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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Selig announces retirement as MLB Commissioner

MILWAUKEE - Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says he's stepping down at the end of the 2014 season. The 79-year-old Milwaukee native and former owner of the Brewers officially announced today he will retire in January 2015, when his contract expires.

Selig has been the league’s commissioner since 1992, when he took over as an interim commissioner for Fay Vincent. He was promoted to the permanent position in 1998. Selig accomplished quite a bit for the league; including the implementation of a wild card and divisional playoff system, interleague play and a crack-down on performance-enhancing drugs.


The latest quarterly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor shows the state saw a one-point-one percent increase in private sector jobs during a 12-month period. According to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages report, Wisconsin added 24,305 from March 2012 to March 2013. Those numbers are outpaced by the national rate of two percent… Wisconsin ranks 34rd in the latest report. A leading state economist says the bureau’s report shows some economic growth in the state, but political turmoil and other factors are causing the state to “lag behind”.

A new bill in the state legislature would make it a felony to harm or kill an infant while co-sleeping intoxicated. State Assemblywoman Samantha Kerkman (R-Randall) is proposing the bill that would also require new parents and high school students to receive safe-sleep training. Proponents of the bill say infants are in “incredible danger” when an intoxicated parent sleeps next to an infant. Kerkman agrees, saying those adults should be held accountable for the risk. While there is no official statewide number of deaths, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports 33 infants died in Milwaukee due to unsafe sleep conditions since 2010.


Wisconsin's public school superintendent says private schools which have tax-funded voucher students have "no more excuses" not to be accountable.  Tony Evers delivered his annual address at the State Capitol today on the state-of-education in Wisconsin.  Evers supported a bill in the Legislature that would hold private voucher schools to the same reporting and accountability standards as public schools.  School choice advocates oppose the measure, saying it gives too much power to a state agency and a superintendent who's been against voucher schools.  Evers also defended the state's use of the national Common Core standards, which is designed to raise the bar for math-and-reading performance.  The superintendent said the state owes it to students not to quote, "pull the rug out" from under them.  Two new legislative committees will hold a public hearing next Thursday on the possibility of having Wisconsin withdraw from the Common Core standards.  The bill's supporters said it gives Washington too much power -- and the standards did not get much scrutiny when they were approved three years ago. 


The Wisconsin State Senate's majority leader came out today against a proposed Indian casino at Kenosha.  In an editorial column, Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said his party's job creation policies would do more to help the Kenosha economy than a casino.  The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs recently gave its blessing to an off-reservation gaming house-and-resort that the Menominee tribe wants to build at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park.  Governor Scott Walker now has the final approval -- and he says all 11 Wisconsin tribes would have to go along with it.  The Potawatomi has long opposed it, since a Kenosha casino would cut into the revenues for its lucrative gaming house in Milwaukee.  The Ho-Chunk tribe has also objected.  Fitzgerald said Walker's approval could lead to a proliferation of off-reservation casinos.  Beloit and Shullsburg have also been pushing for other tribes' casinos in recent years.  ________________________________

Commercial real estate investors from Milwaukee have bought a former factory in Sheboygan.  The firm of Phoenix Investors purchased the former International Automotive Components plant in Sheboygan for two-and-a-half million dollars.  Phoenix plans to convert the building to industrial space for more than one tenant.  The company says it's already negotiating with a half-dozen firms about moving in.  The 288-thousand-square foot building closed during the recession.  Officials targeted an automotive recycling business for the plant -- but it never materialized.  The new purchase was finalized last week.____________________________

An Indian leader has strong criticism for a new Republican plan to make it harder to force Wisconsin schools to drop their Indian team names and logos.  Barbara Munson of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association calls the new proposal racist and unconstitutional.  Legislative leaders in both houses said today they would move forward with a new bill from Assembly Republicans Steve Nass of Whitewater and Dave Craig of Big Bend and GOP Senator Mary Lazich of New Berlin.  Those who complain to the state about Indian monikers would have to prove that they discriminate -- and school boards would not have to prove that they don't.  One person would no longer have the authority to file a complaint.  The bill requires petitions from the equivalent of 10-percent of a school's student population.  Munson calls that unfair, saying other discrimination cases only require a single complaint.   Also, the Administration Department would hear the cases instead of the Department of Public Instruction.  Wisconsin Democrats broke national ground in 2009 by pressuring schools to change their Indian names -- and punishing them if they don't.  Munson calls the modified plan a step backward.  She said all 11 Wisconsin tribes will be united against it.  Munson said it's a matter of civil rights and quote, "civil rights are not a popularity contest or a local control issue."_____________________________

