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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Assembly committee endorses 70 mph speed limit

MADISON - The state Assembly's Transportation Committee has endorsed a bill that would increase the speed limit on Wisconsin freeways to 70 miles an hour.

The measure passed by a vote on nine to six. Neenah Republican Dean Kaufert voted in favor of the bill, saying it makes sense to get in line with the rest of the Midwest. Opponents argue that the bill requires more research and data to ensure safe driving conditions. The bill now goes to the full Assembly.


Some Wisconsin students will be taking part of “International Walk to School Day” tomorrow. Tressie Kamp with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation says the event highlights the three benefits of walking to school… health, safety and environment. The website is www-dot-walkbiketoschool-dot-org. Kamp says the website provides safety tips and maps of safe walking routes, providing a good visual of the event. Wisconsin currently has 71 registered events at K-though-8 schools across the state. Schools and organizers can still participate in “Walk to School” day by registering an event on the website. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation also has a “Safe Route to School” list on its website at  (


Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola has issued an apology to the University of Wisconsin’s marching band, after being accused of saying “inappropriate” comments during Sunday’s NFL game in Green Bay. Some band members reported the 13-year veteran allegedly made the remarks while performing during the Lion’s game against the Packers at Lambeau Field. Raiola says he is sorry to anyone he offended and promises a “significant donation” to the band.


Wisconsin State Senate Republicans passed bills this afternoon that seek to avoid a repeat of what happened in a Senate recall election last year.  On an 18-15 party line vote, all Republicans voted yes to require equal numbers of Republican and Democratic inspectors for all functions at polling places.  All Democrats voted no, as they did with another bill to require election officials to record the types of documents submitted as identification for voters to register.  The GOP promoted the measures in response to an election last June in which former Senate Republican Van Wanggaard of Racine lost -- and then blamed irregularities.  Racine County sheriff's investigated what were called "suspicious voter registration documents" in a trash bin.  Officials also investigated other irregularities at another Racine polling place -- but no one was charged in those cases.  At a recent public hearing on the measures, local government clerks said the measures would replace community poll workers with out-of-town partisans.  The bills now go to the Assembly.


A man shot-and-killed by police in Sparta last Friday night was identified today as 21-year-old John Bartholomew.  Police Chief Michael Kass also gave more details of what led to the shooting.  He said officers were called to remove Bartholomew from a home where he armed himself with knives, and threatened two family members.  The chief said Bartholomew approached Sergeant Booker Ferguson with a pair of knives -- and when he ignored an order to drop the knives, Ferguson shot the suspect.  Bartholomew was given first aid and sent to a hospital, where he later died.  Ferguson, a 10-year police veteran, is on administrative leave while state officials continue to investigate. 


The Walker administration and the American Civil Liberties Union have reached a settlement in their dispute over the need for permits to gather and protest at the State Capitol.  The deal announced today still calls for large groups to get permits -- but if they don't, they won't take the chance of getting arrested.  Also, they won't get a reserved space for their events, like they would if they get permits.  The settlement most directly involves the Solidarity Singers.  They've been the targets of enforcement since early July, when a federal judge upheld permit requirements for groups of 20-or-more.  Around 300 people have been arrested during the noon-time sing-alongs.  The singing has taken place on most days since the 2011 demonstrations over the law which virtually eliminated most public union bargaining. 


A Waukesha firm that makes electric generators is buying a similar company in Oshkosh.  Generac Holdings said today it reached an agreement to acquire Baldor Generators.  Terms were not disclosed.  Generac said the acquisition would increase its share of the market for commercial-and-industrial power generating equipment.  The deal is expected to close before the end of the year.  Baldor Generators is a part of the Balder Electric Company of Arkansas, which makes industrial electric motors and equipment for transmitting power. 


Two days after hundreds of mink were released from an eastern Wisconsin farm, the same thing happened in neighboring Minnesota.  Einar Myhre said several hundred mink were freed from his farm near Grand Meadows Minnesota late Sunday night or early yesterday.  He said his employees, friends, and other farmers helped round up as many of the mink as they could.   Myhre said all but 75 milk were retrieved.  The Animal Liberation Front said similar raids have been conducted recently in seven other states including Wisconsin.  About two-thousand mink were released Saturday from Bonlander Furs near New Holstein in Calumet County.  The owner said just over a-hundred mink had not been accounted for.  The FBI and sheriff's deputies are investigating.


A 10-year-old boy has been killed by an alleged drunk driver in far southern Wisconsin.  It happened last evening in the Green County town of Albany on Highway 59.  Sheriff's deputies said a 21-year-old man was drunk when his pick-up truck crossed a center-line and hit an oncoming mini-van.  Killed was fifth-grader Michael Iverson, a safety patrol member at Kegonsa Elementary School in the Stoughton district.  His father suffered life-threatening injuries.  Michael's 13-year-old sister and seven-year-old brother both had minor injuries.  The truck driver and a passenger were also hurt.  Stoughton school superintendent Tim Onsager said counselors are at the school to help classmates deal with Michael's death.