan submitted to the Legislature next week.

The tax credit was included in budget proposals Evers announced that are targeted to help children and families, with spending on everything from child care services to Alzheimer's research.

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Turnout is expected to be low next week in Wisconsin's spring primary election, where there's one low-profile state race on the ballot in addition to more than 100 local races.

Meagan Wolfe, the state's top elections official, said Monday that based on returns of absentee ballots so far and the small number of people who have chosen to vote-in person early, she expects turnout to be on par with past spring primaries.

“I expect this will be a very low-turnout election,” Wolfe said.

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Updated 1:15 p.m. CST

Wisconsin will open its first community vaccination clinic next week, Gov. Tony Evers announced Monday in another sign that the state's delivery efforts are improving after weeks of struggling to get people inoculated against the coronavirus.

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