Wisconsin school youngsters would spend more exercising under a bill proposed by an Assembly Republican.  Chad Weininger of Green Bay says it's unfortunate that so many kids are obese.  State statistics show that one-of-every-four high school students is overweight or obese.  To change that, Weininger says he wants to require 30-to-45 minutes of exercise per day for kindergarteners-through-eighth graders when they don't have gym classes.  Right now, sixth graders and younger generally have gym class three days a week.  Seventh-and-eighth graders have one-day of phy-ed per week.  Weininger says current gym class requirements are not working anymore.  He says parents are working longer days -- and instead of playing pick-up basketball, kids head home to snacks and TV.  Weininger says he'll wait to introduce his legislation, to make sure schools have enough flexibility to prevent from interfering with academic requirements.  ______________________________

The state DNR is taking entries for its annual design contest for state park vehicle admission stickers.  All students attending public-and-private high schools can enter the contest.  The winner will have his-or-her design used for the 2015 annual park stickers.  Rules, an entry form, and a design template are all available at the DNR's Web site, accessible at Wisconsin-Dot-Gov.  The deadline to enter is next April 17th. 


Mental health professionals would be given the authority to send people into emergency detention, under a series of proposals from a state task force.  State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) created the task force to suggest changes to the state's mental health laws.  Wisconsin is one of just five states in which police officers are the only ones who can detain mental suspects in emergencies.  The expanded authority to medical personnel would be allowed only in Milwaukee County at first.  After two years, it could then be expanded statewide.  The task force also recommended that families have a way to request emergency detention if county officials refuse to act.  Among other things, the state would provide grants to crisis intervention teams to respond to concerns about people with mental health issues.  Also, pilot programs would be set up in four counties to help inmates sign up for Badger-Care Plus and other benefits when they're freed.  The goal there is to reduce the numbers of repeat offenders.  The Assembly could take up the measures before the end of the year, if a bill is drafted.


Wisconsin's two U.S. senators joined all of their other colleagues yesterday in advancing a bill to keep the federal government funded beyond next Tuesday.  The House passed the measure last week and included a de-funding of President Obama's Affordable Care Act -- something majority Senate Democrats are expected to strip from the bill.  Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) both agree that a government shutdown should be avoided at all costs.  To achieve that, both houses would have to agree on a package by next Tuesday, the start of the federal government's new fiscal year.  Johnson says the final bill should include changes to Obama-care -- including the removal of an excise tax on the makers of medical devices.  Johnson says the tax has already caused problems with medical research.  Baldwin says she wouldn't mind if the tax is tweaked, but not repealed.  She also said those issues should be resolved later -- and the only topic now should be to avoid a government shutdown.  Yesterday, Baldwin took part in a media briefing on how Obama-care will improve women's health.  Among other things, she said women will finally get access to private insurance plans that cover maternity care.  _________________________________

A high-rise Interstate bridge in Green Bay will stay closed indefinitely, to repair a long dip that was found early yesterday.  Officials said a reinforced concrete pier apparently settled about three-feet deeper into the ground than normal.  That caused a major sagging of the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge over the Fox River.  The dip is about 400-feet long and 20-inches deep.  It crosses all four lanes of I-43.  State Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb said during a news conference that the bridge is in no danger of collapsing.  Governor Scott Walker said the bridge is important to northeast Wisconsin's economy and quote, "We will fix this."   Kim Rudat of the state DOT said the bridge will be closed for months, maybe a year, while the exact problem is identified and repaired.  Photos show that an entire footing sank into the soil.  The pier is one of dozens supporting the tall bridge, located in an industrial area between the Bay of Green Bay and the city's downtown.  A detour has been set up.  The bridge was last inspected 13 months ago.  Cracks were found in the piers, but were said to be from normal wear.  Federal reports rated various parts of the bridge as good-to-satisfactory a year ago.  It resurfacing and maintenance work done this year as part of a $17 million upgrade of I-43. The Leo Frigo bridge opened in 1981.  It carries about 40,000 vehicles per day.


Authorities in central Wisconsin now say that a squirrel hunter was killed when a friend in his hunting party mistook him for another animal last weekend.  The victim was identified yesterday as 29-year-old Xou Chang of Wausau.  He and two other Wausau men were hunting last Sunday morning on private land northeast of Athens in Marathon County.  Officials said Chang was shot in the head when a 32-year-old Wausau man saw movement from 50 yards away and fired.  Chang had two dead squirrels next to him on a stump at the time.  Marathon County sheriff's deputies and the state DNR are continuing to investigate the incident.________________________________

A La Crosse couple was charged with manufacturing marijuana, after a fire in their apartment uncovered faulty wiring from their alleged pot-growing operation.  Michael Sloan and Melissa Sader, both 33, are free on signature bonds.  They're due back in court tomorrow on their felony drug charges.  The fire took place September 16th.  Investigators later executed a search warrant.  Police said they found two dozen marijuana plants and growing equipment set up in two locations of the apartment.  The couple's eight-year-old daughter escaped the fire safely.