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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Two victims IDed in Milwaukee shooting

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MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Police today identified two men killed in recent shooting incidents.  

Fifty-four-year-old Earl Potts died Friday night -- and 35-year-old Lamar Nash died Friday from gunshot wounds suffered on March 10th.  Both shootings occurred in north side Milwaukee neighborhoods.  Police are still investigating, and no arrests were made in either slaying.

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Two men killed in a car crash near Madison were identified today as 28-year-old Joseph Dickenson of La Crosse and 26-year-old Sebastian Creswell of Tyler Texas.  Authorities said a car driven by Creswell hit a mailbox and a large tree along Highway 19 in the Dane County town of Westport early Saturday.  Dickenson was a passenger, and he died at the scene.  Creswell died later at a hospital.  The crash remains under investigation, as the county medical examiner awaits the victims' toxicology test results.  Also, a weekend crash in eastern Dane County killed 51-year-old Michael Dykstra of Fall River.  Officials said alcohol was a factor in the mishap, which occurred Saturday night on Highway 73 northeast of Sun Prairie.  Three others were hurt.  That crash also remains under investigation.

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The CEO is not the top money-maker at the Wisconsin-based Kohl's Department Stores.  A proxy statement filed today shows that chief marketing executive Michelle Gass made $12-million in total compensation last year. CEO Kevin Mansell netted $8.2 million.  The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said Kohl's most likely needed to give extra incentives to Gass, to lure her away from her top marketing post at Starbucks.  She was brought in to help boost profits and same-store sales -- both of which have been relatively stagnant for Kohl's in recent years.  The Journal-Sentinel said today's proxy statement showed that Gass received bonus money and one-time stock options, to make up for the options she gave up at Starbucks.  Even without the incentives, Gass' base salary is $927,000, tied for second at Kohl's behind Mansell.   Kohl's is based in Menomonee Falls, with almost 1,200 department stores nationwide and a growing online business.

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A suburban Milwaukee company that makes pharmaceutical ingredients is about to be sold.  Cedarburg Pharmaceuticals of Grafton is being acquired by Albany Molecular Research for just over $38-million dollars.  The companies announced the deal this morning, and said that Albany would assume almost three-million dollars of Cedarburg's debt.  Albany co-founder Chuck Boland said Cedarburg Pharmaceuticals would continue to be run on its own.  It makes controlled substances, steroids, vitamin analogs, and various medical ingredients for both generic and brand-name medicines.  Albany expects to finalize its purchase by early next month.

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Embattled state Assemblyman Bill Kramer will leave the Legislature after this year.  The Waukesha Republican recently lost his majority leader's post, amid allegations that he groped a female legislative aide in February at a fund-raiser in Washington -- and then made harassing remarks to a female lobbyist on a plane ride home the next day.  The 49-year-old Kramer filed paperwork today with the state Government Accountability Board which announced he was not running this fall.  His office has not commented further.  Kramer checked into a treatment center soon after the allegations hit the news.  He has not appeared in public since.  Kramer was in his eighth year in the Legislature.  His GOP Assembly colleagues elected him last fall as their majority leader.

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Sheboygan Assembly Republican Mike Endsley would not run for re-election this fall.  The four-year incumbent said he wanted to explore new options in the private sector.  With Kramer's departure, 13 Assembly members have announced plans to leave their current posts after this fall -- eight Republicans and five Democrats.  Of that group, two Republicans and four Democrats are seeking other offices.  The state Assembly currently has 60 Republicans and 39 Democrats.

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Wisconsin cancer patients got some great news today. State Senate leaders called a vote for April first on the latest bill to help patients afford expensive chemotherapy drugs.  Myranda Tanck of Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's office tells WisPolitics.com there's quote, "broad, bi-partisan support" for the measure.  She expects the Senate to approve what the Assembly endorsed early Friday, and send it to Governor Scott Walker -- who has already said he would sign it.  The final vote was scheduled after one of the bill's chief sponsors -- cancer survivor Alberta Darling -- reviewed the latest version, and urged her colleagues this morning to pass it.  The Senate Republican from River Hills said quote, "Cancer patients and their families shouldn't have to wait for help any longer."  Senators voted last week to require health insurers to cover chemo pill, and not just the IV treatments that cancer patients must now get at hospitals.  The state Assembly bill would either make health insurance cover chemo pills if they current cover the IV treatments -- or else they would have to limit the out-of-pocket cost of pills to $100 for a month's supply, adjusted each year for inflation.

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With about a dozen people standing around him, Governor Scott Walker made his latest tax cut official today.  Sitting inside a barn at a Shawano County farm, the Republican Walker called it a great day for taxpayers.  He approved a $504-million tax relief package, which uses money from an expected surplus of almost a billion dollars in the current state budget.  Walker said the new income tax cuts are geared toward the lowest bracket, with a maximum saving of $58 for those making $40,000 or more per year.  The average property tax bill would drop by over one hundred dollars.  After signing the bill near Cecil this morning, the governor was planning to tout the tax relief during visits to Eagle River and Eau Claire.  Walker also noted that employees would soon get more in their paychecks, with a reduction in income tax withholding.  However, it means that tax filers would not get that money in a refund next spring -- which would have been the case without the reduced withholding rates. 

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Wisconsin's coldest winter in two decades kept taking a toll on the state's dairy cows last month.  New federal figures show that Wisconsin's milk production dropped by another two-percent from a year ago, to around 2.1 billion pounds.  February was the fourth month in a row that Wisconsin has had year-to-year drops in its milk output.  The average production per cow fell another 35-pounds -- something that's been blamed directly on the much larger number of sub-zero days this winter.  Wisconsin's dairy herd has remained steady at just over one-and-a-quarter million cows.  Meanwhile, top-producing California has extended its lead over second-place Wisconsin.  The Golden State boosted its output by 5.3 percent from a year ago, to 3.4 billion pounds.  California added a thousand cows, and its production per cow jumped by 95 pounds.  Nationally, the USDA said milk production totaled almost 16 billion pounds last month, up by one-point-one percent from a year ago._____________________________

Wisconsin's commercial railroad traffic has been hurt by cold weather, government work limits, and congestion at a major hub.  It has all added up to slower deliveries for products and industrial materials.  The Wisconsin State Journal says freight trains stop wherever they are, once they hit the federal limits on the hours they can move.  In northwest Wisconsin, a train was stopped for 27 hours across a road in Rusk County -- which caused a rushing ambulance to take a detour recently.  The Madison paper said rail operators have stopped trains in the middle of crossings and blocked roads until the government gives them a fresh set of hours.  The cold winter has not helped, either.  The State Journal says the sub-zero temperatures have caused rails to crack, and switches to freeze.  They've also run trains with fewer cars due to the safety issues.  Also, a major railroad hub in Chicago has had more congestion.   

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Wisconsin potato growers have failed again to get a major food program for the poor to include white potatoes in a list of eligible items.  The USDA recently expanded the types of produce and whole grains which can be purchased in the federal Women, Infants, and Children program.  However, white potatoes were again left off the list.  They were first removed six years ago, when the government said potatoes were widely eaten outside the "WIC" program in the form of French fries.  WIC vouchers can be used to buy white potatoes at farmers' markets, but not at the grocery store.  Duane Maatz, who heads the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, calls says it makes no scientific sense that his product is excluded.  According to Maatz, it sends the wrong message that fresh potatoes are a product that families shouldn't buy.  Jerry Wright of the United Potato Growers of America pointed to a recent study indicating that WIC clients are deficient in major minerals and vitamins that potatoes provide.  The USDA plans a comprehensive review of the approved WIC items later this year. The potato industry says it will keep up its fight to get them included again.  

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